09.23.06

Report

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

No recent test results or anything official like that, but itís time for another update on Alís 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 Alís breathing is becoming more labored. He is also coughing up more and more blood. Itís 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 weíll 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 weíll know more about after we see the specialist.

Meanwhile, Alís stomach is uncomfortable most of the time. He isnít nauseous exactly; it feels more like the old reflux problem he had for years. Staying prone helps, and certain foods seem to soothe the stomach, so weíre majoring in those.

You may remember that Al developed a blood clot in his right leg a few days after surgery and one in his left leg a few days later. They were easing gradually, and the right one has continued to do so, even getting enough better that Al can drive short distances again! But the left leg took a turn for the worse last week and is very painful if itís not elevated. So Alís day is mostly spent reclining on the couch and then sleeping in the afternoons.

So far the lethargy and fatigue from the radiation has been present but not debilitating. Rumor has it that it is cumulative, however, and will reach its peak toward the end of the 3-week cycle and in the weeks after that, so weíll see what that looks like in the weeks ahead. Al has completed 9 of 15 treatments, all of which have been very brief and efficient, which has been a great boon. He has been mildly shaky and weakened a bit by the radiation.

We saw the radio-oncologist after Thursdayís radiation appointment, and among other things I commented that we were half way through the cycle and Al hadnít lost his hair yet. He responded matter-of-factly and without hesitation, ďHe will.Ē He said that it will probably happen some time next week, most likely very suddenly and all at once. Should be interesting.

That gives you an idea of how things stand medically.

Emotionally, a couple of us in the household have felt pretty stretched this week, ďlike butter that has been scraped over too much bread,Ē as Bilbo Baggins would say. From the very beginning we made it clear around here that crying is always okay, and now we have definitely entered ďtear seasonĒ (for those of you who didnít grow up in an area where hunting goes on, thatís a punódonít worry about it). Weíre going through lots of tissues. But God is holding us up and holding us close, and the grieving is intense but in a context of great hope.

This week has actually been much better for me emotionally than I expected. I had to go to the cemetery and pick out a gravesite, which I was dreading. But a friend went with me (bless her!), and we talked to a woman at the cemetery who was exceptionally helpful and pleasant to deal with, and then we drove all around looking at the different sections. Really it felt like buying a house. We found ourselves saying things like, ďThis area has a pretty view,Ē and, ďThatís too close to a busy road,Ē and, ďThose woods across the way wonít ever be developed, so thatís nice.Ē Somehow we were able to detach the selection process from the sadness that is necessitating it, so we had a nice time together. I hadnít realized that it takes several steps to select a site, and Iím still in the midst of it, but Iíve enjoyed the serenity of the quiet graveyard and the peaceful beauty of several of the areas. When I was anticipating this task with dread, I just kept asking the Lord to meet me there, and I knew he would do that, though I didnít know specifically how he would answer that prayer. He has indeed met me there, in a way I hadnít expected and canít explain. Iím really thankful for his making this job easier than I foresaw.

Al is scheduled to give four special lectures in the class on the Prophetic Books over the next three weeks, and he is hoping and planning to be able to do that. Heís also scheduled to speak in chapel this Wednesday. What he will say, while not novel or revolutionary, has been very much on his mind and close to his heart, and heís starting to realize heíll never get through it without a lot of emotion. But I told him thatís okay; people will understand. He just ought to pass out tissues at the door. I plan to bring a box myself. By noon on Wednesday, after chapel and teaching, he will be exhausted, I expect.

We have continued to be so blessed by people bringing us meals and helping out with various things. It makes a huge difference and reminds us every time how much the Lord loves us.

Anyway, we wanted to try to give you an accurate picture of how things are progressing and how Al is feeling.

Iíll add one thought that Iíve been thinking for a long time:
You know how in any given field, some problems are straightforward and easy to fix, and others are much more complex? For instance if you have a strep throat, the doctor gives you antibiotics, and prestoóin 24 hours you are on your way to feeling all better. But if you have high blood pressure and high cholesterol, youíre going to have to change your diet, start to exercise, etc. etc. and be disciplined about it for a lifetime. Itís a much more involved and drawn-out process.

When I look at all the things people struggle or suffer with, I feel as if Alís cancer falls very much into the easy-fix category, and we have it so much easier than many others. It is true that unless God decides to perform a miracle of healing (which he certainly can, and which we still pray for), Al will die. But he will immediately be in heaven with Jesus, with the indescribable joy of seeing the Father face to face, free from pain, and tears, and death. What could be more wonderful for him? Jesusí death and resurrection are the answer to death, and that answer is simple and straightforwardóthere is nothing Al has to do but trust and rest in Him.

And we are not even in the more difficult situation of so many with cancer and other potentially fatal diseases who are constantly in suspense, not knowing if the cancer will end their lives or if they will survive. That emotional roller coaster creates its own unique suffering.

Or how about people with chronic pain and illness? We know from Alís years of fibromyalgia how terribly hard that isósuffering and knowing that there is no hope that that suffering will end until you are freed from it in death. Jesus is the answer to that suffering too, but it involves such perseverance of faith that the very thought leaves me weary.

Perhaps even harder is the pain of seeing your children or others you love walk away from faith, or make choices and walk down roads that you know will lead to destruction. Jesus is the answer to their challenges too, but that path is tortuous, protracted and difficult.

As I say, I think we have it easy. All we have to do is rest in the Lord, and Al will shortly be with him in heaven. Itís as simple and as glorious as that.
So thank you for praying for us, and if you know people in those other situations, please hold them up in prayer too. We will do the same.

Blessings,

Libbie

21 Comments »

  1. Gerard Norton said,

    September 23, 2006 at 3:01 pm

    God bless you Libbie, and Al and all the family. May God give you the strength to continue to walk hand in hand in the courage of your faith and the light of your hope even in the frightening valley where you now are.

    Your blog is an act of great love and generosity to all of us who read it. Thank you.

    Gerard

  2. Steve and Carolyn Ritter said,

    September 23, 2006 at 10:31 pm

    Al, Libbie and family,
    Thanks so much for sharing your lives with us during this time. All of you have been such a huge encouragement to us in years past and now even more so. We can tell that you are satisfied in God and with what He has for you and surely that brings Him great glory. We certainly pray that God would extend the years of Al’s life, but even more so that He would keep you satisfied in Him and would accomplish all that He means to through your lives. We love you with all our hearts,
    Steve and Carolyn

  3. Fred said,

    September 23, 2006 at 11:29 pm

    Hi, Al & Libbie.

    Thanks for your really long post–it’s more like a conversation than a news bulletin. Thanks for taking the time–and making the effort and spending the energy–to keep us up to date.

    I was struck by your comment under the picture (previous post) of the two brain surgery patients. (-:

    I have often wondered when praying for someone who was ill if I was praying for a temporary or permanent healing–i.e., would they recover enough to stay a bit longer in this life, or would they be taken to the only place with a 100% permanent cure rate. And what does it mean to be “cured”? I mean, I know what health is, and what it feels like (although I tend to take it for granted, only missing it when it’s not there (or rather, here, inside me)).

    But what is a cure, since our life is but a day and we are like those wild grasses that spring up and die so quickly that the returning wind cannot find the place where they grew.

    You are right–the only cure is to be where every tear is wiped away–by the hand of God!–and where there will be NO MORE sighing, sorrowing, weeping, or dying, no more ever, ever, ever again. And Al and I may finally be able to get together again for Indian food (or something far better!)–after, of course, you and he have your first two or three million or billion years back together. After all, no rush there … for anything … or anyone … at all … ever … ever … ever again.

    And that is the hope that gives us strength.

    “For his mercy endures for ever.”

    In Christ.

    Fred

  4. Andy said,

    September 24, 2006 at 10:10 am

    I hope I will see you guys today or soon, and I will try to make chapel on Wednesday, if i can. Libbie, anytime they want, Alden and Eowyn are welcome to come over to our place to do homework or play games or whatever. Although last time I tried to help Eowyn with her math homework, I failed. Does anyone know what a polynomial is?

    Love you guys
    Andy

  5. Eric Pyle said,

    September 24, 2006 at 9:48 pm

    I just heard about Al’s cancer for the first time during Ed Welch’s lectures in Dallas this past weekend. I’m not sure how I missed the news. Even when our new professor Adrian Smith prayed with boldness for Al’s health during our Convocation ceremony, I guess I just wanted to believe it was a special prayer for Al’s chronic fatigue.

    Dr. Welch spoke of Al most gloriously during his lectures on Suffering. How everyone who visits him goes to encourage and to bless, and leaves surprisingly encouraged and blessed by Christ in him.

    My brief conversations and times with Prof Groves seem especially heightened in significance for me. I had the honor providing transportation for him after one of his lecture visits in Dallas. We talked about Sailhamer and movies like Magnolia. I think it was Al who introduced me to Magnolia, which continues to be a redemptive treasure full of treasures.

    I’ve been bragging ever since about his Deutoronomic history class. Definitely one of my favorite OT courses. If the Lord ever calls me to be a professor some day, I would cite Al as a chief influence and role model. I am ever thankful that His love for the Lord and intimate knowledge of the Scriptures has overflowed the banks of Philly and spilled down to us in Dallas, as annointing oil spills down from the head and onto a man’s beard. Christ’s Spirit be with you all.

    Yours with warm brotherly love and tears,
    Eric D. Pyle

  6. Becky Wilson said,

    September 24, 2006 at 10:09 pm

    Every day I check your blog, and every day I come away thankful. I am thankful you live transparently before us, thankful that you point us to Jesus, thankful that you provide details and more details on what is going on with Al and all of you, medically and otherwise. I can sit here with tears running down my face and feel thankful beyond words for the HOPE that you remind us of, and the fact that God meets people in the midst of suffering and gives them hope and a future that is simply beyond guessing at.
    Thank you for your labor of love in writing us regularly, writing us meaty updates that include us in the journey and give us new ways to think about eternal issues. It is a privilege to be walking this vale of tears with you.

    Love in the strong name of JESUS – (“None other Lamb, None other Name, None other Hope in heaven or earth or sea. None other hiding place from guilt and shame—None beside Thee.”)

    Becky

  7. Laura Henrich said,

    September 24, 2006 at 11:47 pm

    I have been checking your blog for many months now… I’ve lost track of how many times I started to write a comment and gave up. I’ve wanted so much to let you know how I rejoice at the Lord’s power to sustain you, and how I pray with all my heart for His presence to be continually unmistakable to you and for every grace to be yours in Him at all times and in every way. I am so far removed from your lives that I’ve felt I have no right to add my name to the list of those who rejoice and mourn with you. But you have blessed and continue to bless me so abundantly through your public worship of our Rock in the midst of your pain, that it would be wrong for me not to thank you. Eowyn, it was such a privilege to read what you posted about your dad and your confidence in our Lord and His love. Thank you so much for that. He is glorified in you, in all of you.
    I was at the cemetery Friday and decided to wander through the rows of headstones that I pass on my way to a friend’s grave. Looking at dates and wondering at the foolishness of man… Twenty six years, eighty nine years, forty one years… It isn’t so long. The longest life span isn’t so long. And then eternity. And for us… For us, this is very good. Living in the hope of heaven, living just on the edge of it, squinting through such a thin dark veil that separates us from perfect vision of the face of our Risen Lord… This life is real, this pain is real as well as this joy; it would be wicked to deny it. But that one is more real. And you help me see it.
    I am praying for you, and will continue to pray. But know that with the petitions, continual thanksgiving goes up to our Father for the faith and the love that He has worked and is working in you. Blessed be His Name.

    With love,
    Laura Henrich

  8. John Stokesbury said,

    September 25, 2006 at 7:58 am

    Words fail me … but I wanted to drop a brief note to let you know that you all are often in my thoughts and prayers.

  9. Islandgirl said,

    September 25, 2006 at 9:19 am

    There are no words except to let you and your family know how much you are loved and in my prayers. May you find the peace and comfort that only God can give you during these very difficult and emotional times.

    May God Bless,
    Linda

  10. Tom Kulp said,

    September 25, 2006 at 2:16 pm

    Al and Libbie, it was great to see you both Sunday. I feel very blessed to be able to spend time with you and see how the Lord is loving and working in you. In hardship we can often just look inside and see the hurt, but God gives us these “chance” meetings and all I can think about is how great is His love for us, and the gift of eternitity with Him. Thank you for your encouragement and graceful way.

    Tom

  11. Tom Kulp said,

    September 25, 2006 at 2:23 pm

    Figures I would spell eternity wrong! I just wanted it to last…..(and it will)

  12. Craig Combs said,

    September 25, 2006 at 2:35 pm

    Thank you for sharing, Libby.
    Tell Al it is tear season in Vermont, too.
    I weep with you.
    And I pray for you.
    And I am grateful.
    Yours for Jesus’ sake,
    Craig

  13. Craig Higgins said,

    September 25, 2006 at 5:19 pm

    Just thought you’d want to know that, before I even read this update, Aurora Doherty–a wonderful retired legal secretary and great women of faith who coordinates our email-based prayer team–read this and sent it to the entire Trinity Church prayer team.

    People whom you have never met and praying with you, weaping when you weap and rejoicing when you rejoice!

    And we love you.

    Craig

  14. Tim Geisse said,

    September 25, 2006 at 9:13 pm

    Thank you, LIbbie, for your last entry. It was truth-full in many ways (and very well written!). Reading your blog never fails to move me. You Groves, from the oldest to the youngest, are an inspiration to us all. I wish I could be there for Al’s Chapel talk on Wednesday. I doubt I would be giving him “notes” afterwards as in old West Fairlee days. Perhaps I can get a synopisis later.

    “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” Rev. 1:17,18 NIV

  15. Roger Clarke said,

    September 26, 2006 at 10:06 pm

    God bless you Al and family, you are a great source of hope. And may the God of all hope continue to guide and strenghten you.

  16. Jay McCoy said,

    September 27, 2006 at 12:07 am

    Thanks for the post. From these comments, it looks like it’s tear season all over the country. I know it is here in Southern Cal. I was reminded today that I’m from a family of hunters when I complained about someone setting a mousetrap in my desk drawer. Guess I missed out on that gene.

    Thanks for the long post. Much love from the McCoys.

  17. The Hackenberger Family said,

    September 27, 2006 at 4:55 pm

    Dear Groves Family,
    We have been in and out of each others’ lives for decades, (seminary, births, prom, graduations, etc.), and though we’ve moved out of the area, you are not far from our hearts and prayers.

    Weeping with you, rejoicing with you, and definitely weeping some more. The race you run with endurance is a testimony to “God’s strength being perfected in weakness.”

    Meet you at the Throne of Grace,
    Martha, Greg, Rachel, David, Daniel, Esther and Hannah

  18. Barb Lindenmuth said,

    September 27, 2006 at 6:31 pm

    Dear Al & Libbie Groves, My heart goes out to you, and feel the Lord leading me to offer to pay for Al to take the 21 Day cancer challenge. Please pray about this as you look into the information below.
    In Christian Love, Barb Lindenmuth

    21 Day Cancer Challenge explained:

    http://www.hotbiztools.com/category_s/40.htm

    Dr. Tootla Brookland Hills, Michigan
    http://www.goxanthones.com/normar

    In 20 minutes you will learn all you’ll need to know about how Mangosteen Juice may be able to improve your life dramatically. Listen now to an interview with
    Amod Tootla, M.D., F.A.C.S., F.I.C.S.

    Dr Tootla is a World Renowned Board certified Cancer Surgeon & Leading Scientist. Named one of the top Surgeons in the United States by the consumer research council of America in Washington DC.

    Dr Tootla’s licensed to practice in 20 different countries and has the distinction of having introduced robotic surgery in the United States. He is the pioneer of laparoscopic colon surgery and has published numerous papers in the most prestigious medical journals of the world.
    Dr Tootla currently has over 1,000 of his patients taking Mangosteen juice.

    —————————————————-
    For extensive personal text stories go here: http://www.mangosteenexperiences.com/

    For an absolute blizzard of info go here: http://www.researchmangosteen.org/

    ScientificAbstracts.pdf … Testimonials.pdf … Experiences.doc
    To save to your desktop, right click link and select “Save Target As …”

    INDEPENDENT SCIENCE for Independent research from Medline, the National Library of Medicine.

    http://www.pubmed.com/ Independent Xanthone research. Type in “Xanthones”

    http://www.mangosteenmd.com/ Dr. Templeman’s Mangosteen Site for great info and editorials

  19. Pam said,

    September 29, 2006 at 7:49 am

    A friend of mine attends Westminster and heard you speak the other day. He wrote about you on his blog, and I followed the link here.

    I perused your site yesterday and I just want to say thanks. Thank you for letting us see God through you. Thank you for the example you are setting. Thank you for your faith and love, “the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in Heaven”. (Col. 1).

    I pray for peace, endurance and strength for each of you at this time. I pray for abundant blessings to be showered upon you and that the Lord’s presence be extremely visible each day and in many situations. Keep persevering, running the race and pressing forward to reach the mark.
    We serve a mighty King!!
    Blessings, Pam

  20. Dianne Eves said,

    October 2, 2006 at 7:46 pm

    Dear Libbie and Al, Please know that I am praying for you and your children. Much love to you both! Godís Unfailing Love Does Endure Forever!
    Dianne

  21. Charlayne said,

    February 13, 2008 at 8:36 am

    This is in response to Barb Lindenmuths posting about the 21 day challenge. Did you do that? If not, please, seriously consider it soon.

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