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


  1. Gerard said,

    May 30, 2006 at 6:23 pm


    You are an inspiration to all who read your words. I always associate you with fun walks above bad Urach in Germany, and photos taken there. Libbie, although absent, was with us in a very special way on that trip.

    I recognise what you describe as “rumpled of spirit” and urge God to give you healing . . .or is it smoothing?

    With assurances of thoughts and prayers,

    Gerard Norton

  2. Donna Berkowitz said,

    May 30, 2006 at 7:18 pm

    Dear Al,

    I have been reading your updates consistently and have been praying for you and your family. I pray for healing but also for many good days for you during this time. Thanks for sharing your feelings, fears and faith. Last week when I was driving to work, a bird flew into my windowshield. I burst into tears and thought of the verse about how God cares about every sparrow that falls to the ground. (in the past I think I would have been more worried about the potential damage to my windshield!). It made me think about Jake and about you and about all the little things, like blood clots, seizures, memory losses, etc. and that God knows and cares about all those things – in contrast to the medical community – not that they are not caring – but eventually we all become statistics – and they move on to the next patients. It was very comforting to know that all the little things were important to God. It was great to see you up on the stage with your family at the Celebration of Thanks singing together. You wrote in one of your entries about how much the song “Blessed be your Name” means to you. It means a lot to me too which is why I included it in Jake’s service – so of course I noticed you standing, with your arms raised when we sang it again at the celebration of thanks. I will continue to pray for healing and for many good days ahead – so keep on flossing! Donna Berkowitz

  3. Mark A. Stone said,

    May 31, 2006 at 6:50 am

    Thank you for the medical update. Thank you also for your “mindset” update. It makes sense that the seeming negative turn would cause a little bit of a down spirit when combined with pain and inactivity. I will pray that you will be given temporal relief (as well as complete healing) so that you may attend to your ministries. Know that however “down” you may get, those of us who are not with you continue to see an incredible spirit of joy. Your messages are positive and full of praise to our sovereign Lord. We know not why you have been chosen to endure this trial. We only know that it is being used to conform you to Christ and to give glory (in an incredible number of ways) to God. Keep the faith.

  4. Steve Nash said,

    May 31, 2006 at 8:10 am

    Your transparent sharing and patient faith is an encouragement to me. I updated my students last night on your situation and we continue to uphold you in prayer. I have to say that I am also convicted by your faithful witness in this crisis when I realize how easily I get “rumpled of spirit” by little things! As I read your latest post I couldnīt help but think of the lament psalms, specifically how the psalmist, after reflecting on Godīs demonstrated faithfulness in history, often transitions into a rapid change of mood. The crisis is still there, but he apparently finds comfort in being reminded of the big picture. This week I let a relatively little problem discourage me. In Godīs sovereign timing two things have helped me look back again at the bigger picture. One of those is your example of faith under trial. The other was that in my class last night we were in I John, and 3:1 really gave me some perspective, “Look at the kind of love the the Father has given to us, that we should be called Godīs children, and that is just what we are!” Keep looking up my brother!
    Steve Nash
    São Paulo, Brazil

  5. Margo and Jerry Plyler said,

    July 31, 2006 at 11:54 am

    Al and Libbie, we are friends of Ray and Judy Parnell, here in North Carolina. Your family has touched our lives in so many ways. Please know we go before our Father on your behalf with first, Adoration for who He is. Then with Confession of our sins, or all is in vain. Then, with Thanksgiving for all He blesses us with, the good and the bad. Then, we can kneel down before Him with our Supplications, those many needs we all have. Your family is forever on our hearts and in our prayers. All our love to you through Christ Jesus. Jerry&Margo

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