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Hello Friends!  Alan here: Thanks again for all the concern, prayers and support over the last days.  Misty and I visited UNC yesterday and reviewed our CT Scan.  Dr. Goldberg felt the scan to be rather “ambiguous” in its positioning and its illumination of what’s going on in my liver.  “Ambiguous”?  Yeah, you and I are thinking the same thing.  I’m upset if there’s ambiguity involved in my sandwich for lunch or my haircut…certainly I don’t want any of that in my CT of the liver!  Back to point: “ambiguous” or not, what Dr. Goldberg saw didn’t suggest things were shrinking.  As a  result, he and Dr. Kuo have chosen to alter my chemo-therapy again.  For those that unfortunately know about this stuff, here’s what we are doing:  Maintaining FOLFIRI and substituting Vectabix for Avastin.

So the course of treatment has changed again.  We have to look at this as a positive reaction to unsatisfactory results.  I’m very happy that the best the Lake Norman area and UNC have to offer are working together so well to try and benefit my case.  It seems that when you hit tumors with a chemo-therapy drug, they are most drastically stunned initially and then they build a tolerance for the poison.  Such is the concern with cavalierly adding/changing drug regimens.  We should start Vectabix on Wednesday.  Along with use of the word “ambiguous”, Dr. Goldberg used the term “miraculous” as to what he’s seen Vectabix be able to do in cases similar to mine.  Let’s focus on that.  MIRACULOUS.

TV VIEWING REMINDER: My buddy Jerry’s show on Discovery Health airs again on February 19th. @ 8:00 pm. & 11:00 pm.  For DirecTV folks that means channel 279. The name of the program is “I Was Dead”.  This program tells of four folks’ stories of near-death experiences.  Jerry’s is the last and I highly recommend that you watch and/or record the show.  THIS shows TONIGHT!

Thanks to all for your support and reminders you’ve given me.  I’m still fighting.  I’m still rejoicing in a bounty of blessings that God provides.  So many of you have reached out to me and reminded me about God’s presence and His providence.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Don’t forget to watch “I Was Dead” tonight.  Thanks for your prayers and support.  Talk to you soon.  Love,

Alan

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Hello Friends!  Alan here: I’ve got a lot to say today.  We’ll have to table updates on the Dubai Credit Scandal and its effects on the disposition of the Jack LaLanne Turbo Mack Daddy 3000 Juicer.  Reason being; Misty and I have had to stop and apply additional hair product due to the breeze currently being generated around us by God’s Hand at work.  I’ll try to be expedient and tell the story quickly:

So, it’s Tuesday night of this last week.  I had just received my Round 11 dose of chemo.  Effectively, I was like Otis on the Andy Griffith Show until Thursday morning.  After chasing our kids down and administering the nightly scrub-a-dubs, Misty makes it to bed (I don’t think I noticed her arrival given my state at the time) and wanted to watch a little TV before crashing.  She has about three programs that she likes to watch and given my level of unconsciousness and, henceforth, lack of commentary; it would have been a great time for her to watch her favorite programs.  But instead, she was drawn to record and watch a “not so uplifting” sounding program.  It was called, “I Was Dead”.  Misty was drawn to Tivo the program and then after starting to watch it twice, she maintained the compulsion to watch the whole program.  This finally occurred Wednesday night.  At that point I had regained some consciousness and we watched the final segment of the program.

We are NOT talking about San Diego here....

Here are the Cliff’s Notes: “I Was Dead” was produced by the Discovery Channel and aired on Discovery Health.  It featured four folks that have had near death experiences.  You know, heart attack or stroke then floating out of body towards a tunnel of light and a heavenly being.

About the time that I stirred up decent consciousness on Wednesday night, Misty had taken her third stab at trying to finish watching this show.  We were watching a segment about a gentleman named Jerry that experienced a massive cardiac event, went through emergency treatment in his living room, and then experienced a departure from his body, consciousness of what was happening in and around his house at the time, a lighted tunnel transit to Heaven, and a face-to-face with God in which Jerry was told that he had to “go back because there’s more work for you to do.”

Jerry’s story was compelling.  He’s got a comforting Georgia accent and an unmistakable genuineness and likeability about him.  He probably has this effect on everyone, but I felt like he could be one of my uncles.  Those of you that know my uncles know that this is a group of fellas of which I think very highly.  While Misty and I were both taken aback by the message of Jerry’s story, she proved herself to be the Queen of the Internet.  Misty had noticed Jerry’s last name on his mailbox (as far as I know, Misty has never stalked anyone) in the footage of the show.  She guessed that his accent was from Georgia.  Within ten minutes she was “friends” with Jerry on Facebook!

In so doing, Misty got Jerry up to speed on the travails of the Dove Family as of late.  Jerry responded by generously availing himself to our personal phone call.

OK.  Let’s make sure that we are all at the same place in this story.  Here’s a hyper-speed recap of the above:  Alan’s Chemo week/Unconscious/Discovery Channel/Tivo/Near Death Experience Program/Avuncular gentlemen tells story/Misty stalks him down on the internet/Gentlemen happily accedes to talking to Doves.  Everybody with me?  Good.  Now let’s dig in further…

Misty arranged for Jerry to call us on Friday evening once we got the kids down.  Before I share more with you, I’d like to clarify where I’m coming from wanting to talk to a guy that has been to heaven.  Hearing Jerry’s story on the TV was compelling.  I’ve always had an interest in knowing more about the promise of heaven that comes with my salvation through Jesus Christ.  Wanting to talk to Jerry is NO INDICATION that I’m wavering in my battle against this disease that’s hitching a ride in my body right now.  My resolve set aside for a moment, I have some hard news for some of you.  YOU have a terminal disease.  It’s called life. It’s going to end at some point in death whether tumors get you or excess of birthdays does.  No one is promised 76.4 years or even tomorrow.  Every day is a gift from God and we don’t know what He’s giving out tomorrow.  So, yes, I’m interested in Jerry’s story.  And, NO, that doesn’t mean I’m giving up an ounce of fight in this battle.

So now I want to tell you about Jerry’s experience.  When I listened to Jerry on TV, I felt assured that he was a genuine and truthful man.  When I talked to him on the phone I was convinced that he’s a humble servant of Christ and bona fide by stripes of the same.  Here’s the story Jerry told us…

It’s 1993 and Jerry is 47 years old and he’s at home working on his truck with a buddy named Grady.  Jerry was a smoker.  He feels ill and grabs a smoke.  That doesn’t relieve anything.  All of a sudden Jerry feels “six elephants” on his chest.  He tells his buddy that he’s sick and to call 911.  Jerry gets inside and knows that he’s having cardiac trauma.  He tries to lay himself down with his legs up but can’t do any better than the flat on the floor.  This is a major situation.  Jerry, his buddy Grady and his wife Anne manage to get him up on the sofa with his feet elevated.  Less than five minutes pass and EMS arrives.  They know soon that Jerry is in cardiac arrest.

The EMT’s fire the defibrillator twice.  It runs out of juice and seemingly so does Jerry.  Jerry told us that was about when he (or his spirit) rose up out of his body.  He floated above his living room and up over his house so that he had awareness of things un-seeable from the vantage point of his body.  He saw Grady in the back yard throwing up from the stress of seeing Jerry die.

But Jerry told us that’s when he saw the most beautiful lighted tunnel or tube.  DISCLAIMER:  It’s about this point in the conversation that Jerry told us that his words, his language, any body’s words or language are insufficient to describe the beauty of this next part. So Jerry is being pulled into and through the tunnel full of beautiful light.  When he comes out of it, he’s face to face with God, who meets him at the gates of heaven and tells Jerry, “Sorry, but it’s not your time, I’ve got more work for you to do.”  Jerry told us that the place he occupied with God was like pool of milk that he had dived into…but not really milk, just light and beauty.  Jerry described the scene in heaven as something like a glorious huge sports arena that housed the host of worshipping and rejoicing beings.  Jerry said that despite the arena being enormous, from it, he could see for thousands of miles with time and space bearing no mastery over the glory of God.  Jerry loves his wife…his sweetheart from grade school.  He loves his kids.  And he was mad at God for saying that he needed to go back to this Earth.  Jerry tells me that he argued with God.  Looking at His beauty Jerry best explained it as light and glory and beauty.  God looked at Jerry and told him that he had to go back, but that “I’ll give you a glimpse.”  God grabbed Jerry’s hand and escorted him in heaven.

God took Jerry through the gates of Heaven and down by a river where he saw and hugged his mom and dad.  Then an unfamiliar but similarly loving figure approached Jerry and hugged him.  Years later Jerry would visit a cousin who had some ancient family pictures.  The cousin asked Jerry if he’d ever seen a picture of his grandfather who died three years before Jerry’s birth.  She pulled out the picture and Jerry recognized the man in the picture as the last person that hugged him in heaven.

God told Jerry that He’d given him the glimpse and now he had to go back and do more work.  God released Jerry’s hand and back into the tunnel he flew at what seemed a hundred miles an hour.  The back up ambulance and defibrillator arrived and on the third shock of the paddles, Jerry came out of clinical death.

This was 1993.  For the next nine years Jerry only told nine people this story.  He was afraid that he’d be sent to the psych ward!  Jerry is not a guy that was looking to be a center of attention.  The nine people he told the story to in as many years post the event were all terminally ill.  Jerry’s thought was that he’d get limited or at least temporary ridicule from this population and that he’d be able to provide comfort to their passing with his news of the beauty, majesty and peace in Heaven.

What do I take away from this?  Misty had been praying for a sign that everything was going to be OK in our “situation”.  After praying that, she was compelled to record and eventually watch the “I Was Dead” program.  Then the “stars aligned” and within 48-hours we were on the phone talking to Jerry.  Takeaway:  God will give us guidance and assurance of His presence.

Other Takeaways:

  • I told Jerry that I felt assured of my own potential for a similar heavenly experience and that it was based on my belief in Jesus Christ’s birth as a man, God-incarnate; His death by crucifixion; His suffering for our sins in Satan’s realm; and His resurrection and ascension to be and shine as God’s Son in Heaven. I wanted to know that Jerry’s experience was based on the same belief.  I reached out with this before we got to details and I was pleased to hear Jerry profess the exact same belief.
  • Jerry has told the story of his death and visit to heaven hundreds of times now.  He realized after nine years that part of what God wanted him to do with additional time on earth included witnessing to many about his experience.  Despite having told this story so many times, Jerry warned us that he can’t tell the story without being moved emotionally.  Jerry is in his later sixties now.  He’s not part of the generation that has made it so comfortable/acceptable for men to cry.  When you’re moved by something so awesome as what he saw and felt, it doesn’t matter.  He choked up a little when telling us about God’s appearance.
  • Jerry told us that everyone had perfect bodies in Heaven.  They were in the shape we’re accustomed to, but composed of light.  He became aware that no pain or impediments existed there.
  • In our battle with the cancer in my body, Misty and I have been moved to a secure belief that when you call on God for signs and guidance, He will provide.  While I do find it extraordinary to see a program on the Discovery Channel and then talk to one of the principals from that program as soon as I felt up to it, I’m really unsurprised because I see God’s hand in this.
  • Jerry was more than just generous with his story.  He took a genuine interest in our battle and offered to join the army of prayer warriors that pray for our family and healing of my body.  But then he said, “I’ll pray for your complete healing every day.  But if that doesn’t work out Alan, you won’t be disappointed.”
  • I have a new friend that’s been to heaven.  He and his family and his church family are added to the legion of folks asking God to give me more years with my wife and kids.  Jerry emboldens my fight and also reminds me of the ultimate goal…to live on forever in God’s presence.

I told you I had a lot to say today.  Jerry’s program is going to air again in February.  I will give you all a heads up so you can see it.  My body is reacting differently to chemotherapy.  Different levels and durations of fatigue.  Different sensations and pains.  I maintain my focus on God’s ability to rid my body of these tumors and continue to seek Him in prayer.  Things are happening.  As I said earlier, God’s hand is in motion around us.  Please pray that we find the quietness of spirit required to hear His intention and that we move with speed and confidence as He shows us the next step we are to take.

Thanks for your prayers!  Isn’t God awesome?!?  I’m so thankful for all of you and for the news I’ve been able to share with you.  Have a great Sunday!!!  Love,

Alan

Hello Friends!  Alan here:  Chemo Round #8.  Hmmmm.  Pavlov was right.  Ring a bell and I’ll salivate.  Walking into the doctor’s office for chemo Tuesday was like showing up to the “Mike Tyson: I’m Gonna Beat You up and Bite Your Ear Off Office”.  You know the warm thoughts you have of grandma’s kitchen replete with cookies in the oven?  That’s the opposite of what it’s like now to walk into the Oncology Office.  Chemotherapy meds have a certain scent to them and it triggers the Pavlovian response of “Get the Heck outta Dodge, Cowboy!” for me now.  So, I walked in dreading the treatment.  Wednesday after treatment was kind of what I expected.  The Good News:  I actually performed yoga almost all day long.  The Bad News:  I never got past the Wet Dog in Fetal Position pose.  So it goes. 

 

Today I’m starting to see a break in the storm.  The liver is very hot and it’s my prayer that such means the tumors are breaking down in a major way.  We get a look/see towards that effect on Monday.  That’s the next CT Scan.  Please pray for shockingly GREAT results.  I know that God can orchestrate the removal of this disease from my body.  Please ask Him to do so.

I wanted to share a pet peeve with you today.  Have you ever noticed what the word “BUT” does?  I’ll tell you.  It negates everything you have just said.  For instance:

“I’d love to go camping with you this weekend, BUT I have to restring my banjo.”

When we put BUT in a sentence we are just highlighting our excuses.  It’s been noted that BUT should be an acronym that stands for Behold the Underlying Truth.  Everything AFTER the word is the truth.  It turns out to be a verbal mechanism that allows us to say what people want to hear before telling them what we are willing to do.  Another example (this one taken from ABC’s The Bachelor):

“You’re a beautiful, intelligent girl and you light up the room BUT I’ve fallen in love with someone else.”

Like I mentioned, it’s a mechanism for saying what people want to hear before telling them what you are going to do or commit to.  Try this the next time you start to through a BUT around:  Replace the BUT with an AND.  When you use “AND”, it forces the two thoughts to be much more closely related.  For instance:

“You’re a beautiful, intelligent girl and you light up the room AND I’ve fallen in love with someone else.”  

(The Bachelor is then karate chopped by an angry/jilted young lady.)

Using AND causes us to be more honest and congruent about our opinions and our intentions.  Try it for a day.  Every time you’re about to say “BUT”, throw an “AND” in instead.  It’ll trip you up considerably at first, but soon you will start saying things that are much more in tune with your intentions.  

I’m not sure why this point moved to my attention today, but I’ve felt moved to share it with you.  In trying to tie this point of lexicon to a more spiritual application, I’ve thought of the promises and extensions of grace afforded by our Savior.  To paraphrase the majority of the New Testament you’ll note that God’s intent is NOT to tell us what we want to hear and then a contrary path of His commitment.  Instead we are clearly delineated as unworthy of God’s Grace AND availed to it by way of His Son.  No BUT’s!

Please keep us in your prayers.  I’m covered with a peace that tells me that God CAN deliver me from this illness.  Faith and Knowledge each require Belief.  Knowledge that you have, and it’s subsequent belief, are based on having seen something occur before.  Faith has the same requirement of belief BUT (hey, I used a BUT) without any empirical evidence.  That’s tough.  And a big part of why I need your prayers. 

Have a great weekend!  Thanks for your prayers.  Talk to you soon,

Alan

Hello Friends!  Alan here:  Making it very short this morning as Misty and I are about to run out the door.  Today we start Round 6.  The last week was really OK.  Note emphasis given to a non-enthusiastic descriptor.  The doctors said that in some cycles you’ll just start feeling good about the time that they poke you with a needle to start the next round.  I guess that’s kind of how things have gone this cycle.  Here’s a picture:

whack a mole

After a week off of Chemo, Alan wakes up feeling pretty good....bad news: he woke up in a Whack a Mole machine at Chucky Cheese.

Nothing horrible, just tired and listless.  But I really hate both of those!  Misty and I had a nice dinner out last night as my parents watched the kids.  She really did a great job of digging deep and showing me that she cared and that she could still break me down to tears.  It’s funny how little time you actually have pure and open vulnerability (with no shields or masks up) in this battle.  You can’t be 100% honest 100% of the time about how you feel with the kids around.  Being out with Misty was a good change of pace that allowed me to open up (or mainly her to crack into) my feelings.  Long and short of it:  sometimes you feel like a nut…sometimes you don’t.  This week I’ve just been flat.  Not a lot of juice. 

So…it’s time for a change:

bootstrap

Yep.  That’ a bootstrap.  Yep.  I need to start pulling.  I know it’s OK to feel down and sad, but DANG I don’t like that.  I’m going to go and be the Whack a Mole now.  I’m going to get a snoot full of yucky medicine today.  And I’m going to come home with an expectation that between me and God’s grace I’m going to have a better cycle this time….that my spirits and energy levels will be higher…that my body will be stronger than the chemo and the cancers.  Yeah.  That’ what I’m going with…

How about you?

Alan

 

Hello Friends:  Alan here.  I woke up today with my feet underneath me.  Still a little hungover but much better than other rounds and a LOT better than how I felt Tuesday suggested.  My ankle is still a little wreaked but I took a short walk today to get some air.  If you’re interested, I’ve sidelined the MBTs until my ankle is healed.  Don’t need the altitude, can handle the attitude and I’ve decided to go with Cathy Martin Chiapetta’s  “All of the Above” approach.  Only problem is I don’t like mime’s.  We’ll have to find some role a little less annoying.  Speaking of annoying:

A woman had twins and gave them up for adoption.  One of them was sent to a family in Egypt and was named “Amal”.  The other went to a family in Spain who named him “Juan”.  Years later, Juan sent a picture of himself to his birth mother.  When she got the picture, she told her husband wistfully that she wished she also had a picture of Amal.  Her husband responded: “But they’re twins – If you’ve seen Juan, you’ve seen Amal.”

I wanted to give an authentic impression of suffering….hence that joke. 

We’ve all used the idiom, “hey, you’ve got to choose your battles.”  I’ve found that almost whoever uses this one seems smart (even if they aren’t!).  I guess it’s just good advice.  Don’t fight ever time you CAN fight.  But there’s a fundamental weakness to the idiom.  “You’ve got to choose your battles.”  What do you see as the weakness here?  Applying discretion to any action seems smart.  Applying discretion to offensive or defensive or harmful or hurtful actions surely seems really smart or at least right.  Are you with me?

Which way do I go????

Which way do I go????

Here’s a non-contraversial and extreme statement.  Hitler was a nut.  History will not be troubled over debating if he was a force of good v. evil.  This has been established.  Despite being a nut and evil, Hitler had a lot of things going for him and his cause:  Patriotism.  Racism.  The Great Worldwide Depression.  The hardness of the Armistice ending WWI.  The ingenuity and drive of the German people.  These and many other factors allowed Hitler to make decisions and actions that undoubtedly affected world history.  One thing that Hitler did was “choose his battles”.  Some might argue that Blitzkrieg is just rampant offense but short study will point to the ordered planning around early WWII German offensives like Poland.  Hitler “choose his battles”.  In some cases, really well.  In a major case, not so well.  Hitler made a conscious decision to wage warfare on TWO FRONTS.  Against most of the Allies on the Western Front and against the Soviets on the Eastern Front.  Many associate the fact that I’m not writing this post in German to this choice of Hitler’s. 

So, without bringing up postulates and supporting empirical evidence, I’m guessing that everyone still believes that it’s important to “choose your battles”.

I had a dream the other afternoon.  I dreamt that I had this cancer and I had been fighting, but that at that very moment, I had decided to give up and stop fighting.  At the very moment of sensing that proclamation of defeat in my dream I woke as startled as I’ve ever been.  Giving up and letting this thing go is NOT the way I’m going and I’ve got that pretty well hard-wired into my head, heart and spirit.  So, if I’m choosing my battles, I’d say this one against cancer is top on my list.  

But, like I said before, everyone seems to think that “choosing your battles” is pretty wise.  Even if it undid old funny mustache.  What I’m getting to is an alternate to “choosing our own battles”.  What if someone else chose your battles for you?  What is that someone was God Almighty?  OK….now we’re getting somewhere.  Cursory review of the Old Testament shows that when folks allowed God to choose their battles walls fell, giants tumbled, seas split open, and singing soldiers caused fatal panic.  

So here’s what I’m thinking:  As we pray, let’s ask God to choose our battles for us and to let us understand where He wants us to wage them.   Let’s think about that when we feel justified to attack.  Let’s think about this when we make our plans. 

Me, just like when I woke from that startling dream, I’m signed on for this battle I’ve got.  I’m hoping and praying that it’s one that God has ordained.

Thanks for all your prayers.  Have a great Sunday!  Love,

Alan

 Hello Friends:  Alan here.  Chemo today was very reassuring.  Same meds and dose as Round 4, but they seriously put a whallop on this cowboy.  Any conspiracy theories I may have been brewing with regards to substituting moderately toxic meds into my IV bags have now been thoroughly dispelled.  No new symptoms…just heavy duty standard chemo side-effects today.  But it’s been several hours and I’m starting to feel a little better now.  Whew.

So, feeling a little human now, I’ve decided to tabulate the results from the MBT Shoe Poll. 

The numbers are in...

 Based on questionable statistical significance of the results, here’s how I’m going to interpret the poll:  You folks are suggesting that I put on my MBT Shoes and join the circus.  I actually like the sounds of this, so I will consider it and let you know if such plans start to cement. 

Shifting my attention just slightly from odd footwear, I’d like to state that I’m happy with the amount of my butt that was kicked by chemo today.  Indeed, I’ve felt rough today (think of your cells just being saturated with all the toxins that you can cram into your body on a bender of a New Year’s Eve).  Upside is, if I feel bad, those little cancer cells should be feeling somewhere between bad and DEAD.  As a service to you, my audience, I once again pulled out the Jack LaLanne Microvision Juicer and Microscope®.

Please look into the microscope to view Alan's Chemo admin today...

Please look into the microscope to view Alan's Chemo admin today...

FOLFIRI + Avastin all amassed for Round 5 attack of the Axis Cancer Cells.

FOLFIRI + Avastin all amassed for Round 5 attack of the Axis Cancer Cells.

Alright, I’m praying for powerful ground attack on this round.  Thanks for so many of you reaching out with words of encouragement this morning.  Beau, I continue to fight hard so the embarrassing picture file can remain locked….for now.   Thanks for all the prayers.  God is so good.  Have a great day!

Alan

Hello Friends.  Alan here.  Round #4 started last week.  This was the first taste of FOLFIRI + Avastin per the change up that Dr. Kuo initiated based on the radiology report that suggested no positive effect by my original chemo regimen.  FOLFIRI seems to have some nice attributes comparatively.  Neuropathy:  No issue (I’m so happy about that).  Two day black out:  didn’t happen this time!  Fatigue levels are a lot more manageable this time.  The biggest issue I’ve had has been a little re-gurg that we’ve gotten under control.  As a result, my appetite is back in the normal range and I’m chowing down!

So, all-in-all, the switch to the new chemo regimen is being met with rave reviews.  Misty says my color is better and I’m experiencing less liver pain.  We are hopeful that this indicates that the cancer load is diminishing in my system.  We are thankful that the drugs are more tolerable and expectantly thankful that they are killing significant quantities of the cancer cells. 

I didn’t post for the last couple days because, frankly, I didn’t have much to say.  It’s been a really nice weekend and we’re really thankful for that.  Last night I was thinking about what to post here today and two words came to mind.  Survival and Purpose.  I guess you can understand why the word or concept of survival might come to my mind.  When faced with a survival situation, one can curl up in the snow and die or get up and march.  The former is easier.  The latter requires something to motivate the steps. 

I’d like to share the wallpaper from my phone.  It’s a picture I put there to give me a reminder of why I don’t curl up in the snow.

"Sit right here Daddy"

This is an old picture of Aiden taken probably a year and a half ago.  I chose it for my wallpaper (this means that I see it every time I pick up my phone) because of the bench and Aiden’s gesture.  Note that he’s got his elephant (a very good friend of his) but he’s pointing to an empty spot on the bench.  I don’t recall the events around this photo but when I saw it the other day I was moved to think of it as Aiden asking me to sit there beside him.  That he wanted me there.  This embodies my family for me and Aiden pointing to that seat drives me to have a good attitude, to persistently ask God to heal me and remove my tumors, to think about years in the future with my family, to know that, with God, we can beat this disease.

This is a good motivator.  It keeps me walking through the deep snow.  This gives me PURPOSE for SURVIVAL.  Nobody will argue against the merits of family, parental responsibility, democracy, mother or the American Way.  But as I wrestle with the concept of survival, I’ve started dissecting the Purpose component.  

With the help of Wikipedia, let’s look at Pheidippides (530 BC–490 BC), an Athenian herald, who was sent to Sparta to request help when the Persians landed at Marathon, Greece.

He ran 240 km (150 miles) in two days. He then ran the 40 km (25 miles) from the battlefield near the town of Marathon to Athens to announce the Greek victory over Persia in the Battle of Marathon (490 BC) with the word “Νενικήκαμεν” (Nenikékamen, ‘We have won’) and collapsed and died on the spot because of exhaustion.

"We won the battle...perhaps I should have hydrated more..........."

"We won the battle...perhaps I should have hydrated more..........."

The reason we know anything about P Dippy (that’s what his friends called him) is really because of the recent popularity of running and the modern marathon.  The last leg that Dippy ran was from Marathon, Greece to Athens, Greece.  They say that his path equates to the 26.2 miles that are now regarded as the standard modern marathon.  As such, Pheidippides is the father of the modern marathon.  

Let’s look at Dippy’s PURPOSE.  He was a foot messenger.  His purpose was to strap on his Nike’s (and little else) and run with the message.  I imagine that they keep the messages pretty simple as the image above doesn’t suggest that Dippy had any pockets in which to store a written note.  But I’m digressing…back to point:  Dippy’s purpose was clear. Get the message, run as fast as you can to the delivery point and communicate it.  That purpose pushed Dippy to run through rough terrain, through enemy lines and hostile territory and to be subjected to sunburns in very sensitive areas.  But ultimately, this purpose pushed Dippy to the very point of death.  So…you might be thinking now, “nice double bladed analogy Alan!”  Or, “how confusing!”  Right!  I agree.  So a purpose can keep you alive…get you up out of the snow and tell you to walk…get you focused on living v. dying OR a purpose can actually KILL YOU.  

Usually when you bring up a conundrum like this you do so because you have an answer to it that helps to express your point or clarify a topic.  I have none of that here.  I’m in the muddying of waters business today.  So this purpose can make you fight to survive or it can kill you.  What’s the difference and how do you play this purpose for a healthy outcome?  In my life, I can see that I’ve run as hard a Pheidippides for my “purpose’.  The thing is, as humans, we have some strange ways of defining our purpose.  It seems that the fluctuation comes from the fact that its OUR own PURPOSE that we use to drive us and we’re apt to change this purpose up based on our environment.  For instance, my photo of Aiden and the strong reminder that it sends me is a purpose that I came up with and it’s based on my current environment.  That doesn’t make it bad.  But it does categorize the purpose as driven by MY desires and MY environment.  As Pheidippides taught us, sometimes this can KILL YOU. 

Recap:  Having Purpose is a strong indicator for Survival.  However, all purposes are not created equal and some can even kill you.  If I could ask myself something six months ago, I might go back and ask, “What is your purpose and who is it about?”  Wait a second, I don’t need to go back in time on this one.  It’s an indicting question whenever/wherever you are.  Asking myself that now, I even see the sweet photograph of my boy and my desire to be around for him, and Addyson and Misty as a selfish embodiment of my purpose.  Doesn’t God have some ideas on our purpose?  To love Him with all our heart and worship Him accordingly?  To love our neighbors as ourselves?  To have a personal relationship with Him?  To show His love to people that don’t know it by our actions?  

But, wait.  We’re talking about Survival.  We’ve attached Purpose as a factor in Survival.  We’ve dissected Purpose as sometimes self-serving, self-defined but having the potential for glorification of God.  Thinking about that, I’m guessing that we need to redefine “Survival”.  Peter hung upside down on a cross…Paul lost his head…Stephen became a human pin cushion with noble PURPOSE that was glorifying to God through planting the Good News of Jesus.  Maybe Survival doesn’t have that much to do with getting older here on Earth.  Maybe we need to put some serious consideration as to our Purpose and what Survival really means.

Hey, that was deep and I’m not sure where we ended up.  Despite how heavy this sounded, I’m feeling really good today and I’m of strong spirits.  Thanks for your prayers!  Have a great day! Love,

Alan

Hello Friends:  Alan here.  Please excuse formatting as most of this was typed on my iPhone.  Also, expect brevity as today’s trip has worn me out. 

"You are my Density Lorainne"

"You are my Density Lorainne"

Today we have good news to report. Misty and I cruised early this morning to an appointment with Dr. Goldberg  at UNC. As a reminder, Dr. Goldberg provides me adjutant care and is THE leading colo-rectal/hepatic oncologist in America.

To summarize today’s visit, Dr. Goldberg supported the oft-cited assertion that size doesn’t matter.  YES the tumors have grown slightly. BUT it’s not just about size, DENSITY is a factor here. My good Doctor Kuo (and 99% of all oncologists) just reads radiology reports as dictated by the radiologist without viewing the images himself. Dr. Goldberg, however, prefers to view the images/tumors himself.  So, upon his viewing my most recent CT Scan (the one that bummed me out last week) Goldberg thinks the chemo regimen to date HAS been working. His review of the recent and prior CTs leads him to believe that while the SIZE of the tumor has not shrunk the DENSITY of the tumors seems to be diminished. He thinks the chemo IS working and killing the tumors from the inside out.  Goldberg doesn’t think we’ll lose any ground with the regimen change as the drugs act similarly.  Also, he thinks we can use the first drug again if we need to in the future.  We ended the meeting with Goldberg asking to see me again in 8 weeks.  He said he’s thinking that we’ll see significant progress. 

I’ve got lots more to say AND a ripping headache from today’s trip to Chapel Hill.  I’m going to sign off…but not without praising God for this encouraging day and thanking you for all your prayers.  Love,

Alan

Hello Friends:  Alan here.  My weekend with college buddies (Manstravaganza 2009) was an unmitigated success.  Around 15 guys flew and drove to Huntersville and set up camp at a hotel within a mile of my house.  This afforded easy logistics for me to partake in the fun, the ability to throw Aiden into bed, and ready access to some sofa-time to build back up my steam to play with the guys.  

 

There a things in life that I’ve done well (and by “doing well” I usually mean encountered good luck or God’s providence) and others that I’ve done officially so-so.  In regards to the friends that I made at and around the College of Charleston c.1989, that is proving to have been a master stroke.  

 

One of these good friends (Gordon) introduced me to this poem by Rudyard Kipling:

One man in a thousand, Solomon says,
Will stick more close than a brother.
And it’s worth while seeking him half your days
If you find him before the other.
Nine nundred and ninety-nine depend
On what the world sees in you,
But the Thousandth man will stand your friend
With the whole round world agin you.

‘Tis neither promise nor prayer nor show
Will settle the finding for ‘ee.
Nine hundred and ninety-nine of ’em go
By your looks, or your acts, or your glory.
But if he finds you and you find him.
The rest of the world don’t matter;
For the Thousandth Man will sink or swim
With you in any water.

You can use his purse with no more talk
Than he uses yours for his spendings,
And laugh and meet in your daily walk
As though there had been no lendings.
Nine hundred and ninety-nine of ’em call
For silver and gold in their dealings;
But the Thousandth Man h’s worth ’em all,
Because you can show him your feelings.

His wrong’s your wrong, and his right’s your right,
In season or out of season.
Stand up and back it in all men’s sight —
With that for your only reason!
Nine hundred and ninety-nine can’t bide
The shame or mocking or laughter,
But the Thousandth Man will stand by your side
To the gallows-foot — and after!

 

 

So, by my reckoning, one should consider himself lucky to have a single Thousandth Man in his or her life.  Me, I’m embarrassed by my wealth in this regard for you see I have a small corps of these pictured right here:

 

My and my buddies at Manstravaganza

My and my buddies at Manstravaganza

 

And besides these brothers that I “grew up with” in college, I have another small handful of random acquaintances from over the years that have signed up for membership in my brigade of the Thousandth Man (or woman…nice PC move, eh?).  God has been so good to me in giving me friends AND really good friends.  I’ll use a terrible joke to illustrate the difference in a friend and a good friend?  A:  A friend with help you move.  A really good friend will help you move bodies.  

 

Again, I’m embarrassed with my wealth in this regards and thankful to God for my friends and my body-moving buddies!  (Disclaimer:  No nefarious or illegal behavior has occurred that would require movement of bodies by me, my friends, or my good friends…unless we count the time when Noal Hudson was “unconscious” in 1989).  

 

I’ve taken a break for the last couple days to enjoy my pals in town.  We had a few fun activities and I am so glad that I had enough steam to be able to participate pretty well.  Interesting note:  To say that with these boys I’ve knocked back a few beers would be kind of like saying that the plains Indians shot a few buffalos.  The great friendships from the pictured gents above surely had a hefty amount of alcohol tilled into the ground as fertilizer.  When I was diagnosed with liver cancer I decided to stop drinking.  (You can be part of the problem or part of the solution, right?)  Our time together this weekend started in a sports bar, included a fine tour of a local micro-brewery, and cap-stoned with an Irish Dinner at my favorite local Pub (the Galway Hooker).  Point being, these are environments that focus on beer drinking.  And to be clear, over the years I’ve not exactly been a “stranger to the bottle”.  I wondered how it would be to sit in the epicenter of a Want-to-have-a-beer Storm (my buddies at breweries, etc.).  I will not tell you that I’ve developed a mental repugnance at the very thought of a drink, but I will say that God and the friendship of my good buddies made it pretty easy for me to drive up the stock price of Canada Dry Ginger Ale this weekend.  

 

One more matter today:  As you may have been following my care, Friday brought us “underwhelming” news from Dr. Kuo.  (See “Radiology Report” and “Guest Writer” entries for background detail.)  Suffice it to say, while buoyed by my buddies in town, I’ve surely been disappointed by the news from my CT Scan last week.  Of course I can see the upsides so well-delineated by Misty’s “Guest Writer” entry.  Regardless, I’ve carried a sadness with me this weekend over the news that the tumors are not shrinking.  I know that a bad report from the doctor is menial in scale to the power and size of my God, but nonetheless, I’ve carried some sadness on this report.  

 

I’ve written a lot about Faith.  I guess that means Faith in God’s power and Faith in what he can/will do in my life.  I’ve started to think that really strong Faith can almost lead one into a condition of quasi-agnosticism.  My point:  I really have strong faith that God will do X…as such, how much more should I focus upon matter X, pray about matter X, obsess upon Matter X?  By agnosticism, I mean that if God’s Will is predetermined (by God) and if His will is to be done, one has to wonder what’s the point in petitioning Him for something that may be different from the original plan??  (I hope that wasn’t absolutely confusing) Thinking this way over the last few days has added to the sadness that I have been carrying since the news on Friday.  On Sunday and Monday I’ve been praying to God for a “Boost”.  Something to get my butt off my shoulders and driving the ball positively down field.  I’m still seeing that God is answering prayers.  One part of the boost that He’s given me in the last days is a scripture that, out of the blue, my mom shared with me. It really addresses the subject matter I’ve just described.  Read this please: 

 

The Parable of the Persistent Widow

 1Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. 3And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

 4“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, 5yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!’ ”

 6And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly.

 

What this tells me is to forget about “agnosticism”.  Forget about predestination of God’s Will.  Forget about complacency.  Forget about all of that.  Strap on my spiritual armor and pray like a warrior.  To me, this says that there is not pre-destination.  To me, this says that God’s Will is indeed malleable to the situation and to the actions of His children.  This scripture gives me hope that I (with your help, WE) can petition God and build a new course in my care.  It may be this new drug.  It may be after several more disappointments, but regardless, I am renewed in hope and faith by thinking on this.  

 

I am making myself late for Round #4 typing this now.  Need to run.  I’ll start at 0900 with the new drugs.  Thanks for all your prayers.  Love,

Alan

Hello Friends.  Alan here.  I’m well into my “Off”/Recovery Week from Chemo Round #3.  I’m learning that there is definitely a saturation factor involved.  I’ve bounced less decidedly and quickly back to normal energy levels each progressive round of treatment.  While this is a little disheartening I continue to remind myself that this is not Club Med.  I’m in the midst of a purpose-driven challenge here and the goal is NOT to feel jiffy.  So on that much I think I’m clear.  

In the fog of blah on Friday and Saturday that I described to you, I’m inclined to learn something.  I was out like a teenager with a full tank of gas for those two days.  My mind wasn’t working, my body was down, my spirit was pretty much laid out too. 

What's on the table?

What's on the table?

We get busy with things (emergencies, projects, urgencies, unconsciousness) like this from time to time.  When we do, we let things slide.  While I was largely unconscious my prayer time and focus suffered.  I know that being unconscious as a result of high doses of chemotherapy is a pretty good excuse for most anything, but I’m not looking to illustrate an “excused absence” here.  I’m seeing the ability to describe a distraction.  I’ve been there a hundred times.  Big project due on Monday.  End of the Quarter is this Thursday.  Last pitch to this big client for a multi-million dollar deal is this Tuesday.  How did I respond to that?  I made room.  Quiet time, family time, wife time, meal time, workout time, sleep time could all be encroached upon to meet the deadline.  Then the deadline is met.  The project is completed.  Or, as in this case, I’m just conscious again.  In the heat of the project or the distraction or the unconsciousness, we get used to having (or burning) the extra capacity that we made available under the “emergency”.  Why is it that it takes so long to make good habits but we can forget them so quickly?  Why is it that bad habits grow like kudzu while good ones require constant water and feeding and proper pH levels???  Don’t know the answers, but I do know that such is the case.

What am I talking about?  Good question.  My life has gotten focused on a lot fewer things lately.  I’m seeing that a couple days of incoherence have set me back a long way on my walk and talk with God.  I know that God wants to have a (more) meaningful relationship with us.  We all should ask God to give us a gulping air-desire to talk to Him.  Not an “I’ll pray tomorrow because I’m tired tonight”-desire or an “I’ll double up on quiet time tomorrow/Let’s Make a Deal-Arrangement”.  

This brings me to another point I had on my mind.  What’s left on the table.  Strap in for a James Joyce flight of consciousness ride here folks.  Yesterday Misty cooked the best dinner ever.  Shepherd’s Pie.  Her efforts to convince me that she can’t cook are completely spoiled.  The secret is OUT.  Along those lines, apparently the recipe calls for only beef, onions, carrots and gravy plus mashed potato topping.  Let me go on record that corn, mushrooms, green beans, sage, rosemary, and thyme do NOT hurt the Shepherd’s Pie Franchise.  There wasn’t much left on that table last night. 

But what are we leaving on the table typically?  How many times have you put something on the table without real intent to give/donate/transact?  Let me give you an example:  Your buddy is moving.  You heard that he just moved everything into the new house.  You THEN let him know that you’d be HAPPY to help move.  You put it on the table knowing that there was NO CHANCE of redemption of that coupon.   We’ve all done this. 

I can think of many examples in which I have had opportunities “put on the table” for me.  Honest generosity that I’ve not applied the resolve to exploit.  Essentially, if you want it, go get it Alan.  Many times I have, many times I have not.  Some I regret others I didn’t have the foresight even to understand well enough to regret now.  But these are all very worldly examples.  A better and more telling example is what God puts on the table for us.  And what we so frequently leave right there… not even picked at.

What promises has God made to us?  What has He put on the table? What are we doing with it?  Are we even giving Him the pleasantries afforded after someone has put a nice meal (or a GREAT Shepherd’s Pie) on the table?  God has put dreams in our hearts, challenges in our paths, and a guaranty of His Presence on whatsoever path.  Let’s all think and pray for constant desire for a conversation with God.  Let’s look to the table and recognize the spread that is put before us (salvation for desert!).  Let’s NOT overlook the opportunities and blessings that are available to us.  Let’s remind and encourage each other that we are blessed and prosperous.

Speaking of which, this morning as I’ve been thinking about my two-day sleep and relaxation of good habits I decided to crank up the “Jack LaLanne Manhattan Project 5000EXT Archimedes Turbo Juicer™”.  A half dozen carrots, a cucumber, 30 grapes, a ginger root, an apple and a celery stalk gave their all (except for some minor pulp waste) so I can grab some good fresh vitamins and antioxidants.  It takes time (shopping, washing, chopping, juicing, cleaning) to run this famous juicer.  Effort.  Things that take effort, even if we know they are good for us can quickly be put on a back burner.  

Usually, any time I bring up the juicer I’m moved to be funny.  Lots of you have commented that you enjoy my humor.  I just proofed this posting and noticed that I’m not funny today.  Sorry!  I think my funny bone takes a couple days to recover from the meds too!  

 Nonetheless…I stand so thankful for your many prayers.  God is good and working in all our lives.  Love,

Alan