Friday, December 17, 2010

Blog Post #17

Dear Family and Friends,


Someone just pointed out to me that I hadn't posted since October 13th and that some of you out there still worry and check!   So, so sorry!


No news is very good news.   Mark continues to improve and get stronger.   We are still juicing and using supplements and other natural therapies.    I keep threatening to write up what we are doing in case anyone is interested for themselves.  


We love all of you.   I believe the most important thing we are doing is praying and exercising faith.   We surely appreciate all of your prayers on our behalf.  It's not over yet.


Love,  Laurel    

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Post #16

Oops!  I just read my last few blog posts and realized that I hadn't yet reported the results of Mark's last doctor's visit.    You may recall that he had the primary tumor removed some time ago.   There was no attempt to "get it all" as it was considered hopeless - the cancer had already spread.   The removal was "palliative," in other words, to make Mark more comfortable.    He finally went in for a post-op follow up.   The doctor was very surprised - surprised that the cancer had not progressed (or gotten worse) or regrown.    I wasn't surprised in the least, other than that the doctor was so willing to express surprise at how well our patient is doing!


Post #15

Well, we are proof that "no news is good news."    Mark continues to feel well.   He walks a couple of miles on most days.  His cancer symptoms are virtually gone.    We haven't had any medical tests to confirm that the cancer is gone, as it cost thousands to just to get to a diagnosis - with no treatment.    But feeling well and having no symptoms - that's saying something!    Thank you so much for your continued faith and prayers!   If any of you would like more details about Mark's diet and supplements, you can email me:   


Mark's struggle now is with Parkinson's disease.   It may seem strange, but if you google melanoma and Parkinson's, you will find that there is a significant correlation - almost two times the average occurance of one if you have the other.    You can guess where I am headed again - back into the medical research.

Did any of you know that I wanted to be a doctor when I was growing up?    I actually considered going to the Bastyr College of Naturopathic Medicine a few years ago, but decided that launching a new career was impractical.


We love and appreciate all of our wonderful friends.   Without you, our journey would not have been so successful.    Hugs for all of you.




Sunday, September 26, 2010

Post # 14

I thought all of you would enjoy reading Mark's essay which was recently published in the Deseret News.  Click on the following link to find it:



Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Post #13

Wow!   I came home last night and Mark said to me, "You know what I feel like?  ...... cancer?  What cancer?"    He really is feeling and acting like he is well and healthy.    Thank you, Heavenly Father! 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Post #12

Dearest Friends,


I haven't posted for a while because there is not much news to report.   Mark continues to get stronger and healthier!   Miracles and blessings - we are so grateful for each one, large and small - and so much more aware of the tender mercies of the Lord in our lives.   We are finding that completely trusting the Lord and surrendering our will to His, along with keeping grateful hearts, makes all the difference.   We are certainly grateful for each of you and your faithful prayers in our behalf.


We are also so thankful for all of the yummy and nutritious produce donated by many of our friends.   It is exactly the kind of nutrition Mark needs.   Thank you!   Thank you!


We have gotten the nutrition, supplementation, exercise and deep breathing down to a routine.   Mark is feeling well enough to be back at his writing and I am able to work effectively again.   Double yay!   Of course, we are not back to normal health-wise or other-wise, but we are getting there.   Please continue to keep us in your prayers.


Love and hugs,  Laurel

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Post #11

Dearest Friends,
God is a god of miracles. He loves each one of us with a love so perfect and sublime that it is beyond our comprehension. Every single day is a miracle for which we should give our grateful praise.

Living each day as if it were one of our last brings great spiritual blessings - blessings of emotional and spiritual healing, blessings of sweetened relationships, blessings of tender hearts and open, humble spirits, blessing of the Spirit.
I have seen great miracles happen in Mark's life and in my own soul. I will be forever grateful for this time in our lives. It could have become a time of fear and bitterness; but because of the goodness of the Lord, it has been a time when the blessings of the Atonement of the Son of God are manifest on our lives. Yes, we are seeing signs of physical healing taking place, but the spiritual blessings are so sweet that the physical pales in comparison. We are so grateful to our Heavenly Father and His Son - and to each of you for your faith and prayers. Laurel

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Post #10

Mark has decided that the projected results are not favorable enough to undergo chemotherapy.   Quality of life is important - especially if you want to use your time with family and finishing up important projects.   Chemo which is hoped to increase your life by 3-6 months, but which will make you exhausted and nauseated, does not promote the quality of life Mark desires.

That does not mean that Mark has given up - quite the contrary!    We are doing everything we can to boost his immune system, and his body seems to be responding.     He has also received several Priesthood blessings and many, many of you are keeping him in your prayers.   We are encouraged and hopeful and grateful.

We have enjoyed immensely the visits from all of Mark's eleven children who are spread far and wide across this continent.   How fortunate and blessed we are!

We so appreciate your continued prayers on our behalf.    Please keep up the good work - we believe it is working!

Love, Laurel

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Addendum to Mark's "Last Testimony"

As of today, July 11, 2010, I am a five-week cancer survivor, and I’m still learning lessons of life.  When I am not unworthy, the Spirit of God is my constant companion and comfort, but I don’t always feel it with the same intensity.  On two occasions in the past five weeks, however, I have felt the Love of God in an overwhelming way.  One of those occasions was the afternoon of June 10, when I wrote my ‘Last Testimony’ which Laurel posted in an earlier message.  The other special occasion was the morning of Saturday, June 20, the day of the annual local city parade.  I went outside to see Laurel, who was waiting to watch the parade, and two sisters from the Second Ward told me, “You look really good; you are glowing.”   I don’t know what was externally visible to them, of course, but I know I was glowing internally with an overwhelming sense of God’s love for me.  Here’s what I learned from reflecting on these two experiences:

*When you’re wrapped in the arms of God’s love, it’s impossible to feel sorry for yourself—you just can’t do it.  The love of God is fulfilling—it eliminates grievances and douses feelings of deprivation.  

*When  you’re in the love of God, you can’t feel resentment toward others, or hostility to anyone.   When you are loved so completely and unreservedly, all you can do is respond in kind.   It’s simple: when you’re loved by God, you want others to be loved, too.

*When you’re in the love of God, you can’t be critical of others, only generous and forgiving.  Now, I’ve been guilty all my life of sins—large and small, both of commission and omission.  But in the time I spent caught up in the love of God, I heard nothing of that.  Instead, it was all positive:  I was shown the good things I’d done and all I wanted was to do more.  Instead of being reminded of my weaknesses and doubts, I was reminded of what I’d done to receive ‘a testimony,’ the Holy Spirit’s witness of the truth, and the times I’d been faithful to that truth.  Now, there may yet be a time for judgment.  But that judgment is sure to be based on a complete inventory of, and generous assessment of, all my strengths and accomplishments.  Most importantly, it will be done with love, based on the love of God for me.

*When you’re in the love of God, you can’t blame others because you can feel only gratitude in response.  There’s nothing to blame anyone for—everything is good!  When what you have is not just sufficient but abundant, actually in surplus, you can’t complain.  And you want to share, to be generous with others, when you are faced with such plentitude.

*When you’re in the love of God, there’s no need to sin.  I’ve learned, not from God’s love but from life, that we mortals sin because we nurse petty grievances, and justify ourselves in favored self-indulgences even though we know, in our better moments, that they not good for us, that they hurt, or cause us to neglect, others—in other words, that they are wrong.  So, everybody who sins has an excuse.  When we believe our own excuses, we are trapped; lying to others is bad, but it’s the lies you tell yourself and believe that destroy  your happiness and cripple you—all this I learned from living life outside the love of God.  What I learned from being inside that love on these two occasions is that we don’t need any of this—we can do without our grievances, our self-justification and our excuses, and be happy.

Now, I know that these five points are not mere illusions because my experience has changed me.  Since being in the love of God on these two recent occasions (which were a renewal of a few previous such experiences), I have lost my self-pity and hostility, I feel to be less critical of others, do not feel the need to blame others, or to indulge myself in sin.  I’m not yet perfected in these ways but I can see the change clearly, and that’s how I know these things are true, and the Love of God is real. May you feel it, too!     Mark

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Post #8

Today, July 9th, we spent the afternoon in the Huntsman Cancer Center.   It is everything it is advertised to be.   The staff is absolutely kind and helpful; the facility is beautiful and state-of-art; there is a library full of resources for patients and their families.   Each patient is assigned a team of professionals, including a social worker who is charged with getting the patient any needed emotional, spiritual and social support.    Of course we told the social worker that we had an amazing network of supportive friends and family.   We are so blessed!

The tumor was C-kit negative, which means that Gleevec (which has the best success rate of all options) will not be effective against Mark's particular form of melanoma.    And I guess that is the really bad news:   Mark's type of melanoma is rare, having started in the mucosal membranes.   There are not nearly as many options for treatment as with the usual type of melanoma.     At stage IV, the doctors say that it is not curable, but that it can be treated.   Treatments are hoped to extend life a few more months.

The next step is to do a BRAF test on the tumor.    BRAF (whatever kind of chemo that is) is the next best choice; it shrinks a tumor in 70% of patients, but the tumor generally comes back in 7-9 months.   Other possible chemo drugs proposed have a history of shrinking tumors in 15% of patients, with a re-occurance of tumor growth in 3-6 months.  Doesn't sound very promising to me, and the thought of having nausea and other side effects for so little gain doesn't sound like a good trade-off.    

Additionally, Dr. Grossman ordered more of some of the same kinds of scans and tests done last month.    He wants to see if there is any change in the spot found on the spleen.   If it has grown, then the idea is that the cancer has spread and surgery would be pointless.   If it has shrunk, then Dr. Grossman would question whether or not the spot found on the spleen is actually the cancer (I would say it is all the good nutrition and Mark's body fighting back).   In that case (deciding it is not cancer), they will proceed to test a spot found on the thyroid, which could actually be a nodule commonly found on people without cancer.    If both spots turn out not to be cancerous, then the proposal would be to do a radical surgery, removing much of Mark's natural plumbing, along with lymph nodes and surrounding tissue.    Of course, it is yet to be seen if Mark would  agree to all of that.   My own gut feeling is that the thyroid spot is not cancerous, but that the spleen is.   However, I would not be surprised to find that the spleen spot has shrunk because we are fighting hard to stimulate Mark's immune response. 

To summarize what I think the doctor said today:   1)  Mark's best chance at survival is if the cancer really isn't stage IV and hasn't spread as far as originally thought.   They are willing to do more tests before they rule that out.   If the new tests show that Mark is at a lesser stage, they would want to cut out as much tissue as possible, which would mean a colon bag and possibly five more years.    2)  If Mark is really at a State IV, then they would propose a few (limited choices available) chemo options which may add a few months  to the year or so they think he has without treatment.   3)  Mark should eat whatever he really likes, because it is important that he keep from loosing weight and besides, he should do what makes him happy and comfortable.   In other words,  "Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow . . . .".

In spite of the very bad news, I really liked the doctor and all of the rest of the team.   They really seemed to care and I liked the fact that they were honest and straight-forward in approach.    However, I believe there is another side to the story - and that is that Mark seems to be doing better.   He has more energy, he no longer deals with bleeding, his color is better and some of the melanoma spots which I have personally observed have disappeared.    These new tests may confirm my own observations. 

I've said it before, and I really mean it - I truly believe in miracles.   I believe they can come in answer to prayer, provided that it is in the Lord's plan.    I also believe that we need to do our part.   And that is just what we are doing, praying and changing diet and doing whatever else we can to support and encourage Mark's body to heal.   Mark is in the care of the Great Physician and we trust Him with all of our hearts.    We will also accept whatever His will is for our lives because we know and trust that He will continue to love and bless us in the ways that are best for us.     Please continue to pray for us - we so appreciate and need your love and support.     Love,   Laurel 

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Post #7

Well, I guess this entry is to let all of you know that we don't know anything more.    We went to a doctor's appointment on Monday (6/28), waited 3 1/2 hours in the doctor's office, only to find out that the lab results are still not ready, and that therefore the doctor can't tell us anything more.   Doctor Noyes did tell us that he is referring us to another doctor over at the Huntsman Cancer Center.    I don't know if that is bad or good, in light of the fact that Dr. Noyes is recognized as the expert.    Does he think this case is hopeless or does he think Mark needs some kind of experimental therapy?    I've decided to be grateful that we have more time to strengthen Mark in ways that medical science doesn't recognize prior to any medical therapy which will be hard on his immune system.

In spite of all of that, we are feeling very hopeful.   Mark's energy has increased, perhaps due, at least partially, to really good nutrition.   Yesterday he visited a friend of ours, Cliff Dunston, who gave him an energy session and cleared blockages in the lympatic system.    Mark felt much better after the session.      

We've had many spiritual blessings and we are very grateful.   Mark has also had numerous visits from his children and grandchildren.   I notice a distinct lightening in his mood and energy when he gets such a visit.  I've actually seen him laugh - he so enjoys his grandchildren.

We are also very grateful to all of you who have lent a helping hand and for all of your prayers on our behalf.  We know the prayers are making a BIG difference, so please don't grow weary and keep remembering us in your prayers.    

Love to you all, Laurel

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Post #6

Well, everything came out in the end (pun intended).   What I mean to say is that Mark's surgery is behind us; they removed the golf ball sized tumor which alerted us to his condition in the first place.  He is home and walking around saying, "I have a new lease on life!"  Of course the cancer is still in his body, so your prayers are still very needed and very much appreciated. 


Many thanks to all of you who helped till the weeds under in the garden - we feel loved - a nice miracle all in itself.    May God's grace shine on all of you who are helping and praying for us.   You are the best!



Friday, June 11, 2010

Post # 5

Today we saw the proctologist/surgeon who scheduled Mark for surgery on next Tuesday, June 15th.   The purpose is to make Mark more comfortable (they called it "palliative") and they acknowledge the impossibility of removing all of the cancer.    That means it will be a simple procedure with a minimum of down-time.   He also gets to keep all of his natural equipment (yay!).    They will then also have the tissue to test for the effectiveness of the chemo drug mentioned earlier.


We are also talking about the difficult personal, legal and financial decisions so that we can put those worries and concerns aside and focus on healing.    It reminds me of a sweet lady who left my office after signing her will.   She said, "Now I know I'll live much longer - I can feel my blood pressure going down just knowing this is done."


Even though we haven't been able to reply to each of you, we sincerely thank all of you who have taken the time to write words of encouragement.    It is truly appreciated and helps us keep our spirits up.   We love you!  







Thursday, June 10, 2010


Dear Children, Siblings, Family - and to whomever reads this message:

Perhaps it's now time to say "good-bye."  I've been given a diagnosis of stage IV malignant melanoma, originating in the rectum and spread to the groin and probably beyond.   It does not show signs of having spread to the lungs or brain, so I've time to fight back---- and I will.   Laurel is helping me.  I've also some time to write, perhaps, so I will continue my writing as long as I can.  But my time may be short, so I'm writing my last testimony first, and will send it out or ask my father or Laurel to distribute it as appropriate.

First, I know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.  I know this by the witness of the Spirit that burns brightly in my own soul.   He loves you more than you might know.  I know that because I have felt his love.  I have felt his love for some of you, and as a result I have been able to learn to love you more, to forgive, to be more compassionate and less critical.  He is the great Righteous Judge, and judge he will, but he is never critical, always compassionate.   One thing Jesus Christ does that I'm still learning is that he rules only with a gentle, not a heavy, hand.  He only intervenes in our lives when we request it, or when it is necessary for a greater good.  I'm still learning that:  the other day I heard somebody say something I didn't like on the radio and wrote to them critically; naturally enough, my effort was wasted.   The Lord acts decisively but he is patient, and does not waste his effort.  My faith in Jesus Christ tells me that ultimately the meaning of my life will be judged by One who is both all-knowing and infinitely merciful -- now that's reassuring!  May his Kingdom come, may his Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.  Amen. 

Second, I know that God speaks to prophets.  Last winter I spent a couple of months going through Isaiah with a study guide, Avraham Gileadi.  And my soul thrilled to the message of Israel dispersed and then restored.  I have spent a good deal of my life studying all the prophets with Hugh Nibley, who I'm convinced understood their message to this world as well as anyone ever did.  And God has communicated his mind to many persons not usually considered "prophets," in diverse places and at sundry times in human history, persons who made extraordinary exertions in behalf of the vision of the truth God granted them.  I have spent long hours studying this history with another teacher, Mircea Eliade, and thrill to the message God has given all of them -- that there is a discernable Order in the universe and a comprehensible Meaning in life, that our actions matter because there is a Right and a Wrong, and that striving for the Good as did the Man of LaMancha (sing it!) is the greatest possible kind of life.

Most important are the living prophets.  In my lifetime my soul has thrilled to the messages of many who I know were prophets, from David O. McKay to Thomas S. Monson.  The two great prophetic messages of my lifetime have been that of Spencer W. Kimball on idolatry in June, 1976 and the April, 1989 message on pride by Ezra Taft Benson.  I know with every bone in my body that these two, and many other, messages of living prophets in my lifetime were from God and are precious beyond anything material we could possilby own.

I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet.  In 2008-9 we all read Teaching of the Presidents of the Church - Joseph Smith, and as I read that work weekly, I found in every chapter words which seemed to leap off the page shouting "Truth! Truth! Truth!"  Joseph Smith was a prophet - my last dollar is bet on it.  And the Book of Mormon is true; the Spirit tells me so when I read it.  It also has important messages for our time.  Remember it was the pride of the Nephites which led to their destruction (Moroni 8:27).  Greed, immorality, ignorance, injustice -- all these are bad but it is pride which leads to destruction.  Beware, because we live in a time of increasing pride, a time when swollen egos are willing to appear on TV and radio announcing that they have all the answers to every question and that anyone who disagrees with them is an idiot.  Eschew that kind of pride and cultivate temperance, and respect for others.  Instead of demonizing or ridiculing, embrace the Other.

The fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is defined distinctly in three passages of the Book of Mormon: 
II Nephi 31: 2-21; III Nephi 11:32-39 and 27: 13-21.  I know with all my heart that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is true.  I know this by witness of the Spriit of God in my heart and mind.  And I know it with every rational faculty of my mind.  For those with a philosophical inclination, something I've long had, who wonder how a person can make such knowledge claims, I have written an extended reply in my essay "Science, Zen and Mormonism," which Daniel Peterson has requested permission to post on the website "Mormon Scholars Testify." (   I've made some effort to understand the issue of epistemology, how we may justify knowlege claims, and offer this to seekers and skeptics alike.

I have asked some of my children the question "Would you rather have an undeniable knowledge that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is true, or an unquenchable hope?"  And I have always told them that knowledge is good but hope is better because while knowledge waxes and wanes, hope motivates and "springs eternal."  Today as I stand as it were with one foot in the grave, my heart is full of a fiery hope.  I have faith in the power and love of Jesus Christ, hope that Jesus will guide me into eternal life, and charity for all who read this message -- may the Spirit burn in your bosom, too, confirming that my witness is true.   Mark

Post #3

We saw Dr. N on Tuesday, had all the tests yesterday, and now have results.  To quote Mark:

"Got the results of tests from Dr. Dirk Noyes this morning: I have Stage IV melanoma, spread from rectum to groin and probably pelvis and spleen.  But there's no sign of it in lungs or brain, so I probably have some time to fight back.  They think my chances make me worth at least a surgery to remove the primary tumor in my rectum, so they're referring me to a proctologist, Dr. Michelle Murday, to do that.  They will then test the removed tumor to see whether a drug called 'Gleevec' will help me or not.  That's the best I can tell you right now.   I appreciate your messages and best wishes."

Okay, you may all think bad news:  it's spread.   Well, we were expecting that, given it is in the lymph nodes, so we are saying, "Yay!  It's not in the brain or lungs! See, miracles already!"    

Mark and Laurel

Post #2

Mark's brother, Seth Riddle, is a respected physician.   Of course we called him and he got right to work getting us into the the best doctor for melanoma - Dr. Dirk Noyes.   Dr. N's receptionist was very surprised to see us Tuesday morning, as she said it usually takes weeks to get an appointment.    We later found out that not only had Seth made the referral, but also making the referral were Dr. Dickinson (the one who recognized the tumor for what it was) and Dr. Jones (the emergency room doctor).    All three doctors pointing to the same expert and calling independently of one another to get Mark scheduled in with Dr. Noyes certainly had the desired effect!   It also gives us confidence in Dr. Noyes.   

Unlike his ambivalent name, Dr. No-yes had no doubts.    He confirmed the diagnosis and further confirmed that the cancer was spread to the lymph nodes in the groin.   He ordered a chest x-ray, blood work, an MRI and a PET scan.    Quoting from Mark's email to his children Wednesday June 9:

"Today was a great experience for me--I got to experience both an MRI and a PET-scan.  These are amazing machines--my hat is off to the great scientists, engineers and technicians who conceived of, designed and built these marvelous machines.  If you don't know what they are, take the time to inform yourself with a Google search.  And Spencer can tell  you about the MRI.  I hope to know tomorrow or Friday, from today's tests, how far the cancer has spread.  That will then determine what the doctors think they can do for me.

In the meantime, we are doing what we can by eating a juice and soft food diet.  Laurel is juicing fruits and veggies for me.   And we are praying and asking for a miracle."

Yes, I am making a big mess in the kitchen juicing for Mark.   I had a long talk with Dean and Ann Richards before they left for Alaska and they shared the recipies Dean had developed based on his research.   Daily doses of those, along with Noni juice, lots of prayer and good doctors are what Dean credits with his cancer recovery.   Many of you probably know that Dean is a bio-chemist.    He took the latest research and put it to practical use.   I also have been given other very good advice about natural remedies which have helped other people I know.   We plan to use all of the tools our Heavenly Father makes available to give Mark the best chance, including medical science and natural alternatives to boost the immune system.   Keeping an active hope is also important.   We are prepared for the worst, but hoping and working for the best.    Help us pray for a miracle!
Laurel & Mark

Dear Family and Friends

Dear Family and Friends,

Some of you may have already heard, others not, that my husband, Mark, has been diagnosed with stage IV maligant melanoma.    It most likely did not start suddenly, but we became aware of it suddenly.    Melanoma is a very agressive form of cancer and early detection is vital.   Unfortunately, Mark's started in his rectum, and I must admit, neither he nor I checked that area for such a thing.

Mark has been feeling poorly for some time.   You may have noticed that he didn't plant a garden this year.   That is a first for him in all of his adult life, and most of his teen years.    After some urging from me and his parents, Mark went in for a  colonoscopy, the results of which were misinterpreted.   Fortunately, the doctor who was to do some follow up treatment for what we were told were internal hemorroids, recognized the tumor for what it was and did a biopsy.    We were to get the results Monday of this week (June 7th). 

When I left church as the sacrament was just starting last Sunday (June 6th), it was in response to a call from Mark saying he had called 911 because of profuse bleeding (from the tumor).    The emergency room doctor was able to access the biopsy results and we learned of the diagnosis in the emergency room.   In the emergency room, Mark received a beautiful and comforting blessing from his home teacher, Greg Hall, with Paul Allen assisting.   He also received a father's blessing from his father, Chauncey Riddle.     We later left the emergency room feeling the Lord's love and with the companionship of His Holy Spirit.

The last few days have been full of tests and more tests, the results of which I will share in the next message.   We have received many phone calls and visits expressing love and support.   How we appreciate all of you!   Please keep praying for Mark - for all of our family.   It really makes a difference.    I have felt my burden lifted again and again and believe it is the result of anwered prayers. 

We believe in miracles.    We are asking for a miracle.   Whatever happens will be a miracle because we know without a doubt of the Lord's love.   There is no hardship so great that His power can't reach us.   We feel it.   We know it.  We rejoice in it.    We are willing to accept the Lord's will and submit our lives to His care, either here or on the other side.   We believe, however, that Mark's mission here is not yet over and look forward with hope and faith. 

More later.    We love you all.