Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep Shirley and Dennis Houseal's family and friends updated in one place. Here is Shirley's story, as told by a close friend. On Tuesday, May 30, 2017, Shirley Houseal received word from her doctor that she has Acute Myeloid Leukemia. AML refers to a type of cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow. An overproduction of immature white blood cells crowd the bone marrow, preventing it from making normal blood cells. According to the leukaemia.org.au website, these cells can also spill out into the blood stream and circulate around the body. These immature white blood cells, called myeloblasts or leukaemic blasts, are unable to function properly to fight infection. Bleeding and/or bruising and anemia are caused by the inadequate numbers of red cells and platelets being made by the marrow. Because AML progresses quickly, the hematologist consulted with Dennis and Shirley Thursday morning (June 1). By 6:00 Thursday evening, Shirley was receiving the first drip of her 24/7 intense chemotherapy treatment. After her four to six week stay in room 8623 at the Lancaster General Hospital, it's possible that Shirley might have to go to a larger hospital (possibly Johns Hopkins, University of Penn, or one similar) for consolidation therapy. Last Tuesday when Shirley received her diagnosis, God filled her with His peace, as only He can!!! She has witnessed God's faithfulness in difficult situations throughout her lifetime; therefore, she knows without a doubt that He will see her through this without giving her more than she can bear. Her positive and trusting attitude has been inspirational, to say the least. Since her admittance to the hospital last Thursday, Shirley has experienced a positively overwhelming barrage of love and well wishes through prayers, emails, texts, phone calls, visits, etc.! As I write this, some of her tennis friends from Hempfield Area Recreation Center are throwing an ice cream party for her. (They know how much she loves ice cream...how cool is that!) For each and every family member or friend who has made contact with her or with God on her behalf, Shirley is extremely grateful! You all mean the world to her! The hematologist told Shirley that she will be alert and able to converse the first week of Induction therapy. (We're seeing that...she is walking the hospital corriders with her "machine," getting to know the hospital staff and meeting other patients and their families). In the Induction therapy weeks remaining, she will be receiving transfusions to build up her blood. Since the object of the intense, nonstop chemotherapy treatment the first seven days is to kill all the "bad" cells (the abnormal white blood cells which have invaded her bone marrow), Shirley's immune system will be weakened considerably. During this time, she will more than likely be fatigued, have a fever, and be prone to infections. We all know how much Shirley loves people and will want the visits to continue. Because of the uncertainty of how she will feel after this Wednesday, however, it would be in Shirley's best interests to have visitors call before coming to the hospital. Your prayers, support, and encouragement are and will continue to be coveted throughout the remaining part of Shirley's journey. Please feel free to write and encourage her (and Dennis) on this Caring Bridge website. All the entries will be read to Shirley. (I envision that joyful tears will be shed when she hears from you). Shirley shared this verse with me and is claiming it as her own during this time: Isaiah 43:1-3 (NIV) 1 But now, this is what the Lord says- He who created you, Jacob, He who formed you, Israel: "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. 3a. For I am The Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
Thank you, again, for your willingness to support Dennis and Shirley through this journey! Updates will be posted periodically or if Shirley's condition changes.