Could you please take a few minutes to send him a cheerful and positive greeting as he is handling the situation incredibly maturely and is totally positive yet realistic about it all.
As he lives in the Aberdeen (Scotland) area could you also mention the city you live in? It will give him additional interest by marking up a map with the source of all your replies.
As Dan is not on-line I have (with his parents' permission) set up an email address for him (see below) and will forward hard copies of all replies to him.
NB Dan now has his own email address (see bottom of page)
Go on, it will only take a minute or two to make someone very happy.
Bless you, Barry
Since posting this request Dan has received more than 1000 emails from Alaska, Australia, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia Herzegovina, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Germany, Greece, Hawaii, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Korea, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Philippines, Russia, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Turkmenistan, UK, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, USA, Venezuela, Vietnam, and even the fishing vessel "Kimbles" working at sea off South Africa!
Please keep them coming as he gets great pleasure and encouragement from them.
Thank you for your concern.
Just keeping you up-to-date concerning our Dan.
We have just been notified that Dan will be going to Stanmore Hospital in London to meet the specialist consultant. Sylvia and Dan will fly down Thursday night (8th January), and return Saturday (10th Jan) evening. His appointment is Friday 1.00 pm. We pray that it will be a positive time.
Fortunately we have some friends near by to provide transport and accommodation.
Thanks for all your greetings, encouragment, love and especially your prayers.
"The Pratt family"
Once again thank you for your words and support. They have encouraged me a lot. I have received over 507 emails from all over the world.
My cancer cells are under control - they have shrunk by 50 per cent.
Some of you wanted to know about my favourite sports and favourite things.
My favourite sports are tap dancing and roller hockey.
My favourite programme at the moment is "Star Wars". I have got the new version of the trilogy and lots of Star Wars toys. Last week I bought the Star Wars trilogy books which I loved and read them in 3 days.
I love to draw and when I am in hospital I have an art teacher who has encouraged me lots.
A couple of weeks ago I went down to London to meet Mr Cannon at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital, Brockley Hill, Stanmore. He was a very nice man and I liked him a lot. (Note from Barry - he is the surgeon who will be removing two thirds of Dan's femur and replacing it with a specially adapted extending bone. The tentative date for surgery is 2nd March depending on Dan's general health and recovery from his 3rd and 4th chemotherapy.) The Ward where I will be staying is horrible and I am very thankful that most of my treatment is in Aberdeen.
I am due to go down for surgery at the beginning of March. Please pray that the operation will be a success and that there will be no infection. After surgery I will still have to continue with Chemotherapy every 3rd week until September.
Once again, thank you so much for all your encouragements.
I am now going down to London for my operation today. I have had my M.R.I. scan and it is O.K.
Dr King says my blood is a little low but should be okay by the time my operation comes on Monday.
I will be admitted to:
Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital
today for blood tests and Xrays and see the consultant on Friday morning. We are hoping that they will then let us out on pass until Sunday evening.
We are going to see Michael Flatley in Lord of the Dance on Friday night and going sightseeing on Saturday.
Bye for now.
The Pratt family
His mum Sylvia told me today, Wednesday 4th March, that his progress is truly remarkable! He is doing superbly well; the epidural which was on minimum dose has now been taken out as he was experiencing little or no pain. Dan was returned to the Coxen Ward from Intensive Care earlier than expected and today was typing his story on a computer in the hospital "school". He will hopefully send me a copy so that I can post it here.
By the way, Dan has now changed his opinion of Stanmore from 22nd January: he now thinks the Hospital is great!
Dan is already up and taking a few steps!
I spoke to his Mum, Sylvia, a few minutes ago and she said the doctors are absolutely delighted as he is making incredible progress . . . so much so that instead of being in hospital for another two weeks they may allow him home on Friday! Who says that God does not answer prayer? Thank you Lord . . . and to all of you throughout the world who have united in prayer for Dan!
Below is a copy of a letter they sent from London to our church, Deeside Christian Fellowship in Aberdeen, on Friday 6th March.
We can hardly believe we arrived a week ago. So much has happened in that time so we thought you would all appreciate an update.
We had an exciting flight down to London. All the boys got to see the pilot's cockpit but Daniel was then asked if he would like to be in the cockpit for landing. He was so thrilled to spend the last half hour in the Navigator's seat wearing the headset and Captain's hat. He was allowed to use the throttle to accelerate and to call in to flight control to arrange our landing.
Daniel was admitted to the ward on Thursday and allowed out on a pass on Friday. We had a tremendous weekend together as a family. We have all experienced an incredible peace throughout this difficult time. Thank you for your prayers. Daniel had his operation on Monday 2nd March. We had been told Daniel would be away from us for at least 4 hours so you can imagine our surprise when we were called to intensive care after only two and a half hours. The operation was straightforward with no complications. Prayer really does work! On our arrival at the intensive care unit we had been pre-warned that Daniel would have at least six probable drips, drains and tubes attached or going into him. Despite all of these Daniel still managed to wave to us as he saw us appear. You can imagine our relief and joy. He kept saying "Don't worry, I'm in the Lord's hands and he's looking after me."
Each day we have seen evidence of the Lord's presence with us. There have been some tough times but we are so thankful we know a God who is living and real and able to meet all our needs.
Daniel is determined to beat all the records. His epidural came out a day earlier then predicted because he was coping so well with the pain. Today (Thursday) saw the last drain removed and Daniel firmly into his rehabilitation programme. Daniel's leg is suspended from a frame over his bed and he is taking great delight in developing his biceps as he lifts himself up the bed using his monkey pole. The physio (who is a Christian) thinks he will be in his "strings and things" for a week. Then he will have to learn to walk on his crutches.
Please continue to pray for us all as we get very tired. It is a struggle balancing being with Daniel and spending time with Jonathan and Andrew. Dave and the boys return to Aberdeen on Wednesday 11th March. Sylvia and Dan will return whenever we get the go-ahead.
Thank you again for your prayers. We look forward to being back with you all in Aberdeen.
Love in Him,
Dave, Sylvia, Jonathan, Andrew and Daniel"
Yes, he is back home in Aberdeen far sooner than expected; he is doing "Brilliantly" according to Sylvia, his mum. His folks are really pleased that he will be at home for his birthday on 26th March.
Dan will be on crutches for about 6 weeks and then will continue to be restricted in the movements he is allowed to make for 6 months in case he dislocates his new hip joint or damages the artificial bone. Sylvia feels bad as she has to constantly remind Dan that he cannot do this or that as he wants to try standing unaided, without the crutches, and wants to try throwing his basket ball!
He will be going into hospital in Aberdeen on Monday for "bloods" and then will resume chemotherapy on Thursday.
The family want to thank everyone for their prayers and expressions of love and concern for them all.
Thank you so much for all your e-mails. It has made me keep my head up.
I got out of chemo in three days thanks to the e-mails you have all sent me.
I am up and walking with my crutches and I have been shooting at my basketball net and I'm so excited about my birthday on the 26th of March. I'm going to be ten.
I will have to go to physiotherapy twice a week for a few weeks until my muscles start to heal. Now I have only 8 chemos to go and then my treatment for cancer is done. I will need to have operations on my leg about twice a year depending on how fast I grow.
Once again thank you.
We just thought it would be good to update you all regarding Dan. Thank you for your prayers they really were effective. Our time in London seems like weeks and weeks ago, it's hard to believe that we arrived back just over a week ago.
We had an exciting flight down to London. It was the first time that Jonathan and Andrew had been on a plane. All three boys got to see the cockpit but as an added extra Dan was asked if he would like to be in the cockpit for landing. He was so thrilled to spend the last half-hour sitting in the navigator's seat wearing the headphones and captain's hat. He even got to use the throttle and announce our arrival to air traffic control. What a start to our trip.
The flat near Baker Street in London was ideal for us. We arrived with it already set up with basic provisions and two trays of canned drinks already chilled in the fridge. The boys thought it was Christmas. Daniel was allowed out for the weekend prior to surgery and what a special weekend that was for us all. We explored some of the sights, took in a show, and ordered a giant bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken. It was so good to have time together and we were all so aware of God's blessings on us and His presence with us as a family.
Daniel had his operation on Monday 2nd March. He set out to beat all the records and this he did. We were told Dan would be in surgery for 4hrs, he took two and a half. They said he would have an epidural for 3-4 days; after only 12 hours he was on minimum dose and it was removed after 24. They said he would be in "strings and springs" for at least a week to develop control of his muscles. It only took 2 days being suspended before he was allowed to stand, (day 5 post op). Within a week he was walking with crutches. Needless to say we got home earlier than we'd expected. Dave and the boys arrived home on Wednesday evening and Dan and Sylv followed on the Friday, only 12 days post op.
There were many times when we were so aware of people praying for us. It was so encouraging too to receive letters and cards and even visits from friends who were in London at the time. There were tough times too but we are so thankful that we know a God who is real and able to meet all our needs. Daniel kept on saying "Don't worry I'm in the Lord's hands, He's looking after me." What more can you say?
All of us were tired on our return to Aberdeen and found it hard to accept that we then had to take up the routine of hospital visits and plan the next chemo. We all wanted it to be finished. We were reminded again that climbing mountains can only be done one step at a time and day by day we ask for God's grace to help see us through. Daniel has now had his next chemo and although he was still very sick, the new regime only lasts for 3 days instead of 5. This will carry on every 21 days until October, provided his bloods are okay. He seems to have experienced a little more pain this time but this has been controlled with more medication. He continues to be a source of strength to all of us. In writing to a young friend recently his advice on coping with pain was not to worry, imagine that Jesus is right there beside you and that will help you stay calm and not to fear. Fear just makes things worse. Childlike faith teaches us a lot and we watch with amazement at the effect of Dan's attitude on all the people he comes in to contact with.
Do continue to pray for us. Dave heads off to Sweden on 4th April to teach for two weeks at Holysburn Bible College. Sylv is hoping to take some holidays from work to be with the boys but Daniel will be having another chemo during this time.
Andrew and Jonathan have struggled at times but in the main understand Dan's demands on our time. They are always ready to step in and amuse Dan. We are trying to spend time with each of them individually but this can be difficult.
Pray too for the restrictions placed on Dan. He has to continue with physiotherapy twice weekly at the hospital. He has to stay on crutches for 6 weeks and he is not allowed to do certain movements for 6 months. He desperately wants to be as normal as possible. His special request is that as soon as his special Hickman Line (the catheter that goes into his heart) is out he wants to go swimming every day for weeks and weeks.
We thank you again for your love and prayers. They truly have kept us going in the last 5 months, only 6 more months to go. We thank God too for sustaining us and placing us in such a special family of people from all over the world.
With Love, Dave and Sylvia.
I am feeling really good at the minute. My last chemo went very well but there was a delay in starting it. Pharmacy couldn't get the drugs made up on time but this lot was slightly quicker going through so I still got out after 3 days. I was as sick as a dog as usual but on the ward they had just been given a fantastic new Nintendo 64. It kept me amused and made the days go quicker.
I have been going to physio every week. I have to do lots of exercises to build up my muscles. I am now allowed to weight bear so no more sticks or crutches. One of the exercises is very funny. I lie on my front and have to bend up my bad leg. I am still learning to control this muscle and so my leg swings all over the place! It looks drunk! I have even been to the golf driving range to learn to play golf. It is great fun.
I am due to go back on the 30th April for my 7th CChem. That means I have passed the half way mark - only 6 more chemos to go.
Thanks again for all your emails. I still find them very encouraging.
A short follow-up on 17th May
(Dan would like to tell everyone that last week he managed to ride his bike. This was a big achievement!)
Dad encouraged me whereas mum stood by very nervous. Being on the bike makes me feel normal again. I also had a home tutor for the first time this week. She is going to be coming for an hour on Monday,Wednesday and Friday. She is very nice and knows that I don't like English but she helps.
I am due to go back to hospital in about 10 days for bloods and then I will have my 8th chemo. That means I've got 5 to go.
Friday 5th June
The news today is that his condition appears to have deteriorated a little but he is still on a ventilator etc. There is a swelling at the back of his skull which is causing some further concern. Keep up the prayers for him and his family please. Our Pastor has said we are looking for a miracle.
Saturday 6th June
There has been a very slight improvement in Dan's condition tonight. The volume of oxygen has been cut by 50% and they have drawn off more fluid than expected. It appears that prayer is being answered (praise God) but he has a long long way to go before he is off the critical list.
Monday 8th June at 6.30 am
Dan remains critical but did have a good night. Two of the lines into his body have been removed but there is still no kidney function. His new femur prosthesis had been dislocated but it is now back in place. There has been a reduction in the oxygen level being given to Dan and there will be a meeting at 10 am (BST) today to discuss whether or not to try to allow him to breathe unaided. This can have consequences if he is unable to do so as it will be a major setback.
Please pray for wisdom for the medical staff as well as ongoing prayers for Dan and family.
Wednesday 10th June
Good Morning from Aberdeen
Dan is starting to respond to voices, twitching his feet and hands, almost seeming to try to open his eyes. We all thought that yesterday Dan would come round from the effects of the sedation which have been keeping him below consciousness. However because his liver is not functioning properly the sedatives which need to be broken down chemically are continuing to circulate round his bloodstream. Having been broken down the kidneys should process them out of his body. Again, because his kidneys have failed, this process has to be helped by dialysis. All this means that the wakening up process is slow.
Dr King is pleased to report that Dan's white blood cells have increased quite rapidly, but can't explain why. It is those white cells which will fight the septicaemia so that is good news.
Dave & Sylvia are in good spirits but we need to pray for Sylvia who has developed a cough and is worried about the effect that this could have on Dan. Please pray that this will not cause any problem. It is probably a result of extreme tiredness as it is now a week since these dramatic events started and Dave & Sylvia have only had a few very short breaks away from Dan's bedside.
Thank you for your continued prayers
Yours, Alfie C
Friday 12th June 1998 - 9.30a.m.
Good Morning from Aberdeen on this sunny day.
The news of Dan is more settled. As you know Dan became distressed yesterday when they tried to bring him round from the heavy sedation which he has been under for a week. The result was that they felt it best to keep him under a light sedative to avoid pain and distress.
There is word that they may try to remove the ventilator today again to see if he can sustain his breathing himself. If this is possible then there is also word that over the next few days they may consider moving him from the I.T.U. back to Intensive Care in the Sick Childrens' Ward. These signs would seem to indicate that the doctors are more happy with his condition.
Thank you for your continued concern and prayers.
I may not give another update till Monday unless there is anything major to report, as I will be out of the office till then.
Yours, Alfie C
"I will praise you o Lord and will praise your name for your love and your faithfulness"
Psalm 138 v 1 & 2 (abbrev.)
Saturday 13th June 1998 - GREAT NEWS!!!
Saturday NOON (from Alfie Cordiner)
I know that I said yesterday that you probably wouldn't hear from me again till Monday, B U T . . . . I'm so excited and wanted to give you the news.
Dan is conscious, and is able to converse with Dave & Sylvia. He is off the ventilator and oxygen and is breathing normally on his own. At this minute he is probably in surgery to remove some of the lines that he has had and when he comes out they are going to transfer him to the Childrens ward under his own consultant, Mr.King.
He is somewhat down in the dumps because he doesn't think that he is doing very well - but he doesn't realise how critical he has been - best not to know either. He can't understand that the World Cup has started and that he has missed the opening games.
Praise God for his healing and progress.
Yours, Alfie C
Please pray for Dan's mental outlook as he is rather afraid and "down" at present, which is not very surprising when you consider what he has been through recently!!
Monday 15th June
I just want to update you on Dan's condition and thank you for all your prayers and support given over the past 12 days while Dan has been so near to the Kingdom. We believe that it is only through the persistent and genuine prayer of so many that God has answered our prayer to spare Daniel's life. We give Him all the Praise. Bless the Lord O my soul, and all that is in me Bless His Holy Name. He has done great things, Bless His Holy Name.
We continue to pray for a full recovery.
Prayer points from Sylvia:-
Dan managed to drink yesterday without being sick, so it will be decided today if his nasal gastric tube (into his stomach for liquids) can be removed. This would be a big step as this is one of the things which is causing him distress.
Yesterday, during dialysis, Dan's blood pressure dropped dramatically, which often is the side effect, but so far has not been a problem. This made him very ill and caused considerable distress to him. The consultants must make a decision today on how they should proceed regarding his kidneys; which type of dialysis they should use, how often, what length of time, etc.
Wednesday is the day his central line needs to be cleaned and changed which entails an operation and general anaesthetic again. If Dan manages to eat before then, this would not be necessary, which for him would be wonderful.
Dan is very traumatised by his situation but is slowly coming out of his withdrawn and depressed state. He is very wary of all that is going on around him especially all the medical procedures.
All the above may sound a bit depressing for us on the outside but Dan's condition has made major steps forward and we believe that God can continue to help Dan back to full health. We have prayed for a miracle and we believe that God is showing us that that miracle is happening. Thank you for your part in this process.
As there is not so much happening day to day I will probably leave reports now, until there is something more substantial to report.
With warm Christian Greetings
Yours in Him, Alfie C.
"I cry aloud to the LORD; I lift up my voice to the LORD for mercy. I pour out my problems before him; before him I tell my trouble. When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who know my way. I cry to you, O LORD; I say, "You are my refuge." Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need; rescue me that I may praise your name. Then the righteous will gather about me because of your goodess to me."
I know I said I wouldn't circulate again for a little while, but Sylvia has just let us know that this morning Dan is so much brighter. (It may have been the 7a.m. Prayer Meeting at Deeside this morning). He has been laughing and asking for a cheeseburger (which he can't have . . . . YET) and is seemingly much more positive. He told Sylvia that when he woke up and saw everything, the tubes, machines, etc. he thought that he was going to die. Needless to say she didnt tell him that we thought that too.
Rejoice - The Lord is Great !
Yours, Up in the Air, Alfie C.
I was speaking to Sylvia earlier and she tells me that there have been two major steps. The first literally - Dan asked if he could walk to the toilet on his crutches and although he was like jelly he made it. The second (debatable whether it is progress!) is that last night he had a "Big Mac" for his tea.
He continues to be quite withdrawn and is really frustrated by all the medical folk who keep wanting to see him, examine him, take tests from him, etc. His kidneys are still only trickling and so he is on dialysis every day for about 4 hours. This Dan hates; he doesn't like to see his blood coming out of his body and going through a machine and then back in again - I can understand that. Also the actual dialysis really knocks him for six so he takes a while to recover the ground. We are really praying that God will touch his kidneys and start them working again very soon.
Thank you for your part in the recovery process - Dave, Sylvia and the boys all appreciate your prayers and concern.
Yours, Alfie C
9.00a.m. Tuesday 23rd June 1998
On Sunday Sylvia took Dan's track suit to hospital and dressed Dan, put him in a wheel chair and took him for a short trip into the sunny Aberdeen fresh air round the grounds of the Hospital. This was a major step and seemed to be good for Dan's physical and mental state.
On Monday Dan spent time on the Dialysis machine in the morning and after lunchtime he was transfered to the Childrens Hospital where he was taken to theatre. He has had all the lines removed from him and a new line below his collar bone fitted. So from 13 tubes 10 days ago he now has only one. This will be able to be used for his chemo and dialysis, and anything else which may be required. This permanent line will, hopefully, be left in till the end of all his treatment.
After this operation Dan was put into the side room of Ward 4 in Childrens' Hospital where he is known by all the staff. He is bright and happier and starting to respond to others. He is very tired as the Dialysis is really taxing on him. Over the past three weeks Dan has lost a stone (14lbs) in weight, and as you can imagine this is a major proportion of his weight. We are feeling confident that the Lord has touched Dan with His healing hand and that the progress, which we once thought would be impossible, is due to His loving tender care.
Continue to pray for Dan, Dave, Sylvia, Jonny & Andy and for the recovery to be full and swift. Dr. King is saying that whenever Dan is ready, he will be allowed home for a spell before he has to restart chemotherapy again.
Dan is still only being allowed family visitors, but I am delighted to report that Sylvia has said that I am allowed to pop in to see him on Wednesday or Thursday, his strength permitting.
Yours Alfie C
Psalm 145 (abbrev)
" I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever. Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever. Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts. They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty, and I will meditate on your wonderful works. They will tell of the power of your awesome works, and I will proclaim your great deeds. They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness. The LORD is gracious and compassionate and rich in love. The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. All you have made will praise you, O LORD; your saints will extol you. The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. The LORD watches over all who love him. My mouth will speak in praise of the LORD. Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever." Amen.
Tuesday 30th June (1300hrs) - Dan's condition is improving!
Just thought you would like to know what has been happening with Dan since I last sent out a message. When the last message came out Dan had lost his vision and had as a result been sent back to the Intensive Therapy Unit at Forresterhill Hospital. He was kept under sedation overnight and part of Saturday. When they did a scan they found that part of his brain (which presumable controls his sight) had been starved of blood and this was what caused the problem. When they took Dan out of sedation he was somewhat confused but thankfully able to see. The major problem at this time is that Dan's blood pressure is very high and this is causing him to have various symptoms, including nightmares, etc. He is now receiving a different type of dialysis and this seems to be better as his kidneys seem to be starting to work a little. In his own condition Dan is back at the Childrens Hospital and seems (when he is not in confusion) to be somewhat more happy and is starting to take an interest in what is happening around him and able to sit up a bit and able to eat a little bit of pizza, etc.
Today I came down Union Street, passing Aberdeen's most famous "Wayside Pulpit" at the church which has for so long been called "Willie Still's." This weeks text simply states :
"Keep Praying!" James 5
Thank you that you are!
As I am going off on holiday I thought that I should get you up to date with Dan's condition as you have been so good in remembering him in your prayers.
I have just arrived home going via the hospital where I visited Dan and Sylvia. Dan has made remarkable progress these last few days and during his wakeful periods is much brighter - even enjoying a spell on the Hospital Play Station (computer games). He has been in a High Dependency Unit in the Childrens Hospital most of this week which means that he has had a nurse with him 24 hours per day. Although he is in the same unit they have stopped the 24 hour attention and the hope is that he may be taken back to Ward 4 where he normally is for treatment and where he knows all the staff.
Dan is starting to eat a little. Fruit juice and, of all things, popcorn are going down very well. Although I did notice that the "jelly" sweets which I took in on Wednesday are almost finished. Dan is sleeping a lot and the staff are very happy about that as they say there is no healer like time.
Today's good news is that the kidneys are functioning and it looks as if he will need no further dialysis, which is a major answer to prayer. As you may know Dan has had problems with his new metal hip popping out of joint so they have made a small harness for him, which fits round his waist and hips with a piece attached by metal (like a hip) and then attached to his leg above the knee and this should stop this from happening when he walks - which he started this morning.
In brief - Dan's recovery has been miraculous and he is looking good, although he still has a bit to go yet. He has been promised that he will not be given any more chemotherapy for at least three weeks after he gets home, and that may be within the next week or so, we hope.
Dave has taken Jonny & Andy down to Aberfeldy to Dave's parents for a couple of days so he can spend some quality time with them, which I am sure will be welcomed by them.
Thanks again for your interest in Dan; the whole family and, indeed our church has been aware of the much wider Christian Family involved in this.
Yours, Alfie C
I spoke to Sylvia today and she tells me Dan was allowed home last night! Praise the Lord for a miracle! She will give me an update by email this weekend and I will post it here as soon as I receive it.
She asked me to thank all of you for your continued expressions of encouragement and concern for the family.
15th July 1998
Dan was discharged from hospital four days ago and is progressing well following his 5 weeks in hospital. He is so pleased to be home and to sleep in his own bed. Sleeping is something he does a lot of, on average he is sleeping 16 hours a day. His appetite is coming back and he wants to sample all kinds of food. He has lost 7 kg and now weighs in at just 33 kg.
Today the big excitement is Dan's visit to the swimming pool for hydro-therapy to build up his muscles. Dan has not been in a swimming pool since last October, since the insertion of the Hickman line for chemotherapy. He had all the lines removed from his body last Thursday to allow his body to restore itself without any risk of further infection. He will be returning to hospital at the beginning of August for a new Hickman line to be inserted. In the meantime we have 3 weeks when Daniel can hopefully go swimming every day, provided we can manage getting into and out of the pool.
Dan is limited in his walking due to painful muscles when he stands for too long. He also has to wear a special support brace around his waist and left leg in order to prevent his leg from re-dislocating. This happened twice during his stay in hospital, each time he had been sedated in ITU. The muscle relaxant that has to be given in order to ventilate him unfortunately relaxed the muscle that keeps Dan's metal leg in place. It is hoped that Dan will not need the brace once his muscles are strong enough. This will probably be a period of up to 6 weeks. The brace does cause a lot of discomfort and fitting it whenever we have to go out can be very distressing for Daniel.
Please pray that this time will be as short as possible.
Daniel in himself is amazing. Most of the time he continues to have the determination to get through this period of his life and shows such a positive and optimistic outlook. We counted up that since October Dan has actually had 18 anaesthetics. That is, of course, not counting the 11 days when he was continually sedated when he was on the life support machines in ITU. When reflecting upon this Dan said "Just think Mum, that's 18 times I 've faced death and God has brought me back."
At the time he knew he had been very ill but had no idea how real that statement had become to us, his parents, who had seen his life hang by a thread on more than one occasion.
The whole family are managing to get away this weekend for a week. We are escaping to a country cottage in beautiful Perthshire. This is another bonus as we thought we would be unable to get away at all this summer because of Dan's treatment.
In August Dan will resume chemotherapy and still has a further 5 treatments to complete. This is dependant on his kidney function remaining normal.
Thank you all for your constant support, love and prayers.
We have just returned from a wonderful weeks holiday at a cottage near Aberfeldy, Perthshire. It has been a special time for all of us as we look back over the past 7 weeks. It has been hard to take in all that has happened. We still have a long way to go but this week has been like an oasis in the desert, or a shelter in the storm.
We were able to spend time with Dave's folks and Jonathan, Andrew and Dave played lots of golf. Not to be outdone Sylvia and Daniel on two occasions hired a golf buggie and could be seen flying down the fairway as Daniel took over the wheel!! It was so good to laugh and enjoy being together. Another highlight was the evening we hired a speedboat for an hour. Daniel dispelled our anxieties regarding his ability to manage the boat when he took over the wheel and sped into the middle of Loch Tay leaving a huge wake behind us. The sun came out and we were so aware of our Heavenly Father being with us as we took in the glorious scenery.
We want to thank you all again for your loving care and prayerful support during this time. We are so grateful to our Father for placing us in such a loving family.
Daniel, in himself, is tremendous. His spirits remain high and he views this year as a tough year but one which God will help him to get through. He has times when he gets very tired and frustrated with his limitations. He isn't looking forward to more chemotherapy but he lives for today and takes whatever comes along. He has so enjoyed being able to swim again and have a bath. This will be stopped again once his Hickman line is reinstated.
His leg is getting stronger and the physiotherapist is very pleased with his progress. He has to continue using his crutches for 6 weeks in order to support the weak muscles. He is due to see the orthopaedic surgeon, Mr Gibson, at the end of August to discuss future extensions of his leg.
Here is Dan's schedule for the next couple of weeks:-
Daniel will have to have another general anaesthetic and another Hickman line inserted at the beginning of August, the exact date has not been arranged yet. We think that he still has to have 5 pulses of Chemotherapy but Dr King is in consultation with specialists in Newcastle to confirm this. One of the drugs used in the Chemotherapy affects kidney function and because Daniel went into kidney failure when he suffered septicaemia he is obviously more at risk.
He remains on medication to control fitting but is being weaned off this medication slowly; the whole process will take another 4 weeks. He has had no further fits or episodes of blindness. He is to have a second brain scan and an EEG done in the near future to see if there is any permanent damage. The consultant neurologist, Dr Cole, says that Daniel is a mystery. She cannot explain his rapid deterioration or even more surprisingly his remarkable recovery! In her estimation he has been left with no neurological or visual deficits.
Points for prayer:-
Dan's determination has kept him going; he always sets himself a target and then achieves it. He was determined to be at school for the first day of term. He surprised us all by staying all day as this was his first full day at school since October and especially as it was only 5 days after his chemotherapy. He has been unable to attend school regularly since that day but pops in from time to time. Dan will hopefully return to school full time after Christmas.
His next achievement was to run on the tread mill at physiotherapy; he astounded the physio by running at top speed for three minutes.
He has promised me an update for all you good folk who have been prayig for him and sending him encouragement. He does appreciate it. Thanks.
I will see the orthopaedic surgeon at the end of November and he will have to decide when I have to go in for my leg to be lengthened. Last time we saw him he said he probably wouldn't extend it until I was really fit and healthy again,probably not until February or March. They still haven't decided whether or not I will have to return to London or just do it up here in Aberdeen.
In myself I feel great I'm getting so excited because we're almost at the end of the treatments. I've started painting with water colours and my mum and dad have framed some of my pictures and they are hanging in the hall. I find it very relaxing and enjoy seeing a picture come together.
Thank you again for your prayers.
He wants to thank "all his readers" (cheeky so and so) for their thoughts, prayers and expressions of encouragement throughout his illness. It really did make a difference and he appreciates all you have done.
Thanks, and have a blessed and peaceful Christmas.
In the New Year Dan faces the prospect of having a major adjustment to to his leg to bring it to the same length as the other. Hopefully, this will stop the limp which has developed because of the difference. The op should take place either in early March or after the Pratt's family holiday at Easter. There will of course be a monitoring process which Dan will be kept under for the next two years to check whether there are any cancerous cells still in his body which have withstood the Chemo "zapping." The family are all very positive about the future and even Dan says that if there is anything found, then they will just cope with it as they have done in the past!
The good news continues!
Just had to pop you an update to say that Dan's line is now out and he has seen the orthopaedic surgeon and there is no need for any further operations until we come back from our holidays. Daniel is thrilled because now we can concentrate on getting excited about our holiday of a lifetime in only 7 weeks time.
Daniel is so happy. His only complaint is of the pain he gets in his bad leg when he is weight bearing for a long time. We asked the surgeon if he thought there was a problem. He x-rayed his leg, said everything was in place. He turned to Daniel and said he would just have to pace himself. At this moment in time Daniel is playing basketball in the garden with a friend!!! He says he'd rather enjoy himself and cope with the pain afterwards. He really is an amazing boy . . . but I am biased.
I'll close now and get this sent to you. Thanks for all your support we really appreciate it.
Dan wants to say "hi" to everyone and let them know that he is so happy and excited about our forthcoming trip to Florida. We leave on 21st March and return to Scotland on 6th April.
This is going to be some trip. For Mum it's like a dream come true. She finds it hard to believe that it is coming true. She desperately wanted to take us all on a very special holiday after last year and to celebrate it all being over but never thought it would be the schedule we have lined up.
We will be spending the first 6 days in Orlando together as a family and then we travel down to Bradenton for 10 days with friends we made 20 years ago. Whilst in Orlando we have been given complimentary passes to all the Walt Disney theme parks, Sea World and Universal Studios. These came as a surprise from the Cancer Trust who organised our travel insurance. There are so many miracles that we have experienced as a family over the years but the generosity of our fellow Christian brothers and sisters has been so overwhelming. Our Father in heaven certainly does own the cattle on a thousand hills and we remain astounded at His blessings to us through people. This indeed will be a holiday of a life time for us.
Daniel remains in excellent health although does experience mechanical problems with knee pain and some joint pains from time to time. He is due to see both the orthopaedic surgeon and the oncologist within the first week of us being back from holiday. Then a decision will be made as to his first extension operation. This will probably be in April/May depending on how much Daniel has grown. The surgeon is hoping to carry out the operation here in Aberdeen and he tells us that it should be straight forward with only a couple of days in hospital. The check ups with regard to the cancer are on going with a three month X- ray of chest and legs to make sure that there is no secondary growth. These will continue for the next 10 years before they pronounce Daniel cured. However they do say that Daniel has an excellent prognosis.
The rest of the family are well and all looking forward to our first family holiday abroad.
Dave, Sylv, Jonathan, Andrew, Daniel
At last we have put pen to paper to update you all regarding the next instalment of the Pratt Family Saga. It is all good news.
We are truly sorry for not writing since Christmas but the carousel of life has taken over and at times feels as if it is going faster than it ever has gone before.
Thank you for your continued support in prayer and letters and phone calls. We really do appreciate you all and thank God daily for the amazing family of God that we are a part of. It is hard to believe that it was just twelve months ago that Daniel was rushed into ITU and we were advised to prepare for the worst. To see him today is a joy inexpressible. He is so full of energy and vibrancy, he is so determined to live life to the full. He is due to see the orthopaedic surgeon on 24th June and hopefully be given a date for his extension operation, here in Aberdeen. It all depends on the length difference of his legs and only when there is a 3cm difference will they consider extending.
He is also due to see Dr King the oncologist on the 6th July for his 6 month bone scan, x rays and blood tests. Up until now all of Dan's test are normal. Naturally we hope that this continues but are very aware that the cancer that Daniel had has a high reoccurrence rate and even though Daniel's prognosis was very good (60% chance of cure) we take each day as it comes. Daniel too is aware of the possibility and continues to encourage us whenever it comes up in conversation by saying to us that God will get us through the next one just like He did the last one by taking it just one step at a time, day by day. We can learn so much from our children and their childlike faith. They live for each day and enjoy the best moments by not looking too much to the future or dwelling in the regrets of the past.
Daniel's day to day life has now returned to normal. He attends school full time and tries to take part in as many activities as he can. His leg is painful from time to time especially after lots of sports and when advised by the doctor to rest and slow down. Dan replied "I'd rather enjoy the sport and take the pain killers afterwards". What can you say except "Go for it son". He walks unaided but has a marked limp due to the difference in the length of his legs and the hip muscle being attached to other muscles rather than bone. His physiotherapist is very pleased with him and doesn't want to see him until after his extension operation. All in all a walking miracle and evidence to us that prayer does work. Thank you for standing with us.
Now for the rest of the family news. Andrew continues to enjoy his sports. He was selected for the North District Under 14s hockey team and travelled to Glasgow to play for them. He was also selected for Aberdeen under14's but this tournament unfortunately clashed with a sailing course and he opted for sailing, such a busy life!! (See photos at end of this letter). Jonathan joined his two brothers on the sailing course and they all successfully completed RYA stage two and are all keen to take this further into advanced sailing. Jonathan continues to enjoy his basketball and is really looking forward to the summer break. He is acutely aware that the approaching school year will hold lots of hard work and revision as he prepares to sit his standard grades next May.
Dave is as busy as ever. He sets off for two weeks to Italy on 3rd July having had a week with us in Aberfeldy before departure. He will be taking some young folk from our church to work with GLO (Gospel Literature Outreach) and lead the daily bible studies. He returns for one week before speaking at Teen Ranch from 25th - 31st July. Home for another week before the annual Holiday Bible Club at Church. Then lo and behold the new term starts and all the groups to be organised for the winter term.
Sylvia returned to working 20 hours per week as a practice nurse at our local surgery in January. She was successful in passing her Asthma Diploma in December. She is currently awaiting the results of her Diploma in the Chronic Obstructive Airways Disease due out in July. As if that is not enough she sits finals for the Diabetic Diploma in September. All in all too much and she has struggled trying to keep her head above water. She has declared emphatically that there are to be no more courses for at least a couple of years. Added to this she has worked extra hours covering for annual leave of colleagues and shared the burden of discipling and leading some of the young folk from church. Not forgetting of course keeping the household ticking over and food on the table, although most times it's a case of the foods in the freezer . . . help yourself.
We did all manage a memorable holiday in Florida to celebrate Dan's 11th birthday back in March. We are so grateful to God for his provision for us. So many things happened which blessed us we returned feeling recharged and refilled to continue the work He has for us.
In closing we leave you with this :-
" Praise be to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. And our hope for you is firm, because just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort," 2 Corin.1 v 3-7.
We serve an amazing God who sustains us daily. Pray that we will continue to be His faithful servants.
Dave, Sylvia, Jonathan, Andrew and Daniel
P.S. Daniel will be going in for his extension operation on Tuesday 3rd August. He will be covered with antibiotics and the operation will be Wednesday, hopefully home by Saturday. These dates are still to be confirmed. Please pray that there will be no infection introduced into the bone and that the reopened wound will heal well.
He had his review with Dr King the oncologist and all is well; he doesn't need to see Daniel until 18th January and thereafter every 3 months instead of every 6 weeks. All appears to be going very well indeed.
Daniel also saw the orthopaedic surgeon this week who is also pleased with his progress. Daniel broke his arm 6 weeks ago when he fell off his bike. This has now healed almost completely. The cast was removed last Thursday and Daniel is under strict instructions to BE CAREFUL. (These words do not appear in Daniel's dictionary at times). There is a slight shadow behind one of the breaks and the next 4 weeks will be crucial in order for full recovery.
It is good to see him living life to the full but there are times when we as his parents wish he could show some caution???
His extension surgery done in August went along without a hitch. Thank-you for your prayers. Daniel is left with a limp, technically called a Trendelenburg gait and this causes him to swing from side to side and thereby puts a strain on his lower back. He copes well with this most of the time and only occasionally needs to take painkillers.
Next month will mark Daniel's first year after completion of chemotherapy and for this we thank God. Who knows what the future will hold? Daniel's prognosis is very good with 60% chance of cure. We obviously pray to this end but more than this we trust in a living God who knows the end from the beginning and has promised He will never leave us or forsake us.
Thank you all for your e-mails. They have been a real source of encouragement to us.
Dave and Sylv.
He is due for an orthopaedic follow up this week. He has grown 2.5cm since January so I am sure an extension operation is on the cards some time in the next few months.
Dan continues to face life head on. If he hits a difficulty and stumbles he just picks himself up, dusts himself down and carries on. He has had some frustrating times with his limitation but once this bubbles over and expressed then life comes back into focus and he's off on his merry way. We are so thankful that he appreciates life and lives it to the full.
The other good news is that Dave and Sylvia have taken up a post at Barcaple Christian Centre in Ayrshire, South West Scotland. It is good news in as much as they are sure this is where God wants them to be, but the downside is that we will miss all of them here in Aberdeen! We will of course keep in touch by email and phone with visits from time to time. Once they have their personal email address set up down there I will post it here so that their many friends and prayer partners will be able to contact the family.
"Our main reason for finally getting down to writing to you all is to ask you to pray for Dan. We heard from the consultant this week that he is to be admitted om Monday 6th August for pre-operative physiotherapy, to build up the muscle. Then after a few days of assessment he wants to remove the old endoprosthesis and replace it with a new one. He estimates that Dan will be in for two and half to three weeks depending on his progress. Dan is determined to set a new record again for being allowed home!
Dave, Jonny and Andy will not be travelling down this time. Please pray that Sylv will have the energy and the peace to be all that Dan needs. He will be in the
Adolescent Unit, National Orthopaedic Hospital, Brockley Hill, Stanmore, Middlesex England HA7 4 LP.
If you have time you could drop Dan a line: on his last admission mail delivery became such a highlight of his day. He just loved receiving cards and letters.
Pray too for Dave as he holds the fort at the Barcaple Christian Centre. He had a biking accident 10 days ago. Intially it was thought he had damaged his spine but, thankfully, the doctor thinks it is only soft tissue damage of his thigh, affecting the sciatic nerve and hopefully will resolve in a few weeks time. Please pray that this will heal quickly."
Please pray for strength and understanding for all the family but especially for Dan as he was convinced all would go well and he would again break the record for the fastest recovery and discharge from hospital.
Thanks to Gayle Cordiner for this update! I will forward your emails to Gayle and who will print them out and take them to the hospital for Dan whilst he is there.
Dan's new prosthesis is larger than the previous one and is shaped in such a way that it should last 4 years before it has to be replaced. It will require an operation each year to extend the length of it to keep up with the growth in his other leg.
He again emphasised how delighted and grateful he was to receive so many cards and emails from well-wishers. Thanks!!
Do please continue to pray for him and his family.
Hopefully, Dan will be able to get back to school soon.
Thanks for the worldwide prayers for Dan.
This is an extract from a Newsletter received from Dan's parents
It has been such a long time since we actually got down to writing to you all. We think of you often and wonder what is happening in your lives.
This year up until now has been easier in one way because we are not learning everything for the first time. Each day is different and although we try and plan to do things, sometimes other circumstances take over and you can be found at the end of the day wondering where the time went. Someone once said "When you are a Christian then constant change is here to stay". We should always be prepared for when God has something different for us to do and not become too comfortable in our lives that we resist change, whether it is in our situation or in our personal walk with Him. Running the centre at Barcaple has caused us to become even more acutely aware of our need for Him in order to face the challenges and the changes. We were encouraged recently at one of our staff devotions looking at the wonder of grace, (believe me living and working with fifteen staff we need plenty of grace!!) the verse that states "My grace is sufficient for you" and "My strength is made perfect in weakness". It is only as we work as a team embracing each other and showing grace to each other, identifying our weaknesses and supporting each other that we see God glorified in all that we do. We all make mistakes, that is life, coping with someone else making a mistake that affects you needs lots of grace, we have seen time and time again how God can meet us and provide that need.
The centre generally has been very busy. We have had groups from all over the UK and opportunities to share something of the gospel with them. One report came back to us of a boy aged 11 who went home and said to his mum, "If that is what being a Christian is all about then I want to be one". One of the voluntary staff working with us for 7 months from South Africa made a commitment to the Lord and is growing like a fresh young shoot.
Amongst all these joys as some of you are aware Dan has had to suffer some set backs with his leg. At the beginning of March Dan developed an infection along the scar line of his wound and was immediately put onto antibiotics. Twelve weeks, three admissions to hospital and two operations later he is still on antibiotics. Although the wound is healing there is at this time no guarantees that the infection has gone completely. The last operation revealed that the cyst with the serous fluid in actually went right down to the prosthesis (the metal bit). The mystery is that we have been unable to identify any particular bacteria and Daniel is now on very strong antibiotics, which require weekly bloods to check that liver and kidneys are not affected. All this time Daniel has been off school and although at times feels very tired he tries to keep him self occupied. He has recently taking up playing the drums and can be heard shattering the peace and quiet of the countryside as he beats out a rhythm in the garden shed. He misses school and seeing all his friends. He has some home tutors but misses the banter. Please continue to lift him in prayer it is not easy for him because I think more than ever he is limited in what he can do. On a positive note the staff in the children's ward at Dumfries hospital all now know him and think he is a star, although they did tell him on departure not to hurry back.
Andy has just completed his Highers and is breathing a sigh of relief. It was not easy for him as yet again we had a fragmented family as one of Daniel's admissions to hospital was the day before Andy's physics Higher. Andy is still planning what he wants to do over the next few months. He is undecided about returning to school after the summer - it really depends on his results. He joins in with the staff at the centre and has been up at 5am to go off climbing or cycling. He went kayaking the other night and his most recent interest is playing a computer game over the net. This explains why some of you have had difficulty trying to phone us at home!!!
Jonny is still working hard at Nethybridge. They recently had a group of 120 students from university. Jonny was designated breakfast cook and had to get up at 6am to cook breakfast for 150 people. Never in our wildest dreams would we have said Jonny would be doing that. It has been a challenging year for him and not always easy. He has been accepted for the Trainee Instructors Course based at Ardgour starting in September and is currently in the process of raising sponsorship for that. He has managed to learn to snowboard this year, improve his kayaking and climbing and generally grow into an independent young man.
Dave has been instructing quite a lot recently as we had several large groups at the centre. He could be seen cycling through the forests of Dalbeattie with a group of youngsters. The developments at the centre are still ongoing with the new project being the conservatory at the back of the house, which will act as a boot room. The foundations and the wall were built this week.
Sylvia was nicknamed "Sonic" by some of the staff and that name is still appropriate at times. We have someone helping in the office for two days a week now so that is helping relieve some of the pressure. Her nursing skills remain very useful and recently had to take a diabetic child to hospital for admission. You can imagine the consternation of the nursing staff as she appeared with a different child other than Daniel.
Thank you again for your prayers and encouragements we really do appreciate them.
Yours in His Service,
Dave, Sylvia, Jonny, Andy and Dan the bionic man.
STOP PRESSDaniel was seen this week by Mr Cannon down in London and unfortunately he is planning to admit Dan sometime in August, date to be confirmed. The prosthesis is infected and has to be removed, a temporary one has then to be placed in coated with antibiotics. This is then left in for six weeks during which time Dan will probably be on skeletal traction and confined to bed. We are hoping to be transferred to Dumfries for this. Then he has to back to London for a new prosthesis to be put in. He will probably be in hospital for 10 to 12 weeks. Please pray for us all it seems like another mammoth mountain to climb. Naturally we were very shocked but are trying to come to terms with it.
Well here I am again, about to go back into hospital. I thought it would be good to let all of you know how it's going. I've finally set up my database to keep in touch with you all. As I've said many times before, thank you all for your cards, gifts and phone calls - they really have made a difference to me. Some times when me, mum and dad are in the hospital, we feel very alone like we're going though this by ourselves but then the post comes and you have no idea how much that cheers us all up. It feels like you're not alone but you got a huge family behind you supporting you 100% every step you take. Then you feel not just a little better. I mean then you feel really happy and up for anything. Thank you.
Well since 1st March I've had an infection: the doctors think I caught the infection from the last operation where I had a wound that wouldn't heal, the bugs are just normal bacteria that you get on your skin, (staph.epidermis for the smart people). So I've been on various antibiotics since March. So far I have had no symptoms or allergic reactions to them. So 6 weeks ago I was admitted to R.N.O.H (Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital) in London Stanmore which is a DUMP!!!!! Sounds nice doesn't it but no it isn't. It was built after World War 1 for all the diseases like small pox and TB. So all the wards are separate from the main hospital. So if I need to go to X-ray I have to go outside over the bumpy road, which I think was made before cars were invented, more like when people used carts over cobble roads. Then you are into the main hospital where the main corridor is. This is a huge hill the length of the hospital and guess what, X-ray is almost at the top of the hill which knackers the porters. If its raining outside then you get a yellow tent over your bed with a little window at the top so you can see what's happening which feels like you're in a space capsule.
Anyway, I was in London for 2 weeks. Then I was allowed home. This was a blessing because I had been warned that I might have been in for 12 weeks with a central line but thanks to your prayers I didn't and I managed to go home. Well when I was there I had my infected leg taken out and a spacer put in which is a thin metal rod from my hip to knee wrapped in cement and antibiotics which the doctors say is bright pink because of the antibiotic powder. My movement is very limited because of the size of the hip ball joint and it's not smooth so when I move it usually clicks which can be painful.
When I was in hospital we made a lot of friends. One of the families were all Christians and that was very encouraging for us. They told us that before they came they prayed that there would be some one there to show them the ropes and that we were their answer to prayer, which was really cool. Some of the staff commented on how we coped so well; I was also able to share my testimony with them. Mum had her laptop with her and I had typed it up for my baptism in August. One of the play specialists couldn't speak and had to walk away once she had finished reading. Just in case you missed my baptism and some of you have requested a copy I have added it on at the end of this letter. Use it as you want to. I know that God can speak through people's lives.
So now I'm back home going back to London on the 11th, op on 12th - this time they will be taking out the spacer and putting a new metal leg in. The three big areas which I would ask for your prayers are that I don't get an infection in this prosthesis, that the new leg does not dislocate and that my wound will heal completely.
Thanks once again for all your support and prayers.
Lots of love from Dan the bionic man.
P.S. The address at the hospital is Adolescent Ward, R.N.O.H, Brockley Hill, Stanmore, Middlesex. HA7 4LP
PPS Admission postponed for a week - phone call today Friday. New date for admission 17th and operation 18th November.
19 Dec 2002
Delighted to tell you Dan continues to make tremendous progress!
We are so pleased to report that Dan is doing brilliantly. He says he feels normal again. He has had no infections, no antibiotics, no crutches and he has only taken painkillers on a couple of occasions following a game of basketball, and when he suffered concussion following a game of ultimate frisby!!! You just can't keep him down and it is fantastic. He has not seen a doctor or the inside of a hospital since January 2003 and his next appointment in London is not until July. According to Mr Cannon after his next check if all is well then Dan will not have to return to London again because the prosthesis in his leg is an adults one and hopefully this particular bone has stopped growing although his spine may still do some growing. He can change it if need be but he prefers to leave well alone so that no infection gets in. Dan is enjoying school and appears to be coping well with all his subjects. The exams at the end of the year will probably highlight some of the gaps but his teachers are confident that he will not have to repeat a year. He has now got a part time job working at the center helping out set up and clears away after the evening meal. He has been through to Carlisle for quite a few weekends and stays with the Kwants. He enjoys joining with the young people of Hebron and is about to go away for a weekend to near Edinburgh. This is the furthest he has ever ventured from us and we are a little anxious but he needs to be independent and we hope he will be sensible. He had a fantastic weekend near Aviemore with the Deeside young folks back in February and we stayed nearby at Nethybridge.
The season of Christmas comes quicker every year and the composition of this letter is done at the last minute. Looking back there have been lots of major events in our family and, as always, God has proved himself to be such a faithful God. We rejoice in his goodness and along with Job, who regardless of his circumstances, said "Blessed be the Name of the Lord".
We celebrated our 25th Wedding Anniversary this September. It was wonderful to share that time with Sylv's brothers and their wives and all the boys, then to get away for a couple of nights to a local hotel. Daniel was still recovering from his second dislocation so we couldn't go too far. Neither of us could believe that so many years have gone by so quickly. We have so much to thank God for; our lives are full and fruitful. We have made many special friends down through the years that have brought colour and variety into our lives.
Our eldest son Jonny, aged 19 completed his Trainee Instructor course in September. He was successful in obtaining several qualifications which will equip him in his career as an outdoor instructor. He moved to Aberdeen City to work in an outdoor shop for four months to earn money to go towards his next course in January. He leaves for Maine USA on 5th January for 12 weeks to hopefully obtain further skiing/snowboarding qualifications that will enable him to travel anywhere in the world. He then plans to return to the UK and be centre based and consolidate his training. He also passed his driving test and dreams of the day when he will own his own pick up truck. Jonny thrilled us in September when he decided at the last minute to be baptized. He was about to leave home having been working for us as at Barcaple and prior to heading to Aberdeen. We were attending the baptism service of two of the staff of the centre. The opportunity to be baptized was given and Jonny decided now was the time and was plunged into the depths of Loch Ken. It was such a wonderful spontaneous moment. Jonny shared how for him his time with the Abernethy Trust had helped to shape his thinking more and he publicly wanted to declare that he wanted to make a stand for God before entering "the World". Please pray that his course will go well and that he will know God's plans for his future. During his time in Aberdeen he has been able to meet up with old school friends and has had some incredible opportunities to share his faith.
Andy, aged 18, has moved to Aberdeen to study. He is about to change courses from Mechanical Engineering to Computer Management Program Engineering in January provided he passes his exams. His life is very full and exciting. He has been involved in the Alpha Course at Deeside and has shared the joy of seeing his flat mate Lloyd come to faith. He has fallen in love with a wonderful girl called Jenna. They met at Barcaple during the Adventure Week where they were both dorm leaders. Jenna lives in Glasgow and is hoping to study medicine nextSeptember. Andy too got baptized this November and despite being quite ill on the day of his baptism he was able to share his testimony with such power and conviction. It is so thrilling to see God at work in his life and we have shared many precious family prayer times throughout this year.
Daniel has only had two admissions to hospital this year both just overnights. That is a record compared to the seven admissions the previous year with a total of eight weeks in the wards. We are pleased to report that there have been no infections this year at all and the replacement that was put in November 2002 is still in situ. The minor blips this year has been due to his prosthesis dislocating. Looking back we think that this occurred because the muscle had become fatigued, Dan had been doing too much, and it was not strong enough to support the hip. Dan appears to have accepted this and has stopped playing all sports. The consultant in London has agreed that he can cycle and swim but definitely no basketball!!! Dan is becoming quite a drummer and has been given use of a friend's kit which he bashes till his hearts content, sorry, I should say "plays". The noise is deafening but he loves it. He has developed a really good core of friends at school and has recently started making movies. He misses sharing Christian fellowship with folks his own age and so our times visiting friends in Aberdeen or through to visit friends in Carlisle become even more precious. He has just completed his prelims and looks to have done not too badly in most subjects. There are some gaps but overall the teachers are pleased considering that he has missed about 2 years of school in the last six. He is unsure about his choice of future career. He sometimes thinks physiotherapy but is concerned about his leg and if he could manage being on his feet all day; sometimes he thinks about Bible College and becoming a youth worker. We will wait and see. He has been thrilled to see his brothers grow in their faith and be able to share with them. He remains cancer free and the doctors say that he is now in the 90% bracket of the risk of no further spread. It is now 6 years since he was diagnosed and 5 years since he completed chemotherapy. He is living life to the full and not allowing his limitation to affect his attitude of thankfulness for the life he has been given to live.
Dave continues with at least a weekly shot of mountain biking down the Seven Stanes courses at Dalbeatie Forrest. He has recently got involved in an outreach through our church where approximately 30 young folk and adults go cycling once a month. It is hoped that this will lead on to an Alpha type course in the coming year. He mastered the art of Sailing this year and although there is still lots to learn he enjoyed sailing on Loch Tay in the summer and the plan is to repeat it again next year. The center management is an ongoing daily challenge with lots of ups and downs. He always values the privilege of doing the work we do and as he walks up the drive each morning he is thankful to be here. Currently he is coordinating the major refurbishment of the main house and it is very demanding but the end result will be worth it.
Sylvia also tried sailing this year. It was great fun but prefers to be one of the crew and leaves the helmsmanship to someone else. She has enjoyed speaking at several local meetings this year varying from Women's Guild to Viewpoint to a local church in New Galloway. Her First Aid lecturing continues about one day a week during term time. This coming year she hopes to develop her gardening interests which have been dormant since the children were born. There is talk about a greenhouse, growing plants, strawberries and raspberries - watch this space.
We look forward to hearing news from you all. We wish you all God's peace this Christmas time.
Dave, Sylv, Jonny, Andy and Dan
The end of the first month of 2005 is almost here; please accept our belated wishes for a happy and blessed New Year.
It was wonderful to receive greetings and updates from some of you at Christmas; we trust that you had a fun filled time. December for us was different this year. It began with the annual Abernethy Trust Conference in Gartmoor House. We then returned for a few days to Barcaple before departing for our first holiday abroad without the boys. Two weeks in the sun with no responsibilities just rest relaxation and recharging, it was wonderful. We could be seen most mornings cycling along the coast line near Caleta de Fuste on Fuertaventura, one of the Canary Islands before sipping morning coffee at one of the restaurants near the harbour. We returned on the 22nd just in time for a very quiet Christmas with Andy and Dan.
We returned to work on the 27th with our first official New Years House party. It was a very successful event which everyone appreciated. We had so many laughs as the staff and guests entered into the spirit of the occasion and celebrated stepping into a new year with all its challenges and expectations.
Jonny was unable to join us this Christmas as he was working for Oak Hall as a ski instructor based at Lauterbrunnen in Switzerland. He has had a hectic and challenging year. He successfully completed the ski course in Maine USA returning to the UK at the end of March. He then worked as a summer instructor in Ardgour (Abernethy Trust School of Leadership Centre near Fort William), from April to August. They have a variety of groups in whilst the trainee instructors are on placements. He enjoyed being back working with Christians and sharing his faith with the guests. He then returned home for four months to work locally and try and gain a positive bank balance. He surprised us by his ability to adapt to whatever jobs came along. He spent some time working nights at an old people's home caring for the frail and confused. He also helped build huge farm buildings which involved driving fork lift trucks and playing with all kinds of tools. It was great to have him home. We cherish the opportunities we have to be together. He left for Switzerland on 12th December and works at a variety of Oak Hall centres in Switzerland until the end of February. He has been accepted to work at Heatree Christian Centre, in Devon, beginning in March. He is looking forward to being in one place where he hopes to be able to put down roots for a couple of years. His responsibilities as well as instructing the guests will be to train some of the junior staff and develop the kayaking of the various rivers. In his free time he is looking forward to getting involved in a local church, Exeter is not too far away, and having a go at some wind surfing and sailing.
Andy has continued with his engineering degree in Aberdeen. He is pleased that he decided not to change although it has meant that he has had to do a lot of work this year. He lives life to the full and is trying to learn to say "No". He is very involved in Alpha at Deeside and thoroughly enjoys sharing his faith and challenging others. He also uses his computer skills to help at Sold Out, an immense Christian worship and teaching event held bi monthly in the Exhibition Centre in Aberdeen. He helped instigate and organize a 24/7 prayer week in the church which was such an encouragement to so many people. He was a dorm leader again this summer at our Adventure Weeks and had the privilege of leading several young people to the Lord. His sense of fun and adventure are infectious and we all spent several hours being entertained. He purchased his first car in November and called it Felix. He is so enjoying the freedom and independence this brings and has made several trips to Glasgow to visit Jenna. They continue to enjoy being together whenever their busy study schedules allow. Jenna has now started studying Medicine at Glasgow and continues to be a real source of joy and encouragement to him. At the end of this academic year Andy has to decide which discipline in engineering he wants to go for and at the moment it appears to be electronic rather than mechanical.
Dan has had a fantastic year. No hospitals except for two out patient appointments, no infections except for the occasional cold, no dislocations, no replacements and no cancer.
He has only had one or two days off school and is working very hard. He managed to obtain credit passes in all his standard grades. He was so thrilled because he did confess afterwards that he didn't do as much work as he knows he should have done. He is currently studying Highers in Maths, English, Physics, Biology and Chemistry. It is tough as he never even studied chemistry at standard grade but he seems to be rising to the challenge. He is aiming to give his studies his best shot and depending on his grades he will decide which pathways are open to him in August. He continues to enjoy playing the drums and has now branched into playing Bongos at church. He was awarded second prize at a public speaking competition at school sponsored by the local rotary club. He constantly gives in to the temptation to play basketball at lunchtime and unfortunately is very good. This makes it all the harder for us to give permission for him to play for the sixth year team. He accepts our reasons but struggles with the reality. He helped initiate the starting of a youth group here at Barcaple most Sunday evenings. A lot of his non Christian friends have been and he continues to use every opportunity to share his faith with them.
Dave continues to be fulfilled and challenged with his work as Operations Director at the centre. He is hoping to achieve even more qualifications in the outdoors this year. His mountain biking continues to be his main form of relaxation. He has just completed a Niko level one last week. This involves living and surviving out in the wilderness for four nights being stretched physically mentally and spiritually. They endured all weathers including blizzards and a lot of rain!!! Not bad for a forty niner. Dave now plans to run Niko events using the centre as a base.
Sylvchecked last year's newsletter only to discover that all the things she thought she might do have not even been attempted during this past year so what she will do this year remains a mystery!! Highlights from her year must include seeing old friends from Aberdeen at the Ladies weekend in Crieff, joining in the wedding celebrations of family friends and watching her family grow.
We serve a faithful God who gives us grace and strength for each day. Our prayer for all of us is that we remain faithful to him.
Love from Dave, Sylv, Jonny, Andy and Dan
Hello friends! I recently accompanied Barry on a sailing voyage on his yacht. It was an amazing experience, full of laughter and excitement! I was given the opportunity to helm (steer) the yacht and it was brilliant. During the expedition Barry suggested I give him an update for the website which I thought would be a great idea so let me tell you what's been happening.
First of all let me thank you for all your faithful prayers over the years: it is because of all your prayers that I'm alive today. So I sincerely thank you! Where to begin? Well I'm the fittest and healthiest that I've ever been; an amazing blessing, and one for which I'm truly thankful.
All the time off school hasn't really affected my education; thanks to the great support I got from the school I completed my 5th year with ABBB in Higher Chemistry, Biology, Physics and Maths. My chemistry was a crash Higher which was a great challenge but in the end was very rewarding and worth while. I went into 6th year, where I was elected as a prefect and the president of the school's Interact Club (Junior Rotary Club). I was given the responsibilities of chairing board meetings and organising different events to raise money for local and international charities. Also some friends and I set up a basketball team which grew and grew and became recognised by the teachers. As a result we were given their support in getting some strips, expensive balls and finally a coach. I was named captain of the team and we did pretty well in the league. Don't tell the doctors!!!
I felt really privileged to be appointed to these positions but soon I began to lose the passion for 6th year. I realised I was ready for independence and I really didn't need to stay on. As I was accepted into Aberdeen University with my 5th year Highers, I didn't really need my Advanced Highers in Chemistry and Biology; they would have been useful at uni but they weren't necessary. When I heard all the amazing things that were happening up in Aberdeen with the church and the youth group, I became quite frustrated back home.
After much hard thinking I came to the decision to leave home and get settled in up in Aberdeen, get a job and get my self established ready for university where I'll be studying Biomedical Science. It's a course that covers pretty much everything to do with the human body. I'm not quite sure what I will do with it yet but live by faith and we'll see what happens! I'm quite excited!
So here I am, back home in windy Aberdeen! I'm staying with my brother, Andy, in the "Pratt Flat" and so far it's been great!
At the moment I'm looking for a job, I've sent out application forms to ASDA, Somerfield, Costa and Subway and I'm just waiting and praying patiently that God will provide.
In the mean time, I'm getting settled back into the church and youth group - both are such blessings and I never realised how much I took them for granted when I was away. So it is brilliant to be back. I've been playing the drums for three or four years now and have just started to play in the church services which is brilliant. There's so much talent in the worship group so its a privilege to play along side them.
Thanks again, for all your prayers and support. May God bless you all,
Thanks to all those worldwide who are praying for Dan and his family; do please continue to support them in this way. Barry