Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Watch and Wait

Hello from the end of fall, beginning of winter. Our temps have been in the 30’s and it won’t get much better until next spring, I’m afraid. We’ve been working in the yard to get everything put away for winter and the snow shovels out and ready for action. We wait for the stillness of winter, a time to reflect and relax, even with the busy holidays coming soon. Thanksgiving is two weeks from tomorrow and Christmas is but four weeks after. Oh, and the paper mentioned this morning that in one week, Alaska will have its last sunset of 2008.

If winter is slumber and spring is birth and summer is life, then autumn rounds out to be reflection. It is a time when the leaves are down and the harvest is in and the perennials are gone. Mother Earth has closed up the drapes on another year and it’s time to reflect on what’s come before. Mitchell Burgess

Although glad for the grain, we areAware of the husk.And winter closes on us like a shroud. - Philip Larkin

This is an odd time for Deb and me. When she doesn’t feel well, she suspects the worse possible causes. Of course she does. My guess is that anyone in similar circumstances would feel the same, have the same fears. But it does fray our otherwise ebullient nature.

The psychology of this time for us is interesting to me, certainly a lay person without any special knowledge, but to see Deb question the very value of her life in reflection of her almost fifty years on planet Earth. What legacy will she have and what mark had she made in the lives of those family members and friends who have known her best?

We see ourselves as merely a tiny dot on the time line of forever, our coming and going causing not even a ripple and becoming a footnote in the family tree within a generation or two.

The real truth is that we know, with a certainty beyond words, our purpose here isn’t to invent a wonder drug or be famous or infamous, as the case may be, but to be the best friend, spouse, sibling, aunt or daughter possible, completing the task we were designed for at the creation of the universe.

So often I’ve compared my life to those others that I see as significant during my life, with the feeling that I’ve fallen short in my potential. Sort of weighed in the balance and found wanting, to coin a phrase. If only it were that simple. Some day, not here of course, we will finally see what our life has meant to others. What word spoken without thinking changed a life, what smile or hug, in a fleeting moment, given without thought, brought unusual joy to someone who desperately needed a lift just then.

So, we continue to pray for guidance, asking that we be given opportunities to help and love others. So they may know someone cares very much. For as we were created in the image of God, we pray that we emulate his love and caring in this sometimes unloving and uncaring world we live in.

May all who visit us here give thanks for the bounty we enjoy in America and celebrate the birth of a child over two thousand years ago who changed the world.

God Bless.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Happy Fall!

Hello everyone,

Deb’s medical exams continue to be unremarkable. She still visits the oncologist and surgeon every few months.

I’m reminded in this financial debacle that most of what we’re loosing is paper worth. Of course if your 63 like I am, the period for recovery is shorter, but most people will be able to ride this out and recover nicely.

The mind set we see too often now promotes hoarding our treasures. When I see what happened to my parent’s and grandparent’s property and stuff in just a short time after they left, I realize all over again that the things of this life are temporary and when we leave, everything goes back in the box, like finishing a game of monopoly. No matter how well you do in the game, the board is cleared when the game ends.

I have three treasures. Guard and keep them:The first is deep love,The second is frugality,And the third is not to dare to be ahead of the world.Because of deep love, one is courageous.Because of frugality, one is generous.Because of not daring to be ahead of the world, one becomes the leader of the world.

Lao-tzu (604 BC - 531 BC), The Way of Lao-tzu

This weekend looks to provide some hint of the weather to come. There will be days next March that fifty degrees will seem balmy, but not yet in October. The seventies and eighties are too fresh in our memory. The leaves are falling and soon everything will take on the gray of the season. We will revel in the solitude and peace of our winter cocoon for a few months until the promise of spring is realized in a riot of color and southern winds.


Friday, September 26, 2008

Good News

Hi everyone.

The dermatologist's office called Wednesday afternoon to say that all my pathology was negative for cancer. I have to keep using the cream for the spots on my arms and head, but there is no need for further surgery. I'll continue to get a general exam once a year.

So, I'm not sure what this means. Did they over diagnose? Did my hearing fail me that day? Did God miraculously heal me? I'm not sure I'll ever know but thanking God is never a bad idea, so Thanks, Dad.

Deb seems to be doing well, and both of us are enjoying this beautiful weather. It's the last really warm spell before fall, so with the temps in the mid to high seventies, and no rain, it is just a great time to be alive.

It's Friday and as most of you do, we are excited about two days to rest and recharge. Our prayer list keeps growing. Deb's Aunt Mary had her shoulder replaced last week and Georgi is still battling leukemia, while her husband isn't allowed to visit her because he has shingles.

Deb and I started large group studies with our church, The Chapel. Deb is doing the Beth Moore study and I'm doing Men's Fraternity.

Somewhere in your circle of friends and family, there is someone who would be thrilled with a call or visit from you. Don't delay because it's always later than you think. Hug your child or spouse for no reason except you love them. Let them be comforted by your approval, acceptance and love.

God Bless

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Not Just another Pretty Face anymore

Ok, now the secret is out. Today I went to the dermatologist, and was give the diagnosis of two kinds of skin cancer and an area on my arms and head that is pre-cancerous.

I have several patches of actinic keratoses on my arms and scalp, the earliest stage in the development of skin cancer. The treatment is with a topical chemotherapy to start. I’ll use it for three weeks and then be re-examined. Effudex maycause burning, itching and pain because my skin will become “very red, irritated and swollen” like a bad sunburn. Oh boy, that’s something to look forward to.

On my right cheek, I have a basal cell carcinoma. The doctor removed a lot of it today to have sent for a pathology report. Basal cell is the most common type of skin cancer,usually a small fleshy bump on the head, neck or hands. Yup, that’s what I had there.

Not to be a piker about this, I also have a patch of squamous cell carcinoma on the tip of my left ear.. That is the kind of cancer that can spread and is more likely to be a big deal if not treated quickly. A chunk of my ear was ripped off for a pathology screening. Well, it did seem like it was ripped off to me..

Within the next two weeks I’ll hear more and it’s possible I’ll need surgery, which will be an outpatient deal.

This all happened today, so with the bandages on my face, neck and ear; I look like I took second place in an ax fight.

I came home wanting to eat, I was so hungry. We have tomatoes out of the garden and fresh apple pie.

I’m not making light about this, but I’m confident everything will be fine and will work out soon. God is still in control, last I looked.

Deb is doing very well. She still works and cooks and does laundry and the other thousand things that make her so wonderful. She has her ups and downs too, but she is a rock.

We go to the Chapel now and have started to make friends and enjoy it much more. God is doing something special there.

We miss some of our old friends a lot, but hope to see them soon.

My buddy Jack had three surgeries in a month for cancer on his right hand. He seems to be doing well, but we still pray for him and Dee.

Kathy Adler, Ben, Eric and Uncle John all battle cancer too. We all need to pray for relief for them and peace for their families.

This is a time when all of us need to reach out to the suffering. A phone call, a letter or card, or most of all a visit and a hug would do more than any medicine for those who are hurt, ill, depressed or struggling with life in general.

More about Deb and Dan soon.

God bless everyone.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Staring into Space

Hi everyone,

Nothing earth shattering here. Deb visited the radiation oncologist, and he said he didn't want to see her again for a year. Things seem to be well, although you always have that feeling that something could be creeping up on you.

Kathi, my eldest is on Facebook, and put this quote on her site.

To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you've lived. This is to have succeeded. (Emerson)

Interesting. Do we take life so seriously because we're conditioned from childhood to worry about things. How much we weigh, our financial condition, our children's success, or lack thereof.

Why do we substitute another worry for one that resolves. And why do we worry about things that have such a low statistical probability of actually happening?

I'm sure as time move by we will get better at this worry thing. Deb's doing very well, and we thank God for his grace and mercy.

We tried to get a student this year but the school would only take the two already committed to RBCHS, so we will wait until next year. We get some great notes from some of the exchange students. Nele, Kathi's student from 06/07 wrote to me, a sweet note. Kathi is going to Germany (with Jim) in October and will visit Nele. Masha wrote to tell us about the Georgian crisis and relate some of the Russian spin. No matter where you go life spins.

Strider the wonder dog and Gabby still keep us amused. We have great friends, a terrific church and good jobs. Even with the long prayer list for all those who are ill, there are so many people we know that are doing fine.

Please share your love with others. Give out hugs like they were campaign promises, often and without thought. Call someone just to say hello. Make them smile.

God Bless.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Evil Empire

Hi Campers,

Nothing of substance to report. Doctor appointments continue to come and go, without much in the way of anything to report. But that's the point, isn't it? The sound of silence.

I've written before about the aches and pains that continue for Deb. Her left arm continues to bother her, and she has adjusted her use of the arm to the point where it's of little use for anything much. I see progress in all things, but there isn't much doubt that her focus is off, and so is her memory and stamina.

She continues to press forward like a trooper, still smiling. The many prayers, the smiles and hugs of friends and family are balm to her struggles.

In the last few weeks we have had a lot of critical medical issues pop up with our friends and family. Jack, my longtime friend, has aggressive skin cancer on his right hand. He's had two surgeries and will have another later this month. Jack is a non stop go getter, who also plays the piano and works part time as a janitor at his granddaughter's grade school, all at age 72. We pray that he will recover and go back to playing the piano and singing the Irish songs we love to hear.

Eric, the father of two, is in isolation in the hospital as he prepares for his bone marrow transplant. He will have to be in isolation for a month. No family, no visits, nothing. Can you imagine?

Kathy is going through what Deb has finished. The beginnings of treatment are so frightful, it's impossible to remain focused and calm all the time.

My mom is still hanging in there. We saw her last week. There are no words left to describe how this lingering illness effects all of us.

Uncle John struggles with health issues. Barb's brother John is still facing a long recovery from his motorcycle accident.

My dear friend John is still looking for another position. He, with the five kids, one in college, and the rest in middle or high school He needs all of our prayers.

And so it goes in our life. It's incredible how good God is to us. He gives us all that we need and even our trials help us come closer to him.

The bright spots have been there too. We had granddaughter Quinn for a few days. She is thirteen next month, so it is a time in her life that will be most challenging for her and her parents. She is, quite frankly, a doll. Smart as a whip and a talented artist.

We dropped her off in Michigan at another grandma's house, but first we had dinner daughter Kris prepared and saw all three grand kids together. What a treat.

We saw cousins who have also become great friends, while we were there and stayed with daughter Kathi and her husband Jim in the Pontiac Michigan area.

We are so blessed.

I know there is someone you haven't spoken with in a while. It could be someone from school, and old friend that drifted away, or a cousin who just seems to be too far away. Now would be a good time to call them and make them smile at hearing your voice. They may be terribly lonly.

"When true friends meet in adverse hour;'Tis like a sunbeam through a shower.A watery way an instant seen,The darkly closing clouds between."- Sir Walter Scott

"When Christ said: "I was hungry and you fed me," he didn't mean only the hunger for bread and for food; he also meant the hunger to be loved. Jesus himself experienced this loneliness. He came amongst his own and his own received him not, and it hurt him then and it has kept on hurting him. The same hunger, the same loneliness, the same having no one to be accepted by and to be loved and wanted by. Every human being in that case resembles Christ in his loneliness; and that is the hardest part, that's real hunger."
Mother Teresa

God Bless

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Deja Vu all over again

Hi everyone,

Not much going on with all of this. Still getting the medical news that all seems to be good. No real reason for concern at present. So we wait. When you have cancer in the immediate family, there isn't a day that goes by without some thought about it.

We are enjoying the beautiful weather today. Deb and I took our coffee/tea out to the patio and along with Strider the Wonder Dog to watch the birdies and bugs.

The aroma of fresh baked cookies fills our home, as Deb obeys some inner domestic wiring diagram that forces her to make food. Isn't it wonderful? Salads have been on our menu more lately. We are trying to eat better, and summer brings all the good things from the earth. This morning we had raspberries and melon with a sprinkling of blueberries. Last night we enjoyed some watermelon. Soon it will be corn on the cob. We had a lot of asparagus and strawberries until the season ended.

Time rushes by in our lives. We work and we rest.

I had a good conversation with mom just now. We will see her in two weeks, just after her 89Th birthday. She has a new medical issue with her bladder. We pray that she will improve with the medication.

Please continue to pray for Marge as she struggles with the loss of Dan. Losing a mate is something half of us will experience. Like cancer, until you do, it can't really make sense to you or me. Sam is still battling cancer, as is Kathy Adler and Eric. Remember Barb's brother John as he recovers from his motorcycle accident and Uncle John Leverance as he struggles with age and health. Please pray also for my mom and for Deb.

We feel every prayer and blessing that comes to us because of each of you. Your support means all the world to us. God is always listening.

God bless one and all,


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Time Marches On

Hello everyone,

It's been about a month since I wrote, so it's time to get up to date.

Deb has been seeing doctors as scheduled, including her surgeon this week. She was examined and everything seemed in order. Deb asked what she should be looking for as a tip things we're not right. Dr. C told her to look for physical changes or not feeling well. Hmm, that could cover a lot of ground.

So, the choice is being a hypochondriac or waiting too long and playing medical Russian Roulette (with apologies to Masha).

So OK, the theory of holding each day in your hand as you would cradle a baby bird, seems an appropriate simile. After being through the last fourteen months, both of us are clear on the concept that our life can change with a phone call or an exam. The trick is to savor each day, each person, each experience and even sunsets take on new meanings.

I guess in theory, each day is a gift, with no guarantees.

Deb and I planted a passel of flowers and stuff. It sure looks pretty in the back yard. Deb's energy level isn't the best, but she does a lot anyway.

Deb now is creeping toward fifty and I am sixty three. Holy Toledo!!!

There are still a lot of folks out there that could use a prayer or two, like us!

Hug each other and cherish the time you have.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

In Our Memories

Hi all,

Every year I seem to be surprised by cold weather in May and June. Every year without fail we get some cold snaps that can take your breath away. We go from eighty degrees (yesterday) to forty two this morning.

It was a much better Memorial weekend this year. Deb and I shopped for flowers and we planted all of them Saturday and Monday. It is always a lot of work to get everything out, cleaned and ready for the summer season. Lawn chairs, the grill, tables and so on, need cleaning. The windows on the house and the screens all need washing too. Strider takes up her post lying on the grass, surveying Deb and I. For some reason she has to come inside to sleep.

We didn’t try to do everything over the weekend. We took a break for Church and lunch with our friend Linda on Sunday, and Saturday we had breakfast before we shopped for flowers. We will continue to plug along, doing something each weekend we can until we finish everything, probably the weekend before we have to start putting it all away in the fall.

We would like to thank everyone who still reads our blog and continues to pray for us. Deb continues to improve, with quarterly trips to the doctors. She will be in the American Cancer Society Relay for Life June 7th and 8th.

We have some great photos from Masha recently. She is doing very well at college It would be so nice to visit her in Moscow. Barb Leschke’s brother was in a motorcycle accident in California and needs our prayers.

We remember during this time all those who served and those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country and to preserve our way of life. Also those in other countries who fought and died to protect democracy against tyranny, we honor on Memorial Day . My great great Uncle Peter Erkes who served in in France duing WWI was a striking man in his uniform. I’m aware of Harrells and O’Hearns that fought and died in the civil war too. So many valiant men who ignored the risk of injury and death because they were asked to serve their country. Amazing!

God Bless all.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Another Mother's Day

Hi everyone,

Mother's day has taken on a new meaning for me this year.

Mom is not so good now. She's been confined to her bed for eighteen months or so, and we play a waiting game. She bounces up and down with her health, but somehow always continues on, toward the time God will call her home. She has been ready for some time to go, she wants to see her husband and parents and enjoy basking in God's mighty glory.

Mom was a terrific cook and had some classic dishes that the entire family raved about. Her goulash, her fried chicken, beef stew, chocolate pie and the coconut cream pie were the best. She delighted in cooking for her father, and he loved to have her custard pie. Meatloaf, wow, what a treat, and her homemade bread and rolls were so good that I can taste them now.

Mom was also, well, Mom, with all the qualities we all expected in a stay at home mom. She was always there and kept a tight schedule and a tight ship. She cooked to satisfy my dad, who worked hard everyday and came home hungry. She had a routine for her week for when she would clean and do the laundry.

I decided years ago that my mom somehow contributed to all the speed bumps in my life. Why wasn't she more this or that to me, so I would have been more successful, or had better opportunities, or been thinner or had more hair. But, like a light bulb going off over your head, it finally dawned on me that my mom was responsible for most of my success after all. She instilled in me desires for hard work and organization that have been the key to any job I've had, and more importantly, she taught me that it was good to be affectionate and to tell others I love them.

Mom never asked for thanks or any acknowledgement of her role in my development, and perhaps she wouldn't understand my feelings now, with the medication and all, but I'm leaving today to drive to Michigan to tell her happy Mother's Day and how much I love her. And thanks, I need to say that too.

Mother's can be complex and we forget that they are people too, with all the quirks and surprises we all have but with a big supply of love and forgiveness too. Take time this weekend to remember your mom, whether she is here or not, and ask God to bless her and keep her safe.

Deb would have been a terrific mom. You could see it with Sebastian and Masha. We continue on, with hope and faith, to the next exam and the one after that, and so on.

We pray for Marge, Kathy Addler, Sam and so many others that are ill or struggling. Please join in our prayers.

Please enjoy life and hug your mom.


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Waiting for Flowers

Hi Everyone,

We are in that time between, like limbo, but of course that term is antiquated now, but you know what I mean, we have turned the page on active treatment and now Deb visits doctors every three months, or when, God forbid, something isn’t right. We’re not treating but we don’t feel cured yet either.

The hair is back, and so is Deb’s sense of humor. She laughs easily now, and at the silliest stuff, but I love it and try my best to make it happen.

She misses our old church and how close we all were there. We go to The Chapel now, but it’s not the same. The message is terrific and there are lots of things happening, but it’s another limbo thing, not quite integrated yet and feeling like a stranger. We know it will change and we have to have faith.

Chemo brain is the term used for the forgetfulness brought on by chemotherapy. It frustrates Deb sometimes but she is much better lately. In my case it’s just old age.

Our routine is back to where it was before all this started. I arrive home first and take Strider out. Deb comes about 20 minutes later and depending on Strider’s whim, may have to take her back out again. Then dinner and a few chores and early to bed. The weather is so nice.

We have a few invitations for charitable events. Deb plans to do the Relay for Life in June. This is the season for organized events. Heidi Kattner is going to walk for the March of Dimes. That group is working on advancing the understanding and treatment of premature births and health issues.

In 1950, before the vaccine, I had polio and the March of Dimes helped with my medical expense. Infantile paralysis, as it was known before that, appeared in the public conscience when President Franklin Roosevelt was crippled by it in the 1930’s. He found that the mineral waters Warm Springs Georgia helped him with the pain, so he created a charitable foundation to make the waters available to anyone. He asked for donations, even dimes and a media wag coined the term “March of Dimes” from the old saying, the march of time. Mom spent a lot of time as a volunteer to repay the charity she and I had received back then.

In this world where seven out of ten people, including children, go to bed hungry every day, we are blessed with amazing abundance in America. We enjoy a standard of living that is second to none, and yet if you’re like me, I tend to take all these blessings for granted far more than I should.

Take a moment to pray for Marge, the Kattner twins and those who will start cancer treatments for newly discovered cancer. Keep Deb in your prayers too because even when she is healthy she still has to live with me.

God Bless,

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Time stands still

Hello everyone,

Kathi, my eldest daughter, called just now to tell me her step father, Danny, passed away today. He was the Danny we mentioned in several of the blog entries. He was in his 50's, and was married over 25 years to Marge. He developed cancer several months ago and battled it bravely until it took his life today. Danny had been close to Kathi and her sister Kris for all these years, bringing a calm humor to most situations. He was very special to his grandchildren too.

Our sympathy to Marge and certainly our prayers, but I know, as do all of you, that now his suffering is over, and he has entered the loving embrace of our Heavenly Father in a place where sorrow and hurt doesn't exist.

Please continue to pray for Marge, Kathi and Kris and they come to grips with losing their father and husband.

Deb and I returned from our cruise on Saturday. Since this was my first cruise, I was amazed by the quality and variety of food served in the different restaurants on board. The service level was five star and the ship was huge. 3,100 passengers plus the crew. We visited St. Thomas, St. Kitts, Grenada, Bonaire and Aruba. The shopping was the main attraction on St. Thomas, that and the banana daiquiri I had at 9 a.m.

We had the first dinner seating at 6 p.m. and were blessed with the company of two other couples who made each meal a pleasure with their conversation and charm. Harry and Donna were from Vancouver. Len and Deb live in Connecticut. Each meal was a gourmet spread and we had wine with each meal. Our waiter Evan was very British and Laslow, our steward, was charming and very efficient.

The water was blue and green, and crystal clear. The temperature hovered in the mid eighties, with sunny skies and white beaches. We went to a Aloe farm, sampled Rum in the morning on Grenada, had the most delightful tour guide on Aruba and wonder of wonders, all our flights went without a hitch from Chicago, to Orlando then to Puerto Rico and back again.

Deb mentioned that she feels her head cleared during our time away. She rested as needed, including an afternoon nap. One day she did a cancer walk on board for the Susan G. Koman foundation.

We enjoyed the lavish shows and entertainment and the good cheer of our fellow passengers. We watched the full moon hover over the ocean at night from our balcony. How truly wonderful to have this experience.

Deb went to the surgeon yesterday. Everything looks good on both sides and she will see Dr. C. in three months.

We have transitioned to the survivor mode. Treatment is over and now we start to monitor for developments. Every hour, day, week and month that goes by increases the chance that Deb will survive to live to a ripe older age.

Please take the time to pray for all those with cancer. Those without faces to us, but very vivid to their care givers, parents, brothers, sisters and children who live in the constant fear that their loved one will become a statistic on the negative side of life's ledger, as Danny did today.

There is an empty chair at the table, the phone rings, and for a moment you think he will answer for you, but no, he’s not there anymore. The dog is sad too; you can see it in her posture. She mopes around and looks for him. She watches the door, waiting for the sound of the garage door, the sound of the key in the lock, and his smile. You wake up and for a moment you forget, but then the empty bed reminds you, he’s not there. So you try to go on, planning dinners and vacations for one. You read a good story in a magazine and start to tell him about it, but suddenly remember he isn’t there. Still. Times goes on but so does the hurt and the loneliness. A reminder every day, sometimes every hour, that your life has changed, been ripped to shreds and put back together with so many pieces missing or in the wrong spot by someone with an absurd sense of humor.

Time goes on and dulls the pain, but you start to dread every holiday. His birthday, your anniversary, and the date he died, bring a renewal of the pain, not just on that day, but for days and weeks before and after. Staying in your pajamas until noon. Why bother dressing? For whom shall you dress? Cereal for dinner. Why cook? The overwhelming sense of fatigue and hopelessness. Every day. Will this never end?

And then the sun comes out. You wake one morning and life feels different. Sure there are lots of reminders, but somehow they seem less pointed then before. You decide to re-engage with your friends and family. Perhaps a trip or joining a seniors group, taking a class.

It won’t happen overnight, but it will get better. Count on it.

Why can't we get all the people together in the world that we really like and then just stay together? I guess that wouldn't work. Someone would leave. Someone always leaves. Then we would have to say good-bye. I hate good-byes. I know what I need. I need more hellos. ~Charles M. Schulz



Thursday, March 13, 2008


Good Morning!

The headline in the online edition of the Chicago Tribune reads, " Kansas woman spent two years on a toilet before police used a crowbar to pry off seat". And I'm thinking, I don't even want to know the details. This story is nestled in with all the usual stuff about killings and politics. Another headline reports a fifteen year old hijacking a car from a twelve year old. I couldn't drive at twelve, could you? I'm not making this up.

Our cruise starts tomorrow, with a limo pick up at 4:15 a-can you believe-m. We haven't vacationed in a couple of years, so I forgot how crazy Deb gets trying to finish stuff at work and get ready. But this is her lollipop, not mine. Although, I note the temps in San Juan recently are in the mid eighties, and I think perhaps I can enjoy this too.

Deb seems to be getting her strength back a little at a time. Doctors visits will spread out more. We both had the full battery of blood work and tests and are good to go for a while, it seems.

The last week has been crazy for me, with a car accident that totaled my Buick. No injuries and the other guy was at fault, but that was just part of a very busy week that had me out on investigations until 2 a.m. two nights (including the night of the accident). Everything will be fine when I have my first Mai Tai on the ship.

We are reminded again that everything resolves over time, so we continue to pray for Danny, the Kattner twins, my mom and all our friends and family.

Take care, hug each other and pray always.


Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Sailing along

Hi everyone,

I can't believe so much time has elapsed since Deb finished treatment. Most of the redness is gone and she is slowly regaining her strength.

She had her first haircut since last May. It looks cute and it seems about as thick as before. The color is different, darker and perhaps some gray, but I like it. She will probably get highlights or a neon orange rinse next time to go with her body piercings and tattoos.

I'm kidding about the body piercings and the tattoos. Really!

We believe there are still some underlying issues of frustration and anger. Nothing that seems really overt, but sometimes a shortness or impatience surfaces.

She seems to be tired at times but I believe that will improve too.

We leave March 14th for our cruise. We return on March 22nd. My first cruise. We plan to rest and enjoy a simple time together. We're fretting over the last minute details, but all in all I believe we're going to enjoy this a lot.

There are still a lot of prayers needed. Not only for Deb, and her continued good health, but all the thousands of treating and recovering breast cancer patients. There seems to be so much conflicting information out there. Studies that contradict and confuse. What to believe, what to hope for, it's so daunting some times. Long term it's in God's hands, as it always has been.

Then too, the Kattner twins are still gaining ground in their effort to overcome a very premature birth. Even though they have been "in the world" since October, they are only just weeks from their normal birth date. They each weighed 27 ounces at birth and their survival is awesome.

I spoke with my mom on Monday as I drove home from the doctor's office. Nice to talk to her.

More after the cruise,

God Bless all,


Monday, February 18, 2008

Clean Underwear

Good Afternoon, everyone!

Much of the time since my last post has been uneventful.

Deb is slowly improving, and although she is tired more than normal, she continues to do all the things she normally does around the house. Her skin is getting better, with less peeling. She still takes medication for the pain in her fingers and toes.

We have been hermits because of all the snow. We go to church and do errands on the weekends, but otherwise we stay close to home.

Deb saw Dr. Smoron today. Nothing new to report. My guess is that things will continue to be quiet until we return after Easter. Deb has another appointment with her surgeon then. Quarterly visits for a while.

So with healing the only item on the agenda, I will probably write less here. I recently looked back to the beginning of the posts, in April of 2007. I can't imagine how naive we were. I can’t imagine knowing in advance what would happen. Now the long wait begins.

We have been blessed with such great support from everyone. So many people have prayed for us. People we will never know, who added us to their prayer list at church, or to their personal list. People we know, who took the time to share their love and kindness. The food they delivered, phone calls to cheer us and all the get well cards and gifts. The e mails from old and new friends all over the country. People I hadn’t heard from in years, taking the time to be part of all this.

God had control of this and gave us a measure of peace so we could endure the stress and pain of all these months. He will guide us through the coming months too, with all His grace and love.

Thanks to all of you. I’ll write again when something develops.

I have another weblog (blog) I do for my amusement.

Please join me sometime.

Our love to each of you.

Dan and Deb

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Cleaning up the mess

Hello Campers!

Deb continues to trek along with her skin issues and various creams to control the itching and peeling of her skin, fried from the radiation. She is still very red in front and we expect that it will turn to tan as time goes on.

Deb is anxious to start using the prostetic stuff she has purchased to make her silouette even. Is that a delicate way to put it or what? Oh, and I'm still amazed that so many women have come forward to share their survivor stories with us.

We are so very thankful that all treatment has ended. Deb will continue to see various doctors, but should start to recover her stamina and health. She still has pain in her fingers and toes from chemo and is taking Lyrica for that condition. She has to guard against lymphedema of course.

We look forward to continued good results and reports from the doctors. Our faith remains intack and strong. This has been a winter the likes we haven't seen in thirty years, but we look to the promise of spring.

We offer our prayers for Danny and my mom. The Kattner twins are progressing nicely, but they are still at risk, so please remember to include them as you pray.

So many people have prayed for us, and we still need the solace prayer brings to us. Thank you for keeping us in your hearts.


Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Hi All,

In every life, most of us probably remember when time seemed to stand still. Think of when you were six years old and Christmas was five days away. Or think about waiting outside the principals office or watching your wife in labor with your first child. Waiting for you teenage son or daughter to call a half hour after they were supposed to be home.

Time for me stood still on April 17th, 2007, when Deb called in tears to give me the news that she had a positive biopsy. Since then, all I've wanted was to get through all the treatment, starting with the Chemo, then the surgery and finally the radiation. Each one causing damage and scaring, both physical and phychological, to someone so many of us love.

She is really a trooper. I couldn't go on day by day with the patience and grace she exhibits through all this. Her chest and back look like a cooked lobster. She is losing skin under her left arm from the radiation burns, in spite of all the various creams and lotions we use to prevent just that. When she lifts her left arm the pain is exquisite. The only time it feels OK is when she doesn't use it. And she is not supposed to use her left arm anyway, so that lymphedema doesn't occur. This is, of course, after all the side effects of chemotherapy and the trauma of surgery.

And it goes on. Problems for a while getting blood drawn. Finally she is sent to the infusion center where the nurses are able to draw it from her medi port.

Deb isn't thrilled with the photo of both of us I put on the blog. But, if you compare it with the others you can see how all of this has affected her. I, of course, still look totally handsome and hot.

Her hair continues to come in, but slowly. Her nails are growing out, so her fingers will look better as time passes. She is tired most of the time.

But, she is nice to everyone. She is patient, flexible, tolerant, easy to dance with :)

Why do some people get it and others don't have a clue?

Jonah was one. You'd think after getting barfed up on the shore of Nineveh by a big fish, he'd realize this was a second chance from above. So he takes a three day walk through Nineveh preaching God's word by God's direction. He goes up on a hill to watch God destroy Israel's greatest enemy but nothing happens. Then he sees that all the people of Nineveh, including the king, have repented. God spares them. But Jonah is disappointed. He wanted fire and brimstone, an eye for an eye. He misses the point that God loves us all, even our enemies, and wants us to love them too.

What does this have to do with Deb's cancer treatment? I have no idea. But I love the story of second chances and God's love for all of us. It's repeated so many times in history. Makes even a cynical guy like me think there is hope.

Please remember Deb in your prayers. This has been so trying for her. Danny is still treating and fighting his cancer, please continue to pray for him. The Kattner twins are home, but still very vulnerable.

I appreciate everyone who takes the time to read this blog. I love that some of you have expressed to me or Deb you like reading it. It is a good outlet for me to dissipate some of the stress that builds watching Deb endure all of this.

I love happy endings, fewer goodbyes and more hellos, Deb's meatloaf and coconut creme pie. Thank God the radiation is over this week.

God Bless

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Marching along together

Hi everyone,

Deb is progressing with her radiation treatments. They should end next week. She has a lot of red skin on her chest and under her arm as they zap the area with a lot of energy. We continue to use the special creme to reduce the effects.

Her spirits are good, as she looks forward to our cruise. She visited Dr. Weyburn a week ago and will start Tamoxifen soon. She will have a check up every three months to begin and then the schedule will be adjusted.

We continue to get great support from many people. Deb continues to work and rest. We received a cancer quilt from Marge and Danny. It is truly amazing. It must be at least four feet long and three feet wide. Lots of photos of Deb sewn into the quilt. It must have taken a lot of work and time to complete. We have a spot picked out to mount it to the wall. It also had cancer pins and a bracelet attached. So thoughtful.

Deb is thinking about participating in some of the cancer events this summer. She has not really hooked up with a support group yet. Her hair continues to thicken and increase in length, but slowly.

There will be a little rest for a while and then the constant vigil will start, waiting for anything to suggest a recurrence. Every bump and pain will take on a significance far in excess of hypochondria.

We hope the doctors and the treatments will combine to rid Deb of any chance of a recurrence, but only God knows for sure.

So we trust God and commit our care and future to Him.

Through all this we've asked for prayers for Deb and others. It occurs to me that there is never a shortage of people needing prayer. We believe that prayer is a direct line to God and He considers and answers all prayers in His time. The Kattner twins are home after three months in the hospital to overcome the effects of premature birth.

Little Evan is the new grandson for Chuck and Loni. Chuck is still having constant pain. He's been through so much, including having both knees replaced.

My Mom continues to greet each day. Why and how she perseveres we may never know.

I've been accepted as a Knight of the Round Table. I'll be known as Sir Cumference.

Thanks everyone for the love and support that keeps both of us going.

Take care all,

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

A New Year

Happy New Year, everyone.


I wonder what went through the minds of my grandparents in 1962, or my parents in 1975, when both my father and grandfather attained the age I am now. In 1962 Jack Nicklaus was only beginning his golf career. The Berlin wall was up and keeping the east and west of Germany separated. The Cuban blockade started and the pope ex communicated Fidel Castro. The US Supreme Court decided against racial separation on public transportation, and Walter Cronkite begins his career as the anchor of CBS evening news. The Beatles replaced Pete Best with Ringo Starr and West Side Story won for best picture at the Academy Awards. NASA announced the selection of nine astronauts with the "Right Stuff". Quite a year.

In 1975 some of the Watergate crew were convicted and sentenced to prison. The Rocky Horror Show opened and the Eagles and Barry Manilow were chart toppers. That guy Nicklaus won the Masters and Frank Robinson was the first negro manager. NBC paid 5 million to show Gone With The Wind one time on TV. Cher divorces Sonny and Jaws opens in the theaters. Hoffa disappears from a Detroit area restaurant and China and Russia continue to test nuclear weapons.

What occupied my father's thoughts that year or my grandfather 13 years before? Was it anything like my thoughts this year, amazed at how fast the year has gone. Saddened by the senseless tragedy and all the violence and rudeness that seems to prevail in our world.

Or did they find comfort in the beauty of the world and in the people in their life? Were they thankful of the many good things in their lives, the health of their families and the prosperity that allowed them to live comfortably? Did they try to make the world a better place with a well timed smile or a compliment? Were they worried about their health or if the money they saved for retirement would last until they died?

Or did they marvel in the moon in a winter sky, full and bright with coloring from the wispy clouds that pass along its surface? Were they amazed at the technology of the age. Color television in 1962 and in 1975 a small start up company call Microsoft started in a garage. Did they frown at the brevity of life and the start of the infirmities of age? I don't know. They never said.

I'd be willing to bet that such thoughts were as alien to them as singing opera is to me.

But as this year opens I have many recurring thoughts. I can't imagine the standard of living we have in this country, and how we take it and our health for granted. We've become a nation of pill poppers at one extreme and health fanatics at the other end.

I worry about Danny and my mom. I am saddened by the pain and suffering of those who I know have constant pain or health issues, or have paid the emotional toll of loosing a loved one this past year. I worry about Deb most of all. She is my jewel, the one person that can put up with me. She, who along with a dog I've mentioned before, loves me unconditionally every day.

She is doing well so far with the radiation. Applying the creme to prevent skin damage, fighting a cold this week, but resting and saving her strength for the coming weeks.

We try to imagine a world without the pain of disease and injury. A place of happiness and complete understanding. Where nothing disappoints and nothing surprises. A place where there are no goodbyes, only hellos. A place that Dorothy imagined to be somewhere over the rainbow.

So on this first day of the new year, I have a wish for each of you. My wish is that you achieve the peace of mind that comes with understanding that this place we call home, isn't our final destination. We are meant to suffer and die before we reach our final reward. That life isn't fair, has mind numbing stress at times, and the buttered side of the bread always hits the floor first. And since this isn't our final home, we can be assured that a place has been prepared for us to spend eternity. I believe this completely, because I read it in a Book.

Out of love and hatred, out of earnings and borrowings and lendings and losses; out of sickness and pain; out of wooing and worshipping; out of traveling and voting and watching and caring; out of disgrace and contempt, comes our tuition in the serene and beautiful laws.
Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803-1882, American Poet, Essayist

God Bless,