Saturday, June 21, 2008

Be Strong & Courageous

As I was nearing the end of this week of high-dose Interleukin-2 therapy, a number of the expected toxicities were cresting like waves against my body: the generalized swelling (gaining 17 pounds of water weight), muscle aches, bed-shaking chills, nausea, episodic vomiting, diarrhea (accompanied by a sore touche), stomatitis, abdominal swelling and pain, shortness of breath, difficulty sleeping and fatigue. Would this next wave take me down or would I still be standing when it receded yet one more time?

In spite of the side effects, I had successfully completed ten doses of Interleukin-2 and the oncologist was contemplating the eleventh dose to start at 1:00 a.m. on Saturday morning (today). If the numbers from the lab and vital signs came back okay, he would authorize the eleventh and final dose, if I also agreed that I was up to the challenge. At first I wanted to duck my head and simply let this one pass. Then the Lord’s Spirit spoke to me with the words uttered to Joshua centuries ago: “Be strong and courageous” (Joshua 1:6,7,9). Waiting for the doctor’s decision, I went to my Bible and reviewed the story of Joshua.

Now in no way do I compare myself to the mighty warrior that was Joshua, nor, for that matter, do I compare my circumstances to the enormous physical challenges and life-threatening situations that many others have faced, including our men and women in uniform.

But at some point each of us is placed at a point where we have to make a conscious choice to be strong and overcome our fears/discomfort/adversities or to take an easier path with less risk. It is seldom that I have truly had to be “strong and courageous”. Last night was one of them, though minor in the list of struggles faced by many others. Yet I learned something through it.

What is required at that moment is found in your spirit. To be strong at this point is a steeling of mental faculties, not necessarily an adrenalin boost in physical prowess. It is a willful process of taking inventory of priorities and view the situation with a broader perspective. To be courageous is to have faith that, whatever the outcome, a higher goal compels you to choose to face the situation with resoluteness and determination.

We find these characteristics, of course, in the life of Joshua. Facing the overwhelming task of leading a nomadic collection of tribes to conquer the inhabitants and settle in the land of promise, he was coached by God to do two things: be strong and courageous, and observe all the law of Moses. While there is a place for prayer, for faith, for surrender to God’s will, here the emphasis is on mustering up the internal qualities of mental fortitude, valor, and moral purity.

Knowing that I had a “multitude of witnesses” cheering me on, and taking personal inventory of these concepts, I determined that if Dr Grosh authorized an eleventh dose of Interleukin-2, I would stand against that wave as well. As it turns out, all my numbers were satisfactory except for one – my urine output was too low (owing to the fact that my stomatitis and abdominal pain had reduced my ability to take in enough fluids orally). Dr Grosh was satisfied with ten doses, cancelled the eleventh dose, and discharged me later this morning.

I am home now, feeling a little puny, but still upright and grateful to you all for your prayers. My prayer for you is that when your moment comes, you too will be strong and very courageous.


PS – We will be home this week recovering, have some interim lab studies performed, and plan to return next Sunday for readmission on Monday, June 30 for the second week of this second cycle of IL-2 therapy.


  1. Dear Dr. Dan,
    You are forever in our prayers. You have endured soooo much but yet soooo willing to keep all of us informed on your progress. Like your daughter sooo sweetly expressed "Please fight". We all want to see you completely recovered ASAP.
    Elizabeth & Clarence Collins

  2. Dr. Crabtree,

    We are very glad that you are continuing to withstand all that has been put before you.

    I thught you might appreciate something that our Kati had to say the other day...she was suffering from a painful ear ache which was ultimately determined to be a double ear infection. As we were leaving the doctors office she said to me..."Mom, I miss Dr. Crabtree, he took really good care of us. Can we have him back?" You have touched so many lives and been so important to so many, I just thought that as you contemplated your courage and determination, you might like to know that even the youngest of your former patients still think of and value the care you provided each and every one of us.

    Best of luck with your current treatment series. We know you will stand strong in the face of your challenges and fears.

    As always you are in our prayers!!!

    Joe, Stacy, Kirsti, Kelsi, Gregory, Kati and Justin

  3. My dear brother Dan.

    This has certainly been one challenging month for you with the gamma rays and now this latest series of treatments. I wish I could express just how proud of you I am and how courageous and brave you are.

    Please continue to stay brave and strong. You have so many people on your side and we all know and pray that you will overcome this.

    I also want to say how grateful the entire family is that Linda is by your side. This has to be a very challenging time for her as well and our prayers and thoughts are with her always.

    Love always, Debbie

  4. Dear Dr. Crabtree,

    I wanted you to know that you are still in our prayers. Like the earlier comment, we too want you back!

    Our family continues to move forward -- we thank Him that you were there for us during our storm and for all you have done for us.

    I spoke to my mom yesterday (you haven't met her, but I told you she just became a RN last year). She has been reading your blogs too and really thinks they would make a good collection for a book.

    Stay strong! We love you!
    Sam, Jenny, Samuel, Kathleen, and William

  5. Dear Dan,
    My prayers continue for you daily. I praise God for your progress and ask for complete healing.I always check your BLOG every day for updates and your words of encouragement. Thank you for all you have done for me and my family. We miss your marvelous medical care. As for me, I am recovering nicely from hip replacement surgery. I can walk pain free with a cane already. I plan to do an Irish Jig soon!
    Kathy Gainor

  6. Go, Dr. C., GO!

    --One of your many cheerleaders, Kristen Stapp