Mixed News on the Health Front

August 5, 2015

The last week has been especially eventful in my continuing health journey, and I have some good news and some not so good news to share.

First, the good news…. Ellie and I have just travelled to Pittsburgh for my three month check up with my neurologist who has treated my brain metastasis in the past. The good news is that there are currently no more brain tumors, and therefore there is no need for the Gamma Knife surgery!!! Needless to say, we are extremely relieved and grateful!

However, there is also some not so good news to share as well. In the past month, my tumor marker has continued to rise, and last week my oncologist scheduled a PET scan to see what is going on with my cancer. The scan showed that in several of the sites where previously there was disease, the cancer has shrunk or has gone away completely. However, for the first time ever, there are now several small tumor spots in my liver.

While we were not thrilled with this news, we do know that it is still treatable.   As you may know, I have been on a newly approved drug called Ibrance which has had mild side effects. Because of these new spots in my liver, I will be going back on an IV chemo beginning this coming Monday. I’ll keep you posted on the side effects as I experience them.

I continue to deal with pleural effusion, the build up of fluid around my lungs, which leaves me short of breath. Hopefully moving to this new IV chemo will help curtail the fluid.

So the news is mixed… we’re grateful for the great news about my brain, but disappointed that it has spread to my liver and that I will be going back on chemo next week.

Ellie and I continue to be so thankful for the incredible medical care I am receiving, and we are overwhelmed with gratitude for the thousands of prayers which surround us on this journey.

Your love, your prayers, and your support mean more than you can ever know to both of us.

Blessings,

Lane


Overwhelmed!

June 16, 2015

In his remarks about me on Sunday in worship, Doug Coe commented on my “excellent command of the English language.” There may have been a handful of times in my ministry when that was the case, but today is not one of them.

The fact is I am at a loss for words to express my feelings about Sunday’s celebration. Overwhelmed is the only word that comes close to expressing my thoughts and emotions. For over twenty years, I have been overwhelmed at the outpouring of care and support that you have expressed for me, and once again on Sunday I was overwhelmed by your outpouring of love.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure what shape I would be in headed into Sunday. I was coming off of a stay in the hospital, and I was being treated all last week for a slight infection which left me tired and exhausted. I was so thankful for the opportunity to worship with you, and, thanks to a sturdy stool, I was thankful for the chance to preach one more time. I ended up spending Sunday afternoon and most of Monday recuperating, but I can assure you that whatever energy I used for Sunday morning was well worth it! I am so glad I was able to share in the festivities!

There are so many, many people whom I want to thank for making the day possible, and I apologize in advance if I leave any one or any group off of the list. I’m grateful for the Personnel Committee and for their hard work in organizing the day; for the amazing staff with whom I had the privilege to work and for everyone who put in such an effort for the morning; for the numbers of volunteers who swept in after the celebration to prepare the campus for Vacation Bible School that afternoon; for Lyndsay Slocum, Penny Hill, Bill Powell, Doug Coe, Nancy Turner, and Emily Wright for the kind words they had to say; for my family who made the weekend so very special; and for each of you who made the day so very, very extraordinary.

I am so thankful for the over twenty years I was privileged to serve with you, and I’m grateful to God for all of the work that was done in and through the Roswell Presbyterian Church in those years. I have been blessed to have shared in that ministry with you.

I started a brand new medicine on Monday which has just been approved by the FDA. It has shown very promising results for my type of cancer with very few side effects. One significant impact of this new medicine is that it means I won’t be on IV chemotherapy with all of its debilitating effects. I’m praying that this medicine will have good results in my treatment, and that I’ll be able to spend the summer rebuilding my strength and my stamina!

So… on we go. Headed into the summer but still basking in the glow of Sunday.

I wish Doug were right, and I had some clever turn of phrase to express my feelings. But for now… this will have to do. With thanks to God and to each of you, I’m overwhelmed!

Lane


Looking Forward to June 14th!

June 6, 2015

Ellie and I are looking forward to being with you on June 14th as we join together in a celebration of the ministry and mission of the Roswell Presbyterian Church.

In the meantime, many of you know I spent a couple of days in the hospital this week, and I wanted to give you an update on my health. For several months, I have been receiving a chemotherapy drug called Gemzar. The good news is that it has been effective in my cancer treatment! The bad news is that it has some pretty strong side effects.

This past Tuesday, after receiving my treatment, I developed a fever which, after consulting with my doctor, sent me to the emergency room. They admitted me to the hospital where they were able to run tests to determine the cause in the spike in my temperature. After ruling out a number of issues, I was discharged on Thursday morning and have returned home feeling much better than when I went in on Tuesday night. I’m still dealing with side effects of my treatment, but nothing that’s going to keep me away from next Sunday!

My chemo schedule has been two weeks on and one week off, and next week was supposed to be my off week. As it turns out, I have just been approved by insurance to receive Ibrance, a brand new drug which was just approved by the FDA in March. Ibrance is not a chemotherapy drug, and the side effects are much less dramatic than with chemo. Best of all, it has shown significant results in the treatment of breast cancer. The bottom line is that I will be off of chemo and will now be receiving Ibrance. The hope is that my treatment will be enhanced with even fewer side effects!

So… on we go in this journey. I’m grateful for so many blessings… the amazing medical team at Georgia Cancer Specialists, the incredible insurance which you provide through the Presbyterian Church, the tremendous support of my family, and, most of all, your prayers and encouragement.

This has been quite a week around our house. You may also know that Ellie’s 99 year old mother, Ellie Autry, has also been in the hospital. With me at one hospital and Nanaw at another, it has been more than hectic at times! Thankfully both of our children are with us, and they have been a tremendous help! We’re doing well and looking forward to June 14th!

Thanks again for your love and support and your prayers. In the midst of it all we have experienced the blessings of God in so many, many ways, and for that we are grateful!

Lane


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


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