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 »


More lessons from the dentist’s chair…

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Reflections at 9:09 pm by Libbie

I said that I might write some reflections on yesterday’s successful dentist visit, and here they are. Once again I see the Lord using the dentist’s chair as a schoolroom for me. I wonder if the dentist knows that he’s using her facilities, or how she would feel about that if she did…
Read the rest of this entry »



Posted in From Al & Libbie, Updates at 12:16 pm by Libbie

Just a quick note to let you know that the correct part of my mouth went numb on the first shot today, and was good and deadened with the second one. Hurray! Thank you so much for praying.

The tooth was indeed inflamed inside. (The dentist showed me in the mirror how the drilled out crater of my tooth was actually bleeding when she removed the old filling—a pretty wild thing to see. I don’t really think of teeth bleeding…) In the end, she did a root canal, pulling the nerve out by the roots. This means that I won’t be bothered by pain in it ever again. Hallelujah!

A root canal is a multi-step process, so I’ll have to go back in a few weeks for the next stage, but then they only have to numb the gums, not the whole jaw, so I have no dread of that. They can do anything they jolly well like to that tooth, since I won’t feel a thing. Wee-hee!

I may reflect more later on this, but I have to leave now to drive Alden to Camp Joy (a camp for handicapped people of all ages, where our youth group is helping out this week), and I wanted to let you know right away that things went wonderfully well today.

God is merciful!



Oncologist appointment Friday 6/16

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Updates at 9:08 am by Libbie

This is now the third post of today (we’re catching up after the site being down for a couple of days).

Yesterday we saw our oncologist at Penn to talk over results of recent scans and MRI’s and to assess where we go from here. Some information still needs to be gathered (for instance whether or not Al qualifies for certain clinical trials, whether or not insurance will cover certain drugs, etc.) but we have decided two things: we will not do whole-brain radiation, and we will take a break from treatments for a while to let some of the drugs and their effects clear out of Al’s system. He will be weaned off of the steroids he is on for the brain swelling, and he’ll switch blood thinners, which he will likely be on for 6 months or so. (The old one required Al to inject himself every morning, which didn’t bother him a bit but which grossed Eowyn out and which left a flock of lovely purple bruises all around his love handles. I don’t think we’ll post a picture of that…)

So, that is the upshot of yesterday’s appointment, and we are happy with it. Once again we are so grateful for our oncologist. We can’t say enough good about her and her team, who have been such an incredible blessing to us.

Al has been pretty pooped these last ten days or so, with the radiation and traveling. Hopefully his strength will grow as the days pass.

We’ll keep you posted on further developments, but that’s the news for now.

Thanks for your partnership. It means so much to us.



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 Graduation

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Updates at 8:36 am by Al

We had a very good trip to witness and celebrate our daughter Rebeckah’s graduation from Dartmouth College this past weekend. Thanks so much for praying for us. The biggest mercy for me that I was able to make the trip, and to make it without being totally exhausted by it.
Read the rest of this entry »


Blogsite server was down

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Updates at 9:19 am by Al

On Tuesday morning the computer that served our blogsite suddenly developed technical problems that took it off line until this morning (Friday, June 16, 2006). Sorry about the trouble you had in accessing the site.

I will be posting something on Becky’s graduation soon.

Prayer request: We meet with our oncologist this afternoon to see what future treatments are feasible. Pray for wisdom and guidance. We don’t really know what’s open to us at this point.

Blessings, Al


Photos from Zapped

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Photos at 7:45 pm by Al

Two photos from the Gamma Knife procedure–the harness is screwed onto my head. It’s a pretty amazing thing, though screwing it on had its drawbacks…



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



Posted in From Al & Libbie, Updates at 2:29 pm by Libbie

Dear Friends,

The Gamma Knife Radiation procedure this morning went smoothly and quickly. Everything was just as advertised–the only painful part was when they pressed the four pegs into Al’s head that held the frame in place. Knowing about Al’s claustrophobia, they gave him enough sedation that the MRI was no problem at all, and during the radiation itself he had a pleasant time listening to Vivaldi. The nurse took some pictures of Al in the headset, which looked kind of like what you’d picture the interior frame of Darth Vader’s helmet looking like. When Al wakes up we’ll see if we can put one of the pictures on the blog site. It’s pretty funny.

We were registered and waiting by 5:57 this morning, and since Al was the only Gamma knife patient today, he was done by about 10:15. That was great. Then we went straight from the hospital downtown to our family doctor in Ambler to see about Al’s right leg, which started swelling again for some reason yesterday. By the time we got home at 11:30 or 12 he was ready to nap and promptly fell sound asleep, where he still is. I thought I had to wait until he woke up to post this note, since the computer is in our bedroom, but then I remembered another way to do it. Sorry to keep you all waiting.

The other good news is that the detailed MRI showed no new tumors in the brain. We are thankful for that. Tomorrow Al has a CT scan to see what’s happening from the neck down, and then on the 16th we’ll meet with the oncologist at Penn to strategize where we go from here.

One very nice upside to having to present ourselves at the hospital by 6:00 this morning is that we went downtown last night and spent the night at a lovely Bed and Breakfast just a few blocks from the hospital. We had dinner at an Indonesian restaurant that brought back lovely memories of dinners with friends in Amsterdam. Meanwhile, someone the kids love came and stayed with them and saw them off this morning, and other friends they love took them out for water ice last night. So there were special blessings tucked into the midst of medical goings-on, and we were very aware of God’s love for us.

More news as there is any. Thanks again for holding us up in prayer!



Psalm 42

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Reflections at 9:47 pm by Al

I am (and always have been) deeply touched by this first psalm of the sons of Korah. Shaking his head at himself and exhorting his own soul to look beyond his feelings to his savior and his God (42:5, 11), the psalmist shows simple faith in the power of God’s presence and the grace that comes from that presence.

1 As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
3 My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”
4 These things I remember as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God,
with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng.
5 Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
PUT your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

6 My soul is downcast within me;
therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon — from Mount Mizar.

7 Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers have swept over me.
8 By day the Lord directs his love,
at night his song is with me — a prayer to the God of my life.
9 I say to God my Rock,
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?”
10 My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long, “Where is your God?”
11 Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
PUT your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

Only recently have I begun to reflect on who these sons of Korah were that they were so passionate about going up into God’s presence and so passionate about any separation from that presence. Doing a background check was revealing, and pointed me to a deeper appreciation for the various psalms attributed to them. Read the rest of this entry »


Seesaw of Emotions

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Reflections at 9:34 pm by Al

Like a seesaw, my emotions have been up and down from day-to-day lately. Yesterday was a particularly “blue” day, perhaps one of the more depressed days I have had in years. Today started similarly as well.

There are many potential factors, physical and emotional: Two decades of increasing fibromyalgia pain and exhaustion have been continual companions, which cancer has not managed to frighten away. Now stir in heat, pain from the blood clot in my leg, lack of exercise, headaches from swelling in my brain, the impact of various drugs I have been on for treatment, and the steroids I’m currently taking for swelling around the brain tumor, all impacting rest and sleep. Lack of energy and pain make sitting at the computer for any stretch of time a problem. (I don’t use the computer simply for writing, but I use it very much as a help for my devotions and study of the scriptures.) What little energy I have has sometimes gone into organizing medical treatments and procedures, etc. (And Libbie does so much here as well!) Season all this with a tumor in the brain signaling that the advance of the cancer continues, and there seem to be any number of reasons for what I have been feeling.

Yesterday was a day where it was hard not to treat my feelings, whatever their source, as the ultimate reality in life. Reading a simple book about a simple truth (known from the beginning of my Christian life) reminded me that I don’t look inside for help, but to the Lord, through his Spirit in his word for the truth. That truth is found in him, in Christ—grace that is personal and comes from a glorious union with Christ. That truth comes from what Christ has done for me in his death and resurrection.

The book? C. J. Mahaney’s “Living the Cross-Centered Life.” In particular, the chapter I was re-reading was the one on listening to the scriptures, to the truth that comes from God, not to my feelings. My feelings are not good and wise authorities, but are often led by other circumstances. Bringing my heart and thoughts captive to Christ, to the living Lord, began to change heart. In any case, it comes from outside in. God used the words of several of you through email and in person to point me to God’s personal care and love.

Psalms 42-43 (the first of the eleven songs of the sons of Korah in the book of Psalms) were particularly relevant. I hope to write a blog tomorrow about the sons of Korah and these Psalms.

Blessings, Al


June Calendar

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Updates at 12:50 pm by Al

Just a quick note to say that we are starting to update the calendar again. June is now ready, as far as we know it. Some important treatment and test dates are there.

Blessings, Al