Updates on Nanci Alcorn
These updates are reposted from Nanci Alcorn's CaringBridge. On that page, you can sign up to receive email notifications when a new update is posted, leave comments in response, and read past updates.
Good news about yesterday’s procedure!
Journal Entry by Randy Alcorn — September 16, 2021
Yesterday started rough because both Nanci and I only got two hours or so of sleep before we had to get up at 4 AM to make it to the hospital.
The doctor doing the procedure on the tumor blocking the airway was not very optimistic in terms of what he might be able to accomplish.
Though my phone never rang, I received a message from him after the procedure, saying he considered it a real success! He appeared to have been surprised and was certainly pleased at how well it went.
This is direct quote from his voice message: “she did really well during the procedure, we had no issues whatsoever, it was very straightforward. I was able to remove the tumor that was completely obstructing the middle lobe in the right lung. I was able to see all the way beyond that and so I am hopeful that she's going to have some immediate improvement in her breathing.”
Praying and hoping for the best, yet having braced ourselves for possibly hearing more bad news, our daughter and I listened to it and read the voicemail transcript to be sure we were hearing right. We believe it was a great answer to the prayers of God‘s people! ♥️
Though we haven’t yet spoken directly to this doctor or Nanci’s other doctors who are part of her care team, that report seems to us to be the best possible news.
Wanted to share it with you, and then will update you when we learn what this will mean in terms of whether she will go forward with radiation or they will change it back to chemotherapy, (We have learned that nearly everything is a guess until it is finally decided, and even after it’s finally decided, it sometimes gets changed.)
It certainly is very good that Nanci is already able to breathe better after she walks up the stairs! And knowing a sizable and presumably malignant tumor (biopsy not back yet) was removed. While there is more cancer to be dealt with, the doctor’s report seems to us to have been the best possible news.
Thanks so much for praying! We are absolutely certain that your prayers have played a major role in this. We are overwhelmed with thanksgiving to our God of grace and kindness. We thank him for such welcome good news, and we rest in the eternal good news of the Gospel of Jesus.
Change of Plans
Journal entry by Randy Alcorn — September 13, 2021
Nanci’s treatment plan has changed. This Wednesday, day after tomorrow, at 7:30 am PST, Nanci will undergo a procedure by an interventional pulmonologist who will attempt to clear out enough of the tumor blocking her airway to help her breathe better.
He doesn't believe he can remove all the impeding tissue but hopes to give her some relief. He will also search for other areas of concern including taking more samples for biopsy. There are some risks, but because her breathing has become very labored, we believe we need to take them.
Nanci’s team of doctors now think she could benefit from more radiation treatments prior to receiving chemotherapy, so she did NOT begin chemo last week as planned. She will meet with her radiation doctor soon to schedule those treatments. We are uncertain at this time when she will complete radiation, therefore we do not know when chemo will start.
Though we are accustomed to uncertainty and changed plans, it’s a bit jarring to I have it happen once again. We are very concerned about Nanci’s health, obviously, and we need the prayers of God’s people. We are at peace that God has a plan even though we are not sure what it is. We ARE sure, however, of WHO HE IS.
“I love you, O LORD [literally Yahweh, God’s personal name], my strength. Yahweh is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon Yahweh, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.”
Thanks again so much for your friendship and prayers and love, which mean more to us than ever.
Randy and Nanci
A Few Practical Ways to Support the Alcorns in This Season
Dear friends of the Alcorns:
I’m Kathy Norquist, an EPM board member, former long-time employee of EPM, and my husband and I are friends of the Alcorn family.
People have asked how they can help them during this difficult season, especially for the next six months that Nanci will be in chemo/radiation treatments for her stage 4 cancer.
I asked Randy and Nanci about sending out this letter, and they were a bit reluctant due to the fact that so many people in the world are far more needy than they are. Yet we also know that sometimes people really want to do something tangible to show their love. So here are a few practical ways to help if it’s something you believe God wants you to do:
For those who live locally, their dear friend Sue Keels has set up a schedule to bring meals for the Alcorns twice a week, from September 10 through mid-February. Specifics are listed at Meal Train: https://mealtrain.com/4054o2 where you can sign up.
Grocery services are not needed. Nanci and Randy do enjoy being able to use the convenience of Grub Hub from time to time. You can get a Grub Hub gift e-card at https://www.grubhub.com/giftcards. They are registered under Nanci’s email, which is email@example.com.
Nanci will need help with house cleaning and their daughter Angela has recommended the house cleaning service, Merry Maids. If you would like to contribute toward this service, you can select a gift card at giftcards.com and choose Merry Maids. You can mail the card directly to the Alcorns at 5430 SE Chase Road, Gresham, OR 97080.
Again, please know the Alcorns are not asking for or expecting any of this. They are deeply thankful for all of you who are praying, knowing some of you have been lifting them up consistently for what in January will be four years of Nanci’s cancer. They are continuing to sense God’s presence and love through the prayers of the body of Christ and need your prayers now more than ever.
Nanci wrote a short blog called “My Cancer is God’s Servant” that I think would encourage you: https://www.epm.org/blog/2021/Sep/1/cancer-servant-reflections
God’s grace and peace to you,
An Important Development in Nanci’s Health
Journal entry by Randy Alcorn — August 31, 2021
Much has happened in the last few weeks. Due to various issues, Nanci had several tests done on short notice, which we (and her doctors) didn’t anticipate would be serious.
After some concerning test results, a doctor ordered a PET Scan. It revealed new malignancies in Nanci’s lungs. When a bronchoscopy was performed, the doctor found a large tumor partially impeding an airway, explaining why her breathing has been even more labored than already (30% of her lungs were removed in past surgeries).
Today we met with Nanci’s oncologist, who was surprised and concerned when she saw the PET scan results. She advised us, and weighing the alternatives we agreed it’s what’s best under the circumstances, to move forward with 12 sessions (over six months) of chemotherapy, which will be 50% more than her last round in 2019. Nanci will also be seeing an interventional pulmonologist (our vocabulary continues to grow :) and likely a radiation doctor to possibly use radiation on the tumor near her airway.
As has often been the case these last 3.5 years, we are putting one foot in front of the other to do what seems wisest as we seek God’s direction. No, six months of chemo isn’t what we planned, in fact we are now cancelling some plans we were looking forward to, in hope (but not certainty) we can do them later. That’s okay, to say the least God knows better than we do! He says, “Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21). And along with the hardship, God will bring us times of joy and delight even in the challenges of these treatments. He’s done it before, He will do it again.
The oncologist says that there is no timetable here, but medically speaking they are not looking toward a cure. The goal is to slow the cancer’s progress and to make Nanci’s life easier and breathing better by shrinking the tumor. To clarify, Nanci isn’t teetering on the edge and we aren’t desperately trying to cling onto earthly life at the expense of its quality, rather we are taking the opportunity to improve that quality. If the time comes when God seems ready to take either of us home we will accept that and not use every possible means to prolong life at the expense of comfort and wellbeing. “To depart and be with Christ…is better by far.” Nanci referred tonight to that wonderful song “It is not death to die.” https://youtu.be/d45nKyGphvg
We don’t know, and neither do the doctors, what’s ahead of us, but that’s nothing new for any of us, right? We are only finite but praise God we know personally the infinite One who’s in charge of the universe and who lovingly supervises our lives!
When we received the worst news, Nanci said to me, “God has been with us in all this, and He still is.” Then she talked about how gracious and kind He has been and how she has sensed His presence. I am a firsthand witness of this, Nanci has been extraordinary in her dependence on the Lord. She knows how serious this is, we are not in denial and we have shed our share of tears, we did again tonight. But in all this by God’s grace Nanci has maintained a contagiously upbeat mindset.
I marvel at the depth and delight of Nanci’s Christ-centered perspective. What an example she is to me! She is wonderfully like what it says in Jeremiah 17:7-8:
Happy are those who trust in the Lord [Yahweh, God’s personal name],
who rely on the Lord [Yahweh].
They will be like trees planted by the streams,
whose roots reach down to the water.
They won’t fear drought when it comes;
their leaves will remain green.
They won’t be stressed in the time of drought
or fail to bear fruit.
(Common English Bible)
We haven’t given up and we prayed for complete healing again tonight as we have every night for nearly four years. But neither are we presuming to tell God what he must do just because we want it. He is God, we are not. Immediate short-term healing is not a certainty, but ultimate long-term healing is woven into the Gospel itself. It is the blood-bought promise of Jesus!
Jesus said of us, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:28). For the resurrection and eternal life on the New Earth the risen Jesus promises: “God will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Revelation 21:4)
If God doesn’t heal Nanci completely, then we pray for the success of medical means (God’s providence and common grace extends to them also). But that too is in His hands. Nanci and I have never doubted or questioned Him just because so far the prayers for total healing have gone unanswered. She has a big view of God, and a truly eternal perspective. God ministers to me through her every day. She shared with me tonight what she meditated on this morning: “Yahweh is your keeper; Yahweh is your shade on your right hand” (Psalm 121:5).
I think you would really appreciate Nanci’s blog that will be posted a few hours from now, the morning of September 1, before most of you read this. She read it to me from her journal a few days ago and I asked if we could post it. It’s called “My Cancer is God’s Servant.” Go to this link and it should be the first link listed below: https://www.epm.org/blog/
Thanks again so much for your love and prayers, our beloved brothers and sisters. Here are some verses that mean a lot to us, I hope they bring you comfort in what you’re facing in your own lives, we know we’re not alone in walking a challenging road:
Randy and Nanci
Update after CT Scan & 3 DR appts
Journal Entry by Randy Alcorn — July 21, 2021
Yesterday and today, we had appointments with three of Nanci’s doctors to discuss the findings in her recent tests.
The radiation treatments she received in February appear to have been successful in irradicating the cancer in those particular nodules which were targeted. This is wonderful news.
There were no indications of the cancer spreading to any place outside her lungs. More great news.
However, the CT scan revealed many tiny new nodules in her lungs. They could be a benign occurrence, e.g. the side effects of radiation or past surgeries. They could be new cancerous growths. Or a combination of both.
It is impossible to tell at this time, so we will wait (a word that has become a central one in our vocabularies!) and repeat a CT scan in three months. Future treatments would be undergone if their size or number increase. It would be great if no change in size or numbers, but greater still if they all completely disappeared! ♥️ That, of course, is our prayer!
An additional mass monitored in previous scans is now cause for examination. Most likely Nanci will have a bronchoscopy to analyze the mass by sight, perform a biopsy, and open a partially blocked airway.
A separate test revealed the source of painful experiences in recent months, a profound reflux problem in her esophagus as well as a new hiatal hernia. Nanci will see a gastroenterologist to determine if she is a candidate for surgery to fix both.
- That the new nodules are not determined to be more cancer in her lungs, or if so, that treatment options are available.
- That the larger mass in her right lung would be benign and steps can be taken to eliminate it and widen her airway to alleviate her cough and wheezing.
- That surgery can be done, if necessary, to relieve her unpleasant digestive problems.
Of course surgery and further treatments are never our first preference, they are done only when noninvasive methods haven’t worked. We only undergo them when multiple medical professionals believe they are the best recourse for Nanci’s health.
As always, we thank you so much for your continued prayers for Nanci. And we thank God for His absolute love, sovereignty and faithfulness. We trust Him fully and we move forward seeking to honor and serve Him.
“We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
Randy & Nanci
CT scan and other requests
Journal Entry by Randy Alcorn — July 11, 2021
We haven’t posted since April since there’s been nothing new to report until now.
Next Friday, July 16th, Nanci will have a CT scan to determine the effectiveness of the targeted radiation treatments she received in February (on three nodules in her lungs).
It will also be used to examine any change in something discovered in a previous scan which we pray is only enlarged scar tissue from surgery.
She is also scheduled to see an upper GI specialist to be tested for some fairly severe digestive difficulties which may be related to her cancer treatments.
Our specific prayer requests:
- That the radiation will be shown to have been a success in reducing the size of the nodules in her lungs.
- That the rounded appearance along the surgery scar line has disappeared or not grown.
- That no other signs of cancer are found in her body.
- That the cause of her digestive problems would be found and successfully treated.
- That her strength and energy would continue to increase.
As always, we continue to pray for complete healing, but we also know that God sometimes gives partial answers to our prayers and we are very grateful for those as well.
The arrival of our new puppy, Gracie (see photo ????), has brought new energy and joy into our home. We thank God for his goodness and how he reveals himself in his creation. Every time Gracie makes us laugh, which is many times a day, we see the delightfulness of her Creator and ours. This makes us share in God’s happiness.
It never feels like enough to say thank you for your prayers, but they have meant more to us than we can express in these challenging last 3 1/2 years. God has been very near to us in this time and your prayers have had a large part of that.
How mighty is our Lord and Savior? In Ephesians 1:19-21 Paul speaks of
“his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.”
April 11, 2021
Journal Entry by Randy Alcorn
Nanci’s CT scan report shows the two nodules in her lungs are not yet exhibiting clear signs of response to the radiation treatments. (They are slightly larger but the growth could have happened before radiation because previous scan was over two months prior to treatments.) Her radiation doctor is not very concerned because treatments ended just two months ago and it often takes more time to see results.
A new "rounded appearance" in Nanci’s right lung which cannot yet be identified will also need close attention in the next CT. So, we will need to wait once again.
Waiting is part of life, and while God has taught us much about waiting on Him, as you know, it’s not always easy! We had prayed and hoped for great news. However, we are focusing on the truly good news that no other new concerns were found in her body at this time. Thanks for your prayers and encouraging words. They mean so much to us.
Randy and Nanci
Those of steadfast mind you keep in peace—because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for in the Lord God you have an everlasting rock. Isaiah 26: 3-4
Those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. Psalm 34:10
Major CT Scans this Friday
Journal Entry by Randy Alcorn — April 5, 2021
We hope you had a Jesus-centered resurrection weekend. We thank God that “according to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (1 Peter 1:3). His resurrection empowers us to live by faith and trust Him with the assurance that He will make all things well forever for his beloved children! May every day be resurrection day in our lives!
After enjoying a break from tests and procedures, Nanci will have an extensive set of CT scans this Friday April 9, beginning at 11 AM Pacific. The scans should indicate how effective her February radiation treatments were in dealing with the two nodules in her lungs.
The scans will also be used to look for any new growths in her body. Would you join us in prayer that:
- The radiation is shown to have been effective and that there is no more cancer in her lungs.
- Nothing new is found that’s cause for concern.
It would be thrilling if the scans are “clear.” Nanci would not yet be considered in remission and would need to continue her testing and scans for several years, but we are still praying daily, as we have all along, that the Lord would choose to heal her completely.
We both are scheduled to be fully vaccinated against Covid by the end of April or the first few days of May. Karina’s family, with three grandsons we haven’t seen since early last year, are driving up from California for a visit in May. We can’t wait to see them!
Lord willing, we will welcome a new puppy into our home in June. (If you haven’t, you may wish to read https://www.epm.org/blog/2021/Mar/10/saying-goodbye-maggie) Dogs have been great gifts of God to us. Each of them has been a beloved companion and therapy dog and source of happiness. We are asking God to graciously do this for us again.
We know many of you are facing great challenges of your own and we pray you are experiencing God’s presence and grace. There’s no way we can express how grateful to God and to you we are for your love and your prayers over these last 3 plus years! ♥️
Randy & Nanci
You will keep in perfect peace
all who trust in you,
all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
Trust in the Lord always,
for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.
Isaiah 26:3-4, NLT
Nanci starts radiation on Monday!
Journal Entry by Randy Alcorn — January 28, 2021
Nanci will be receiving radiation treatments for the two remaining nodules in her lungs beginning February 1st and ending on the 12th. She will have 10 total sessions.
The procedure is called Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy, or SBRT. This is a cancer treatment that delivers extremely precise, very intense doses of radiation to cancer cells while minimizing damage to the surrounding healthy tissue. It’s been very effective at eradicating cancer cells.
It will be done at OHSU Hospital. She is anticipating very little side effects because this time it will not be coupled with chemotherapy. There will be fatigue, and possibly some skin irritation at the site.
No new stronger COVID restrictions imposed which could delay the treatments.
Mild weather with no snow for each commute. (that’s actually a pretty big prayer request for the first two weeks of February given the location of OHSU on an often icy hill!) She insists she wishes to drive herself to each treatment, about 24 miles from our home, but Angela and I are ready to step in to drive if she changes her mind or weather is an issue.
Good sleep for Nanci the night before each treatment.
Minimal side effects.
Effectiveness of the treatment, that these remaining cancers would be eliminated.
Thanks do much for your friendship and prayers over these last 3 years! You mean so much to us!
Praise be to the Lord, for he has heard my cry for mercy. The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7
Nanci’s Test Results: Good News!
Journal entry by Randy Alcorn — November 21, 2020
The MRI showed nothing abnormal. The CT scan found no new cancer or nodules. One of the remaining nodules that’s believed to be malignant did not grow in the last three months. The other grew only 1 mm, a very small amount.
The test of the original cancer site in the colon showed no indication that cancer has returned.
While we continue to pray for complete healing, the very small growth of the existing cancer and the absence of new occurrences are cause for great celebration! ????
We believe God heard the prayers of His people and we thank you with all our hearts for lifting up Nanci as you did. As you think of it, please continue to pray for her!
With Thanksgiving upon us, our hearts are truly filled with gratitude to our God! Lord willing, she will not be in the hospital this Thanksgiving as she was last year!
Hopefully, this good news will mean no more procedures or treatments for at least three months. So it may be that long before you receive another Caring Bridge message from us.
I’m sorry that we don’t see most of you often, especially in the era of Covid. But we hope and pray you will have a Joyful Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!
Randy, with much love from Nanci too
The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights. Habakkuk 3:19
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations. Psalm 100:4-5
More tests Monday & Thursday
Journal Entry by Randy Alcorn — November 15, 2020
It’s test time again for Nanci. Monday, tomorrow, she has both a CT scan and a MRI.
Please pray that there are no new occurrences of cancer, and that the two tiny nodules in her lungs that we already know of have either disappeared or, if not, have not grown.
Thursday she has a flex-sig (a kind of mini-colonoscopy) to determine if the original cancer site is still free of any recurrence.
Nanci and I are both deeply thankful for your prayers. She continues to trust God for her daily needs. She has noticed the difference from losing some of her lung function due to her two surgeries, but is slowly adjusting. Having to wear a mask when she ventures out has made it much more difficult to catch her breath. Prayer appreciated for that.
We will post her test results when we receive them. We hope to know where we stand by the end of this week.
Fortunately in another sense we already know where we stand, by the grace of our loving and sovereign Lord:
“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” Job 42:2
Test Results and Prayer Requests
Journal entry by Randy Alcorn — September 9, 2020
We met yesterday with Nanci’s oncologist to discuss the results of her CT scan. There is no indication of lymph node involvement, and there are no new growths detected anywhere at this time. That is very good news!
Two nodules in her lungs which we were already aware of have grown from 4mm to 6mm. That’s a very small and slow growth, so the recommendation is once again to “watch and wait” until the next test in three months.
We are profoundly grateful there are no big changes and that Nanci does not have to return to chemo, radiation, or surgery at this time. We totally trust God’s providence, and celebrate his purposeful sovereignty over all things. But we also believe He invites us to pray as we feel led, so we continue to pray for complete healing for Nanci.
Another prayer request is that our spirits and bodies will be refreshed. These last two and a half years have taken a cumulative toll physically and emotionally. We have not been able to do some of the things that commonly renew our spirits. And though the weather has been beautiful, and we’ve enjoyed being outdoors, we are feeling the countdown toward greater confinement indoors.
We are certainly far better off than most of the world, but between the cancer and COVID, a number of options have been closed to us. As many of you know firsthand, the combination of COVID limitations and health struggles is becoming wearisome. (Within the last hour we became aware of the fact that our dear friends, Ron and Kathy Norquist, and Norman Norquist, have had to evacuate their homes east of Sandy, Oregon, due to forest fires, and I’m sure others receiving this update are in the same position. Praying for you!)
Please pray that God will sustain, uplift and refresh both Nanci and my bodies, minds, and emotions. I just prayed that same thing for all of YOU as well, since we are not alone, we are the family of God. Nanci and I both thank you for your love and prayers, and we cling to the blood-bought promises of God in verses such as these:
The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, And His sovereignty rules over all. Psalm 103:19
But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary;they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13
You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. Psalm 63:1
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. Isaiah 43:2
CT Scan Wednesday Sept 2
Journal Entry by Randy Alcorn — August 30, 2020
Dear Praying Friends,
Nanci is scheduled for her next CT scan this Wednesday. They will look for any new detectable cancer in her body.
As shared previously, her surgery 3 months ago was successful in removing all the cancerous nodules from her lungs, which was cause for rejoicing. However, her upper right lobe, which was completely removed, contained some lymph nodes which were cancerous. That could likely indicate lymph node involvement elsewhere.
Please pray that her scan on Wednesday is clear from any new signs of cancer. Of course, we continue to pray for her total healing and removal of all cancer.
Nanci says, “My trust in God’s wisdom and sovereign care has not wavered. I’m confident that the Lord has my best interests in mind with whatever lies ahead.” I can vouch for the remarkable closeness to the Lord Nanci has daily demonstrated. She continues to be a great example for me in these 2.5 years of uncertainty, where we have been trusting the One who is 100% certain!
Words can’t express the depth of our gratitude for your love and prayers. THANK YOU! Here’s some great encouragement about the power and love and promises of God as you pray for Nanci and for the great burdens in your own life and those you love, as well as the turmoil of our nation and the whole world:
He has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:26-29)
God has said, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” ...Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:5-8)
Grateful, But Still Praying for a Miracle
Journal entry by Randy Alcorn — July 1, 2020
What we didn’t learn until ten days after the surgery was the pathology report showed that of 6 lymph nodes around those nodules, 3 were cancerous. Obviously “cancer in the lymph nodes” are not words anyone wants to hear.
The initial information was that Nanci would begin six months of chemotherapy. But rather than sharing that on CaringBridge, we decided to hold off until the OHSU “tumor board” could meet and evaluate Nanci’s case. (In these last 2.5 years we have often seen diagnoses and plans change so we hate to speak prematurely.)
Sure enough, the tumor board recommended that Nanci hold off on the chemotherapy to give more time for her recovery and to see what happens next. We just met with Nanci’s oncologist this afternoon. She says that Nanci should have a CT scan in early September and an MRI in December. Rather than fill her body with the toxicity of chemo, they will watch and wait until it’s obvious what treatment decisions, if any, should be made. The doctor says the cancer continues to move slowly, and the “slowly” part is good news.
Just to make it clear, however, the doctors are not giving us a high chance of Nanci winning the battle against this cancer. Nanci has asked me to lay this out to you and to request that you pray directly for a miracle of healing. It appears now a miracle is what it will take.
We continue to trust in the Lord and wait upon Him, but our prayer is still for complete healing. We know many of you have been praying that all along. In all the prayers for successful surgeries and treatments, we have never given up on seeking healing, and we thank you for joining us in asking for God’s miraculous intervention in Nanci’s behalf.
We believe your prayers are precious to God, and they are precious to us. We will trust our loving King no matter how He answers, but that’s what our hearts desire.
We just can’t express how much that you and your love and your prayers have meant to us. Thanks doesn’t seem enough to say, but we do extend our heartfelt gratitude both to God and to you. We love Him above all and we very much love you too!
“The lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him… The LORD has established His throne in the heavens; And His sovereignty rules over all.” Psalm 103:17, 19
Randy & Nanci
Nanci is home and doing well!
Journal entry by Randy Alcorn —June 10, 2020
This was Nanci’s second full day home from the hospital, and we are both just loving it! It was pretty tough not to be able to see each other for 5 days but we phoned and texted and made the best of it.
Nanci’s pain hasn’t been bad even since switching today from the big gun pain meds to Tylenol. I got her a walker that she loves, very stable and because she’s confident with it she's managed to do some laps around living room, dining room and kitchen!
Nanci is very tired yet very happy. She sends her greetings and thanks! Since it was a major surgery, recovery won’t be quick. The recovery time is uncertain but we are in it for the duration and are trusting our Lord. We are profoundly grateful for how He answered your prayers and ours in her surgery outcome!
Thanks so much for your prayers that she’ll recover well and regain strength and energy and that the cancer will not return.
I’m pretty tired myself and would appreciate your prayers that I can sleep well and balance my responsibilities and be the best caregiver for her I can be (that’s the priority right now).
We know our God and King is more than worthy of our trust and we praise Him for His sovereign grace! We can’t express how much you and your prayers have meant to us. THANK YOU!
“Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD himself, is my strength and my defense ; he has become my salvation.” Isaiah 12:2
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.” Isaiah 26:3-4
June 04, 2020 Surgery was successful!
Journal entry by Randy Alcorn
”The LORD is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble, And He knows those who take refuge in Him.” Nahum 1:7
“How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you.” Psalm 31:19
"O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him!" Psalm 34:8
Lung surgery June 4
Journal entry by Randy Alcorn — May 20, 2020
Nanci is scheduled for surgery at OHSU June 4th. Her thoracic surgeon will try to get all four nodules out in that surgery. This was very good news and surprising since we had recently been told that one of the nodules might not be able to be removed during this surgery, and might require radiation treatments instead.
If all four nodules are successfully removed, it would leave her body with no detectable cancer. To say the least, this would be wonderful! Of course, tests would still be done regularly to watch for any signs of recurrence.
This surgery is extensive enough that it will involve a challenging time of recovery. Still, Nanci thinks it will be less taxing in the long run than more radiation and/or chemotherapy. She hopes to be able to enjoy a good part of the summer!
COVID restrictions will bring some challenges. On June 4 I will need to drop her off at the door to the hospital and then leave. I can’t enter the hospital and be in a waiting room. Leaving her alone would be unthinkable in normal times, but we all know these times aren’t normal!
However, we are leaning on what Scripture teaches us, that Nanci is NEVER alone. Jesus promises to be with us always, he will never desert or forsake us, he calls himself our Friend, and not only do he and the Holy Spirit indwell us, they both intercede for us. Nothing shall separate her or me or any of God’s children from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord!
So since only one person who knows her can be with Nanci in that hospital we’re VERY thankful it is the One who knows her best, loves her most and is in charge of not only her life but the entire universe!
Nurses will be in contact with me by phone regarding the surgery’s progress, and the surgeon should call me afterward. Other than on FaceTime, the girls and I can’t see her again until she’s discharged, and she’s brought outside so I can take her home. No visitors at home either. Our daughter Angela, who’s a nurse, can come over, masked, to check on her and her vital signs. Since COVID-19 attacks the lungs we need to take greater precautions than most.
Of course I am glad to clear my schedule to be her primary caregiver, which is a privilege. Also, our golden retriever Maggie is a great therapy dog! ????
We don’t know how long recovery will take. Her last lung surgery kept her in the hospital two days and recovery was one and a half weeks. This surgery is considerably more extensive, as it will involve removing four nodules instead of one. It will require more time in the hospital, perhaps four days, and more time to recover from. A month? Six weeks? We’re not sure. (We’ve spent the last 2 1/2 years not being sure so we’re getting pretty good at it ????). Some will depend on the surgery itself and how smoothly it goes.
Our prayer is that the cancer can be completely removed without taking out any more of her healthy lung tissue than necessary. And that recovery will go well.
Nanci, as usual, has a very positive attitude and says, “I can’t wait to get this done!!!!!”
For those who want more specifics, her last long surgery was called a VATS. And this one is called a thoracotomy. Feel free to look them up! ????
Nanci says, “The surgeon might need to remove the upper right lobe, but he will try to preserve it. Two nodules are in the upper right, one in middle right, and one in lower right. That last one is the tricky one. He may need to leave it if he can’t feel it well enough to remove it safely. That is the biggest prayer request I have, that the fourth one can be successfully removed along with the others!”
Thanks so much for praying for Nanci, for me and our daughters Karina and Angela, and all our family. We continue to be touched by your prayers, notes and kindness to us.
I hope these verses mean as much to you as they do to us:
"Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10
“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you." Deuteronomy 31:6
"The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing." Zephaniah 3:17
Jesus: “I am with you always, to the end of the age." Matthew 28:20
May 08, 2020
Journal entry by Randy Alcorn
May 1 Update: Major Tests on Tues, Weds & Fri
Journal entry by Randy Alcorn
After months of waiting, next week is a really big one for Nanci, involving three trips to hospitals and/or doctors’ offices for some very important tests. We would deeply appreciate your prayers!
Tuesday May 5, 12:45-3:00pm PDT:
- CT Scan to check the status/growth of previously identified nodules in lungs, and to see if any other new growths have developed.
- MRI to confirm, we pray, that the original cancer in her colon has still not returned. However, Nanci says, “I have experienced one warning sign that the cancer may have returned in my colon.” Obviously, this is a big matter of concern to us that we ask your prayer for.
Wednesday May 6 morning:
Nanci gets a Covid 19 test. She has no symptoms, but this is standard procedure for patients undergoing anesthesia, which she will on Friday.
Friday May 8 noon:
Flex sig procedure to check the area of her original cancer. Previous tests have shown no sign of it returning there, but as mentioned above, there is recent reason for concern.
Friday 1 pm:
Discussion with lead doctor re: all test results and what might happen next.
Because of Covid restrictions, neither I nor anyone else can accompany Nanci into the hospital building for any of these procedures or appointments.
Nanci says, “It will be particularly difficult for me to be alone directly after the flex sig procedure on Friday. It is then that my lead doctor will have all of the week’s test results and will discuss them with me without Randy and our daughter Angela (who is a nurse) present in the room. I will have my phone on speaker during the discussion with the doctor so Randy and Angela, who will be parked nearby, can hear what he says. This will be necessary as I have a history of being pretty loopy after anesthesia.”
Prayer requests from Nanci:
- That I will experience God’s peace, especially
during the hour-long MRI, given my claustrophobia.
- That I will be alert and ready on Friday afternoon to receive the test results without the comfort of Randy being physically present.
- That the tests will reveal no new cancer.
- That the nodules in my lungs will have disappeared or at least not grown.
This is Randy again. Those are big prayer requests, but of course our God is infinitely big. We continue to pray every day for complete and total healing for Nanci. We haven’t given up on that. But we also pray if He doesn’t choose to dramatically or instantaneously heal her, that he would use any means, including medical, to stop the spread of cancer and minimize its negative impact.
I also ask prayer for Karina and Angie and their families, including our grandchildren, who love Nanci so much. This process is tough for them too.
Regardless of how He chooses to respond to these prayers, He is a good and sovereign God, a loving Father, and we fully trust Him and cling to his promises, including the following from Romans 8. We hope these God-breathed and blood-guaranteed words encourage you as they do us!
With deepest thanks, Randy & Nanci
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
...21 the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
...25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
...37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
March 11, 2020
Journal entry by Randy Alcorn
After many doctor appointments and much communication among her specialists, it has been decided that Nanci should not receive any treatments for now.
She will wait 3 months and then have another scan to see if more cancer cells have developed and if the two nodules in her right lung have grown.
This is good news! It means all doctors are considering the nodules in her lung to be non-aggressive enough to warrant the wait. The lung surgeon said he would not consider surgery at this point because the nodules’ current small size would prevent him from easily identifying and extracting them. The radiation doctor said the nodules are too small to safely target at this point. Her medical oncologist wants to wait to see if any progression occurs before doing chemo.
They all agree that waiting should not put her health at risk. In fact, submitting Nanci’s body to treatments (and their damaging effects) at this point might prove to be unnecessary if progression of disease does not occur.
So Nanci gets another 3 month’s reprieve! We are grateful, and thankful for the many prayers and we believe this is part of God’s answer.
While uncertainty continues on the temporal plane, certainty remains on the eternal plane. As Psalm 18 says, “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”
We wanted to share that God did another amazing thing yesterday morning before two of the appointments. Nanci read to me her day’s entry from Spurgeon, which came again at the best possible time, because of the anxiety she was feeling. She was dreading the probability that she would be headed back for more chemotherapy, which took a considerable toll on her last time around. She recorded her tough memories of what she had experienced, then wrote, “I feel weary to face all that once more. But again, God meets my needs. Here is today’s devotion from Spurgeon. Amazing!!!"
A cloud may sometimes hover over us, but we will not remain in darkness if we believe in Jesus. If we have faith then we have the privilege of sunlight – so let us enjoy it. From the night of doubt, of despair, of dread, Jesus has come to set us free... Shake off your depression, dear brother or sister. Do not remain in the dark, but remain in the light. In Jesus is your hope, your joy, your heaven. Look to him and him alone, and you will rejoice as the birds rejoice at sunrise and as the angels rejoice before the throne.
I can’t tell you what a wonderful way that was to start our day, knowing we had heard God speak to us with such encouraging words. Hope you find them helpful also.
Thanks so much again for your prayers for Nanci. If you could kindly continue praying for her health and healing over these next 90 days we would deeply appreciate it!
Randy (on behalf of Nanci, Angela and Karina and all our family)
February 27, 2020
Journal entry by Randy Alcorn
Regarding Nanci’s CT scan results, first there was some good news: nothing new was found in any other organs. The original tumor site in the lower colon is still clear. That’s cause for great gratitude.
Second, there was also some news for which we deeply appreciate your prayers: One of the nodules in Nanci’s lungs has grown from 2 to 5 mm, and a new 5 mm nodule has developed. (There are 3 other nodules which remained in her lungs after surgery and they have not changed.) We are grateful that the tests showed no large scale growth and movement, but we are obviously concerned.
Dr Herzig, Nanci’s lead doctor, is also head of the OHSU “tumor board” and he brought Nanci’s case to them today. (They are all experts in various fields and bring all their experience and wisdom to the table.) Dr. Herzig will also be consulting her oncologist as well as a senior pulmonary surgeon at OHSU to get their recommendations for treatment.
The tumor board members gave several recommendations, involving surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, with different possibilities as to which comes first. Nanci will be meeting soon with a new thoracic (lung) surgeon and a radiation oncologist to help determine the next steps.
Though this remains stage four cancer, Dr. Herzig says they are still working toward a cure, which they believe is still possible.
SO while we obviously would have preferred to hear the words “the cancer is gone” or “the cancer has shrunk” or even “nothing has changed,” we are very thankful that it has not spread widely and its growth hasn’t been great. We are still praying for a cure, asking God to intervene directly in complete healing, and if not, to use the medical means (which are part of his common grace) to eliminate the cancer.
Nanci is mostly positive about this, as there was concern that perhaps the cancer had spread to other areas of her body, and there is no indication of that. Her colon, where the cancer started, still appears to be cancer-free, suggesting her earlier chemotherapy and radiation were effective.
I want to share something wonderful that our God of providence did today. Nanci has been reading daily a book of devotions by Charles Spurgeon called The Promises of God: Discovering the One Who Keeps His Word. So this morning, as we awaited the call from her doctor, she read to me today’s entry, February 27. (Nanci said it was as if Spurgeon, and our God of sovereign grace, had written these words just for us.) We prayed together thanking God for His supernatural perfect timing of this post that spoke to our lives exactly where we were before the phone call came, and where we are now as well. We hope these words mean as much to you as they do to us:
“He shall not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord.” Psalm 112:7
Suspense is dreadful. When we have no news from home, we are apt to grow anxious, and we cannot be persuaded that “no news is good news.” Faith is the cure for this condition of sadness; the Lord by His Spirit settles the mind in holy serenity, and all fear is gone as to the future as well as the present.
The fixedness of heart spoken of by the psalmist is to be diligently sought after. It is not believing this or that promise of the Lord, but the general condition of unstaggering trustfulness in our God, the confidence which we have in Him that He will neither do us ill Himself nor suffer anyone else to harm us. This constant confidence meets the unknown as well as the known of life.
Let the morrow be what it may, our God is the God of tomorrow. Whatever events may have happened, which to us are unknown, our Jehovah is God of the unknown as well as of the known. We are determined to trust the Lord, come what may. If the very worst should happen, our God is still the greatest and best. Therefore will we not fear though the postman’s knock should startle us or a telegram wake us at midnight. The Lord lives, and what can His children fear?
Thanks so much for your prayers and love,
Randy and Nanci
December 24, 2019: A Christmas Update
Journal entry by Randy Alcorn
Their consensus was that before starting further treatment Nanci should wait two months and get another CT scan to indicate the possible progression of the spots on her lungs. Yesterday Nanci’s oncologist, who isn’t on the tumor board, expressed to Nanci, Angela and me her agreement that this is the best approach.
Because the spots are small and they are not causing any symptoms at this point (shortness of breath, pain, etc) they would like to keep her as strong and healthy for as long as possible before introducing the toxic effects of chemo to her body again.
They are also considering doing targeted radiation if only some of the spots grow. (They are currently too small for that.) This would minimize harmful side effects as well and give her body more of a chance to get stronger should further chemo be considered necessary.
This delay in starting chemo is encouraging for several reasons. First, the doctors do not believe the delay will have serious adverse effects. Second, Nanci will hopefully be able to feel better longer and increase her strength. Lord willing, she will also be able to go on a few trips she wants make that had been doubtful with impending treatment schedules.
Her next CT scan is scheduled for late February. If anything changes between now and then we will share it here on CaringBridge. Otherwise, our request continues to be that you join us in asking God for her healing, and for increased energy and strength in her daily life!
THANK YOU for your partnership in prayer. It means the world to Nanci and me and all our family.
Like many of you, Nanci and I have the joy of gathering with our precious family. On Christmas, I will pick up at the airport our oldest daughter Karina Franklin, and her husband Dan and three sons, Matthew, Jack and David. They will join Nanci and me along with our daughter Angela Stump and her husband Dan and their two sons, Jake and Ty. Nanci and I are thrilled!
No matter what troubles and distractions and weights are on you right now, we pray that you and we will experience a truly Jesus-centered Christmas. The holidays can be very tough, and they may be that for you right now. But Jesus is the one who can lift our burdens and brings us joy when our hearts are heavy. He says, “In the world you will have troubles; but be of good cheer: I have overcome the world!” (John 16:33)
“To us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” ―Isaiah 9:6
“A God who was only holy would not have come down to us in Jesus Christ. He would have simply demanded that we pull ourselves together, that we be moral and holy enough to merit a relationship with him. A deity that was an “all‐accepting God of love” would not have needed to come to Earth either. This God of the modern imagination would have just overlooked sin and evil and embraced us. Neither the God of moralism nor the God of relativism would have bothered with Christmas.” ―Tim Keller
December 7, 2019
Journal entry by Angela Stump
This means that we will be meeting with her oncologist and her original colon cancer doctor to come up with a plan, but we anticipate her starting chemo again once she's completely recovered from surgery, probably late January.
She is continuing to heal well, and is slowly feeling better each day. She's completely off pain medicine and has been sleeping better, no doubt because of your prayers! Please keep praying for continued energy and for strength--physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual--for the battle ahead.
As my dad has explained in past updates, this prognosis is not filled with hope. But this does not mean that we are not filled with hope. The "percentage of a cure" and "survival rates" do not have the power. We know the One who does. God is on the throne and the odds mean nothing to Him. So we pray with confidence, knowing that the God who created heaven and earth with simply a word is listening to us.
And yet we also pray knowing that even though He is fully capable of complete healing, our ultimate hope is not in this life. "My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness." God has already had victory over death. And it's because of Jesus' death and resurrection that we have hope not just in this life, but in the life to come. "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
The attached picture is of the Bible verses I've had on my fridge ever since we suspected that my mom's cancer may have returned. These truths are an anchor for my soul.
Day by day, we will speak truth to my mom, to ourselves, to each other and to anyone else who will listen! Thank you so much for your prayers. We will keep you posted along the way, and we'll continue to take one step at a time, and trust that God will give us grace for every one of them.
No Place Like Home
Journal entry by Angela Stump — November 30, 2019
There’s no place like home! Mom was able to be discharged early and is doing really well. In fact, today was her birthday and she was able to eat her traditional famous chocolate log birthday cake while sitting in her very own recliner.
Please continue to pray that her body heals well from this surgery and that she can get good rest (sleeping at night has been a little difficult).
She and my dad are so encouraged by your well wishes, your support and especially your prayers. Thank you dear friends!
Out of surgery
Journal entry by Angela Stump — November 26, 2019
Family and friends, thank you so much for praying for my mom today! She is out of surgery and still a bit groggy but she's doing well.
Her surgeon was able to remove 2 of the suspicious nodules WITHOUT removing an entire lobe of her lung! For those of you who are medically inclined--he did a wedge resection not a lobectomy :) This means that her recovery (that was expected to be 6-8 weeks) is now potentially only going to be 3-4 weeks instead.
Unfortunately the surgeon said that he is 95% certain these nodules are malignant. We were definitely aware this was likely the case, but the biopsy results will tell us for certain in about 7 days.
Most likely chemo will be the next course of action after she fully recovers from surgery, but we'll have to wait to hear from her oncologist and the surgeon managing her original colon cancer.
We deeply appreciate all your prayers. We'll continue to update you as she recovers.
November 25, 2019
Journal entry by Randy Alcorn
Thanks so much for your prayers for Nanci. She is feeling good, a real answer to prayer, and she is in good spirits! Her surgery is scheduled for 10:00 AM tomorrow, Tuesday. We are asking God for the best outcome, and are trusting in His sovereign love.
"The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him” (Psalm 28:7).
A Note From Nanci's Daughter
Journal entry by Angela Stump — November 23, 2019
Friends and family, thank you so much for your prayers for my mom! Her head cold has already improved, but please continue to pray she'll be 100% healthy for surgery on Tuesday.
I’ve had many people ask about tangible ways to care for my parents during this time, so I will update the "Ways to Help" tab on this website periodically, but I wanted to be sure to share this with you:
My mom's sister Donna will be staying with her for about a week after she's home from the hospital (starting 12/1) so she will take care of cooking for them initially, but they'll need help with meals in the following weeks. Instead of setting up a meal train, we decided it would be best for people to bring a freezer meal on any day that's convenient. That way they will have more flexibility on which nights they need/want help with dinner. I’ll be over there a lot so people can coordinate with me a time to drop food off (firstname.lastname@example.org).
All gift cards can be sent digitally to my email: email@example.com. I will keep them all organized for whenever they are needed!
Thanks again for your prayers and love for my mom and for our family. We are so very grateful.
November 21, 2019
Journal entry by Randy Alcorn
We just got back the second test results from yesterday. The good news is that the MRI shows the spot of the original cancer is still clean and there are no indications of disease. The challenging news is that the CT scan shows the nodules in Nanci’s lungs are still present, Some have remained the same size, one has grown and a new one has appeared in another lobe. This means the surgery scheduled for Tuesday, two days before Thanksgiving, is on.
We are very grateful that the cancer in her colon has not reappeared. The nodules in the lungs are not what we had hoped and prayed for, but our infinitely wise and loving God is on the throne and we trust Him. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9).
One important request, Nanci has had a head cold for five days, and while they prefer her to not have been sick for a week before surgery, they at least want to make sure she is well before the procedure. She will be calling in Monday to tell them how she feels.
We have been waiting a long time already and don’t want to delay the surgery more now that we know for sure it is necessary. So please pray that her cold would pass quickly and the surgery would happen Tuesday as scheduled.
Here are some notes Nanci shared with me from her journal:
“God is love.” 1 John 4:8 God continually gives of himself to others and seeks their benefit (ESV Study Notes).
The Father’s supreme gift of his Son sacrificed for us is itself the guarantee of his giving everything else to us which will demonstrate his love and ensure our benefit and our purposes to be filled. (Nanci’s notes on J.I. Packer’s chapter on the love of God in his book Knowing God.)
“Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?” Romans 8:32, NLT
We remain deeply grateful to God for His kindness and grace, and to you for your prayers and love. Thanks so much for walking this journey with us, precious friends.