Home From Pittsburgh

May 4, 2015

Ellie and I have now returned home from Pittsburgh where I was fortunate to undergo a second Gamma Knife radiation treatment similar to the one I had back in November of last year.

The actual procedure was on Friday, May 1, the first official day of my “retirement.” When I was talking to the doctor, his comment was, “This is a heck of a way to start your retirement!” Actually, I thought it was a great way! I am so very thankful for the opportunity I have to be treated with such cutting edge, world class treatment. My doctors here in Atlanta first recommended that I seek out this doctor in Pittsburgh, and we’re grateful that things have worked out so well.

The procedure is considered brain surgery, but it is actually a highly specialized and focused radiation treatment. I arrive at the hospital early in the morning, and I’m fitted with a special head brace that keeps me immobile during the procedure. After the brace is on, a specialized MRI maps the tumors in my brain in preparation for the actual treatment.

On Friday, the MRI discovered 22 very small tumors… more than we were hoping for… but actually not a surprising number. I had the Gamma Knife surgery to “zap” all 22, and we were back at the hotel by 3:00 that afternoon.

I’ll return in three months for the doctor to assess the treatment, but we have every reason to believe that the procedure will be as successful as it was back in November. In the meantime, I will continue with my chemo treatments to keep my cancer under control.

I’m so thankful for your prayers, your notes, your cards, and your emails. I apologize that I am not able to respond to each one individually. Please know how much each individual expression of care and concern means to Ellie and me.

I also regret that my treatment schedule kept me from being with you in worship yesterday as you presented the first “Lane Alderman Scholarship” to Jermaine Ray, a very deserving young man. You honor me with the naming of the gift, but the real joy is in seeing the difference God is making in the lives of our neighbors through your faithfulness and generosity. For that I am very grateful.

So for now, I’m carrying on with my treatment, organizing my new “retired” life, catching up on some reading, and finding time to walk in the park. We’re looking forward to being with you on June 14 for a day of celebration!

Thanks so much for your ongoing prayers!

Lane


A Change in Plans

April 23, 2015

One of the things Ellie and I have learned in dealing with my cancer treatment is to be prepared for a change in plans. We’re in the middle of one of those changes right now!

We were planning on returning to Pittsburgh later in May for my routine three month appointment with the doctor who did Gamma Knife radiation surgery on my brain tumors last November. However, for the past couple of weeks, I’ve had a nagging headache, and a recent MRI has shown the return of five very small tumors in my brain.

In light of this finding, we have changed our plans and will be traveling to Pittsburgh at the end of next week. While we were disappointed in the return of the brain tumors, we also know that they were successfully treated last fall, and we have every confidence that they will be successfully treated once again. My doctor in Pittsburgh assures me that this is a procedure which can be repeated multiple times, and, thankfully, the side effects are relatively minimal.

Unfortunately, however, our change in plans means that we will not be able to worship with you on May 3. We were looking forward to being with you, but we still have June 14 starred on our calendar and we are looking forward to sharing that day with you. Our family will be joining us, and we’re looking forward to a fun day of celebration!

In addition to the new brain metastasis, we are continuing to deal with both the unpleasant post chemo side effects of my latest chemotherapy treatment and the accumulation of fluid around my lungs which is known as pleural effusion. About a month ago, I had a tube surgically implanted in my chest so that we can drain the fluid at home on a more regular basis. The home health nurse has been coming to our house every two to three days to “train” Ellie to take over this task, a role which Ellie has now successfully mastered! She does an outstanding job in taking care of me!

Being able to have this procedure for the pleural effusion on a more regular basis has been a great help in my day to day life. I’ve been able to get back to walking in the park and am slowly trying to bring some normalcy back to my life!

In the meantime, here are a few “housekeeping items” I want you to know.

After May 1, my church email will no longer be active. If you want to email me, please feel free to contact me at my personal email, alderman.lane@gmail.com.

Several of you have asked about how to keep up with my health after May 1. After talking with folks on the staff, we have agreed to keep my blog active even after I am no longer the Senior Pastor of the church. I’ll be using it only for health updates, but it seemed to be the most efficient and effective way to keep you informed. As always, I’m appreciative of your support and your prayers!

Finally, several of you have asked why, other than on June 14, I will be staying away from RPC following my resignation. It is an expectation of the Presbytery that when a pastor resigns he or she discontinues participating in the life of the church for at least a year.   Let me make sure you understand why the Presbytery expects this, and why I believe it is the best course of action. Soon, the congregation will call a new leader to be your Senior Pastor. The greatest gift I can give that person is the gift Cy Mallard gave to me over twenty years ago. Cy allowed me the opportunity to establish my own leadership, and for that I will always be grateful. I look forward to offering that gift to your next Pastor.

That doesn’t mean we won’t still be friends! We can still talk and see each other and run into each other in town… but for a period of time neither Ellie nor I will be participating in the life and ministry of the congregation. We’re going to miss being with you, but it really will be best for the future ministry of the congregation.

RPC is an amazing place, and I have been blessed to serve along side of you for over twenty years. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for the years to come! I know the church is poised for even greater things than I could ever imagine, and it’s going to be exciting to watch a new phase in the life of the church emerge.

In the meantime, I’ll keep you informed of my health situation, and Ellie and I are always grateful for your notes, your emails, and your constant prayers.

May God continue to bless us all!

Lane

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


An Open Letter to RPC

March 23, 2015

The following letter was sent to members of Roswell Presbyterian Church this morning…

Dear friends,

Last night, with regret, I informed our Session of my decision to resign as Pastor of the Roswell Presbyterian Church effective May 1, 2015.

Needless to say, this is not a decision which has come easily, but my physical health leaves me with little choice. As you know, I have been unable to work since my hospitalization of February 1. My new chemotherapy treatment has left me more fatigued and nauseous than before, and I end up dealing with flu-like symptoms of chills, etc., for several days after each chemo treatment. In addition, the increased pleural effusion (build up of fluid around my lungs) often leaves me short of breath and with a constant cough.

All this is to say, I don’t see my physical condition improving to the level that would allow me to function as the leader I want to be, or as the leader the church needs me to be.

For over twenty years it has been my honor to serve as your Pastor, and over that time I have been blessed with the joy of watching God at work in so many, many ways. You have honored me by allowing me to celebrate with you at weddings; to rejoice with you at baptisms; and to grieve with you at funerals. Together we have laughed, and we have cried.

On a personal note, RPC has been a wonderful home for my family. It is hard to believe that Ashley was in the eighth grade and Daniel in the fifth grade when we moved here, and through the years you have continued to be a supportive and encouraging presence in each of our lives.

Particularly in these past years as we have battled cancer, your love and support and prayers have meant more to our family than you can ever know. Ellie and I cannot thank you enough.

Throughout the years, your faithfulness has continued to humble me. Because of your commitment, we have built buildings; we have launched new mission endeavors; we have watched our ministry to children and young people mushroom; we have cared for the needs of each other; and, most of all, we have offered dynamic worship to Almighty God. It has been a joy to share with you in all of this amazing ministry.

I have had the pleasure of serving as a Presbyterian Pastor for almost 35 years, and it is not easy for me to step away from this work, but there is no doubt that the time is right. It is the right time for me personally, and it is the right time for the church.

For me personally, thanks to the incredible benefits the church offers to its staff, the next step means that I will be going on disability through the Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church(USA). For now, I won’t be doing any more preaching or teaching, and after May 1, I will not be attending worship services or programs of RPC in order to allow new leadership to be established in my place. Twenty years ago I was so grateful for the gift Cy Mallard gave me to allow me to establish myself as the new Pastor, and I look forward to offering that gift to the next person who will serve as the new Pastor of RPC.

Being on disability doesn’t mean that I am debilitated, however, so don’t be surprised when we run into each other around town! After I get some strength back you may even see me walking (slowly!) around the path at Roswell Rec!

It’s the right time for me personally to step aside, but it is also the right time for the church. I am leaving with the peace of mind that RPC continues to be one of the strongest, healthiest, most vital congregations in the country. We have strong and committed lay leaders, and we have an amazingly gifted staff to carry on the ministry.

Bill Powell, the chair of our Session Personnel Committee, will be in touch with you soon about the next steps for the congregation, which will include calling an interim Pastor and soon electing a Pastoral Nominating Committee to begin the search for the next full time Pastor. In the meantime, our staff Senior Leadership Team of Emily Wright, Lyndsay Slocum, and Nancy Turner will oversee the day to day ministry of the congregation.

I’ll be keeping you posted on the state of my health, and I hope to be around at various times during the month of April. We’ll have an opportunity to say good bye, but for now, please accept my thank you for the privilege God has given me to serve as your Pastor.

Roswell Presbyterian Church is an amazing congregation, and Ellie and I are so grateful for the opportunity we have had to be part of this wonderful church family . We look forward to hearing about even greater things from RPC in the years to come!

In Him,

Lane Alderman


Saturday Update

February 21, 2015

When I updated my blog last Monday, I made the statement that I was looking forward to being in worship with you this Sunday.

Now that it’s Saturday, I need to let you know that I was a bit optimistic in my assessment of my physical condition. Tomorrow is going to be a great day in worship, but unfortunately I won’t be there to celebrate with you.

Nothing significant has changed, except that did I overestimate my stamina and strength! I’m still dealing with the anemia and pleural effusion which both cause shortness of breath. The pleural effusion causes fluid to build up around my lungs which has to be drained off on a regular basis. I had a “draining” yesterday, and most likely will need to do it again later in the week.

I will see my oncologist on Tuesday of this week and he is working on making some changes in my chemotherapy to curtail the pleural effusion.

So… on we go. I hate to overwhelm you with my medical condition, but a number of people keep asking me how I’m doing. So here’s the bottom line… We’re thrilled with the incredible report we received in Pittsburgh, and we’re grateful that my primary cancer seems basically to be under control, but we’re still dealing with the nagging issues of anemia and pleural effusion.

My plan at this point is to begin easing back into work as soon as I am able. I hope that my return might be as early as this week, but unfortunately I can’t make any promises. I’ll have to let my energy level set the timetable.

I very much miss being part of the daily life and ministry of RPC, but I’m thrilled at the reports I’m hearing. I’m so proud of the amazing things that are being done in and through each of you, and I’m looking forward to being back in the middle of it all as soon as possible.

In the meantime, thanks for your prayers and your encouragement. It means more than you can ever know!

Lane

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


As Good As It Gets!

February 16, 2015

“As good as it gets.” Those were the words the doctor spoke this morning as he shared with us the results of my brain MRI.

Here’s the update… When we were in Pittsburgh in November I had the Gamma Knife radiation treatment on the 23 brain tumors which were identified at that time. We’re now back in Pittsburgh for our three month follow up examination. I had an MRI early this morning which was followed by a consultation with the neurosurgeon. We were hopeful that the November treatment was successful, but we were anticipating the need for follow up Gamma Knife treatment on other potential tumors.

As it turned out, today’s MRI was completely clear. What that means is that November’s treatment was completely successful and no new tumors have developed in the meantime. Needless to say… we’re overwhelmed with joy!!! The report could not have been better.

This doesn’t mean I’m cancer free. I still have stage IV cancer, and I’m still treated with chemotherapy on a regular basis. It does mean that the brain metastasis is no longer an immediate concern. We will be coming back to Pittsburgh in May for another three month follow up, and we’ll be praying for similar results!

Ellie and I will return to Roswell later this week, and I look forward to being with you in worship this Sunday.

God answers prayers in many ways, and I am keenly aware that many times God’s answers are not the ones we want. In this particular case, however, God’s answer to prayer was exactly what I was hoping for! I’m overwhelmed with gratitude!

I’m still dealing with weakness from the blood loss that I experienced with the ulcer a couple of weeks ago, but I’m slowly regaining my strength and I’m looking forward to being back at full strength soon.

Thanks for your support, your encouragement, and your prayers!

Lane

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


On to Pittsburgh!

February 13, 2015

When the Lenten season begins this coming Ash Wednesday, Ellie and I will be trying to stay warm in Pittsburgh! We’ll miss gathering with the congregation as Christians around the world begin their journey toward the cross and the empty tomb.

We won’t be here for Ash Wednesday because we’re flying to Pittsburgh this weekend for my follow up visit with the neurosurgeon who performed the Gamma Knife procedure last November on the tumors in my brain. On Monday morning I’ll have an MRI, following which we will meet with the doctor. At that point a decision will be made about the next step in my treatment.

We will not be surprised if there will be a need for further treatment of the tumors that have spread to my brain. If so, that will mean that on Tuesday I will undergo the Gamma Knife procedure for a second time. We’ll be returning to Roswell later in the week. I’ll make sure and update my blog when we know more about my treatment.

We’re headed to Pittsburgh having just received some very good news about my cancer. Each month the doctor here in Atlanta uses a blood test to determine my tumor marker.   There is no true blood test for cancer, but the marker is an important indicator about the cancer activity in your body. Over the past month my marker registered the greatest drop I have ever experienced, dropping from 158 to 110. Needless to say, we were thrilled. “Normal,” by the way, is 38, so I still have a long way to go before I’m considered normal, but we’ll take this drop nonetheless!

In the meantime I’m having to deal with a recurring issue of what is called pleural effusion. Fluid builds up in the pleural sac around my lung and makes me short of breath. For each of the past three weeks, including yesterday, I’ve had two liters of fluid drained from around my lungs! I’ve dealt with this issue on and off for the past eighteen months, and along the way I’m learning how to manage the side effects of this issue.

So off we go… headed to Pittsburgh to see what’s going on in my brain! I’m thankful that I haven’t had any headaches in the past few weeks, so we’re anxious to talk to the doctor and make decisions about next steps.

I have really missed being with you in worship over the past few weeks, and I’m going to miss being there this Sunday and again on Ash Wednesday. Right now my plans are to be with you in worship on February 22 and then to return to the pulpit on March 1.

Every time I update my blog I’m overwhelmed with a whole list of people I want to thank, but this week, along with my family, each of you, my medical team, etc., I want to highlight the incredible work done by our church staff. While I have been out for these few weeks they have stepped up and done a phenomenal job, not only continuing in their own work, but doing a great job in carrying my responsibilities as well. They have given me the freedom to recuperate without worrying about the work of the church, and for that I am grateful! When you see any member of our staff, please thank them on my behalf!

I’m still slightly anemic from my recent bout with an esophageal ulcer, but I’m slowly regaining my strength, and our hard working staff has given me the freedom to take my time in returning to full time work. For that I am grateful!

Thank you for your prayers and for your continued faithfulness. I’m looking forward to coming back from Pittsburgh and continuing our Lenten journey together!

Lane

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


A Hospital Interlude

February 5, 2015

If you read my last blog post, then you’ll understand when I tell you that I had to whack another mole this week! This one took two nights in the hospital to deal with, however!

On Saturday of last week I was slightly fatigued and nauseated for a good part of the day, but to be honest I really wasn’t all that concerned about it. I assumed it would pass by Sunday morning. Unfortunately, I woke up in the early morning hours of Sunday feeling much worse and realized that I was most likely bleeding internally. After consulting with my doctors, we concluded that it was okay to wait until Monday morning for me to be checked out.

By Monday, the fatigue had grown, and blood tests confirmed that I was losing blood. They admitted me to the hospital where a test showed that I had a small esophageal ulcer. This small bleed has now been stopped and should be easily controlled with medicine. While we don’t know the specific cause of the ulcer, it is most likely a result of some of the medications I have been taking. The good news is that it is not directly related to cancer. So… on we go.

We were scheduled to be in Pittsburgh this week for follow up to my Gamma Knife procedure, but we’ve had to reschedule that for later in the month. In the meantime, I continue to be overwhelmed by the way our incredible staff is stepping up to help out in my absence. Over the next two weeks, I will not be in the office for regular hours and will be accessible primarily through email only.

As always, your prayers and your encouragement mean more than you can ever imagine. I’ll keep you posted on how things are going, and I look forward to our celebration of Lent and Easter which will soon be upon us.

Lane

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


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