Thursday, March 26, 2009

It's All in Your Head!

Actual mapping MRI of Dr Dan's brain, horizontal cross-sectional view at the level of the orbits
(yellow spots represent melanoma deposits)

Truer words were never spoken. We just returned from Charlottesville after another round of imaging studies, lab tests and consultations with both the neurosurgeon, Dr Sheehan, and the oncologist, Dr Grosh. The PET scan indicates no evidence of active disease from the neck down, but the MRI of the brain demonstrates at least nine small tumors which have progressed in size since the last study. All but one of these appear to have been present on the previous scan (final report still pending). I remain remarkably free of any signs or symptoms from these metastatic deposits in the brain. So, indeed, it’s all in my head!

From a medical standpoint I appear to be somewhat of an enigma. It is unusual to demonstrate progression of melanoma tumors in the brain and yet have no evidence of active disease elsewhere, especially in light of the extensive metastases found throughout my body at the time of initial diagnosis.

Although it is clear we still face a formidable foe, it is also clear that nothing short of the miraculous could have brought me this far. One year ago I was immobilized with pain, emaciated, pale, unable to eat, hardly able to draw a breath at times, at the brink of death. Today I am pain-free with renewed energy, an insatiable appetite for all that life has to offer, and a little over-weight :-)

How we face the formidable foes in our lives is a matter of the head. The awesome reality of God’s peace that I have experienced through all this is a direct byproduct of how I choose to fill my head. Listen to these encouraging words: "You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:3) "And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Phil 4:7) I have put this to the test and know it to be true.

We have reviewed the treatment options with our consultants (whole brain radiation, stereotactic radiosurgery, ipilimumab infusions, or other investigational therapy) and have chosen to proceed with the gamma knife procedure. Because of the number of lesions to be treated, this will be done in two sessions, now scheduled for April 10 and April 20.

Meanwhile, I rest in this thought: “You, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the One who lifts my head.” (Psalm 3:3)



  1. You are an encouragement to others. :)

  2. Ninety per cent of the battle is fought between the ears anyway. Your mind, will and emotions are armor-plated against the insinuations of the enemy. Like Jesus, you are increasing in wisdom and stature,and in favor with God and man. Luke 2:52.

  3. DAN
    I have been in prayer for your guys this week. WE will remember to pray that the healing will continue on April 6 and 20.
    Pam & Kevin

  4. I will continue to pray for you and will be thinking of you as you undergo the gamma knife procedure yet again (and again)! You must be an expert at that procedure by now.

    I am so happy to hear that you are still pain free and are enjoying life to the fullest!

    We miss you. May God continue to richly bless you and your family!

    Sam and Jenny Richards

  5. I just read this today. All I needed were those verses. And I needed them TODAY. Thank you for sharing.

    Kristen Stapp