Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Jules Update

A report from Dan Shoemaker on his trip to visit Jules the third week of June. 
Jules is doing “ok” but is still very weak.  He can at least get up and walk around very slowly, very gingerly, and in some pain.  He has lost a lot of weight and is quite weak.  He is on very strong medication for the pain he still has with his back and the cancer so mentally he can’t concentrate on things for long periods of time. 
He would love to hear from you from time to time.  Feel free to call him as well as send him notes of encouragement, that you are praying for him, etc..  He can read English fairly well or have others translate them for him if needed. 
His cell phone is:  321-217-4165.
            His address for letters and cards is:         Jules Gedna
150 Sammett St
Malden MA 02148
            For financial gifts:  Send to RMI, with a note designated for RMI emergency fund.  Do not send him checks directly as it is very difficult for him to get them cashed.  There are many needs that the family has at this time and any donations for them will be greatly appreciated.  RMI is waiving any admin fees for this account at this time.  All funds will go toward his expenses and will be forwarded to the family.  Thanks in advance for your help for them. 
Resume of my understanding of his medical condition: 
            He has Myeloma, blood cell cancer.  He has had it for some time evidently.  His issues with his back from last summer on were brought on because of the cancer beginning to impact his bones, but it was not recognized as this at that time.  Because he has not had full physicals as they would do them here in the States, this was not caught until he came to the States in February.  During Feb and March, he underwent many blood tests, x-rays, and cat scans.  It was determined that the extreme pain in his back was caused by 2 vertebrae having fractured due to his bones becoming brittle and weak due to the cancer.  They wanted to get a biopsy done and start treatment for the cancer asap.  However, due to his extreme pain, and nobody available to get him to the hospital he missed a month or more of possible treatment.  He was finally admitted to a hospital due to his pain and inability to care for himself in late April or early May.  By that time, he had cracked a rib and several more vertebrae.  They were finally able to operate on his back and “glued” everything together.  He was also started on Chemotherapy.  He has improved quite a bit since that time already.  He is able to get up and walk around a little.  He can very gingerly climb steps, etc., but still under a lot of pain and verrrry slowly. 
            The Chemo is controlling the cancer.  After some time however, the cancer will adapt to the chemo and it will stop being very effective.  Then a decision will have to be made about a bone marrow transplant or new meds that now can take the place of the transplant.  Both options are VERY, VERY expensive.  Right now it seems the hospital is covering the cost of the chemo, but it won’t cover anything else.  His chemo has helped quite a bit.  He has the hope of continuing to see progress in his health for the next several months.  However, it tends to give false hope as it is only a stopgap measure as he is in the last stages of this cancer.  So unless God truly does a miracle, the long term outlook is not good for Jules. 
Here is a link about this type of cancer:   http://rarediseases.about.com/od/multiplemyeloma/a/multiplemyeloma.htm
His situation:
            He is staying at a friends apartment.  The woman is rarely home so it works out well.  It is very very small.  His and Martha’s bedroom, very small, is on the second story as is the bathroom.  Martha sleeps on an air mattress so that she can sleep as Jules moves around a lot as he is not able to get comfortable on the bed very easily.  She has to be there for him all the time as he cannot do much on his own.
My trip to visit him: 
I arrived in Boston Thursday night.  I went and visited with Jules later that evening.  As I arrived there, I had hoped to surprise him but he had suspected something was going on.  However, he was truly overjoyed to see me as I him.  He had tears flowing down his face.  It was great to see him and Martha his wife.  I spent about an hour with them and then went back to the hotel as it was late.  Pastor Guy Glass from Calvary Church of Pemberton had driven up (6+ hours) to accompany me to visit Jules. 
Friday morning Pastor Guy and I took him and Martha to the hospital for his chemo treatment.  It was the first time for them at this hospital so it was good that I was there to be able to translate for him and help fill out papers, etc.  After that, which took us from 8:30 to about 1:30, we went back to the small apartment they are staying in. 
Jules was quite wore out, so we left to go back to the hotel so they could rest some, etc.  Then we picked up a couple of buckets of chicken from KFC (one of Jules favorite) and took back to the house.  We were glad we did as it was packed with different friends from the area visiting Jules when we got there.  It didn’t’ take long for the chicken to disappear!  We had a good time hanging with them until late evening. 
Saturday we went to the house later in the morning so Jules could rest some.  After a while there, Pastor Guy had to head back home.  I went out with Martha to get some good Haitian food at a nearby Haitian restaurant as well as some other things for them.  I had a good chance to talk to her about many issues they need to be considering as a family.  Then back to the house, where Martha left with another friend to pick up her sister and husband that came in on a bus from NJ to visit for a couple of days.  At that time I had a good opportunity to talk to Jules about the “new” ministry that God has given him now, a ministry of encouragement to those around him.  We talked about the hope we have in Christ, etc and how he needs to be an example of that hope.  He seemed encouraged by our discussion together.  Then the others came back and we had a great time the rest of the afternoon and evening reminiscing about old times, especially all the jokes we played on each other.  It was great!  Martha made a big bowl of “Goat in sauce” and rice.  OH Yeah!  Awesome.  I left about 10:00.  Every evening as we left we would have a time of prayer together.  It was very special. 
Over all the trip was a great time of encouragement to Jules and I believe his family.  I was very glad to be there and have that time with him.