Posted in From Al & Libbie, Reflections, Updates at 1:57 pm by Libbie

No recent test results or anything official like that, but its time for another update on Als health.

We can see the steady progression of the cancer. The lung tumors continue to grow. The largest one, which is in the lower left lung, is about the size of an orange now, and Als breathing is becoming more labored. He is also coughing up more and more blood. Its not that he has a cough per se, but he feels congested and needs to cough to clear his airways to breathe, and when he does he coughs up little blood clots, about the size of a teaspoon. This happens maybe 20 times a day or so. Next week well see a pulmonary specialist to determine whether it would be good to find out which tumor is bleeding and then radiate that area after the brain radiation is finished on Oct 2. There are ups and downs to doing so, which well know more about after we see the specialist. Read the rest of this entry »


Photos from the Homefront

Posted in Photos at 5:23 pm by Karyn

Here’s some recent photos to let you “see” some of what is going on at the homefront.


This first photo shows Al in his doo-rag and may help people understand why he looked menacing to folks on the street!


Here is Al with a friend from church, Ron, who had brain surgery a month before Al. They’re sporting their matching black eyes, bruising, and scars. Ron’s wife Roberta reminded us that God has promised to heal Ron and Al. We don’t know yet whether he will do that on this side of the grave or the other, but the healing is absolutely guaranteed.


This is a shot of “our family,” including Andy (who lives with Alasdair and Lauren) and Melissa (who lives with Becky). It’s fun to be a family of 9. When we’re counting heads for a sizeable gathering we always start by saying “the nine of us” and then list whoever else is coming. Here are the names of people in the picture– back row from left to right: Lauren, Alasdair, Eowyn, Al, Rebeckah; front row left to right: Andy, Alden, Libbie, Melissa.



Posted in From Al & Libbie, Updates at 11:48 am by Libbie

Greetings on a beautiful, sunny Sunday.

Just wanted to let you know how Al’s doing. He has been having better and worse days in terms of general malaise–uncomfortable stomach, unease in breathing, feeling achey, etc.–but even the bad days are not terrible. Yesterday he was able to go to Alden’s first soccer mobile game of the season and even to walk up and down the sidelines some when he wasn’t sitting down. One concern is that the clot in his left leg seems to be getting more painful rather than less so, somewhat compromising his walking again. So we’re trying out various things that might help.

On the bright side, one our friends from Amsterdam came to visit us this weekend. Harmen is the older son of our very dear friends the Talstras. (You may remember that Al and I went to Amsterdam back in January for the funeral of a friend. That was Harmen’s mother, Lies. Al’s friendship with his father, Eep, has been one of Al’s most treasured blessings of the last 20 years.) Harmen was in Philly to give a presentation at an engineering conference and then came and stayed with us from Thursday until this morning. It was great to see him. On Friday 15 of us got together for a delicious Indonesian dinner at our house, cooked entirely by some of the guests! Talk about feeling spoiled. That’s the easy way to give a party–have someone else do all the cooking.

So we move along from day to day. Al is starting to feel and sound like the apostle John. In John’s old age the vast truth of what God had done in Christ seemed to sort of clarify and boil down to the simple importance of love–God’s amazing love for people and the supreme call to love each other. I guess it’s not surprising that there would be something about the approach of death to sharpen one’s vision and give a clearer perspective on truth and reality. We are benefitting from the fruit of that gift to Al.

Lots of other little stuff I could report, but I’ll leave it there.

May you enjoy the rich blessings of the resurrection, which we celebrate every Sunday, as Al always reminds us.



A Quiet Evening…

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Updates at 7:54 pm by Libbie

Well, we were quite the picture around here tonight.

Last night Alden started feeling poorly at soccer practice, and sure enough he vomitted a couple of times during the night. Today he had a fever of 102.4 and did nothing but lie around on a cot in the living room (to be near Al, who was on the couch) alternately shedding and bundling up in the covers, drinking sips of gingerale and trying (thankfully successfully) to keep food down.

Al has felt mildly rotten all day. It could be he is getting what Alden has, or it could be a result of the radiation. I’m not sure which of those options to root for. We did take a walk around the block for the first time, and he was pretty winded by the time we got back, so he’s determined to do that more often to build up his stamina.

I have had allergies all day (maybe to seasonal pollen? maybe to dust from some wickedly dusty books I pulled off the shelves for Alden?) that struck with a vengeance and that paid not the slightest attention to the 24-hour antihistamine I took this morning.

So tonight while Eowyn was over at church helping to paint the senior high room, the other three of us sat around the coffee table (where we eat dinner nowadays since it’s most comfortable for Al to be on the couch) nibbling wearily at whatever food suited our digestive fortitude. Every now and then one of us would break the silence to note what a lively crew we were. 🙂

Still, there is something cozy about being in a warm house on a cool evening, waiting for the rain that’s forecast to start during the night. I think of homeless people in the city who must feel very differently about the coming rain. Or of families who would not want to sit in the same room with each other. We have a lot to be thankful for!

Early to bed tonight…



Start of Radiation

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Updates at 8:52 pm by Libbie

Just a very brief update from the last couple days:

We’ve had four doctor’s appointments in the last 36 hours, so it’s been busy. We saw a radio-oncologist at our local hospital yesterday morning, then had a follow-up appointment in the afternoon to begin to set up a program of whole-brain radiation. Today we saw our oncologist at Penn and then had another appointment at the local hospital, at which they finished the preparation for radiation and gave Al his first dose. He said he felt a little funny afterwards but that that might all be in his head (well, obviously it’s in his head, but you know what he means…). His treatments will be 5 days a week for three weeks.

Friday’s CT scan showed that two of the three tumors in Al’s lungs are definitely growing, but that the rest of his chest, abdomen and pelvis are clear of melanoma. That’s better news than we were expecting, so we’re thankful.

I’d love to write more, but I have to run and do the mom’s taxi thing. More another time…



Better and better

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Updates at 11:10 am by Libbie

This note will be short, unlike the last one (sorry that turned into such a tome). Just wanted to report that Al is feeling better each day than the one before. Today he’s walking around with no cane at all and with much less pain in his legs and hardly any in his head. The after effects of the CT scan were a nuisance, but even they are fading. His stomach is less upset, the constipation is improved (sorry if that’s too much information), and the flu-like symptoms are gone. Needless to say, we are delighted.

As Al reminded us this morning, we want to go beyond just being happy about all this and remember to thank God, whose gift it is. Please rejoice with us!



News from the homefront

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Reflections, Updates at 10:39 pm by Libbie

It’s been a while since we posted anything, so let me catch you up to date on happenings around the Groves household, medical and otherwise. Some of this is just newsy stuff about the household, but I’ll mark the paragraphs about Al’s medical condition with *** so that if you only have time or inclination to read those you can find them easily. Read the rest of this entry »


Power Maintenance will affect Blog temporarily

Posted in General at 5:37 pm by Karyn

On Wednesday morning (Sept 6) from 9 am until approximately noon this blog will be unavailable. The local power company will be working at Westminster to alleviate some of the power problems the seminary has been experiencing. This work will cause the blog to be off-line for a few hours. So feel free to check early in the morning, or wait until the afternoon. Thanks for your patience!


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