An Update on My Treatment

October 31, 2014

When I wrote the other day I promised to keep you up to date on my treatment plan, so here goes… (See the previous blog if you need to catch up on the my current cancer news.)

Ellie and I met with the radiation oncologist today and the news was not what we were hoping to receive. Earlier this week I had an enhanced MRI of my brain to assess in more detail the size and location of my brain tumors. It turns out there are several more tumors than they had first seen. This isn’t surprising, since brain metastases with breast cancer often manifests itself in clusters.

The good news is that my tumors are very small, none of them is in a critical location (near the optic nerve, etc.), and this is still a very treatable condition.

The results of this MRI, however, did raise several questions about the appropriate form of radiation that I should undertake. At my doctor’s encouragement, we are pursuing a second opinion to help make the determination of which type of radiation would be best.

My oncologist assures me that while I need to move forward with treatment, this is not an emergency situation, and I do have some time to assess the best plan for treatment.

As I wrote earlier in the week, in the short term my condition is very treatable. We have every reason to believe that I will be tumor free very soon. The issue we’re facing is which treatment presents the best long term plan for my particular situation.

I promised to be open and transparent with you, so that’s where we stand!

Every week in worship we pray for God to “give us this day our daily bread.” Earlier this week I realized that after years of praying that prayer I am finally beginning to experience what it really means. In a very powerful way, God has given to Ellie and me the peace that we need to make this journey one day at a time.

To be sure, we’re experiencing a whirlwind of emotions, and we will continue to do so for some time to come. But each day, God has blessed us with a gift of grace… a bit of “daily bread” to sustain us.

Part of that sustenance has come from the outpouring I have experienced from so many of you. I wish I could thank each of you individually for your cards, your emails, your prayers, your words of support. They each mean more to me that you can ever know!

In the meantime, thanks to the doctor’s help, my headaches have disappeared and for that I am thankful. Sunday is going to be a special day as we gather to celebrate 175 years of ministry as the Roswell Presbyterian Church, and I’m looking forward to sharing in that with you. I’ll see you then!

God bless,

Lane


A Health Update

October 28, 2014

Over fourteen years ago when I was first diagnosed with male breast cancer, I promised to keep you updated on my health reports. I made that promise for two reasons… we’re family, and family is a place to share those concerns, but more importantly, I have coveted your prayers for me, for my family and for my ministry. When my cancer returned four years ago in my bones, you were there again to support me and lift me up in prayer.

It’s time to update you again, this time on an unfortunate turn in my health. For about a month I have had a nagging but persistent headache, which prompted my doctor to order a CT scan of my brain. I had the scan last Wednesday morning, and when it showed something suspicious they called me back in for a follow-up MRI. On Friday afternoon I had an appointment with my medical oncologist who confirmed that the MRI showed three small spots on my brain which are almost certainly cancerous. This was disappointing for a number of reasons, not the least of which was that I had just had a full body PET scan that showed my cancer was stable. As it turns out, chemotherapy treatments do not stop the spread of cancer to the brain. There is a “blood brain barrier” which prohibits chemotherapy agents from protecting the brain.

While this is disappointing news, my cancer is still treatable. On Monday afternoon of this week I met with my radiation oncologist, and we are setting out the plan for this next phase of treatment. Later this week I will have further tests to determine the exact course of treatment, but given the fact that my spots are very small and were caught very early we have every reason to believe that this next step will effectively treat the current tumors in my brain.

The key, quite frankly, will be 3-9 months down the road. While these current tumors are treatable, the question will be whether or not other tumors will occur in the future. There is no way to predict this, and we pray that they will not return. I am grateful for the incredible medical care I have been receiving, and I have been thankful that the treatment I have received here in Atlanta has been confirmed by my consultations at both MD Anderson in Houston and Sloan Kettering in New York.

I have promised to be transparent about my health, and while I don’t want to be overly alarming I do want to be honest… and I do solicit your prayers!

I continue to be overwhelmed with the blessings of an incredible and loving family, an amazing church family, phenomenal friends, the best church staff in the country, a first rate health care system, and most of all, a God who is with me every step of the way!

This past weekend we were supposed to have gone to New Jersey for my niece’s wedding, but given the turn of events we chose to stay in town. Our son, Daniel, and his wife, Desi, flew in on Thursday night so that Ellie and I, along with our daughter, Ashley, could have a quiet weekend together as a family. Having Ashley, Daniel, and Desi here for the weekend was the best medicine possible!

Thank you all for your prayers, your support, and your ongoing encouragement. We were disappointed, but this fight is a long way from being over!

This coming Sunday, November 2, is going to be a special day as we celebrate God’s work in the life of Roswell Presbyterian Church for the past 175 years, and I look forward to preaching Sunday and sharing in that wonderful celebration with you. I don’t want to steal the thunder from my sermon, but I will tell you that a theme of the sermon is also a theme of my life at this point. It’s best summed up by paraphrasing Isaac Watt’s hymn… which we will sing this Sunday. The God who has been our help in ages past will most certainly be our hope for years to come! It is with this confidence that we live our lives.

Sunday is going to be a special day, and I look forward to celebrating with you!

Lane


A Summer Challenge

June 30, 2014

In yesterday’s sermon we continued our series entitled, “God’s People on the Move.” This week’s journey was slightly different from the others. This week there was no specific geographic destination to our travels. We weren’t wandering in the wilderness nor were we crossing the Jordan River with Joshua and the people of Israel.

This week we were on the road to wisdom, and in the sermon I made the point that wisdom is not a destination… it’s a journey. We have not yet arrived! We’re still learning… still growing… still discovering what God has to teach us.

I offered two challenges in that sermon and I am counting on you taking me up on both! In case you missed it, here is an excerpt from yesterday…

I want to travel the road that leads to life. But I have learned that traveling that road is a journey. It’s a road. It’s not a destination. I have not arrived.

I feel much like Paul when he said, “Now I see in a mirror dimly.” One day, I’ll see God’s truth and wisdom with full clarity. But until that day, I will live with humility as I continue on this journey to discover wisdom and truth.

I want to invite you on that journey with me. It’s going to mean that we commit ourselves to some serious study of the Scriptures. It’s going to mean that we do our best to listen carefully to the full witness of God’s truth. It’s going to mean that we engage in study with others so that we might hear the truth of God through the people around us.

But it is a journey which leads to life and to hope and joy.

So here’s what I want you to do. If you are not already engaged in a Sunday School class or a Bible study, I want to challenge you to find one by Labor Day for you to join. You have two months to find a group. We’ll help you with that. We have study groups meeting almost every day of the week, and if we don’t have one that fits your schedule, we’ll help you find one. You can check out our website, or email any one of our staff members and say, I want to find a study to help me discover God’s wisdom for my life. We’ll help you find a group.

In the meantime I have a second challenge from the book of Proverbs. There are 31 chapters in Proverbs, so here’s what I want us to do. I want us to commit ourselves to reading one chapter each day, for the rest of the year if we can keep it up. Here’s the deal. You read the chapter that corresponds to the day of the month. So today, sometime during the day, you read chapter 29. Tomorrow you read chapter 30. On Tuesday, July 1, we start back with chapter one.

Here’s what will happen. Each time you read a chapter, a different verse will jump out at you. Each month God will have a different truth for you to encounter.

I’m committing myself to begin reading a chapter of Proverbs a day. I hope you’ll join me in that commitment.

So what about it? Have you read Proverbs 30 today? I’m counting on it!

Dr. Lane Alderman
Roswell Presbyterian Church
http://www.roswellpres.org


VBS By The Numbers!

June 12, 2014

Today concludes what has been an amazing and incredible week in the life of Roswell Presbyterian Church. With laughter, smiles, and a few tired leaders, Vacation Bible School, which began last Sunday afternoon, came to a close today at noon.

The theme this year was “Weird Animals ~ Where Jesus’ love is one of a kind!”

Here is a look at this year’s VBS by the numbers:

453 – total number of children attending (a record for RPC!)
85 – incredible youth volunteers
115 – amazing (and tired) adult volunteers
2,700 – pretzels consumed by hungry VBS children
61 – children attending from Aspen Pointe!
444 – cookies eaten by hungry VBS volunteers!
8,000 – paper flowers hung around the church campus
15 – exceptional children participating
20 – fantastic shadows for our children!
156,672 – pennies collected in the penny wars to buy computers for the Drake House
115 – pounds of grapes eaten by the children!
384 – active games played during recreation time
8 – weird animals actually present at the kick-off (giant bullfrog; giant bunny, 2 hedgehogs, a giant tortoise, a huge snake, an armadillo, a bearded dragon!)
906 – feet washed to demonstrate Jesus’ unconditional love.
5 – powerful Bible stories learned and experienced by the children
1,812 – crafts assembled by the children
10 – songs learned by the children with a jillion rockin’ dance moves!
Countless – lives touched and changed by the love of Jesus!

VBS Day 02-19During the 11:15 worship this coming Sunday, the children are going to sing some of the songs they learned at VBS this week! You won’t want to miss it!

I’m so thankful for the hundreds of people who make a week like this possible.  It all happened with hard work, financial support, hours of prayers, and thousands of words of encouragement.

Seeing the smiles on the children’s faces, listening to the laughter and the joy in their voices, seeing the way in which they interacted with each other and with their leaders made me proud to be part of the family we call the Roswell Presbyterian Church!

What a week!

Dr. Lane Alderman
Roswell Presbyterian Church
http://www.roswellpres.org

 


A Health Update from Lane

May 30, 2014

Summer vacation began yesterday for me … but not in the way you’re thinking. Let me explain….

As many of you know, I have stage IV male breast cancer. My first bout with cancer came in 2000, when I had surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation; and my second bout began in 2010 when the cancer recurred in my lymph system, my spine, and my hips. I’m now in my fourth year of treatment since the recurrence.

In October, 2013 I was placed on an IV chemotherapy treatment. For the past months I have spent two out of every three Tuesday afternoons sitting in a chemotherapy lab receiving a potent drug called Abraxane. Thankfully, the primary side effect I have experienced has been fatigue, something I have tried to manage by getting plenty of rest and sleep.

Last week, I had the first PET scan since this treatment had begun in October, and the results were very encouraging. So encouraging, in fact, that my doctor has given me what he calls a “chemo holiday.” I’m going to stop my Tuesday chemotherapy treatments to give my body time to recover from the toxicity of the drug.

It turns out that even though the side effects I have experienced have been fairly minimal, there are other potentially dangerous side effects of remaining on a strong drug like Abraxane for too long. Since my cancer is currently under control, we made the decision to take this time off to give my body a break!

I am now on a less potent cancer drug, and I’ll still be under the watchful eye of my oncologist, but for now, at least, I’m taking a break from the chemo.

We have no idea how long this “chemo holiday” will be… it could be just a few weeks, or it could extend for months. My blood work and general health will dictate when I go back on the chemotherapy treatment.

So for now, I’m on summer vacation… at least from my cancer treatment! I’m still preaching and teaching, and I’m still keeping regular office hours and seeking to stay involved in the millions of things going on in the life of the Roswell Presbyterian Church. I plan on using this time to get back into an exercise routine to build back some of the stamina I have lost through treatment.

My gratitude is overwhelming… for the incredible team of doctors and nurses and technicians who take such good care of me… for the outstanding insurance that allows me to have such amazing care… for the church staff that does such an amazing job and is so supportive… for each of you for your prayers and support… for my family who give me the strength to keep on keeping on… but primarily to God, who carries me through the ups and downs of dealing with stage IV cancer.

I still have a very serious disease, and I’ll still be receiving medication for my cancer. But for now… I’m on treatment vacation! It’s a “chemo holiday”… the best kind of holiday as far as I’m concerned!

May these words of Scripture mean as much to you as they do to me… “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)

Dr. Lane Alderman
Roswell Presbyterian Church
http://www.Roswellpres.org


A Week Set Apart

April 16, 2014

The word “Holy” means “different, unique, set apart… not like any other.”

There are fifty two weeks in the year, but Christians refer to this one week as “Holy.” It is “different, unique, set apart… not like any other.”

This week, above all others, is the week during which we reflect upon God’s amazing love… and upon our response to that incredible love.

Have you set apart some time this week for that reflection? Is this week “Holy” for you?

Along with our Wednesday noon Midweek Mediation, we also have times of worship on Maundy Thursday (7:30pm) and on Good Friday (7:30pm). In the midst of this Holy Week, I hope you’ll make those times a priority.

In the meantime, I invite you to spend some time reflecting on these powerful words from the pen of the great hymn writer Isaac Watts. I’ve added some of my thoughts, but I hope you’ll spend some time with your own reflections.

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Sure… I’ve accomplished some things in my life, but even “my richest gain” pales in comparison to what God has done for me and for the world.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.
This verse really convicts me. The fact is… there are many “vain things that charm me” in the world. I hope I would be willing to sacrifice them to experience the love and grace God has for me.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
“Sorrow and love…” I’m filled with sorrow that this world is so broken, but overwhelmed with gratitude that God has not stopped loving even this broken world.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
Even if I owned everything in the world and could give it back to God as a thanks for God’s love… even then… that wouldn’t be sufficient for what God has done. God’s amazing love calls not for a gift of my stuff… it calls for a gift of my life.

Holy Week prompts me to ask… in what way am I living a life that brings honor to the depth of God’s love? Am I loving others the way God loves me? Am I patient with others the way God is patient with me? Am I generous with my resources the way God is generous in blessing me? Am I taking the time to listen to others the way God takes the time to listen to me?

We call this a “Holy” Week. For you this week… In what way is this week “different, unique, set apart… not like any other?”

Dr. Lane Alderman
Roswell Presbyterian Church
www.roswellpres.org


What’s Your Answer?

March 26, 2014

During this Lenten season, one of the questions we have been asking here at Roswell Presbyterian Church is, “Why do I pledge to RPC?”

It has been interesting to hear people’s answers. We invited a number of folks to write their answer on a white board and over the past couple of weeks we have been sharing those in videos and mailings. Click here to check it out.  www.roswellpres.org/everymember

What we have discovered is that the answers fall into basically four different groups. In my personal case, I’ve realized that my answers fall into all four categories.

What about you? What’s your answer?

blank with penFor some folks, pledging is in their ROOTS. They learned it from their parents or grandparents. When I was a child, I received a weekly allowance, and each week I brought one tenth of it to Sunday School as my offering. That practice, along with watching my father put that offering envelope in the plate each week in worship taught me the importance of making a regular pledge.

Some people’s reason for pledging is that it is their RESPONSE to God’s grace. I have to admit… this is my reason as well! Things aren’t perfect in my life, but even in the midst of challenges… I have been blessed far beyond anything I have earned or deserve. Pledging… and giving… is my way to say thank you to God for God’s immeasurable love for me.

Still others report that they pledge because they REACT to the amazing ministries our gifts support. I’m in this camp as well! I see the incredible work done in our children and youth ministries, and I want my money to support those activities. I experience our magnificent worship, and I want to make sure that continues. I utilize our amazing facilities, and I want to help support the upkeep of those buildings. Pledging is my way to help make sure the work of RPC continues!

Finally, some people tell us they pledge because they want to REACH a hurting world with the Good News of God’s love. That’s me as well! I’ve been blessed, and I want others to know those blessings. I have experienced God’s love, and I want to reach out to a hurting and broken world and let others know of God’s love. Sharing the Good News through word and action makes a difference in the world, and my pledge help make that happen!

What’s your answer?

I look forward to joining with you on Easter Sunday, April 20. It’s going to be a glorious day of worship and celebration, and as part of our celebration we’ll have the joy of presenting our pledge for the work of God through the Roswell Presbyterian Church.

Dr. Lane Alderman
Roswell Presbyterian Church
http://www.roswellpres.org


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