Saturday, February 14, 2009

Uncharted Territory

Ask my family and you will discover that I love an adventure… often to their dismay. When hiking an unknown mountain path, I must explore what lies beyond the next bend, or discover what vista surely waits just over the next rise (sometimes leaving Linda to rest upon a rock). Whether sailing straight into a fog bank, canoeing through a mangrove maze, or schussing down a slope of virgin snow in cross-country skis, I love to go “where no man has gone before”.

I vividly remember one occasion in which my penchant for exploring uncharted territory could easily have ended in disaster. Wanting to share the thrill of adventure with my family, I loaded them into our new Jeep Wagoneer and set about on an off-road exploration of the Tennessee back country. Careening over the crest of a hill, and with lightning reflexes animated by my wife’s blood-curdling screams, I slammed on the brakes just feet from the edge of an 80-foot crevasse.

When the computer game called Myst was released in 1993, I was hooked. In this highly textured fantasy world, I was free to satisfy the need for exploration without risking life or limb or loved ones. The family was glad to make this venue of adventure a regular birthday gift.

Once more we are embarked on a real-life adventure into uncharted territory. Once riddled with cancer, by God’s grace I have navigated successfully through four gamma knife procedures to the brain, two cycles of systemic high-dose Interleukin-2, and three sessions of external beam radiation to the left hip. I have arrived in a place that few with stage IV melanoma have lived to experience. I am feeling great but there are challenges just ahead.

Our most recent visit to UVA on Wednesday, February 11, revealed a complex landscape: imaging studies suggest both significant improvement in systemic control of the cancer and possible persistence of tiny growths in the brain. All pertinent labs and my exam remain normal. Although my oncologist and neurosurgeon are exploring various options, there are no road maps to guide us through the next steps. There is no proven protocol for survivors like me.

I am reminded of another adventurer, spoken of in scripture. In Genesis 12:1, God tells Abraham to venture forth “to the land which I will show you”. Not knowing precisely what lay over the horizon, he set out, trusting God to guide him and supply his every need. He was not disappointed.

As we await the recommendations of my highly-competent physicians on this next leg of our journey, experience has taught us to fully trust in God as our guide. I’m looking forward to yet another adventure!


PS – On this Valentine’s Day, I am truly grateful for the one the Lord has given me as a faithful companion on this journey. As I awoke this morning, these were the thoughts I shared with Linda:

Waking to another day
Joy fills my heart anew…
The greater gift, I cannot say:
This breath I take, or you?

Happy Valentine’s Day!


  1. Hi Dan,
    I'm Melissa and I found you via several blog connections. I just appreciate your courage. Just reading this one entry made me aware that for some reason the Lord has some purpose in allowing you to come this far. How wonderful! "And who knows but that you have come to [such] position for such a time as this?" Esther 4:14b I pray that you will keep your eyes on Him and that as you press on through this adventure you will remain strong. What a testimony! Do not forsake the sharing of your faith! And His amazing miraculous hand!

  2. Oh Dan. I remember that Jeep ride in TN only too well. It was then that I too realized just how much Linda loves you. She stayed with you even after that death defying ride!! I still get chills down my spine just thinking of that ride. You're one wild and crazy guy!! But we love you, Debbie

  3. Praying for wisdom for Dr. Grosh & the others working on your case. How cool to be in unchartered territory! Glad you're still here. :)