Posted in From Al & Libbie, Prayer Requests, Updates at 7:35 am by Libbie

Yesterday the kids had a meltdown day, and both Eowyn and Alden stayed home from school. That gave us a chance to step out of the pressure of make-up work, etc. and just talk, and grieve, and cry, and comfort each other. 

We miss Al. We are so glad to know that he is enjoying the glory of heavenly life in God’s presence, which he had longed for for years, and that knowledge does bring great comfort, but at the very same time his absence here is felt pretty keenly. He was an integral part of the warp and woof of our lives, and now that fabric has a big hole in it. We just plain miss him. The Lord doesn’t promise that he’ll make that ache go away, but he does promise that we will see Al again, and he does promise to be here with us each moment as we live our daily lives with the ache in our hearts. He is steadfastly faithful to his promises, so we know he will see us through, and we are grateful for that.

Please pray especially for Eowyn and Alden as they are back in school today that they would be very aware of the Lord’s presence with them.




Calendar First two weeks of September

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Prayer Requests, Updates at 10:45 pm by Al

Once again the blogsite was down for awhile. Sorry. We are working on alternatives.

We have a number of prayer tests, meetings, and decision points coming up soon:

Wed, Sept 6 I get my lovely staples removed and an opportunity to speak again with our neurosurgeon.

Fri, Sept 8 I have a CT scan of my lungs and abdomen. Recent X-rays as part of hospitalization, etc. indicate growth in the larger tumor. So we are prepared to hear news that is less than good.

Mon, Sept 11 we meet with the radio-oncologist at Abington Hospital to discuss whole brain radiation.

Tues, Sept 12 we meet with our oncologist to look at the overall situation and come to some decision about what to do or not to do.

The last few days I have been reclining and elevating my foot in an effort to minimize the pain and effects of the blood clot. Last night I started blood thinners again, but they will take awhile to work. At the moment walking is very painful. But having had a blood clot before, I know something about what I’m facing.

Spiritually we have felt a bit stretched the past few days. Today has been a good day of reading the scriptures and the Lord speaking encouragement through them to me.

My youngest brother and his children have been here since Thursday. This has been a real blessing to us.

Many of you have called or written about the breaking news concerning gene therapy treatment. At the moment, given the spread of my cancer, I do not believe I qualify for a trial. But thanks for the notes.

Blessings, Al


Homecoming IIA

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Prayer Requests, Updates at 3:39 pm by Al

[I just discovered that Libbie posted something of similar title, but I add my thoughts as well.]

i am home, this time I hope for good. Maybe I just like hospital food too much. Or it’s the poking and prodding I get all night long. Whatever it is I just couldn’t stay out of the hospital.

It is so nice to be home again. The bottom-line from my last visit is that they will not treat the blood clot until Friday. The danger of bleeding in the brain is too great and a stroke is a potential outcome. So I live with any pain until it is safe to go on bloodthnners. Part of the problem for us was ignorance of complications created by the clot–we understood that the filter in the prevented problems in the lung and heart, but what about unchecked swelling in the leg. Apparently infection is the key problem there.

As always, thanks for all your prayers. The Lord has been faithful. Every medical person who sees me is surprised at how well I look, which says alot. (I just saw the uncensored photos that were posted on this site–makes me wonder what people were seeing.)

Pray for Libbie. She’s tired and needing rest. She has been such a trooper through all this!

Blessings, Al


In Surgery

Posted in Prayer Requests, Updates at 12:23 pm by Karyn

At 11:30 am Al’s surgery actually began (prior to that he was in pre-op). The surgery is expected to last for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. As soon as we have more information we will post an update.

Thank you for joining together in lifting up Al, Libbie, Alasdair & Lauren, Becky, Eowyn and Alden.

Surgery Info and Prayer Time

Posted in General, Prayer Requests, Updates at 9:09 am by Karyn

UPDATE (9:40 AM):
Al left his room at 7:15 am this morning for another MRI, then went straight from the MRI to the operating room. There is no word on how long this surgery will take.

There will be a time of community prayer at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia at 12:30 today (Room 3 in Van Til Hall). If you are in the area, please feel free to join us. If you are not able to join us in person, please join with us in Spirit in praying for Al, Libbie, the entire family, and the surgeons.


Surprise! 8.23.06

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Prayer Requests, Updates at 11:00 pm by Libbie

Dear Friends,

As promised, here is the news from today. Sorry I’m writing it so late; we got back late from seeing Al at the hospital, and then we had a lot of things to organize for tomorrow.

Today we had what we thought was going to be a routine follow-up visit with the neurosurgeon who performed the Gamma-knife radiation on Al’s brain tumor last June. But it turned out not to be routine, because Monday’s MRI revealed that the tumor has grown (approximately doubled—it’s about 1 inch in diameter now), that there is quite a bit of swelling around it, and that three tiny new ones have begun.
Read the rest of this entry »


Update July 23

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Prayer Requests, Updates at 10:11 pm by Al

Our apologies for being tardy with an update! I wrote something mid-week last week, but then we had a power-outage at Westminster, where the blogsite is hosted, and I never was able to finalize it. Then, directly after my Friday appointment with our oncologist, we went away to the New Jersey shore for the weekend. Forgive me for not being more timely!

Read the rest of this entry »


Ebb and Flow

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Prayer Requests, Reflections, Updates at 12:10 pm by Al

I am being weaned off the steroids used to treat the swelling in my brain that resulted from the tumor that grew there. I am also in the process of shifting from one blood-thinning drug to another. My leg remains swollen, so I am often reclining in order to keep my leg elevated. But the primary physical challenge at the moment is that I feel constantly washed out, weak (“wobbly” as I have put it) and exhausted. The desire and need to nap are constant. Physically this is primarily the product of treatments, dyes injected into my system for tests, and lack of exercise. So far the effects of the cancer itself seem to have been related to the blood clot and the brain tumor. Depression has continued to be a daily struggle. Read the rest of this entry »


Snag in the coronation process

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Prayer Requests, Updates at 8:48 am by Libbie

There is a post below, also written today, about Becky’s graduation. This is the second post today and is a quick prayer request.

A number of weeks ago I reported with elation that we were finally able to get my tooth numb enough to drill it down in preparation for a crown (if you are new to the blog site, you missed that little sub-drama). The dentist put on a temporary crown while the permanent one was made and shipped.

During that waiting time, though, my tooth continued to be sensitive to pressure so that I still couldn’t chew anything at all on that side, even lettuce or soggy cheerios. So I went back to see her, and we discovered that the core of the tooth under the temporary crown is still cracked. (We all assumed that when the one part of the tooth cracked off, that was the only place where it had been cracked, but apparently that wasn’t true.)


So I have an appointment Monday morning to try to numb and drill again to take care of whatever crack remains. I have to admit I am pretty nervous about that after the extended jaw trauma of the previous attempts.

Would you please pray that the Lord would be merciful to my jaw and let the Novocain take on the first try this time? Or that he would give me a soft heart to trust him if that’s not his plan?

Thank you!



Becky’s job search

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Prayer Requests at 11:40 am by Libbie

If you are checking in for information about Al’s radiation procedure yesterday, see the post below. This is just a quick prayer request.

Becky is graduating from college this Sunday and moving down to Philly. The job she was planning to work at over the summer while she looked for something more permanent fell through last week, so she will be scrambling to find a different job (summer-length or permanent). We know that the Lord has the situation well in hand and that he has just the right job in mind for her. We also know that he delights to answer his people’s prayers, so would you pray with us that he will lead her to it?


Libbie for Becky


Gamma knife coming up on June 6

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Prayer Requests, Updates at 6:16 pm by Al

We met with a neurosurgeon and a radio-oncologist today. The tumor in my brain will be treated by radiation instead of by surgery, even though the spot is highly accessible and would also be treatable by surgery.

The radiation treatment is called gamma-knife radiation—one-time, highly focused radiation on the tumor, with minimal to no damage for healthy brain tissue.

I will have the procedure on Tuesday, June 6 (one week from today). It is out-patient and I go home the same day, Lord willing. There are complications of later swelling and headaches. It is possible that surgery could ultimately need to be done.

Advantages are that it is non-invasive. Moreover, because it is done in conjunction with a very finely gradated MRI (claustrophobia is going to be a prayer concern!), it may turn up other small tumors as well that can be treated at the same time. The MRI is required in order to precisely focus the cobalt beams (201 of them all converging on one spot!)

I should be able to return to normal activities the day or so afterward.

It all sounds pretty good to us.

Decision points ahead:

1. What kind of treatment to continue now that the cancer has spread to my brain? (We will be having a whole-body CT scan ASAP to see how my lung tumors are doing. If they remain more-or-less unchanged, then we may try to find a way to continue the earlier therapy, even though I will no longer be eligible to participate in the clinical trial.)

2. Because the cancer has spread to the brain, should we follow the gamma-knife with “whole brain” radiation (15 days of radiating the entire brain to catch the metastases that are very likely forming, but haven’t yet grown large enough to see)?

As you can see, things are moving along, not in the directions we had hoped.

The last few days I have been a bit down and rumpled of spirit. Part of it has been the ongoing issue with the blood clot. Pain and lack of exercise, lying around with my foot elevated, are not a good recipe for feeling upbeat!

The good news is that my leg is less painful each day and I was able to walk for several blocks today from the train station to the hospital and back, my first attempt at anything more than basic back and forth around the house or for short distances in and out of buildings, etc.

Again, we always thank you for praying and for your support in all kinds of ways.

Blessings, Al


Doctor’s visit 5/23/06

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Prayer Requests, Updates at 1:06 pm by Libbie

Just an ever-so-brief update from our doctor’s visit this morning:

Al will have an MRI of the brain tonight at ~9pm, and results from that should be in sometime tomorrow, clarifying what the swelling is in brain is–melanoma or something else. Until then, it is premature to make plans for evaluation or treatment, so there is not much to report.

If you read this before tonight, please pray for Al, who dreads having an MRI more than any other procedure he’s had so far. He suffers from claustrophobia, and the thought of being stuck in that tiny space for 45 minutes gives him nightmares. This time they’ll give him a mild sedative, and that should help, but I know he’d appreciate your prayers for preserved sanity as he goes through it.

We’ll let you know more after information comes in and decisions begin to be made tomorrow.

It’s been a pretty emotional few days, and we value and depend on your support shown in so many ways. Thank you so much!



Blood Clot [Part 2] and Something More

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Prayer Requests, Updates at 12:43 pm by Al

Well, as you know from reading the previous blog, I was in the hospital with a blood clot in a vein in my right leg. The clot is between my knee and groin, but most of the pain is in my calf and ankle where there is swelling and discoloration—the blood cannot return in the way it needs to.

In cases like mine, the normal treatment has two parts—

1. preventing clots from traveling to the lungs or heart by inserting a filter into the main vein found in the abdomen (the inferior vena cava) to catch “wandering” clots and hold them until they can be dissolved by the body.

2. dissolving the clot by administering blood thinning drugs.

The filter was successfully placed, but I was unable to take the drugs to thin my blood. While several things could prevent me from taking the drugs, the presenting reason in my case was that there appears to be a swelling in the front part of my brain on the right side. Doctors will NOT administer blood thinners if there are anomalies in the brain.

The swelling in the brain was discovered through a routine CT scan of the brain on Saturday morning to verify that there was nothing wrong with my brain, and they could therefore eliminate brain issues as a reason for withholding the blood thinners. The doctors were surprised to find the swelling, because they had said in advance that they didn’t expect to see problems, given that I didn’t have any symptoms.

A CT scan of the brain is much less accurate than an MRI. Therefore, the CT scan is not conclusive, but it does show something that wasn’t there in my February MRI. This means I am looking at another MRI very soon. I meet with my oncologist Tuesday morning for my regularly scheduled meeting, so the swelling in my brain will be a major topic of discussion.

What could the swelling mean? As my grandfather used to say, “It’s just my orneriness coming out.” Or, it could be that the CT scan was simply inaccurate. Or, it could have something to do with the drugs I’m taking to fight the cancer. Or it could be the beginning of a tumor indicating melanoma has spread to my brain, something that is very typical in cases of melanoma. We just don’t know at this point, but you can see the cause for concern.

This swelling could affect my motor function (on the left side) as well as my personality (I could use improvement in this area, but I don’t think this is the kind of thing that works in that direction). But we don’t even know for sure what it is or that it is what it seems to be.

So prayer requests:

1. That, one way or another, this swelling would be nothing.

2. The pain in my leg from the clot (they have been able to do nothing to treat it) would abate and the clot would dissolve.

3. That we would have faith and not fear in the face of these newest developments.

It has been difficult for our family. I think that we had been encouraged by response to the treatment so far, and this has hit hard.

It’s hard for me to think of potential impact on my mind and general affect. I don’t like the thought of being a burden or treating people with anything other than kindness and love.

In faith we remain where we have been throughout this ordeal: God’s faithfulness and love endure. He is the Lord. He is good. We may be confused, but our eyes are on him. He will fulfill his loving purposes for us.

Blessings, Al for all the Groves


Blood Clot

Posted in From Al & Libbie, General, Prayer Requests, Updates at 9:59 pm by Libbie

Just a quick note of update:

Today we found out that Al has a blood clot in his leg (apparently both the cancer and the treatment can sometimes increase the risk of that, as I understand it). He spent most of the day in the hospital, and the doctors placed a nifty filter contraption in his vena cava that stays there for life and catches any clots–present or future–that might break loose and head for places  where they could be deadly, like the heart. We are thankful for medical advances and for great doctors and hospitals nearby.

Tomorrow the doctors at Abington and Penn will decide whether anti-coagulants would be a good or a bad idea with the lung tumors. Please pray for clear wisdom for them.

Plenty else going on. Becky is home for 48 hours for a wedding. (Poor girl. It seems that every time she comes home one of us ends up in the ER.) Alden’s soccer team just folded, so the members are suddenly scrambling to find other clubs to play with. Some of Eowyn’s friends are caught in major teenage girl drama. And I’m trying to get a couple of papers written. It’s not dull around here, anyway. We are finding that God is a solid rock and a still point in the midst of the whirlwind, for which we are repeatedly grateful.

This is brief and without a lot of detail; maybe we’ll write more medical details later. But now that I’ve tucked Al in and written this, I’m going to fall into bed myself.

Thanks for walking with us!



Another attempt at crowning…

Posted in From Al & Libbie, General, Prayer Requests at 5:07 pm by Libbie

A very quick request: tomorrow (5/2) the dentist is going to try again to crown my tooth. Please pray that this time the anesthetic will work.




Prayer items for Day of Prayer

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Prayer Requests at 7:53 am by Al

First of all, let me say that I am deeply touched by Westminster setting aside this day to pray for me. For those of you that cannot be there, here are the words I will share this morning:

How to Pray for the Groves Family
Al Groves, April 26, 2006

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.
Do not forsake the work of your hands. [Psalm 138:8]

In a forthcoming book on suffering, my friend David Powlison says that it is the King of the universe who leads us into fiery trials with the purpose of meeting us there. His leading is not without love and purpose. God is Father as well as King. In all that he does he always acts with gracious and loving purposefulness. That includes suffering. Read the rest of this entry »


Westminster Day of Prayer

Posted in Prayer Requests at 11:23 pm by Karyn

As the “Blog Adminstrator” I’d like to let all the readers know about a special faculty-called Day of Prayer at Westminster Theological Seminary on Wednesday, April 26th for Al Groves. Many of you are part of the extended WTS family (alumni, former faculty, etc), and may want to participate “long-distance.” Others of you are certainly “honorary” WTS family in that you are friends of Al and Libbie.

The Day of Prayer will have a two-fold approach:

  1. There will be a concentrated time of prayer during chapel time (10:30 A.M.) led by Dr. Bill Edgar and Dr. Gerry McFarland.
  2. There will also be an open invitation for prayer in the President’s Office from 8:30 am – 6:00 pm. The President’s Office will be permanently reserved all day for this purpose. Anyone from the Westminster community may stop in to pray for any amount of time. Special prayer requests will be available on the main table there [Note: I will try to post some of these on the blog for those of you at a distance].

If you are in the area and available, I encourage you to attend and support Prof. Groves and his family. If you would like to contribute your prayer support online, please just leave a comment. Thank you so much for your loving support for Al, Libbie and their entire family.


Chemo Starting Again

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Prayer Requests, Updates at 10:09 pm by Al

I am beginning my second round of chemo tonight (it’s oral and done at bedtime). It will last for five days, as it did at the end of February. Covet your prayers that there would be no nausea. [This more traditional chemo therapy and different from the targeted molecular therapy which I have been having the side-effects.)

Also, could you pray for my friend (and former student), Greg Hewlett? His website is accessible on the right. He has fought cancer off and on since high school. In the last three years he has battled tumors in various places. Today he had a biopsy for nodules in his lungs. His faith and courage (and sense of humor) have been a beacon for me.

Blessings, Al


Numbering Our Days

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Prayer Requests at 10:53 pm by Al

A very simple prayer request: How to prioritize? In other words, ask the Lord to give me eyes to see and ears to hear what he wants me to do with the time that is left, time of which he alone knows the amount. And then to give me a heart filled with his spirit to strengthen me for the tasks.

It is clear that top priority is my family. I love spending time with my family. But so many other things can crop up and crowd out time with them. (By the way, by mid-summer, our older children will have moved back to the area–Becky to look for a job after having graduated from college and Alasdair and Lauren to begin studies at Westminster in the fall.)

Westminster and church: making sure that my tasks are being covered in both communities. We are making good headway.

Friends. Here, I am most grateful that I have heard from many people and had time with a number as well (though we have moments when we reach limits of available time).

One area in which I feel the most struggle is sorting out how to handle writing projects. In particular, how to approach two writing projects (book-length) that are at mid-stage–a commentary on the book of Judges and a more popular book on Isaiah (The Gospel According to Isaiah: God with Us.)

So, please pray for wisdom about:

1. Making sure the priorities I mentioned play out in daily life

2. Prioritizing the writing tasks amidst everything else

3. Then, finding the time for them, without compromising family

4. Having a clear mind when I do have the time

Blessings, Al


Needing to be crowned…

Posted in From Al & Libbie, General, Prayer Requests at 3:16 pm by Libbie

Dear Friends,

A quick prayer request unrelated to Al’s melanoma.

I (Libbie) have to have a tooth crowned that I cracked apart back in February (the day after we learned Al’s definitive diagnosis of melanoma). For some reason my body sometimes doesn’t respond to Novocain. I’ve experienced that in other places besides in my teeth, but that’s where it most frequently poses a problem. This has been an ongoing problem for years–sometimes the Novocain works fine the first time, and sometimes it just won’t take.

Read the rest of this entry »

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