Where did this expression come from anyway? I mentioned this to Skip and Heather today while we were meeting with Dr Barr. It feels like we are chasing rabbits down the rabbit hole. I did a little Google search and the most common reference to this expression is Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, first published in 1865. It is the 3rd most published book after the Bible and the works of Shakespeare.

You know the story – Alice chases a white rabbit down his hole and then is introduced to a whole new world where she can grow and shrink as much as she likes. She meets some amazing creatures throughout the book, including the Duchess who nurses a pig and finds morals for everything. Alice has a tea party with the March Hare, Mad Hatter and a Door Mouse, who sleeps as often as he can. She meets the Cheshire cat who helps her along the way by informing her, “if you don’t know where you want to go then it really doesn’t matter which way you go.” Alice also has a very exciting game of croquet with the Queen of Hearts, who throughout the whole game orders almost everyone’s head chopped off. At the end of the book Alice wakes up and finds that it was all a dream.

We are on a similar journey chasing the white rabbit down a never-ending hole filled with surprise. Cheshire cat laid some serious wisdom on Alice when he told her about not knowing where you want to go and it not mattering which way you go. We all know where we are inevitably going, yet we do have a lot to say about the path we take- how we spend the time we have on this earth.

The appointment today was good and bad. The surgery is major and not without significant risk and potential for complications. Does Dr Barr want to operate? Not without further consultation with Dr. Jorge Reyes and her mentor at the Mayo Clinic, Dr David Nagomey. Dr Barr will be contacting both surgeons and sending all the CT scans and other medical reports to Dr. Nagomey. She feels I am better off not having surgery and instead to continue with chemo. This is the new rabbit trail, although Dr Alex Read said if Dr Reyes and Dr Barr do not agree to operate, there is no reason to look further. Part of the problem is that I look healthy and feel healthy. Why operate and set me back when it may not extend my life and may result in complications that can reduce my quality of life. So what do we do, climb out of the hole or keep chasing the rabbit?

This is a hard question and it is something we have not really gained clarity on. One thing we don’t know is what is going on in my body since starting Tarceva and resuming Taxol and Carboplatin. It is possible that the combination is kicking butt on the tumors. We have little to lose in waiting to see what CT scans reveal in a month or two. In the meantime we can also go further down the rabbit hole and see what Dr Reyes and Dr Nagomey think. It is pretty clear though, in the way each surgeon passes me off to another, that surgery should occur as a last resort- perhaps when my health starts failing in the future if chemo is not able to put the cancer into remission.

Am I upset?- I think stunned is a better description. I’m not fearful or down, simply stunned. I am confident that the rabbit trail we are on is filled with astonishment. The last year, with all the pain and hospitalization, has been a gift in building deeper relationships at home, in Seattle and around the world. I am energized for our Hawaii trip next week and sad/excited that Johnny will be heading for Germany tonight and will be returning in February 08. One thing about the rabbit trail is that just like Alice, you gain wisdom from the people/doctors you meet and understanding/acceptance for who you are on the path you are on.

I feel like closing with a song I heard as I turned on the car radio, leaving the appointment with Dr. Barr. The song is “I can only Imagine” by Mercy Me. The music video is below. Needless to say the lyrics seemed to resonate with me today as I pondered the uncertain future. Yes I had a cry, but it was a good one- the kind when you feel so blessed- for Heather, Johnny, Bo, Skip, Wes, Art, Dan, Bart, Dave, Phil, Adam, Dustin, Brian- I could go on with over 100 names. Blessed, because God has used each and every event of my life to change my heart and very being. What a huge gift to know this and trust it with all my heart knowing the future is not for me to worry about, but simply to trust God.

God is good, all the time, God is good!


PS from Skip:

Don asked me to add my observations about today’s appointment. I went with him and Heather, and was in the examination room with them and Dr. Barr.

Dr. Barr did not shut the door entirely to doing the surgery. I feel she has left the door slightly ajar. But she repeatedly emphasized this is very, very risky surgery, they would be cutting away 75% of the liver. Ordinarily it would grow back quickly, but the chemo treatments mean that the growth will be much slower. So one of the complications may be liver failure. There are other possible complications with such major surgery cutting away so much of the liver. It is clear she will not do the surgery until Dr. Reyes and her mentor at Mayo Clinic have weighed in further, and are in agreement. She suggested that Don consider going to Mayo to meet Dr. Nagomey and consulting with him. She said he has seen it all and done it all when it comes to liver surgery.

A big issue is quality of life. Don is feeling so good and energetic now, and is so active, his quality of life is high right now. In her mind, this major surgery might actually seriously worsen his quality of life. It is a huge question of cost/benefit.

Don’s journey is so filled with surprises. One thing we don’t know is what is happening in Don’s body right now with the Tarceva chemo joining the fight. The picture inside him may be completely different from what we’re thinking looking at the last pictures. Cyd & I both pray and are hoping that the new chemo combination is just wiping out those cancer cells.

Don, Heather & I also talked about the two of them doing all the things they have wanted to do sooner rather than later. There is no sense waiting. Following rabbit trails takes time anyway, so why not do the trips and adventures now. When we finally get some answers, either way the answers come, by taking the trips they dream about now, they come out ahead.

Please continue to pray. Don really does get a lift from your prayers – and your notes. And he’s also excited we’ll be going over 10,000 visitors on the website!


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4 Comments so far

  1. art curtis on September 5, 2007 10:06 pm

    Go to Hawaii. For the moment forget the future and live for now. Let God help you make the big decisions later. Have a great trip. You deserve it.


  2. Jaime Hestad on September 5, 2007 10:37 pm

    Don –
    I appreciated your blog (and your thoughts as well, Skip). I, too, am stunned. Shoot, I am stunned every time they find something on one of your scans and I find out you haven’t been miraculously healed! I don’t get it. I don’t get why this wasn’t a confident YES today. However, like I have said before, He hasn’t wasted one piece of this process and I am continuing to believe that He will continue to use every piece. I want so bad to see a BIG miracle. Yet, I know that He has been doing so many miracles and for that I am grateful.
    Thank you once again for your honesty and your perspective…and thank you for allowing us to walk with you.
    I stopped by tonight but you were sleeping, perhaps I will see you tomorrow.
    You know that I love you!

  3. rakemorales on September 6, 2007 5:22 am

    Ines and I slowly read your blog last night. The song was a great “voice from heaven”. We agree with Skip and Art. Go and be and live with Heather what you have dreamed about doing. We continue to pray for you and your family. Abrazos fuertes para ti y Heather, Greg

  4. hdrake on September 6, 2007 3:15 pm

    Don and Heather,

    Ditto to Arts comments. Go, enjoy, emerse yourself in what you have now and deal with the rest when it’s time. The songs blessed me before but was an even greater blessing because of you and your life. I’ve said it once and will say it again that your courage has blessed me time and time again. You know that I will continue to pray for you, Heather and the fellas until the Lord tells me to do otherwise. And since he used St. Matt to tell me, and others like me, to keep on ASKING, keep on SEEKING and to keep on KNOCKING (Matt 7:7) you can guess what I will be doing. Love ya man!

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