Consultation report

Posted in From Al & Libbie at 2:05 pm by Al

Dear praying friends and family,

You cannot know how much your prayer support and personal encouragement has meant. Thank you!

As we had mentioned in our previous letter, we had an appointment for a consult at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP). The upshot, as we expected, is that we don’t know a whole lot except what testing is still necessary before anything definitive can be done. In other words, the brand of cancer needs to be determined.

Notwithstanding, we do have a few things to report since the last note, mostly about the upcoming schedule.

We met with an oncologist (cancer specialist) at HUP this morning. His specialty is melanoma. He helped us organize an MRI of the brain, which will happen late afternoon on Wednesday, February 1. Due to lack of any symptoms at this point, the expectation on all fronts is that this will be clear. But they need to make the scan because the brain is one of the places to which melanoma spreads.

Secondly, we were directed to a thoracic/pulmonary (chest/lung) surgeon at Abington with whom we will speak tomorrow or Wednesday to schedule a biopsy of the larger tumor. At this point we don’t know when the biopsy will be scheduled, probably soon. But we don’t know how long it will take to get results. We are guessing that we won’t have results for as much as ten days from now?

Read the rest of this entry »


Results of CAT scan

Posted in From Al & Libbie at 3:11 am by Al

The results of Wednesday’s CAT scan came back sooner than expected. Here is the report:

My family doctor phoned to say that the scan confirmed the tumor in the lower left lobe of my lung, but nothing definitive about what it is, though he said, given my history, that we presume it is melanoma until we can exclude that possibility. (More testing, therefore.) The scan also turned up two more nodules at the top of my right lung—one pretty small and the other about the same size as the one in the left lung.

So, the next diagnostic step is almost certainly a biopsy.

There are points of good news from the scan, however: the liver, spleen, pancreas, etc. were clear. The lymph nodes and lymph system also appeared clear. My blood test results came back normal. Finally, I feel well, which my family doctor takes as a good sign. But he was careful to say that none of this excludes the possibility that melanoma has metastisized to the lungs.

As I said, on Monday we have an appointment with a team of doctors at Penn. Will let you know what that produces.

Your prayers, notes and concern have been most encouraging. God continues giving us the same peace of his presence that he has been giving from the beginning. There are tough moments, but we are so grateful for the encouragement of Jesus’ resurrection. Whatever the days ahead bring, he has lifted us up and opened our eyes to his grace afresh. Philippians 4:4-7 has been encouraging, especially how it reminds us to rejoice in him wherever we find ourselves and also to make our petitions known to him with thanksgiving. Jehoshaphat’s prayer in 2 Chronicles 20 has been another source of great comfort—alarmed and afraid at the vast army arrayed against him, Jehoshaphat set his face to seek the Lord, beginning his prayer by acknowledging that the Lord is able to do all things and concluding it with these words: “We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” (v 12) This prayer is most humbling and challenging, and full of comfort. We have Christ to whom we look and upon whom we fix our eyes. We may waver, but he does not.

We pray for God’s blessings on each of you.

Blessings, Al


Growth found on lung

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Prayer Requests at 2:03 pm by Al

Dear friends and family,

Once again my family and I are in a place we need your prayers. (We are all always in need of prayer, but this is one of those providential moments where we are a little more needful!)

You may recall the melanoma I had removed last year. The Lord heard your prayers and the prayers of others and brought me safely through that time of trial. You all were so encouraging to us during that time, for which we are deeply grateful. Through that experience we learned afresh how important it is to share with the community our need and to see the Lord work through the prayers of his saints.

As you have already guessed, something that may be related to the melanoma has “surfaced,” and we are again asking you to join us in prayer.

Because melanoma is dangerous when it spreads to internal organs, physicians have developed a protocol of ongoing “surveillance” for those who have had a melanoma removed—e.g., quarterly appointments with a dermatologist (to watch for external signs of recurrence) and then annual chest x-rays and blood tests (to monitor for internal signs at the sites where the cancer most likely spreads if it is going to do so.)

Like the results of the surgery in October of 2004, my initial blood work and x-rays in January of 2005 were fine.

Last Thursday I had the January 2006 x-ray of my lungs. On Monday I learned that the x-rays had revealed a 3cm growth that had not been there last January. My physicians have been quite concerned and I have already begun a series of tests to identify the nature of this growth. Read the rest of this entry »