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


Arcade Games and Health Updates…

January 23, 2015

Some of you have asked about my heath, so I thought I’d take a minute and give you the latest update…

Have you ever played that arcade game, “Whack-a-mole?” You have a big, soft club in your hand, and make believe “moles” pop their heads out of their holes. As soon as you knock one back in its hole, another one pops out of its hole. Hit one down, and one or two more pop up.

It’s supposed to be fun… but it can also be aggravating and frustrating!

I’ve come to the conclusion that dealing with stage IV cancer is a lot like playing “Whack-a-mole.” Take care of one issue, and there is another one popping its head up for you to deal with!

After my November Pittsburgh treatment, I was taking a daily dose of steroids to deal with potential inflammation in my brain. Weaning off the steroids led to several bouts of debilitating headaches and agonizing pain. Fortunately, in just the last few weeks, I’ve gotten off of the steroids and the headaches have essentially disappeared. One “mole” dealt with!

My latest “mole” has been an infection at the site of where they removed an infusion port, which, fortunately, has responded to a week of heavy duty antibiotics. One more “mole” that has been “whacked!”   In the big picture, it’s not a major problem.. but it’s one more aggravating issue you face when you have a chronic disease.

So on we go… and it is “we.” I’m so grateful for Ellie’s love and support, for the encouragement of my family, and for the incredible team of doctors and nurses and technicians who care for me, and for each of you and your prayers, your support, and your constant words of encouragement.

Overall, I’m doing well, and for that we are very grateful. The next big step will come in February when we return to Pittsburgh for a follow up visit with the neurosurgeon. There are several outcomes from that visit, but we are anticipating that I will need to have the Gamma Knife procedure again to deal with tumors that may still be active in my brain.

In the meantime, Roswell Presbyterian Church is blessed with an outstanding staff, and I am so thankful for their hard word and commitment to their calling. I’m thankful that I am able to continue preaching, teaching, and leading the staff as we move forward in our mission.

2015 is going to be an amazing year at RPC. The church is as strong and healthy as it has been in my twenty years of ministry. The congregation is faithful in their financial support, and the opportunities before us are exciting. During this year we will be launching a new church in Suwanee; we will be expanding our Neighborhood Action Ministry in Aspen Pointe; our youth and children’s ministries will continue to grow; and our nurture and support for each other will continue to undergird all that we do in the life of the church,

It’s going to be a great year, and I am blessed to be able to share with you in this ministry!

I’m grateful for your prayers, and I’ll keep you posted on my trip to Pittsburgh. In the meantime, I look forward to joining you in worship each Sunday morning!

May God continue to bless us all!

Lane

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


Hark, The Herald Angels Sing!

December 25, 2014

I hope this day is a blessed one for you! Last night in worship, while we were singing “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” my mind wandered off to my favorite Christmas special, “Charlie Brown’s Christmas.” It’s a classic… and I’ve watched it for years!

There is a great scene where Charlie Brown throws up his hands and says, “Doesn’t anyone know the real meaning of Christmas?”

Several years ago I wrote a sermon in response to Charlie Brown’s question, and on this Christmas morning, I thought I would share the ending of that sermon.

Here’s the ending…
But I think you found all that out, didn’t you Charlie Brown? I mean, there you were at the end of your story, standing with all your friends singing “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.” There was Snoopy—who had missed the whole point when he got so caught up in the commercial side of Christmas—and there was Lucy. It’s so hard to be around people like her, isn’t it. She’s always complaining and drawing attention to herself. I know people like Lucy. They are hard to be around, but there you all were, standing side by side.

There was Pig Pen. He’s so dirty. He probably smells, too. I know it was hard to be with him. I’ve known people like that, too, but he was right there in your group. And there was Frieda, whose only concern was her naturally curly red hair. And Schroeder—you know how musicians are. And Linus—isn’t he frustrating? He’s always perfect. There you all were, with all your faults, with all your mistakes. You were able to put aside your differences and forgive each other and stand side by side to sing.

“Hark the herald angels sing. Glory to the new born king. Peace on earth and mercy mild. God and sinner reconciled.” That’s the real meaning of Christmas, isn’t it, Charlie Brown? In amongst all the lights and parties and shopping sprees, the message shines bright.

When God, the God who rules over even Caesar Augustus, came into the world, he came as a real human being, into the struggles and the trials we all face. But he came to give us life, to give us hope, to give us a future, and as we draw closer to him and get to know him, he helps us draw closer to each other.

This Christmas, Charlie Brown, I’m praying for two things. I’m praying that we won’t make the mistake of the innkeeper. I’m praying we’ll find room in our lives to let him come and fill us and change us, so that his love will help us accept the Pig Pens and the Lucys and the Snoopys of our world.

I’m also praying that the love and joy of this season won’t end on Christmas Day, but that long after the presents have been opened and the ornaments put away, the peace will live on in our lives and in our friendships with each other.

What a message we have, Charlie Brown. God loves us so much he gave his son for us. “Peace on earth and mercy mild. God and sinners reconciled.” That’s us, Charlie Brown. We’re the ones being reconciled with God. We’re the ones brought back to God, and as he forgives and accepts us, we’re able to forgive and accept each other.

I think you’ve taught us something, Charlie Brown. I think you’ve taught us the real meaning of Christmas.

Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown. I hope our celebration is as special as yours. AMEN.

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


God’s Answer to Our Prayers

December 3, 2014

In recent days, referring to my medical treatments in Pittsburgh, I’ve had a number of people say to me, “I’m so thankful that God has answered your prayers.”

Trust me… I’m grateful for the fact that I’m doing well and feeling good and that things seem to be going well. I’m very grateful for that!!!

But I have spent a lot of time reflecting on what it means for God to “answer our prayers.” In no particular order, here are some of my rambling thoughts about God answering our prayers…

  1. There is a great deal about prayer I don’t understand. At its heart, prayer is an ongoing conversation I have with God which keeps me connected and in touch with the God who created me and who is with me every step of my life. Prayer is much more than just a time for me to pour out my requests to God.
  1. Prayer involves so much more than asking God for things. It is a time for praise and for confession. Nothing is out of bounds in prayer. Nothing is too great or too small to share in prayer. Prayer is the one place where we can be completely honest. God already knows what’s on our mind… why try to hide it? (Check out the honesty of Psalm 22.)
  1. I am absolutely convinced that God answers all of our prayers. Sometimes God answers my prayer exactly the way I want it to be answered, but sometimes God has something else in mind. We need to be careful when we say that God answers our prayers. Too often what we really mean is “God answered my prayers the way I wanted them answered.” The challenge in life is to learn to accept God’s answer even when it isn’t what I wanted! That isn’t always easy.
  1. I’ve discovered that there have been times when I prayed for one thing, but God had something else in mind. As difficult as it was at the time to accept God’s answer, I have also had those opportunities when I was able to look back and admit (not surprisingly!) that God’s response really was the best one for me!
  1. These prayers are all more difficult when it comes to personal issues like our own health or the health of loved ones. For reasons which I cannot explain or understand, there have been times when I have prayed for someone’s physical healing and it didn’t occur, and there have been times when I am confident no one was praying for healing in someone’s life and that person was healed. I’m not sure I can explain that.
  1. When those prayers of healing are not answered the way I want them to be answered, I find myself drawn to the story of the ten lepers in Luke 17:11. Go take a look at it… all ten were physically healed, but only one was “made well.” The word for being made well is the same as to be saved or rescued or made whole. As much as I pray for physical healing, at the end of the day, I’m grateful that God has made me well. Physical healing is temporary at best.   Being made well is eternal.
  1. I could go on and on about prayer. It’s a vital part of who I am as a follower of Jesus. Through prayer and Scripture, I stay in touch with the God who disturbs me when I grow too comfortable and comforts me when I am disturbed. Even when I don’t understand it or can’t explain it, I know I need to keep on praying!

I hope you do as well.

By the way…. I am praying for my physical healing, and I’m grateful for your prayers as well. I tolerated my treatment well, and we’ll go back to Pittsburgh in February for follow up scans. We won’t be surprised if they need to repeat the procedure again. Thankfully, it is a process which can be repeated numerous times.

For now, I’m enjoying Advent with the congregation of the Roswell Presbyterian Church. I’ll be preaching at all three services on Sunday, and look forward to celebrating the Second Sunday of Advent with you!

Lane


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