A Love Note from Peru

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Dear Friends –
I  wanted to share with you a beautiful note I just received from my Cousin Lisa who lives in Lima, Peru. Like most of you …..Lisa has never actually met Terry in person and up until now has never had an opportunity to experience his blog site (which I have now shared with her). However, somehow through the periodic emails that I have written to her she has gotten to know and to love Terry.
Lisa is such a special person and her letter came at such a good time for me as Terry was  cremated yesterday according to his wishes.  I looked over to the empty chair last night where Terry used to sit, and I realized that Terry will no longer physically be with me anymore.  Then after a moment of crying and temporary despair, I was comforted as I reminded myself that Terry truly is in a better place, and although he is no longer here with me in person, I know his spirit will continue to live within each of us for eternity and that we will meet again.
The power of his spirit is amazing. To think, in less than just one week since Terry’s passing, I have witnessed the goodness in so many of you, and although Terry’s body has now been transformed into a simple pile of dust (according to God’s plan) his spirit continues to radiate and to touch others.  In this one example…..his spirit shined a light upon the heart of my Cousin Lisa all the way to Peru!
Love, Gary
P.S.  I will be leaving the Tampa area for a few days to stay at my brother’s in Orlando.  I figured staying in a house verses an RV would be safer due to Irma. I have a blogging friend helping me post these right now, so please don’t be upset if I am not able to respond back right away.  I will learn how to use this soon and hope to carry on Terry’s torch here at Spearfruit.  Please know that I am reading and very much appreciate your comments and notes.
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Note from my cousin, Lisa:
Dear Gary,
I logged into my gmail on Monday, and the subject line of your email pierced through my heart.  I broke down and cried at the inhumanity of this dreaded disease, and I have found myself at a loss for words until now.  Cesar and I both send our most heartfelt sympathies to you and to Terry’s family.  As it happens, one of Cesar’s aunts is losing her own battle with cancer at the moment, but holding onto hope and a good vibrational spirit.
Some of us are destined to be taken away at a moment’s notice.  I may have told you that Cesar’s brother Antonio left home on Christmas Day 2015 and was never seen or heard from again by the family, until his body was found ten days later, in a decomposed state.  Incompetence and/or corruption on the part of the authorities made a mockery of the homicide investigation and added to the pain and sense of injustice.  To this day, there are only unanswered questions and lingering suspicions.  That wrenching from the family bosom, and the mystery surrounding Antonio’s disappearance and death, have left an open heart-wound.  (But Antonio was a fervent Christian who lived his life in happy expectation of the next life, so there is comfort in knowing that he is where he was called home to be.)
Others of us, on the other hand, are destined to be faced with the knowledge of how and when our end of life on Earth will likely unfold.  It is an emotionally, psychologically, and physically cruel transitioning.  And yet, there is the blessing that one is given the opportunity to reflect and to reach out to express everything that needs to be expressed while there is still time and to close any outstanding emotional wounds.  Terry survived his remaining months on Earth with courage and wisdom and humanity.  I thank you so much, Gary, for sharing the reference to his blog with me.  I spent hours reading through much of it on Monday and will continue to go back to read more and to re-read the posts and comments that I already did read.  It amazed me what a sweet, generous soul he obviously was, always brightening someone’s day, always offering a kind and considerate comment.  That, in and of itself, would have made him special to the many people who knew him through his blog.  But his willingness to openly reflect on inner struggles and issues that are common to all of us in one form or another and to reach the core of others through his example clearly made him more than special.  And seeing himself as ordinary made him extraordinary.
The only thing I really knew before about Terry was his fascination with Christmas lights, and it struck me at the time that he must have been a real kid at heart.  Now I am struck by the childlike innocence and trust with which he revealed himself to himself and to everyone else through his posts. I am reminded that Jesus said, “Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”  Terry really did become like a child, didn’t he, in his simple, plain, open, guileless honesty and generosity of spirit, and that touched people and made them connect.  That kind of human unity is divinely inspired.  I don’t think that there is any doubt about where he is now.
The difficult part for Terry has passed.  That is the blessing.  For you, too, dear Gary, the agony of watching him deteriorate and suffer is over.  But the void is real.  You need time to grieve and heal.  However, I have faith that you will meet some of the many people who developed a profound love for Terry, and that common bond of connected souls will make your spirit bounce once again and never let you feel alone.  Terry opened up a new world of good people with hearts of gold of their own, and I know that by reaching out to them, as you have, they will reach back.  Don’t worry about the future.  That is probably one of the most precious lessons of Terry’s mission.  You will find the path that you were destined to follow, perhaps one that you would never have found if God hadn’t brought an angel named Terry into your life.
Gary, it goes without saying, but if at some point you feel the need or desire to get away and would like to come down here, our arms are open.
I love you, Cousin.
Peace to you,
Lisa

A Special Thank You from Gary

To All of Terry’s Beloved Blog Friends:

I just want to extend my heartfelt gratitude to each and everyone of you who have been faithful followers and supporters of Terry over the past couple of years.  It was because of your thoughtfulness, love, genuine concern and continual encouragement to Terry that truly gave him the strength and the drive to write and post his wonderful blogs each day and to share his life with you.  He did this no matter if he was having a positive day or a day with a lot of health challenges as a result of his cancer.  Needless to say, this has been a very tough time, but you all have helped tremendously to lessen the stress.  It was so sad to witness my husband and best friend transition from a person with so much vigor and in the very best of health to one that eventually became totally dependent on me for even his very basic needs.

As the weeks and months progressed, he continued to get more discouraging news about the progression of his cancer, but he remarkably remained positive. The poor guy, in his last days, was living with so many drainage tubes attached to him (one in his abdomen for his urostomy bag and the other thru the middle of his stomach due to the inoperable bowel obstruction). He also had one PIC main IV line into his left arm for his total parenteral nutrition, as he no longer could eat anything by mouth, and the other IV line was attached through his main power port for his morphine pump.  Also, he was on continual Oxygen thru his nose as well.  Each day, I continued to keep up my strength and my hope that Terry could beat his cancer and that it would miraculously go into remission and all would be okay.

Just reading your daily comments to Terry each day was a tremendous help to keep up my strength as it gave me great comfort to know that there are so many wonderful folks out there that really cared about us and Terry’s challenges.  I can’t express enough in words my heartfelt thanks to you all.  As most of you probably know,  Terry passed away in our RV on MacDill Air Force Base on Friday, September 1, 2017 at about 2 PM.  I was there continually with him the entire time.  I held his hand throughout the prior night and could not sleep a wink with fear that he would pass through the night, however God wanted to let Terry awake yet one more morning for one more chance to brighten our day.  Although Terry was having difficulties speaking early Friday morning, I was able to do a quick video and to give him the opportunity to say to each of his immediate family members by name that “he loved them”.  I wish I could have done a last video with you his fellow bloggers, but Terry was just much too weak and it was so difficult for him to speak. In fact, after doing that brief video, Terry no longer spoke another word although he continue to breath at a slower rate.

I held his hand for yet another four hours and then at 2 PM his breath was no longer and he was then on his way to Heaven.  Terry truly will be missed by me and there will be a deep void in my life, and I know that there will also be a deep void experienced by you all that got to know him so well through his blogging.

I am going to keep his blog site open and continue the annual membership, and maybe someday, it I can get technology savvy, I might one day “carry the torch for Terry” and carry on with his blogs (although Terry of course was much better at this than I will be).

In the interim, I want to share with you my personal email:  gdrabczuk@gmail.com and my cell phone number 214-405-7114 should you want to email, text or call. I would love to here from you anytime that you are able.

Love to all,

Gary

P.S.  At Terry’s request, upon his passing I was finally able to share his precious blog with his entire family so they could read and enjoy what he wrote throughout the last few years and of course all your wonderful and encouraging comments which will provide them with some comfort that Terry was loved by so many.  Also, I was debating if it would be a bit disturbing to send this short video with the last words spoken by Terry where he was telling his family that he loved them (the video was condensed a bit because of its size), but since you all were there with him through all his ups and downs, thought it might be special to you to experience this video.  I also wanted to share a nice photo showing the tribute he got from a couple of airmen on MacDill Air Force Base as Terry was removed from our RV for the last time for further transport to the mortuary.  Terry, as most of you probably know will be cremated and his remains will be divided between myself and his Mom.  Thus, he will eventually have two resting places, one in Midland, TX when his Mom passes and the other with me at my resting place in Arlington cemetery when it is my time.

 

Also,  I know Terry will be shaking his head right now as I share a bit of trivia with you about him, but I have to do this….  When Terry was growing up in Midland, TX, he used to live right next door to the the former first lady….. Laura Bush.  Okay…..to take this just a bit further, when I grew up in Salem, Massachusetts I lived right next door to Nathaniel Hawthorn’s house…..The House of Seven Gables. So both Terry and I had famous next door neighbors.   Okay enough with this trivia !  Need to save some for next time.  Have a great Labor Day !

 

 

Gary’s Text

Monday’s post was titled ‘Hospice & Home‘, and today’s post I could easily name Hospice House.  I do not need to be confused any more than I already am.

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Because hospice focus is quality of life while I am still here and since Monday my body took a different direction than expected, I am in the hospital – a hospice hospital – or in my case, a Hospice House.

I started having issues breathing due to fluid on my lungs and my pain had increased as well.  Recent pain medication had changed and an increased in level took place.  It is believed my body is not eliminating fluids qs quickly and this fluid is building in my lungs as well as other places.  I currently am off my nutritional fluid IV while this fluid reduces in my lungs and my breathing become easier again.  I entered Hospice House on Tuesday and unsure how long I will be here.  This place does not seem like a hospital, but instead a quiet place to receive peace and treatment.

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I stole these words from a text Gary sent a couple of days ago – (with some editing)

We thought it best for him to receive some medical care for the recent build up of fluids in his lungs causing him breathing issues and to try to figure out how best to get some nutrients into him that won’t cause so much issues with the fluid buildup. The place is very pleasant and cheery and the staff are very attentive and compassionate.

Dreaming with Color

My friends this past week I have had unexpected change in plans.

After my appointment last Tuesday with Dr. C., he decided to admit me into the hospital.

Since then, much has taken place and this weekend I have more family visiting.

I plan to post everyday – this is my goal.

For the next several days, I have a favor to ask.

I need some rest, some time to catchup on me.

Comments are disabled today.

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While in the hospital and spending time by myself provides me time to think, dream, ponder, and reflect.

There is much to take place in the near future, and I will let you know what that is soon.

There is much to take in and think about and ponder about.

There is much to take in and dream about and reflect about.

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You make the sun shine brighter

My friends the last couple of days I have had unexpected change in plans.

After my appointment this past Tuesday with Dr. C., he decided to admit me into the hospital.

Since then, much has taken place and these next several days I have more family coming to visit.

I plan to post everyday – this is my goal.

For the next 3 days, I have a favor to ask.

I need some rest, some time to catchup on me.

Comments are disabled today.

I plan to post everyday – this is my goal.

I leave you with some lyrics and a song that make me smile.

Some lyrics from “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” –

You take the grey skies out of my way (do do)

You make the sun shine brighter than Doris Day

Turned a bright spark into a flame (yeah yeah)

My beats per minute never been the same

Daily Struggles

Last week was difficult.  Monday my mom, sister and brother left and once again my current life goes into the routine mode.  In last Friday’s post ‘…moving the fluid.‘, I wrote about the current troubles I am experiencing with regards to my lymphedema.

With only having 1 massage treatment, I do not see a difference, but I hope with continued treatments there will be some success in moving the fluid out of my body.  Image4Today I will have my 2nd massage treatment and should also receive my compression stockings which I will need to wear on a continual basis during waking hours for the unforeseen future.  I continue with my daily exercises for my lymphedema – these exercises also promote fluid movement.

The body pain I experience daily, is not becoming easier to deal with.  I will admit, each day is tough not only for me, but Gary as well.  Some days my inability to walk without significant pain is just too much for me – those are the days I question how much longer I can live this way.

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Tomorrow, I have an appointment with Dr. C. in the Supportive Care Medicine group.  Dr. C. manages my pain as well as ensuring my quality of life is the best it can be while I continue immunotherapy treatment and my battle with my cancer.  My quality of life at this time is not good and I need his help in making it better.

Most likely my pain medications will be increased again and my already lethargic days will increase in intensity.  I do a lot of resting, sleeping and very little activity now.  My energy level is basically zero resulting in very little physical activity.  I feel with each passing day, I am weathering away.  Now, I am unable to walk in an erect position due to tensed muscles in my upper leg/hip region.  With the lymphedema in my feet, legs and abdomen; my continued inactivity and lethargic, I have become stiff and basically my muscles are reducing in flexibility.  For me, just standing is a huge effort and walking at times wears me out and takes my breath away.

Lately, I am angry and upset my life has come to this.  My cancer has taken a once active happy person and turned him into a frail bitter person.

I am honest on my blog, I have always been truthful and honest and I will not lie to you now.

I am struggling daily and the inner strength is becoming dim.  Gary, the amazing man he is, is here for me in every capacity and supports me and my decisions.

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I wake each morning knowing what the new day will bring and go to sleep each night knowing the struggles I face.

I continue the current treatment in hopes there is some good to come out of what is very bad right now.

Honestly, I feel my days are numbered and with each passing day my death will arrive much sooner than much later.

beauty of each moment

With family members here visiting this past weekend, I have fallen behind.  With my current health, my body fatigues easily and I need more rest.

More rest means I am spending less time doing other things – such as WP related activities.

I have fallen behind.  So, a short post for today.

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Body, Soul & Mind

 

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Currently my body is taking a beating.

Cancer is beating every part of my body and not wasting time doing it.

Immunotherapy is beating on my body with tiredness and fatigue.

Pain medications are beating my body and causing the bowels to not function properly.

Lymphedema is beating on my feet and legs and causing painful movement.

I wake every morning knowing my body will once again feel ache, tiredness, bowel issues and pain with movement.

I wake every morning knowing I will have a day I will need to fight back.

Fighting back is keeping a positive attitude – the best I can under the circumstances.

Fighting back is holding on to hope – there is always hope.

Fighting back is performing daily physical exercises – even when I don’t want to.

Fighting back is eating as well as I can – even when I have no appetite.

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Currently my mind is taking a beating.

Cancer is beating every part of my body including my mind – my thoughts and my emotions at times are weak.

Immunotherapy is beating on my mind with fatigue and lethargy – I am limited on time to use my mind for much rest is needed.

Pain medications are beating my mind and causing tiredness and limited thinking – I must rest and try to rejuvenate.

Lymphedema is beating my mind due to the effects from my limited walking.

I wake every morning knowing my mind will once again feel fatigued and emotional.

I wake every morning knowing I will have a day I will need to fight back.

Fighting back is keeping a positive attitude – the best I can under the circumstances.

Fighting back is holding on to hope – there is always hope.

Fighting back is performing daily mindfulness exercises – even when I don’t want to.

Fighting back is eating as well as I can – even when I have no appetite.

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Currently my soul is taking a beating.

Cancer is beating every aspect of my being including my soul – my identity, that spiritual part of me is receiving messages of non-understanding thoughts.

Immunotherapy is beating on my soul with questioning decisions and actions – am I spiritual and is this part of me being tested?

Pain medications are beating my soul and causing limited thinking – I must rest and follow that which comes from wisdom and makes some logic.

Lymphedema is beating my soul because of body image, pain and limitations.

I wake every morning knowing my soul will once again have questions with no answers.

I wake every morning knowing I will have a day I will need to fight back.

Fighting back is keeping a positive attitude – the best I can under the circumstances.

Fighting back is holding on to hope – there is always hope.

Fighting back is performing daily support from confirmations – even when I don’t feel it.

Fighting back is eating as well as I can – even when I have no appetite.

That Decision

In my post ‘Months not Years‘, I wrote the following –

Following my hospital stay, I had a visit with my Oncologist Dr. L. to discuss my options.  One option was to do nothing and the other option was immunotherapy.

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Concerning immunotherapy; any type of positive results is only about 15% – meaning 15% of participants will receive some type of response.  The response would be the slowing down of the progression of cancer to other parts of the body and/or stopping or slowing down the growth of the cancer cells.

So, I asked Dr. L. the question; how many years would my life be extended, if there were a positive result?  His response was that we are talking about months, not years.

In today’s post, I write the following –

Tecentriq is the immunotherapy drug that I am receiving.  In 2 days, I will receive my 2nd immunotherapy treatment.  The current treatment plan involves me receiving immunotherapy through IV every 3 weeks.  Upon the completion of my 3rd treatment, a scan will be performed to help determine the effectiveness on my treatment.

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The results of that scan may not provide enough information to determine if the treatment is working or not.  Another treatment round may be needed to determine the effectiveness – meaning 4 additional treatments then another round of scans.  If no determination is made in late August, then October will be the next time to make a possible decision.

What am I referring to when I write decision?

Since my first clue there was something wrong with me back on September 4, 2015; much has taken place.  This journey started with a discoloration in my urine.  Friends who have followed me for a while, know what has taken place since then.  Through all the tests, procedures, surgeries, treatments and appointments, one thing has stayed consistent.

The one thing that has stayed consistent, will play a major role in that decision.

That one thing that stayed consistent is my cancer has been aggressive in spreading.  That decision will be whether to proceed with treatments or let the cancer take its course.

I will be honest; I have always been honest here on my blog and at times blunt and direct.  In a couple of months, 20170416_194313 (2)I will be making that decision. Currently my days are filled with pain, and little activity due to my health issues limiting many things I can do.  Many days I remain positive and hold on to a glimmer of hope this immunotherapy treatment will respond with positive results.   Then there are a few days; I am ready to stop everything and let the cancer take over and seal my fate.

Currently the positive days outnumber the negative days.  As the days come and go, the date for that decision nears.

Magnifying Glass

I recently finally bought reading glasses.

For a while now, or if I am honest for a very long time now, I have needed reading glasses.  Most of the time when using my computer, I am sitting with my laptop in my lap.  Let’s say my eyes were about 2 feet from the screen.  And let’s say, all words were blurring.  And let’s say, I at times was using a magnifying glass to read the words.

I went to the local Walgreens, bought some reading glasses, came home and voila, I could clearly see the words.  What a difference it makes, I now need to become accustomed to having the glasses on the end of my nose so I see non-reading items clearly when lifting my eyes up – you know, like the TV.

So, I was feeling very excited about my new reading glasses and being able to read words again on my computer and not using the magnifying glass.

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About the same time, I read post from fellow blogger and friend Steph over at Bold Blind Beauty.

Steph is blind and her blog’s Welcome page begins with the following words –

An extraordinary online community that encourages beautiful blind women to transcend barriers and walk boldly together with confidence; in style, body, and soul.

If you do not know Steph, please visit her blog site, she is a wonderful lady with a message not just for women, but for us men also.

So, I was feeling very excited about my new reading glasses and I read a post from Steph’s blog site titled ‘Learning To Be Present Through The Loss Of Sight’.

I was feeling guilty reading her post, because here I am excited about my new reading glasses and Steph is writing about losing her sight and being declared legally blind and using a white cane and not knowing what was ahead of her.

I felt selfish and ashamed that I was excited about my new reading glasses when there are others who cannot see things I take for granted seeing.  With my body having cancer and me going through a tough time, I am tired and worn down physically and mentally.  So, the new reading glasses got me excited.

Steph’s post ‘Learning To Be Present Through The Loss Of Sight’, concludes with the following –

Life is way too short to waste it focusing on things we have no control over. Live life now and be in the moment.

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So, Steph, thank you for your wonderful post and reminding me to live life now and be in the moment.  Sometimes I am not, I am down and beaten and feeling sorrow.  But then I open my computer with my new reading glasses and I am reminded how exciting the small things can be.

Those glasses sitting on the edge of my nose is helping me be in the moment and enjoy the words in front of me – I no longer need the magnifying glass.