Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Cost of Caring

We all know what it costs to truly care about someone. You who are parents have endured sleepless nights with a sick child or a teenager staying out late. You who are lovers have suffered distress when your loved one was out of touch, injured, or ill. You whose spouse is a public servant, corporate executive, minister, counselor, serviceman, performer, or [fill-in-the-blank] dedicated professional know the compromises that must be made to accommodate his/her career.

I don't know how many of you fully appreciate the price that must be paid by a physician's spouse who must share their loved one with an often-adoring and large patient population, many of whom have related the most intimate details of their lives (and bodies) with that one who promised fidelity to "you and you only". Now I know Linda is going to be a little embarrassed by this, but I cannot exaggerate my praise for this woman who has sacrificed so much for my career and personal fulfillment.

It would take reams to tell of the intimate times interrupted by a beeping pager, the postponed dinner dates, the seasons of virtual single-parenting, the nights she endured my emotional "left-overs" after a difficult day at the office, or the months of uncertainty caused by a malpractice claim of outrageous dimensions. Why would anyone choose such a life? Although I am not sure she (nor I) fully understood the sacrifices she would have to make on the day we shared our vows, I am so glad she did!

By the way, this past Monday, August 17, marked forty-one years since we shared those vows... and I became a very rich man :-)

As part of her anniversary gift, I offered her something I have never been able to give her before -- the gift of privacy. I offered to close out this very public venue in which we have shared our thoughts, triumphs and struggles in the face this life-threatening condition, and to spend this season (however long it may be) focused on one another, on family, and on our most intimate friends.

With words of encouragement, she turned me down, citing the potential benefit to those of you who share similar struggles and have yet to find answers in religion, philosophy, or contemplation alone. It is in that spirit, and in honor of the love of my life, by God's grace, as long as I am able, I commit to continue to share these thoughts.

Oh please don't think this is a sacrifice for me -- it's really quite selfish on my part, as fulfilling as having this creative outlet has been. My point is to honor the love of my life (and our daughters), whose sacrifices for me have been beyond all reason. And to honor the One whose ultimate sacrifice for us all has made this struggle a great joy! He is the One "who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. " (Hebrews 12:2)

I am inspired both by my wife and by the One who gave her to me, for their love and sacrifice on my behalf. At the risk of sounding maudlin, I truly desire that my life may honor their devotion... and that you, too, will know such love.

Counting the Cost,
Dr Dan

PS -- We just learned that Drs Sheehan and Grosh have decided to proceed with yet another gamma knife procedure for the brain metastases (scheduled for August 28), followed sometime later by a repeat regimen of high-dose Interleukin-2. Stay tuned...


  1. Happy Anniversary to you both and what a blessing it is to know you have a LOVE like you have! You will forever be in my prayers and thanks to Linda for her support! GOD BLESS YOU!

  2. I absolutely loved reading your thoughts on your wife as i am in the same situation. it is good to know people understand this sacrifice and that you too are so keenly aware. I had been a classmate of your daughter, Kim & know that she cares for both of you very much and didn't seem to be any worse for the wear due to your job. She is an amazing lady & probably got that from her upbringing. We hope you do well in this coming season of your life with family.

  3. Dr. Dan,
    Thank you for your care of my inlaws(Don & Patsy Fuller) and thank you for sharing your faith on your blog. It is very inspiring.
    Our family continues to pray for you and your family
    Pat & Theresa Fuller

  4. Dan,
    Thank Linda for encouranging you to continue your blog. It has given courage, salvation and blessings to so many who have kept up with your blog from the beginning. You two are always in my prayers and thoughts for continued strength and peace. Love you dear brother-in-law. Barb

  5. Hi Dr.C. Would it be possible to send me a copy of your speech "Facing Our Fears".It was very moving,I wish I could have been there. My e-mail is Thank You Mary Rivera

  6. Dan,
    We just want you to know we pray for you every night before we go to bed. We faithfully read your blogs and so does our daughter, Joy, who lives in Roanoke.
    We love you,
    Jim and Evelyn Hinshaw

  7. Happy Anniversary to you both. I have learned so much from following your story, rejoicing with you in your successes, and sharing some of your tears. Linda is a generous woman to share you.

  8. Dan & Linda,

    Congratulations on #41. We are approaching #36 in a week. We have been following your testimony for over a year and have exchanged a few notes over that period. As we have also spent far too much time in hospital settings the last year, one thing the Lord has allowed is for a vast deepening in our appreciation for our years together. A delay in a craniotomy to relieve pressure due to tissue necrosis from a SRS procedule in May led us to stay in DC for 6 days rather than flying home to Wisconsin, then turning right around and returning back to DC for the surgery. It was miserable hot, so we spent the time talking and remembering and laughing and crying (primarily in joyeous celebration) and rehashing events and people that we had not thought about for 10-20 and even 30+ years. It was an incredible week of telling one another the many ways that God is in control of our lives. The craniotomy (left occipital) was last Tuesday. I was discharged on Friday to come home- 72 hours after brain surgery. We do not choose our circumstaces, but we do, via the power of the Holy Spirit, have a response that astounds the unsaved walkers down this very path God has placed us! We pray for you frequently!

  9. Neighbor Bob signing in. I have been remiss in not having checked up on you in a few weeks. I think it is great that you and Linda have had fun travels but I am distressed that you have new challenges and then on the other hand it is wonderful that you have had so much to fight and you have been successful over and over. Let's pray you will continue to be successful for another 30 or 40 years. Wouldn't that be awesome?
    Best to Linda also. What an incredible wife.


  10. Dan,
    Happy Anniversary a few days late. What a beautiful gift that you offered up to Linda. Two more days until you travel back up to UVA for another gamma knife procedure. I will be praying for you. I continue to pray for complete healing. I'm selfish - I love your blogs but I'd be willing to give up reading them to have you cancer free.

    Your friend,
    Paula (and Chuck)

  11. Amen to Paula (and Chuck's) comment......"giving up reading your blogs to have you cancer free." Praying for continued strength as you go through yet more trials. Audrey Lewis

  12. Dr. Crabtree. I want to tell you thank you for taking care of me ( Patricia Sifford) YOU are the bomb you were always there for me ill never forget it.LOL im the one that always had problem with my gizzard. You and your family are always in my prayers.God bless you all Im so happy i got the time to meet you.