Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Discovery Cruise

Months ago Linda and I had arranged to go on a much-anticipated cruise to the western Caribbean leaving January 25, 2008. Then just two weeks before the cruise we learned that I needed to undergo surgery for a tumor of my parotid (salivary) gland. The risk of post-poning surgery (ONE of us felt) was greater than the risk of delaying the cruise, but when we finally tried to cancel, we discovered it was too late and we would forfeit the entire pre-paid amount.

In the meantime the pre-operative workup led to an unexpected discovery that there were numerous small tumors spread throughout my body. On January 24 enough information had been gathered to make it clear that the proposed surgery would not be helpful and the operation was cancelled. My oncologist advised: "Go and enjoy yourselves! You will need the R&R for what lies ahead."

The trip was a gift from God! How many people do you know who are told they have disseminated cancer and immediately get to go on a cruise??
We thoroughly enjoyed the precious time with each other and our dear friends, Paul and Judy Spoelman. I had enough energy to do a myriad of fun things including snorkeling, zip-lining through the jungle canopy, cave-tubing, dancing and dining with my Linny.

During the cruise, the results of a liver biopsy proved that the cancer is an aggressive form of malignant melanoma. Since returning from the cruise, the physical effects of this rapidly spreading malignancy have zapped me of energy so that it became clear that I could not return to full-time practice. Fortunately, one of my colleagues, Dr Sheri Marshall, a very competent and caring family physician, has made herself available to manage my practice while we search for a permanent replacement.

I have completed many imaging studies and will soon consult with a specialist at the Melanoma Center at the University of Virginia. I cannot tell you yet about a specific prognosis or treatment options.

I want you all to know that I am confident in God’s goodness and that He let’s nothing happen to His children except that which first passes through His loving hands. We are fully dependent on Him and looking forward to the things He is going to show us through this experience. I commented to Linda that He must really trust us to allow such a challenge. Regardless, Linda and I and our daughters covet your prayers for grace, courage, wisdom and strength.

I will keep you posted as I learn more.



  1. Dan and Linda,

    Although I know that this news must have split your world apart, I am not really surprised that you are already testifying to God's mysterious grace. You have always been leaders. Now you have begun a new journey where you will experience His grace as never before and He will receive the glory.

    May our God be praised and may you experience His comfort.

    Pastor Kenny

  2. Dan and Linda,

    We are with you as you continue to be upheld by God's grace and provision. We don't always understand God's ways but we know that He is always good, loving and sovereign, and you can rest in His care. Thank you for the many times you reminded us of the importance of glorifying God in all we do.

    We will continue to lift you and your family up in prayer.

    Tender blessings,
    Barbara & Jimmy

  3. Dan and Linda,

    We learned of your new adventure only hours before your email arrived. No words can convey our love, concern, and thoughts of you! We hold you up to the Father for his unique-for-the-Crabtrees daily bread.

    Dick and Vicki

  4. Dan and Linda,

    You have been such an encouragement to us over the past year as we have also faced challenges. What a blessing your prayers and words of wisdom have been!

    While we may not always know God's plans for us, we will always know and experience His love and grace.

    We love you and your family and will continue to pray for you in the weeks and months ahead knowing that our loving God is holding on to you thru this.

    Al & Loretta

  5. Dan and Linda,
    Thank you for sharing your situation with me so that I can keep you close in prayer and thanksgiving. What a unique challenge God has given you. Once again, he has put you in a leadership position to live your lives in a "spiritual spotlight" for all around you to witness His strength through your weakness.
    This is an exciting time to walk closely with our Lord as he escorts you through this situation. The beauty of it is your submissive hearts to accept His will for your lives and to act and react in faith. What a blessing your love for each other is as this will sustain you through very trying times. I'll be praying for you and interested to hear of your progress. God's grace will be sufficient for you and He will not give you anything more than He equips you to handle. Blessings and the peace that passes understanding to you and your family.
    Lovingly in Christ,
    Kathy Chefas

  6. Linda and Dan:
    Please know you are loved and cared for by so many...more than you may ever know on this earth.
    We have so many fond memories of birthdays, holidays, being flung into the Chesapeake Bay still makes us laugh.
    How many times have you guys been there for us? Now it's our turn to give you the strength, grace and courage you have been so generous to share w/our family.
    We will be diligent in our prayers for the girls and especially the two of you! We know this is scary, however, we also know you will have an amazing testimony on the other side.
    Tim and Diane

  7. Dan & Linda,
    Know that you will be constantly in our prayers. Your relationship has been a testimony to us. To watch and see your unfailing and unconditional love for each other is such and inspiration to us and we speak of it often. To spend Linda's birthday celebration with you was almost life changing for us.

    Thank you for your continued ministry and your mentoring to those around you, even when you are not even aware that you are doing it.

    You are loved,
    Scott & Adina

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  9. Hi Uncle Dan....Thank you for doing the blog and for the words you wrote. There are so many who love you and want to be there for you and somehow you managed to be there for us. I, for one, am glad you and Aunt Linda took the cruise and will do all I can to lift your circumstances up to prayer. Loads of hugs and love, Your niece Patti along with Megan, Christopher and Joshua.

  10. Dan and Linda,
    Just wanted to let you know we are praying here in Brazil. God bless!

    John and Fabi Schmidt
    Recife, Brazil

  11. Dear Linda and Dr. Dan~
    Though this is such a shock to us who know and love you, thankfully it is not a surprise to our loving God. I have been in prayer for you ever since hearing this news this morning, and will continue to trust God to give you a special sense of His dear presence. I know He will be with you both every step of the way. Thank you for your wonderful attitude and for your testimony to us all. I will be expecting great things from Him for you and your family!

  12. We have been and will continue to pray for you as you go through this trial. If there is anyway that we can be of help (meals etc.) please let us know. You both are dear to us and have helped us grow so much since we've been at TAB. Thanks for all the times you've taken us in like we were one of your family.

    David and Joanna Euans

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  14. To my brother- and sister-in-law Dan and Linda. I pray for you that you may have comfort and peace in weeks and months ahead. That your pain will be lessened by prayer and love which we all have for you, that he will give you strength to both of you and your family.
    With love, hugs and prayers. Barb and Carl

  15. Beloved physician, you have been a blessing to us for years. Not only as a competent and caring doctor, but with the added blessing of having a dedicated christian doctor. How grieved we are to hear of your recent diagnosis. It has been hard to absorb the past 24 hours. However, we know that you know the Great Physician and, more importantly, He knows you and has promised never to leave you or forsake you.
    We are lifting you, Linda, and your family up in prayer at this time. We serve am awesome God and will be expecting His best care and perfect will for you.
    Your upbeat letter and testimony on the Blog is a blessing to all who know you.
    Donna and Don

  16. My dear Brother Dan and his Linny :-) Thank you for trusting me with the treasure hunt for close friends and collegues in the Muskegon/GR area. WOW! To be loved and appreciated by so many wonderful people. No surprise; that's for sure. I still have one or two more I am determined to find. Ex: If anyone can help locate Shirley (Wahl), who's husband apparently passed away some time ago (she has remarried and lives in Grand Rapids, MI), please give me the add/ph number and let her know about my Bro Dan and Linda's (and family) need for prayer. I am proud of my Bro and his Linda for all the phyical and spiritual caregiving you gave to so many. Love and lots of prayers, Bro Don (drc1419@aol.com)

  17. Dear Dan and Linda,

    Several times this year Yuliya and I have had cause to pause and thank God for you and the great help you have been to us. Your compassion, kindness, generosity and integrity are amazing, and humbling to be on the receiving end of!

    May God bless and heal you and surround you with the kind of wisdom, help, comfort and compassion that you have shown so many.

    When I think that when you visited me in the hospital recently you had just gotten this news yourself! We love and appreciate you both. May God continue to guide you as trust Him at this difficult time.

    Spencer and Yuliya

  18. Dear Dan and Linda,
    How many times have we prayed together for those in the flock desperately in need of prayer and healing? Now we turn to God on your behalf. We have a God who loves us to the core of our being - we can't escape the loving embrace His strong arms. We ache with you because you are part of us. We are also prepared with you to see what great and mighty things He is getting ready to do in you and in us.
    We love you dearly,
    Craig & Diane

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  20. Debbie said...

    Brother Dan, Linda & family.

    You have been the inspiration and role model for our family your entire life. What an amazing example you have set for us to follow.

    We trust the Lord will see you, Linda and your family through these difficult times and we know there will only be one set of footprints in the sand as the Lord carries you through these days.

    Our prayers, thoughts and love will be with you each and every day.

    All our love forever,
    Dennis & Debbie

  21. Dan and Linda,

    Time stood still for a moment when we heard your news. Since then we have prayed numerously for you both. We don't understand God's timing nor do we understand His ways. Even so, there is one thing we know for sure and that is He does all things for His glory. We will pray for strength and wisdom for the two of you. We love you greatly. Thank you for reminding us yet again that God is soveriegn.

    Chuck and Paula

  22. Dear Uncle Dan, Aunt Linda and Cousins, Kim, Beth, Christianna and families...We are standing in the gap for you. In momements like these, I'm reminded of
    Psalms 23. May He lead you by still waters and help you to find rest. I know how much you love Him. May He be your strength and sustenance.
    I hope that this link http://www.fathersloveletter.com/fllpreviewlarge.html will minister to your spirits. God loves you all so very much. Love, Hugs and Prayers, Matthew, Carrie, Christian, Ruby and Kylie

  23. Lin and Dan please accept our deepest and most sincere wishes for the very best outcome from this devastating news. We do believe that Dan is held securely in the bosom of our Lord.

    You and your immediate family are daily in our prayers, our thoughts; and we love you dearly, but we know that our love pales in comparison to that which the Lord our Father has for Dan, you, and your family at this time. We pray that your suffering be minimal and that the brightness of the future light your path forever. Remember that it rains on the just and unjust for God is the Master of our days. We love you, George and Susie

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  25. Dr. C. and Linda (whom I have not met,)
    As I read the latest notation my heart was pierced with grief at what you are enduring....I share the pain. And yet, I am hopeful. This morning in my devotions I read the first 6 chapters of Mark: all about the healing of Jesus.
    You will be healed in God's perfect way and timing.
    Please know that Don and I will bombard heaven on your behalf continually until we hear from you again.
    One desire of my heart is that I might see you once again (and meet Linda,) if the opportunity is there without intruding.
    In Christ's love,
    Donna and Don B.

  26. Dan- Delores and I have been and will continue to be in prayer for you and your family.If I can be of any help or comfort to you, either as a brother in Christ or as a nurse, call on me.
    God bless you and yours.
    John Horn

  27. Dan & Linda,

    Please know our family is in prayer for you, especially for healing and strength as you go through treatment and as Linda takes care of you. My mother has melanoma and I know what is required of both the patient and the caregivers. She is currently being treated by Dr. Alexander and has been seen by Dr. Grosh (who is one of the BEST!).

    Thanks for being a testament to God's goodness all the time. Praying for you and your family (and mad and sad that you have to go through this).

    Anita Monroe (and John, Sara & Daniel)

  28. Dan,

    I am so overwhelmed by the news. Want you to know how much you spiritual leadership and Sunday School lessons have meant to me. As you are going through this time of treatment I will be praying for you and watching to see how submission to God's will in such unexpected circumstances looks like. I have alot to learn from you. Linda, if there is anything I can do to be of assistance, please let me know.

    Love in Christ,
    Susan Royalty

  29. Dan and Linda,

    We just learned about your diagnosis of Melanoma, and are inspired by your wonderful confidence in God's goodness despite what is happening. We will certainly put your name on the Kings Grant prayer list and are confident that God has a plan "to give you a future and a hope".

    Bob and Joy

  30. Dan & Linda,
    We are praying for you and your family daily. You inspire us with your courage and faith. If there is anything either of us can do to help or ease your burden, please let us know. We love you.
    God bless you with his peace and comfort.
    Linda & Jerry Jones

  31. Dan and Linda,

    No one anticipates having to hear news as you have, and I'm sure none of us would welcome learning about Christ's suffering BY suffering ourselves, but as you said in your message on Sunday...., " Lord, if you so choose to have me learn by suffering, than though I am slayed, I will trust you." IT is already obvious that you are giving GOD glory for being all knowing, all sovereign and all loving by HIS grace.....You both have exemplified and modeled for the rest of the TAB body what Christ would want us to learn from you... IT blesses me to see such genuine strength, joy and peace through the journey you're now in.....Your humor has not seized to peak through the pain, your trust soaring way above the doubts and all I can say is WOW...may GOD be praised for the work HE is and has done in you.....May Jesus continue to be the anchor for your soul and please know how much you are loved, cared about and prayed for every day.....

    You are certainly loved by all that know you and it's easy to see why,
    Audrey Lewis

  32. Dan and Linda,

    Sheridan and I want you both to know we are praying for you as you face this difficult trial. We know your faith in Christ will carry you and God's glory and power will shine out of your lives more brightly now than ever before as you lift Him up in the face of adversity. We are praying for a miracle and trusting God for the outcome. He is altogether good!

    Sheridan and Janice Barber

  33. Dr. Dan,

    I cannot count all of the patients who have called to inquire about you who commented, "He saved my life." You are much appreciated and prayed for, and the fragrance of Christ is spreading far and wide through your life.


  34. Dr. Crabtree

    When I arrived at your office in Jan 08 for a follow-up appt., I overheard a conversation saying that you might not be coming back. I said to myself "Dr. Crabtree is sick". Well, I received the letter that you gave your patients when I leaving your office. I just sat in my truck and cried. I said to myself "Why Him"? You have been so good too me while under your care. You are not like other physicians. You take care of your patients like we are your family members. You encouraged me to take care of myself and that you where happy that I was getting the Gystric Bypass Surgery. As of 18 Feb I now weigh 312 (90 pounds lost since Sep 07). Dr. Marshall is an oustanding doctor. I'm so glad that you chose her to take care of your patients during this time. I will continue to lift you and your family up in my prayers. I was in your office last Friday and the office is during good.

    God Bless You All
    Stephanie Smith

  35. Dear Dr. Crabtree,

    We miss you so much at the doctor's office, and our hearts ache that you will no longer be our physician! The strength you have shown in your writings is helping each of us immensely. We are sad, but your strength is making us stronger.

    On the radio this morning, there was a show about people coming to know God. In every case, there was a messenger and a hungry heart and soul. You are a wonderful messenger. Thank you for your testimony. We know it is His grace working in you!

    While reading some of the other messages on this site, what we found was that so many others feel about you as we do. You have been so wonderful to us. Our hope is that as you are treated by others, they will be as caring, kind, and thoughtful to you as you have been to us.

    We are praying for you and your family and have added you to the prayer list at Great Bridge United Methodist Church. Some of our faithful friends are also praying for you as you take this journey.

    We love you!
    Sam, Jenny, Samuel, Kathleen, and William Richards

  36. Dear Dan and Linda,

    We were in Japan when you spoke to the Tab conversation. We just read your updates. It is difficult to know how and why something like this could happen to one of God's children who has devoted his heart and life to ministry and serving. It makes us realize even more that this earth is really foreign to us. We are only passing through on our way to a glorious eternity with our Lord.

    We pray that God will walk close by you and your family in the coming weeks, months, and we hope years. We know that in the end, His will be done, and that it will be in His perfect plan. We know He will continue to use you for His honor and glory.

    You are in our thoughts and
    prayers. May God give you peace and rest for whatever you have to face in the future.

    Love, Mary Lou and Helmut

  37. Hi Dr. Crabtree,
    I was asking about you recently, and was referred to your blog. I wanted to say that you remain an important part of my life. In 1981 you were my Doctor and delivered my first daughter Brook at Hackley Hospital in Muskegon.
    I was 19 then and scared, I hadn't seen you yet and was sure I couldn't go though the procedure without you. When she was crowning I yelled DR. CRABTREE, and I could hear you running down the hallway saying yes, yes, I'm coming. That was Dec.23,1981. You came in and released us around 6:30 p.m. Christmas Day.
    I remember you having a Christian radiance and energy about you that I can't describe.I felt very fortunate to have you as my Doctor.
    You delivered my two sons after that in 83 and 85. I named my oldest son Daniel. My daughter Brook and her husband have given us our first, and only so far, Grandson in 2008.He's 5 months old,and I love him dearly. When she was pregnant, she wanted to compare notes and I always told her what my Dr. Crabtree said.
    Thank-You for being a wonderful role model.
    The greatest gift I can give you and your family is prayer, to our powerful and almighty
    Lord, Jesus Christ.

    Respectfully Yours,

    Elizabeth (Gibbie) believe it or not, now is Taylor.