Surprise! 8.23.06

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Prayer Requests, Updates at 11:00 pm by Libbie

Dear Friends,

As promised, here is the news from today. Sorry I’m writing it so late; we got back late from seeing Al at the hospital, and then we had a lot of things to organize for tomorrow.

Today we had what we thought was going to be a routine follow-up visit with the neurosurgeon who performed the Gamma-knife radiation on Al’s brain tumor last June. But it turned out not to be routine, because Monday’s MRI revealed that the tumor has grown (approximately doubled—it’s about 1 inch in diameter now), that there is quite a bit of swelling around it, and that three tiny new ones have begun.

It was interesting that when the doctor came into the consultation room today and looked at Al you could tell that he was amazed at how good Al looked. Given what showed up on the MRI films, I guess he expected him to look and feel pretty bad. But Al looks great and has been feeling really good, and the doctor was visibly surprised at that. As Alasdair noted later today, Al has had many long years of practicing looking fine when his body is actually feeling trashed. Still, it’s encouraging.

The doctor recommended surgery to remove the lesion and reduce the swelling and then whole-brain radiation starting two weeks later. The biggest surprise was that he recommended doing the surgery tomorrow! Somehow they managed to get things rolling to take care of the paperwork, labs, X-rays, physical, etc., etc. so that he could be admitted this afternoon and scheduled for surgery tomorrow (we still don’t know what time). Whew—what a whirlwind!

The doctor stressed that the tumor is extremely accessible, right on the surface of the brain, just under the skull, and also that it is in the best possible spot for operating. Given a choice, surgeons prefer to enter the skull/brain in the front and on the right (at least for someone right-handed—I’m not sure if that’s true for a left-handed person as well), because there is the least risk of affecting important brain functions like speech and motion. Al’s tumor is on the right front lobe, and right on the surface. So the doctor expects things to go smoothly and Al to recover quickly. If that happens, he might be home by Sunday or Monday. It amazes me what modern medicine can do and how relatively routine something like brain surgery has become! Not knowing what Al will feel like post-surgery, how long he’ll be in intensive care, etc., I’m guessing it would probably be best not to plan to visit him in the hopsital.

When six of us went downtown to see Al tonight, he had little, 3-D, life-saver-shaped stickers all over his head that they will use to triangulate and target the tumor during surgery. He looked like something right out of “The Matrix,” which we teased him about. If I can figure out how, maybe I’ll post a picture of it, and you can decide for yourselves. He was in good spirits, not at all nervous or worried (although he is well aware that he is not going to feel so great in 24 hours), and after we all visited and laughed together, Alasdair led us in praying for him. We’d be grateful for your prayers tomorrow—for Al, for the surgeon, and for all of us.

So, we embark on the next stage of this journey. We don’t know exactly what it will look like or entail, but we know that the Lord will walk it with us. And we have already seen that his people will too. We are thankful for both.

The past five days Eowyn and Alden were away at a youth group camp. We missed them. It was also kind of a bitter sweet taste of what the empty nest years might (have) be(en) like, and I found that the tears were often not too far below the surface. But the time was a gift, and we chose to just enjoy the days, work on things together, read aloud, go to a movie, and spend time enjoying each other’s company. God is good.

Thank you for your fellowship.

I will try to write an update sometime tomorrow, probably late, to keep you posted.

In Him,



  1. Andy said,

    August 23, 2006 at 11:18 pm

    I want to say that the Groves are a remarkable family, and I am often amazed that I somehow lucked into knowing them so well. Alden and Eowyn are so mature for their years (so much so that even saying that seems somehow condescending, as it would if I were talking about adults), and Becky, Alasdair, and Libbie have handled this whole situation with so much poise. Al, of course, with maybe the most poise of all.

    When I’m with them, I feel like I’m with family, and that means a lot because when I’m with them, I’m usually 3000 miles away from my actual family.

    So I guess what I’m saying is that if you’re checking this blog from somewhere outside the Philadelphia area, I want you to know how inspiring it is to be around these six people. They’re not super-human (well, maybe Alasdair…at fusball), but they largely represent to me what’s right about the world in the way that they care for each other.

    So I’m giving you guys a big Blog Hug (a Blug; look, mom, I invented a cyber-word!) to go along with the actual hugs I’ll be giving you in the days ahead here in Philly.

    Filled with hope-

  2. Chi-Yin & Chin-Fei Hsu said,

    August 24, 2006 at 6:41 am

    Dear Libbie,

    Thank you for keeping us updated. I waited “long” to hear (or read) the update since Jennifer’s email. It must be hard to handle the “surprise” both physically and emotionally. It takes a “tree” to handle a strong “whirlwind” like this. Thank God for He is a refugee for all occassions and all times. It must be because of Him that we still laugh and have great hope in time like now. There is no words that could adequately describe our blessings in Him and you have grabbed its best. We love you all, and stand up together in prayers, petitions and hope in Him.

    Love in Jesus
    Chi-Yin and Chin-Fei

  3. Donna Jennings García said,

    August 24, 2006 at 7:58 am

    How I wish that I were there to be able to hug you as well. My heart is joined together with yours in prayer. I love you guys and miss you, wish i was there but so encouraged to know God is providing for you through the body of Christ in Philly. Thanks for allowing me to be a part of your lives, for the way you have blessed me and my sister. Becky- miss you and love you woman. We will be praying in the streetchild center and orphanage for you all today. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Rom 15:13. He is truly our only hope. I love you Groves!

  4. Thomas and Rena Mak said,

    August 24, 2006 at 9:10 am

    We will pray for you. Trust in the Lord for He is good.

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