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.