My Story

Welcome to our CaringBridge site. We created it in August 2012 to keep family and friends updated on Carl's cancer journey. Carl lost his battle with cancer and went to his heavenly home on January 23, 2013. We appreciate your words of love here on the Guestbook. Click on Read My Story below for additional info. Thank you. - Marilyn, Greg, Lynée, Matthew, Braden, Camden, Justina, & Brandt

Carl had a melanoma cancer spot removed on his arm, along with the sentinel lymph nodes, in 2009. The lymph nodes were checked and cleared of all possible melanoma. As we've now learned, melanoma microbes can go undetected, skip lymph nodes, or remain dormant for years, lying in wait to metastasize...

Fast forward three years to July and August 2012. A kidney stone scan revealed nearby swollen lymph nodes, and a biopsy was recommended. The biopsy results showed a mass of melanoma in those lymph nodes. Carl's oncologist immediately ordered MRI and PET scans. Both showed 3 melanoma cancer tumors in his brain (2 large, 1 small). The PET scan showed lymph node areas affected by melanoma in the torso area. Surgery to extract the 2 large brain tumors occured on 8/21/2012, and Stereotactic RadioSurgery (a one-time pin-point radiation) for the smaller tumor on 9/12/2012.  Additional brain tumors found by MRI were radiated 10/24/2012. At the CU Anschutz Cancer Center Melanoma Clinic, Carl underwent three months of IV systemic immunodrug therapy as the only treatment option given, as standard chemo and radiation have not medically proven to be successful at this stage.

“'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,

Just to take Him at His word;

Just to rest upon His promise;

Just to know, Thus saith the Lord.

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him,

How I've proved Him o'er and o'er,

Jesus, Jesus, Precious Jesus!

O for grace to trust Him more.

”Proverbs 16:3: "Commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed. The Lord works out everything for His own ends." - Carl's life verse

My Dad was born on October 27, 1940, in Meade, Kansas, to a Mennonite pastor and school teachers, Jacob and Mary, who were also farmers. Dad is proud of his farm roots! He has two older sisters, Gerry and Pauline. After moving to various states, the family settled in Reedley, CA, near Fresno. That's when he met my mom...they were 12!

Dad spent two years studying music at Biola University in S.CA (my alma mater), and the last two at Tabor College in KS. He and my mom were married on August 11, 1961, between their jr and sr years of college. They both graduated from Tabor and went on to graduate school, my dad for music and my mom for elem ed. They ended up in Baltimore, MD, in 1966 where my Dad received his Doctorate in Music degree at Peabody Conservatory of Music at Johns Hopkins Univ. While he was studying there, he was Director of Admissions, Opera Director, and Voice Prof, along with singing opera and oratorio roles with many different companies.

I was born in 1969 and Greg in 1977 in Baltimore. In 1979, we moved to Louisville, KY, where Dad began the Sacred Music Drama program at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. It was there that he had inspiration to write and publish his book "Sacred Music Drama: The Producer's Guide." In 1983, we moved to Greeley, CO, where Dad took over as Director of Opera Theater, Voice Prof, and Graduate Student Advisor at the University of Northern Colorado. He retired from UNC in 2004. He also was the Conductor of the Greeley Chorale for 20 years, a 100-voice community choir that has taken many international tours.

He has been both a Visiting Fellow and Scholar at Cambridge Univ. England, and in 2010 received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Opera Association. Dad has done many other things, from guest directing and conducting to recently teaching voice in La Paz, Mexico, at their music academy. They have always loved the southern Baja region, and since having a home there in 1999, they have made every effort to spend as much time as possible vacationing in that beautiful area. The past 3 years in La Paz has especially taken them on a new journey of involvement in their local English church, mission ministries, and the La Paz music academy.

They are thoroughly enjoying retirement, which for my parents has never meant being a couch potato! My parents have also spent countless hours at Work out West in Greeley doing exactly that...working out! My Dad has always been in incredibly fit shape, playing college sports and running many miles a week. He is the strongest and most hard-working person I know.

We are thankful for all the vacations we've shared together over the years (we affectionately call those our "Gatherings"), with the most recent in June to the East Coast and Mexico over the holidays, and for all the blessings that have come from those.

Celebrating their 50th anniversary August 2011 with 161 guests in their home was a party never to be forgotten!!

DAD, WE LOVE YOU!  You were healed in HEAVEN on January 23, 2013.

  - Lynee Gerbrandt Graves


Marilyn Gerbrandt posted a new journal entry, "Almost a Year Later...".

As I look out towards the Sea of Cortez, I am reminded of the times spent walking on the beaches in Mexico over the past 29 years.  The water rises and recedes, just ... Read more

Carolyn Gage signed Carl's Guestbook.

I can say that I received a wonderful Christmas letter from you this year, Marilyn. Thank you!On the eve of the 1st anniversary of Carl being in Heaven, I think of you and ... Read more

Ila Leavy signed Carl's Guestbook.

Good to read your summary letter, Marilyn.  And as I told Jan at exercise this morning, I hope to see you at Chorale starting this week!  Here's to your next year - ... Read more

Larry & Stephanie Kraft signed Carl's Guestbook.

Dear Marilyn,This was beautiful to read and inspiring to meditate upon.  Your journey of grieving yet with hope fills me with admiration for you and gratitude to our good ... Read more

Judy Atkinson signed Carl's Guestbook.

Hi Marilyn your story is beautiful!  What a rich family life you had with Carl!  Now you will begin a journey to start a new one   I hope we can get together sometime. ... Read more

Laurie Guthmann signed Carl's Guestbook.

Dear Marilyn,Your anniversary letter to your friends and family was so beautiful and poignant.  Thank you for the role model and witness you continue to be in all of our ... Read more

Gary Gerbrandt signed Carl's Guestbook.

Good to read your words, Marilyn.  Family is so important; yours is a great witness to the Blessings from Jesus.  Thanks...Gary Read more

vergie amendola signed Carl's Guestbook.

Marilyn,Thanks so much for sharing the events of the past year.  You continue to be in my thoughts. Read more

Wilma Patzkowski signed Carl's Guestbook.

Marilyn,I was moved by your account of the last year and you expressed it so well.  Your life has changed, but with your belief in God and the support of your family, ... Read more

Rachel Ens signed Carl's Guestbook.

Thank you Marilyn for your new update on the past year.  I have thought of you and of Carl often, keeping up with you through your daughter's Facebook page.  May God ... Read more

Show more recent activity