Saturday, September 19, 2009

En Garde! Eradicate vs. Palliate

Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand
Psalm 149:6

My physicians have crossed a boundary line this week. For the last (incredible) 20 months we have sparred with cancer, ever hopeful of inflicting a devastating blow that would mean the complete demise of this formidable foe. Now after six painful biopsies, four difficult rounds of high-dose Interleukin-2 (37 doses in all), tedious radiation therapy to the left hip, and seven gamma knife procedures to the brain (targeting 52 brain metastases), I find myself totally in a defensive posture.

At our last visit to UVA on Thursday, we received the news we expected: "Because of the evidence of persistent central nervous system disease, we have little to offer. Another round of Interleukin-2 is no longer an option, as it could cause fatal swelling of the persistent lesions within the brain. You do not qualify for any available national clinical trials."

In spite of the aggressive strategies employed thus far, there is evidence of ongoing injury to the central nervous system and obvious progression of tumors elsewhere. There is a persistent distortion of a small area of the left upper visual field and episodes of altered sensation in the right leg and arm have prompted the initiation of anti-seizure medication as a precaution. A couple of the systemic metastases have become painful as they continue to enlarge unchecked.

What is being offered is a form of chemotherapy that can arrest or slow the progression of both central and peripheral metastases. In addition, local radiation therapy may relieve pain associated with selected metastases. Again, these are clearly strategies that are designed to alleviate the effects of, but cannot reverse, this cancer's aggressive advance.

Throughout this battle I have repeatedly asserted that, while grateful for the benefits of modern medicine, my ultimate trust has been in the grace and mercy of a loving and sovereign God who knows my end from the beginning and cares more about those I love than I ever could. That is not to say I surrender -- by no means! It is simply to acknowledge that a loving and all-wise God is my referee in this battle and I will yield to His decisions. It also means that, should I lose this bout with our mortal foe, I have not lost the battle -- for He has already secured the ultimate victory.

It also means I will not surrender to fear nor seek desperate measures simply to prolong my life another day. I will continue to engage our enemy with all the weapons that modern science and a merciful God supply, hopefully with steadfast courage and faith. "The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds." (2Cor 10:4)

We are currently awaiting collaboration between Dr Grosh and our local oncologist Dr Alexander to design our next "parry". Your prayers and words of encouragement are greatly appreciated.

Dr. Dan


  1. Wish we were there. Please keep us in the loop and let us know when there are some good times to come visit.
    Our prayers for you as always-

  2. I've been praying for you consistantly ever since you first found out about the cancer. I continue to pray even more fervantly now. When Howard hit this point, the words from the song Amazing Grace gave great comfort:

    Through many dangers, toils and snares I have already come,
    tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.

    The Lord has promised good to me, His word my hope secures,
    He will my shield and portion be, as long as life endures.

    Yea when this heart and flesh shall fail, and mortal life shall cease
    I shall posess within the veil, a life of joy and peace.

    The world will soon dissolve like snow, the sun refuse to shine.
    But God who called me here below, shall be forever mine.

    As Howard would say, "In His Grip"

  3. Dr. Crabtree, this is anne abraham, former physician recruiter with sentara. My thoughts are with you. When I go to synagogue for Yom kippor I will say your name out loud for the congregation to say a mishabarach prayer for you. It is our custom for the congregants to name out loud people to pray for. I know you are very religious and I hope that you will like that we are thinking of you.

    here is what we will say:

    A Prayer
    Mi sheberakh avoteinu mekor habrakha l’imoteinu
    May the Source of strength
    Who blessed the ones before us
    Help us find the courage
    To make our lives a blessing,
    And let us say: Amen.
    Mi sheberakh imoteinu mekor habrakha l’avoteinu
    Bless those in need of healing With refuah shleima:
    The renewal of body,
    The renewal of spirit,
    And let us say: Amen

    My best to you
    anne abraham

  4. DAN. while this is not I hoped to hear when you got back ....I know you will continue to fight the good fight...and keep the's not over till it's over...I'm praying in agreement with you to come against every stronghold other than the truth of GOD's word. While they say the cancer may not appear to be able to be reversed, only treated symptomatically, the cancer HAS NOT WON...The way you have responded to this whole thing is evidence that GOD has won the battle...cause you are glorifying HIM through every step. You said this AM... He's taking care of it all and HE is the judge of all decisions, the referre in your battle and HE knows YOUR beginning and Has your end and never in my life have I met anyone so willing to keep HIS EYES FIXED on JESUS for such a time as this......BLESS YOU and the family to make the most of your days with them. You are loved.

  5. Dan
    Our love and prayers to you and Linda. We selfishly want to see you next week at the national convention. I pray the Lord allows you relief enough to travel- if not, we know that God has other plans.
    Pam & Kevin

  6. Dan and Linda, the two of you are amazing as far as you have come, and continue on. I'm ashamed to say that I would not have been as strong or as graceful in this season of trial by fire...not just a little bit! You have both used the Armor of God to the fullest, and even in your darkest hours, have truly hung on to the "hem of His garment." How many of us can say we would or could truly do that? In my own weakness of my flesh, I would be crying out "why have ye forsaken me Lord." If you've thought that, you certainly never showed it, in fact, when you see the face of our Lord, whenever that may be, he will surely say "well done good and faithful servant." Isaiah 40:11 He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them in the fold of his garment. What a heavy yoke is shattered when we awaken in the morning, bring our hearts, minds and souls and all their needs to the Great Soul-ologist, offer Him our empty cups, & ask Him to fill them with Himself! Believe even when you do not feel. Know even when you do not see. He gave the Life of His Son to demonstrate His love & Power. The time has come to believe, rest in his arms, peace in your mind that He is in control and the love you have poured out to others on this earth, shall surely has not gone unnoticed. We love you SO MUCH!! Tim and Diane Roof

  7. Dan & Linda, We have followed your blog, praying & rejoicing in the victories & family times. Your beautiful wife, children and grandchildren are such a visible blessing of the Father. Lacking words but desiring to encourage you both tonight the Lord just gave me a vision (these last a short time but long enough to want to linger). Positioned on a hill I looked down on a lake below and saw a large sailboat (the boat appeared to look like one Jesus would have used with the disciples.) As I looked at the boat I knew Jesus was on it, hidden from my view by the sails. I heard "Dan is on the boat with Jesus". Then the TREMENDOUS SHALOM PEACE flooded this scene, this powerful peace could be tasted in the Spirit ("taste and see that the Lord is good") it was so present,sweet and prominent. WOW!
    Abide in His peace...

    Glenyce & Larry Hansen (Michigan)

  8. I want all of you to know that even though I do not know you, I feel I do. You are one amazing family! I feel the love you share with your family and is it not amazing what love can do for us! When I lost my dad my neighbor told me something that has been a gift to me. She said some people have lived a liftime without a father and to think you had yours all of your life! WOW!This is so true. I will continue to pray for you and your awesome family!Dr. Dan you have won the fight already, because you have GOD on your side. Your family is so awesome!

  9. Brother Dan - We missed you at the Men's Group last night. Thank you for your example of how to live in the face of tremendous adversity. I have appreciated the many times we have gone to battle together on behalf of others, and now to have experienced, first hand, your own warrior spirit in this engagement. While your battle against "flesh and blood" may seem insurmountable, you are gaining victory after victory in the spritual realm. Our men desperately need this example, and in observing this life - they face their own trials with greater confidence and faith in a loving God.

  10. Hi Dr. Crabtree,
    This is your former PFM employee. I just want to let you know how often I think of you and your family. You are always in my thoughts and my prayers. I know how many challenges you have been faced with and I just want to let you know that your courage, faith, and positive attitude are so inspiring. My husband and I hope that you continue to thrive in the peace and love that fills your life.
    Elizabeth Hanna

  11. Dan,

    Your words INSPIRE me, but the steel determination of your indomitable spirit coupled with your unflinching resolve to follow the Jesus Way really MOTIVATE me to action - cause me to make changes - in my own life.

    Your Phantom breakfast partner

  12. Dr. Crabtree, This is Paul & Mildred Cannon, 2 of your loving patients. We think of you often and pray for you considerable, especially in the wee hours of the morning as that seems to have been my time of interceding. You know my story with cancer of the thyroid and Hodgkin Disease with no hope of living and nothing they could do but that was 20 years ago. How well I remember in that time frame that the thing I held on to was not that I might live but that I might make use of the time I had. I'm still making the best use of it I can. Life is short any way we look at it and only the things we do for Christ will last. You're a great warrior and have fought a tough battle but it isn't over. Who knows if or when the Lord intervenes physically. We love you dearly. You are the best doctor we have ever had, bar none. In fact you were more than a doctor, you were a friend. All those times I came home from Mission trips with bronchitis and you took care of us. Thank you and the Lord Jesus bless you and your lovely family.
    Paul & Mildred Cannon - Decatur, IL

  13. Dr. Dan,
    Thank you for being so transparent throughout this journey. Your courage and responses in the midst of this great challenge have been so inspiring. An example of how we as Christ followers should respond. You bring such honor to God. Thank you for pulling back the curtain and letting us see a man of God walking out his faith, loving God and his family. You and your beautiful family have impacted my life deeply, and I'm sure so many others have been touched too. Our family will continue to pray for you all. Sincerely, Miki Baxter