Monday, August 3, 2009

Joy in the Journey

Fair weather or foul, the joy indeed is in the journey! Linda and I just returned from a three-week vacation to the Pacific Northwest. During the first week we caught up with life-long friends in a lakeside cottage near Eugene, Oregon. The next week we explored the Olympic National Park region and spent a day basking in the elegant beauty of Victoria, British Columbia. Finally we boarded a cruise ship in Vancouver and spent the next week exploring the southern coast of Alaska all the way to Anchorage. We even had a chance to visit my eldest brother, Dennis, during an extended layover in Denver.

We had great weather in Oregon and Washington state, but on this our first journey to Alaska we encountered back-to-back days of cold, rain, and cloudy skies. Although this was a disappointment, we were still awe-struck with the magnificence and expansiveness of our surroundings. Knowing this would probably be our only trip to this region, we made the most of each day, enjoying one another's company, feasting on great food, and imbibing the natural beauty (misty as it was) that surrounded us. We did spy whales, porpoise, sea lions, moose, and many varieties of birds.

We also encountered some very wonderful people, including Ramona Douthit, the widow of a very good friend (Howard) who lost his battle with cancer last year. Howard was (and continues to be) an inspiration to me as a man who, in spite of dreadful suffering, found joy in the journey. His steadfast love of God and unshakable devotion to his family helped him navigate tempestuous waters with inspiring courage and strength.

It appears that we, too, are headed for troubled waters once more. Within hours of returning to Norfolk, we travelled to Charlottesville for another full day of imaging studies and consultations. The news is mixed: While I have few symptoms and lab studies remain normal, there are several new lesions identified on the PET-CT (involving the neck, axillae, and left hip region) and troublesome findings on the MRI of the brain. The brain images suggest either swelling and disintegration of previously treated lesions, or possibly progression of these same metastases. The good news is that there do not appear to be any new brain lesions.

After deliberation, my consultants have recommended a dedicated PET-CT of the brain to determine if the lesions there are actively growing or resolving. Resumption of high-dose Interleukin-2 cannot go forward if these lesions are actively enlarging, so it is not yet clear what course of action will be recommended. We return to Charlottesville this Friday, August 7, for the PET-CT study.

Meanwhile, our confidence in the Master travel agent is unshaken. We don't yet know what is beyond the next bend, but have learned to expect jaw-dropping vistas of His faithfulness and love.

May you, too, know joy in the journey,
Dr. Dan

PS -- I was given the distinct privilege of speaking to our church congregation on "Facing Our Fears" this past Sunday. You can listen to the message by clicking HERE. Feel free to write me if you want a copy of the outline and/or PowerPoint presentation.


  1. Hi Dan and Linda,
    It was such a priviledge to be on the cruise with you both. It's so great when God sets up His "divine appointments" with His people. God used that cruise to help bring new healing to me as the one year anniversary of Howard's homegoing approaches this week. It was such a blessing to listen to your wisdom and encouragment during a time that I know you are also fighting the battle. Thank you for taking the time to encourage Jonathan and me during your special time together. I always have appreciate the special connection Howard and you had in your journey and continue to pray for strength, wisdom and peace through whatever road God has you on.
    Love you both,

  2. Praying . . . and happy that you had a wonderful trip with Linda.


  3. Dr Dan

    We will ramp up the pray effort for you as you go into new territory with your cancer. Glad to hear that you had a good vacation time.


  4. Dr. Crabtree,
    I was told of your blog about seven months ago through a mutual friend. My husband was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in Aug 03. He was 48 and I had just turned 40. It was our oldest daughter's first week of high school. Needless to say, it has been quite the journey but it has also been a the ways that you have recounted. My husband underwent an autologous stem cell transplant in Jun 06 and is in remission. He continues with daily medication and monthly aredia treatments. As you know, the cancer is not curable but we are living each day with a heightened awareness of the goodness of the Lord. Your blog has been a tremendous source of inspiration to me. Thank you for taking the time to share your insights.

  5. Hi Doctor Dan
    Bob and Lu Rosencrants here been reading your blog since you started and you have been in our prayers daily. Just listened to your last Sundays sermon and Lu asked if I would write and get the notes from you, so can I get them please. You took the trip I've been wanting to take but haven't yet, sounds like you had fun! My e-mail is
    Love in Christ
    Bob & Lu