Wednesday, April 28, 2010

To Publish or Not to Publish?

Today is the two month anniversary of Dan's passing into his new life with Jesus.

The first words friends utter in greeting to me are always the same, "How are you doing?" And I am happy to let you all know that I am indeed doing "fine". I really am. That doesn't mean that I don't cry or get choked up talking about him or about the grandchildren's bewilderment over when they can see Grandpa again.... But I really am doing fine. I am choosing to count my blessings, even in my grief.

I have spent the last two months writing thank you notes and responses to the many, many people who so kindly helped me or gave memorial gifts at the time of the funeral (which, by the way, turned out to be an absolutely wonderful evening of honoring Dan and glorifying the Lord! I have it on DVD, but I think 90 minutes is too long for U-Tube?) There is also a lot of life's business that must be tended to at times like these, so I have been tending to it.
But, if you are here on Dan's blog site, you are most likely seeking something concerning him and most likely you don't know what that something is. I suggest you review his former blogs and allow yourself to be blessed all over again.

Many, many of you suggested these writings be published. We did look into that prospect while he was alive and concluded that publishing a book is quite easy with all the self-publishing vehicles available. Marketing it is not easy. Soooo, I appeal to the wisdom and experience of you, readers. Do you have any informed suggestions concerning publishing a book of his blog entries? I do not want to spend a lot of money, let alone the time and energy, to publish a stack of books that just sit in boxes, being a tribute to vanity. (I don't want to make a lot of money, I just don't want to lose it!) The blogs are already public and will remain available. Would enough people be willing to buy in book format what they can get freely and easily on line?

"To Publish or Not to Publish?" (And "how"?) That is the question I ask you.

Leave a comment here. If you can't figure out how to leave a comment, you can email me at

Blessings to you, kind readers.


Sunday, March 7, 2010

It was a one week ago this evening that the Lord took Dan to be with Him.

Dan's decline the last two months of his life was rapid but the last two weeks it was precipitous and quite a battle to get ahead of the pain. I'm glad to report it was finally under control the last three days of his life.

My three daughters and I were at his bedside as the time for him to leave drew near. We prayed over him, thanking God for our life and heritage with this man. As his breathing became labored, Beth put on a YouTube production of "How Great Is Our God", and we sang along with it. He left this world at around 2 minutes and 50 seconds into the video. I mention the time, because as you will notice, if you watch it, the scene on the video is of a sunset on the sea. I doubt that you need an explanation of the imagery.

Here is the video, in case you haven't already picked it up on one of our daughter's blog sites.

We used the video to close out his memorial service with our daughter Beth singing How Great Thou Art. The following Bible Verses are the ones in the video. (It's hard to read them through tear-filled eyes.) They are a good synopsis of why we can face death with strength and confidence for today and for all of our tomorrows.
Dan faced the end with the courage he requested and I am confident he is no longer experiencing an energy crisis.

Thanks for sharing our journey. May you also walk yours with Jesus.

Linda Crabtree

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

Philp 1:21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Eph 2:4-5 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),

1Co 15:54-55 But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, "DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP IN VICTORY. O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?"

John 14:27 "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.

Act 20:24 "But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.

Psalm 55:22 Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.

Deut. 30:19 "I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants,

Rom 8:28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

Mat 7:13 "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. "For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

Psalm 18:2 The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

John 11:25-26 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?"

John 14:27 "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.

John 15:13 "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Daniel Wayne Crabtree, MD Dec.30, 1946--Feb. 28, 2010

Last night, February 28, 2010, my beloved was called into the arms of Jesus as I and my daughters sang songs of praise to our Lord.
Our grief is great, but we do not grieve as those who have no hope.
We are confident beyond all doubt that we will be reunited one day
and again praise our Lord together.
Dan's and our prayer is that you too will choose to be devoted followers of Jesus Christ.

Obituary Of Daniel Wayne Crabtree

Norfolk, Virginia. Daniel Wayne Crabtree, MD, 63, left this life February 28, 2010, after a two year bout with malignant melanoma, to enter Eternal Life in the presence of his Lord Jesus Christ. He is survived by his father, John B. Crabtree of Muskegon, MI; his loving wife of 41 years, Linda Newitt Crabtree; three daughters and their husbands, Kimberly/Alan Wilson, Elizabeth/Matthew Hunter, Christianne/David Page; and grandchildren Morgan, Madison, Matthew and Mark Wilson, Asher and Zephan Hunter, Evelyn and Adelaide Page. He is also survived by his siblings Dennis, Donald, James, Paul, and Debra Runyon. He is predeceased by his mother, Faith Crabtree.

Dr. Dan's medical career was long and varied. His training began as a chemistry major at Wheaton College, '69; medical school at Wayne State Univ. '73; and residency training in Family Medicine at San Bernardino County Hospital, '76. He practiced medicine in Muskegon, MI 1976-1986 where he started the group practice now known as Harborwood Family Medicine and served as Chief of Staff at Hackle Hospital 1984-1988. He then taught in academic medicine at both ORU/City of Faith, Tulsa, OK and ECU, Greenville, NC. Joining Sentara in 1990, he served in various administrative positions as well as a practicing physician. Dan concluded his career as founder and Medical Director of Personalized Family Medicine.

His goal as a physician was to treat the whole person with knowledge, grace and truth. He was known by his patients, as well as his colleagues, for his pursuit of excellence in medicine and in all areas of life. As an elder at Tabernacle Church of Norfolk, VA he sought to serve Jesus Christ by teaching the Bible, leading Care Groups and advising the leadership. During his convalescence, he wrote on his inspiring blog site,, of his challenge to fulfill the Bible verse "Each day I am given, I shall not die, but live and tell of the works of the Lord" Psalm 118:17.

His family is very grateful for their heritage of love and faith.

Visitation with the family will be 5-9 PM, Wednesday, March 3, 2010, at Altmeyer Funeral Home, 5792 Greenwich Rd., Virginia Beach, Virginia. A memorial service will be held 7PM Thursday, March 4 at Tabernacle Church of Norfolk, 7000 Granby St., Norfolk, VA. A private burial will be at Forest Lawn Cemetery, Norfolk

Memorial gifts can be made in the name of Daniel W. Crabtree, MD to Christian Doctors Association, PO Box 7500, Bristol TN, 37621-7500. The gifts will be used to support the local student chapter of CMA.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Energy Crisis

You have not been long on this planet if you have not been made aware of what is deemed a universal and growing energy crisis. As the industrialized world continues to invest millions in finding new sources of energy and improving the efficiency of current energy supplies, demand keeps growing. Recently, I have been dealing with an energy crisis of my own.

With an adjustment in my pain medication regimen and in my determination to borrow courage from Christ's example, by God's grace I believe I have crossed a new threshold in my appreciation of the positive power that suffering can have in our lives. While currently much improved, I have a more-or-less constant headache (due to brain metastases), frequent flares of a pinched nerve in the left thigh (meralgia paresthetica), periodic severe muscle cramps, and episodic pains from other growing melanoma deposits.

But the undisputed winner of the most disabling phenomena in my recent course is easy fatigue ability, generalized muscle weakness, and poor stamina, accompanied by occasional near black-outs when standing too quickly. This is an interesting phenomenon to me, since while on steroids I have not lost much weight -- rather I am losing muscle mass, tone, and strength. (As a physician, I am intrigued by the high-turnover metabolic processes that accompany unregulated cancer cell growth... )

Compared to my experience during the first few months of this battle with melanoma (when the tumors had spread rapidly throughout my spine and abdomen) I much prefer this current course (where the most critical and numerous growths are in the brain, yet I am still able to reason, write and relate). For those of you who conclude that I have given up the battle, please know that is not the case. I have already out-lived the most generous predictions of my survivability, cherish each day the Lord gives, and look forward to tomorrow.

Faced with an undeniably dwindling stamina, however, I seek to mine the experience for nuggets of truth that may help me and others facing similar challenges. When it comes to dealing with our weaknesses, scripture has plenty of counsel on the subject. Here are just a few:

Psa 27:14 "Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD" [It appears that demonstrating courage (see last blog entry) is predicated on learning what it means to "wait" for the Lord.]
Isa 40:31 "Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary."
Psa 18:29 "For by You I can run upon a troop; And by my God I can leap over a wall."

As I experience profound weakness, I must learn to wait. In the original language of these passages, the process of "waiting" is more akin to posturing myself to spring into action at any moment than it is to passively sit, tapping my watch as the moments pass... Rather I need to alert all my senses to anticipate the next step I must take to keep my balance and stay on the path He has set before me.

Then I find that I begin to experience a paradoxical renewal of energy, coming from a source not to be explained by metabolic pathways or neurophysiologic phenomena. 2Cor 12:9 "And He has said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me."

As I grow weaker physically, I find I am growing stronger in ways that transcend nutrition, exercise, and metabolic pathways. I find my strength coming from another source -- a breakthrough renewable energy supply found in the irresistible power of an intimate relationship with an all-wise, all-loving, omnipotent and holy God. This relationship rewards me with steadfast love, freedom from guilt, secure hope for the future, and a new passion for others.

The experience affirms an often over-looked conditional promise in scripture which I find myself just beginning to understand: 1Peter 4:1-2 "Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God."

The God who loves me is not capricious in the experiences He allows me to go through, but rather desires that I leverage them as tools in His hands to shape me into the very image of His righteous Son. He uses suffering to sculpt my character in ways that will last for eternity if I will but recognize and yield to the hammer and chisel of His love. My personal energy crisis is leading me to a new and boundless source of power.

Strengthened and sustained by your prayers,
Dr Dan
A much younger Dan & Linda
(before any thought of an energy crisis :-)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Take Courage

Cowardly lion in The Wizard of Oz (Click here for video)

Courage: "the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery."

From the very beginning of this journey with disseminated malignant melanoma, I have asserted that the loving God in whom I put my trust has our highest good as His aim. He has firmly established this certainty through the sacrifice of His Son, offering us an overcoming, transformed life that will last for eternity.

While we live on a fallen and rebellious planet, however, we will face difficulties, reversals, challenges and tragedies. In the midst of our struggles, He graciously provides strength and opportunities to grow in character and in intimacy with Him. I am convinced that these circumstances are a demonstration of the wise and irresistible love of a holy God -- He cares more about my character than my comfort or career; He values purity of heart over prosperity; and offers greater rewards in longsuffering than longevity.

One of the areas of character that He has been patiently working on recently is that of personal courage. Although I have already survived far beyond any reasonable expectations, there is evidence that the cancer is advancing. I have recently experienced bouts of rather severe pain presumably due to new or growing metastases of the brain and skeleton.

With the help of Hospice Care we are, of course, adjusting pain meds (and the meds to combat the side effects of those meds). Yet I find myself surprised by what I deem a deficiency of courage and endurance when the pain is severe. Although I have sat at the bedside of many a patient going through terrible suffering, there is nothing like personal experience. I am still learning...

As I study examples of courage in scripture, here is what I observe: Courage is a character trait that, when appropriate, the Lord commands. For example, when given a specific mission, the warrior Joshua is told: "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9) Or as He speaks to Daniel: "O man of high esteem, do not be afraid. Peace be with you; take courage and be courageous!" (Daniel 10:19) This implies to me that, in the face of adversity, courage is a choice I can make... and it is up to me to make that choice. It also made possible because God is with me in the midst of the challenge.

I also notice that, unlike some other character traits identified in scripture as evidence of the transformative power of faith (see the fruit of the Spirit in Galations 5:22-23), courage is more active determination than it is my surrender to a supernatural enabling. I must take courage. Of course, in the face of adversity a loving God makes His resources known with promises such as "Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:10)

I conclude that courage is a choice and a learned response, only evident in the face of threat or actual adversity. It is enabled by an ongoing intimate relationship with the One who, because of His great love for me, Himself endured incomparable suffering on a cross (Hebrews 12:2), overcoming death itself to ensure my eternal destiny: "He will swallow up death for all time, And the Lord GOD will wipe tears away from all faces" (Isaiah 25:8)

In spite of persistent and numerous metastastes in both brain and elsewhere I am truly grateful that I still have the capacity and opportunity to gain eternal benefits from the experience. Not to be compared with the difficulties faced each day by the brave men and women serving in active duty military, or the public servants who repeatedly risk their lives to protect or rescue those in need, this ongoing battle with advancing cancer is yet teaching me what it means to take courage. Thank you so much for your many expressions of love and support while on this journey.

May we all have the nerve to trust Him more,
Dr Dan

PS -- Thank you Lord for the new heart you gave me when I first trusted in you. Now I could also use a new (tumor-free) brain! (Or, like Dorothy, get to go home :-)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Pestilence and Promise

My recent blog entry on "Whack-a-Mole" therapy reminds me of a refreshing true story of the power of child-like faith. Years ago, while living in Virginia Beach, our lovely (and rather large) yard was invaded with moles that eventually turned a fairly-well groomed and nicely graded lawn into an ankle-twisting, weed-choked, battleground. We did all the research on methods to rid ourselves of these pesky creatures and, one by one, tried them all.

I first tried flattening their tunnels (foolish and futile), then flooding them out (fun but never found any sputtered creatures surrendering themselves to me). Next I employed the mole traps -- and even bagged one of them this way -- but they kept on coming. Out of fear we may harm our dogs, we at first avoided the poison pellets, but eventually relented -- to no avail (fortunately the dogs survived). For weeks I could be seen stomping down mole tunnels in a ritual that must have caused the neighbors to think I had gone native American! Even our best efforts at grub control (moles' favorite food) did not stop the invasion. Meanwhile the yard and gardens were becoming an eye sore and risky to navigate.

Then one day our youngest daughter Christianne decided to take matters into her own hands. Inspired by the promises found in Psalm 91:1-6, she and her mother ventured out into the yard to face this pesky foe. The passage reads: He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, "My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!" For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark. You will not be afraid of the terror by night, or of the arrow that flies by day; of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, or of the destruction that lays waste at noon.

Together they claimed the promises, walking the perimeter of the yard as they prayed against this pestilence. Within days the most remarkable phenomenon appeared at the borders of our property: While no new tunnels emerged in our yard, suddenly fresh trailing mounds popped up in our neighbors' yards on both sides! These fresh mounds literally stopped at the edge of our lawn and gardens. (I honestly don't recall if we ever apologized to our neighbors, but we certainly empathized with their plight :-)

We live in a fallen world... one beset with troubles, disasters, famine, floods, earthquakes, devastation, enormous needs and neglect... and yes, with mortal bodies that are subject to decline, disease and death. Countless times God has intervened in our lives, in response to informed child-like faith, to stave off or reverse these destructive forces.

Ultimately, as we put our full trust in Him, we are promised a bright future secure in His love: For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, "Death is swallowed up in victory. O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?" (1Cor 15:53-55)

Armed with many such experiences that confirm His faithfulness, we are resting confidently in His love.

Dr Dan

PS -- The fact that melanoma usually starts out with a pesky "mole" on the skin has nothing to do with the moles mentioned in this story -- or does it??

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Whack-A-Mole Therapy

My recent experience with targeted radiation therapy for several symptomatic metastases scattered throughout my body reminds me of the popular (and personally frustrating) "Whac-A-Mole" game that I have played with my grandchildren at the pizza parlor or video arcade. The grandkids can usually beat grandpa at this game :-)

With the decision not to pursue additional forms of chemotherapy (each of which offers diminishing likelihood of remission of the cancer accompanied by increased likelihood of significant toxicity), we continued to pursue targeted radiation therapy for the more symptomatic lesions (outside the brain). I have had several of these (including lesions located over the left cheek bone, both arm pits, left medial thigh, and a more recent particularly troublesome one deep in the left pelvis). The left pelvic lesion caused rather severe episodes of pain, prompting ER visits to rule out diverticulitis or kidney stones. It ultimately showed up on a PET-CT as a growing lesion deep in the pelvic musculature.

Consultation with the radiation oncologist led to consideration of yet an additional targeted course of radiation therapy to the left pelvic region, but by the time the mapping imaging studies were completed, the pain had substantially subsided. I am grateful for the reprieve but fully understand that this or any of the other dozens of metastases could become more symptomatic at any time.

So I have decided it is time to stop trying to whack each mole as it sticks its ugly head out of yet another susceptible recess of my body. We are transitioning to hospice care with home health nurse visits to assist in pain management and other supportive services as needed.

In the midst of these circumstances I am reminded of a tender conversation between Jesus and Peter along the shores of Galilee shortly after His resurrection (John 21:1-19). Jesus prepares a grilled fish breakfast for His disciples and during an intimate conversation with Peter reveals something of his future: "Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go. Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, "Follow Me!"

We are not promised a future of our choosing, but urged to choose to follow the One who holds that future in His loving hands. Recognizing God's sovereignty in our lives and His active grace that has brought me through many more months of quality and enriching life experiences over the last two years while battling this devastating cancer, I am constantly seeking the best path to glorify Him. Resting in His faithfulness, I have abandoned the strategy of anxiously whacking each mole and look forward to the challenge and promise of what it means to simply follow Him each new day.

Thanks for your companionship on this journey,
Dr Dan

PS -- Linda has been a steadfast, encouraging, energetic and wise companion through these recent events. I could not be more grateful for the gift I have in her.