Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Gamma Rays & Grateful Days

100... 93... 86... 79... 72... 65... See! I can still count backwards by sevens :-) Sunday evening Linda chauffered me back to Charlottesville so that I could be admitted early Monday morning, 2/11/08, for a procedure called 'gamma knife surgery' to destroy several metastatic lesions in my brain. Mission accomplished and I can still recognize loved ones and even prepare our tax return!

The procedure involves securing a cage to my head (with several screws into the skull), followed by a very high resolution MRI of the brain, then targeting the lesions with a cross-fire of highly precise and focused gamma rays for about an hour, destroying the abnormal tissue in each location. Interestingly, the MRI found a total of five very small lesions (the previous MRI had only spotted three). The placement of the cage was painless with the help of some drugs and local anesthetic. While in the cage, I wavered between feeling like Tweety Bird and Frankenstein.

The procedure is capable of targeting lesions as small as 0.5 mm and none of my lesions was greater than 3 mm in diameter, so the doctors feel confident that the operation was successful. I did very well post-operatively, aside from a transient killer headache after the cage screws were removed. We stayed overnight, reviewed the findings with Dr Grosh, the oncologist at UVA, and returned home this morning.

Dr Grosh has now given the green light to proceed with the high-dose Interleukin-2 therapy, with the following conditions: I must pass a comprehensive lung function test, as well as a cardiac stress test, and arrange a more definitive biopsy of a nodule in my parotid (salivary) gland to ensure that it does not represent a second unrelated cancer. We hope to complete all these tests this week. If these tests are satisfactory, we will then be placed on a waiting list to enter the very aggressive IL-2 protocol at UVA.

Meanwhile, we are enjoying some quality family time, basking in the love of so many friends, and continuing to trust in the One who holds us all in His loving hands.



  1. You are just a most amazing man of God....what grace, and with humor, you are making this trip. I truly thank God that He led me to you years ago so that your world touched mine.

    Your address at church last Sunday was amazing and so full of truth and who you really are.

    Also, it is so good of you to update your blog often so that those of us who are praying and waiting for news are able to know, from you, how you are. It is truly appreciated.

  2. Dear brother-in-law... you are truly amazing and funny on top of it all, but as my mom always said while dealing with various cancers for 15 years, I am not gone yet so why be serious and hang my head. It is true that laughter is the best medicine. I love you Dan, we all love you and you know we are all praying for you. May God's strength be with you. Did I tell you that you look quite funny in the cage almost as if you are ready to go to space. :)
    many hugs and prayers for you Linda and the whole family.

  3. ....And you didn't take that thing home w/you for your next costume party? You would have won "most original" hands down!
    THX for updating us, I go here every a.m. to see how to pray for you.
    Praising God for the good report of yesterday, praising God he will go b/f you and order your steps for the next phases to get cleared. Praising God for a good sense of humor AND counting by 7's That's cute! Praising God for the two of YOU! WE LOVE YOU, BOTH!

  4. Thank you for the update, Dan. You are on our minds often these days and we are praying fervently on your behalf.

    Jessica Vega and family

  5. Dr. Crabtree just wanted you to know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. Thanks for continuing to provide witness to God through your updates. You have been and continue to be a christian role model that has touched my life in more ways than I've been able to share with you. Praying for you and your family.

  6. Dr. Crabtree,

    I had Kirsti at the office the other day and was told what has happened. I read through your blog and what you and your family have been through in the past couple weeks and my heart aches for all of you. I thought your family might like to know from a patients perspective just what a special physician you truly are. It will be hard going to the office and not seeing your caring face waving from your office. When I told the children that you were sick and wouldn't be able to be their doctor, they asked to be able to send cards and letter to you. All of us hold you very close to our hearts. You are so much more than just a doctor, your caring, dedication and genuine love for your chosen vocation make you one of the best physicians I have ever encountered. Your spirit and positive attitude have always been a blessing to your patients, I truly hope in this time of your need, that GOD holds all of you close to HIS heart and brings you through this trial. Rest assured you have touched so many lives and there will be so many people praying to GOD that you and your family are spared any undue pain and hardship.
    Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family and we wish you all the blessings of our LORD.
    Joe, Stacy, Kirsti, Kelsi, Gregory, Kati and Justin Durfee

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