A Love Note from Peru

Image Provided by: Harbor Light Hospice

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

Hospice & Home

Last Monday’s post ‘Cancer will take my life‘, I wrote the following –

Cancer will take my life.  I have always referred to this cancer in my body as my cancer as it does not belong to anyone else.  My cancer will take my life.  Those pictures associated to last Friday’s post revealed just how much my cancer has taken over and my fight is coming to an end.  My body and mind are worn and it is time to prepare for what is ultimately to take place.

The family visits of past weeks are over and my body is tired and mind is ready.

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Image Provided by: Harbor Light Hospice

Hospice will begin this week and changes will take place in many areas for both Gary and me.  If you read my post yesterday, starting this week; the amount of posts will be reduced.

In today’s post, I write the following –

Now being home for a week, I feel much better being back in my comfort zone.  I am thankful to have spent time in the hospital, because I needed to be there.  I need to be home also, and I am certainly thankful to be back here now.

This past week I have I received much needed rest and Gary and I have started new routines based on my Hospice care.  The nurses and other associates with Hospice are wonderful and I feel very comfortable in their care.  This past week, though at times difficult both emotionally and physically; this past week, the transition felt right, certainly felt needed and I was ready for it.

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Emotionally I accept where I am in my life, what is left of it and honestly, I am ready for the end.  I know others are not ready for the end; it is coming and I find myself at times wanting to look at a calendar to see what date that will be.  I have no date, and find at times I am frustrated with not knowing.

Physically my body is beaten down by my cancer and as each day passes, so does some strength, flexibility and mobility.  I preform exercise at least once per day and sometimes twice to help slow down the deprivation taken place in my body.

Now that I have a ‘G Tube’ inserted into my stomach, I no longer eat by mouth.  All my nutritional needs are through IV as well as my pain medication.  Remember I also have a urostomy bag that collects my urine and along with all other outside aids, I have lots of tubes coming and going from my body.  I also recently was put on oxygen due to shortness of breath and the amount of effort it takes me to do small tasks; such as changing positions.

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Gary is here beside me always willing and able to take care of me with the small tasks to taking care of changing my nutritional IV that requires changing on a daily basis.  There are many other daily tasks he does to help make my life easier.  I eat lots of ice chips and if it has flavor, then it is like having a treat every day.  So, Gary makes sure I am stocked on ice, popsicles and the like.

The first week with Hospice has gone well and I am grateful to be home.

It feels like a dream

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Image Provided by: http://www.freepik.com

It feels like a dream

This reality of mine

For it seems only yesterday

My days were always full of sunshine

 

Now no matter the day

With the sunshine or none

I wake every morning

Waiting for the day to be done

 

For each passing day

Takes me closer to it

That all important day

When my breath is ready to quit

 

Each day becomes difficult

Some a little, some a lot

This is not what I envisioned

This is not what I had thought

 

It feels like a dream

This reality of mine

The daily pains, the daily struggles

It must be a sign

 

This body of mine

The look and the feel

My cancer in my body

It all seems unreal

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Image Provided by: More Sky

Cancer will take my life

In my post ‘I will see her again‘, I concluded with the following –

These family members know my life may be short.  The once small cancer that was found almost 2 years ago, is now taking over my body.  The treatments may help slow down the progression, but ultimately my cancer will take my life.

In today’s post, I begin with the following –

In last Friday’s post ‘…out of my nose soon‘, I wrote about a small surgery to take place to insert a ‘G Tube’, from my stomach to the outside of my body.  This ‘G Tube’ will provide me a way to release the pressure from my stomach and small intestines without a tube going through my nose.  This ‘G Tube’ should bring me some relieve, however it brings on a whole another set of challenges.  With this tube, I will no longer eat through my mouth; but instead through an IV.

The surgery last Thursday was a success and after several more days of observation it was time to leave the hospital.

I spent my last 13 days in the hospital and arrived home again yesterday to the RV.  I am very glad to be out of the hospital and to be feeling better today.

Did you notice the pictures associated with last Friday’s post?  JImage2ust viewing some of the pictures, some of you know, a few may not have figured it out, and it may be others are not ready to accept or acknowledge.

I did not need to write the words, the associated pictures displayed the words in plain for all to see.

I left the hospital yesterday and now am back home in my RV to start my Hospice care.

Cancer will take my life.  I have always referred to this cancer in my body as my cancer as it does not belong to anyone else.  My cancer will take my life.  Those pictures associated to last Friday’s post revealed just how much my cancer has taken over and my fight is coming to an end.  My body and mind are worn and it is time to prepare for what is ultimately to take place.

20170416_194313 (2)The family visits of past weeks are over and my body is tired and mind is ready.

Hospice will begin this week and changes will take place in many areas for both Gary and me.  If you read my post yesterday, starting this week; the amount of posts will be reduced.

As always, I appreciate every one of you for stopping by each day to read and comment.  You my friends; your support and encouragement all have a huge positive impact on me.

But, now it is time – time for my cancer to take my life.

Blockage

A week ago, in my post ‘Daily Struggles‘, I concluded with the following –

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

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Image Provided by: http://www.cafepress.com

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.

In today’s post, I write the following –

Last Tuesday I entered the hospital and today I remain.  Most likely several more days this week I remain here with hopes of feeling much better when I leave.  So, why did Dr. C. decide I needed to be in the hospital?  And what is taking so long to keep me here before I can leave?

A couple of weeks ago when my lymphedema was increasing with fluid in my legs and trying to push up and out of my body, my abdominal region began to increase and bloat.  This was about the weekend my mom, sister and brother were here visiting.  Image3At that time, it was assumed the bloating was a result of the lymphedema fluid being pushed into this area and not properly exiting my body.  The bloating never really reduced and instead became worse over the weeks with finally causing issues the weekend immediately prior to entering the hospital.

Over the past weeks of experiencing the abdominal bloating, my appetite decreased as did my activity level; with the pain level increasing.  This was the main reason for my appointment with Dr. C.; the abdominal bloating and the review of my pain management.

Let’s go back to Saturday a week ago and I was feeling horrible that evening and I was losing at the tiredness war and losing at the trying to eat conflict.  Gary indicated I needed something in me and suggested I try drinking Gatorade to replenish my electrolytes and other nutrients I had been losing for the previous weeks.

One small sip and I was then hit with nausea.  The nausea was then following by large amounts of vomiting that proceeded off and on for the next 3 days.  I entered the hospital on Tuesday at which time a tube was inserted through my nose to start reducing the fluid that had built up the previous weeks.  I thought this would never end and was amazed how much fluid was in my stomach, small and large intestines.

What caused this fluid buildup?

After a scan had taken place, it was determined I have a blockage between my small and larger intestines.  20170416_194313 (2)It is believed the blockage is caused by my cancer.  It is certain it will have to be dealt with before going back home.

7 days later and I continue to be in the hospital and be treated well enough I hope to go home soon.

But what about fixing the blockage?

I should know more today concerning what is next with this blockage issue.  I should be able to let you know later this week with better, up-to-date information.

But for now, I appreciate you allowing me this past weekend to rest and take some time to catch-up on me.

I will see her again

From my post ‘Who is next?‘, I wrote the following –

Do I have other family members coming to visit?  Well, since you asked –

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Image Provided by: Kyrene Foundation

This coming Friday, my twin sister and my mom will be visiting. Another important visit I am looking forward to because my mom and I are close.  I have written many posts about the importance she is to me.  This will be an emotional visit because my mom, she worries like most moms do and I think she feels helpless.

My sister and I are twins and therefore we have a special bond.  I believe if that bond were broken in anyway, there would be a great loss there.  My sister has revealed to me she is heartbroken and upset and cries on a daily basis.

This weekend I will have special visits with special family members; both have been important to me throughout my life and especially now.

In today’s post, I write the following –

This time with my mom and sister certainly at times was emotional.  They were not prepared to see my body that has become weak and frail.  They were not prepared to see me walking will difficulty and needing the help of others with some everyday tasks.  They were not prepared to see me drained of energy, strength and vigor.

I felt it important for them to see me this way; to see how serious this cancer is attaching my body.

We had discussions about how the cancer is affecting my body and the current treatment and potential future treatments.  We discussed my daily struggle and my reason for fighting.  We discussed my possible decision I may need to make in the future.  And we discussed me dying and my final wishes.

We cried a lot, hugged a lot and enjoyed each other’s company.  I made sure they knew how grateful I was that they came to visit me and the importance of their visit.

My second oldest brother was here also to visit me and to spend some time with mom and sister.  Him and I were not close growing up and it has only been in the last couple of years we have connected in a different way.  I guess growing older sometimes bring people closer together and breaks down differences.

I cried in front of these family members on several occasions as I shared my fears.20170416_194313 (2)  Their comfort and support and love brought strength for both Gary and me.  Their time here with us will not be forgotten anytime soon.

The time came when we had to say our goodbyes, with the most difficult being my mom.  We both cried and I told her I will see her again.

These family members know my life may be short.  The once small cancer that was found almost 2 years ago, is now taking over my body.  The treatments may help slow down the progression, but ultimately my cancer will end my life.

Months not Years

In my post ‘something changes direction‘, I wrote these words –

The results of the CT Scan and MRI came back with additional bad news.

My cancer has now spread into my bones and spine as well as additional Lymph Nodes.  It was only one month ago I had scans performed and these areas were clear and displayed nothing out of the ordinary.  The doctors are amazed at how quickly my cancer has spread.

So, what comes next?

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Image Provided by: WallpapersCraft

In today’s post, I write the following –

It was about 3 weeks ago, I received the news my cancer had spread into my bones, spinal cord and additional Lymph Nodes.

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.  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.

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Image Provided by: flickr.com

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.

It is mid-July and sometime in late August scans will take place to compare to previous ones.  What will they reveal?  Any changes?  We will find out soon enough and further decisions will be made.

Whatever those results and decisions, my time is limited to months not years.  I know this and Gary knows this as does my family.

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I will continue to write and publish posts until it comes a time I am unable to do so.

something changes direction

From my post ‘turning point‘, I concluded with the following –

Upon having my initial appointment with the Supportive Care Medicine, the main doctor, Dr. C., immediately wanted to place me in the hospital due to the extreme pain level and the lack of quality of life.

So, after waiting several hours just to be admitted that were becoming unbearable for me, finally a bed became available and the start of my 7 days would begin.

This is a turning point that Gary and I were looking for that would change the course of my treatment.

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Image Provided by: BYUtv

More to come my friends in future posts to explain so much more.

From my post ‘critical point‘, I wrote the following –

Upon admittance into the hospital, the Supportive Care Medicine team of doctors wanted to change my pain medications and run scans to determine the sources of the difference pains I feel daily.

First, a CT Scan with contrast was performed with Dr. C. specifying thoracic, abdominal and pelvic areas.  As part of this CT Scan, he requested the right groin area be included.  My right groin for the past several weeks has been causing me severe pain.

Second, Dr. C. ordered a full body MRI specifically on the spine.  He wanted to determine if anything out of the ordinary regarding nerves was obvious.

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bezboleznej.ru

In today’s post, I write the following –

Dictionary.com has this definition –

turning point

noun

  1. a point at which a decisive change takes place; critical point; crisis.
  2. a point at which something changes direction, especially a high or low point on a graph.
  3. Surveying. a point temporarily located and marked in order to establish the elevation or position of a surveying instrument at a new station.

Based on my admittance into the hospital, changes to my pain medications, tests and results – there are 2 turning points.  This is turning point 2 –

The results of the CT Scan and MRI came back with additional bad news.

My cancer has now spread into my bones and spine as well as additional Lymph Nodes.  It was only one month ago I had scans performed and these areas were clear and displayed nothing out of the ordinary.  The doctors are amazed at how quickly my cancer has spread. 

So, what comes next?

Following my hospital stay I met with my Oncologist Dr. L. and we decided I would start with Immunotherapy treatment due to my cancer being wide spread.  The Immunotherapy treatment will start immediately.

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The news I received about the test results, honestly, I kind of expected.  I know my body and my body has been telling me something for a while now.

turning point

I spent the last 7 days in the hospital with doctors trying to figure out the sources of my many different pains.  Back on June 15, I had an appointment with my Radiation Oncologist Dr. M.  Once again as with my all my appointments, I express the severe pain I am feeling and the receiving of very little relief from the current pain medications I am on.  Many days I am living with a 10+ pain level.

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Image Provided by: NaturPhilosophie

Let’s go back several weeks before this appointment and I am expressing my pain frustrations with my Oncologist Dr. L.  It was just 2 weeks before this time, I was walking on the outdoors track for 1 – 2 miles per day.  Now I am having to use a cane and other activities are being affected as well such as showering and dressing myself.  I also now had to give up driving; something I really enjoyed, but now with pain medications and the pain in my right hip-groin that make its way down to my knee: driving is not in my best interest.

So, in the previous weeks that came and went; more scans were taken, blood work drawn for testing, and then there were Main Management Procedures to block nerves and one more very important appointment.  After several months of Gary complaining there must be something the doctors are not seeing, and with pain level as high as it is, I should be admitted to the hospital to find out the source and to treat it.  At this point in time I currently have no quality of life and my days are filled with pain and tears.

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Image Provided by: aelis.es

At this point in time, it all becomes blurring and my brain is not functioning well; mainly because of pain medications and my walking with my right leg is all but gone.

At this point in time, there finally comes a suggestion from Dr. M., to place a referral in to the ‘Supportive Care Medicine’ group.  From Moffitt Cancer Center website –

Patients may be referred to the Moffitt Supportive Care Medicine Program for consultation at any stage of cancer, including at time of diagnosis. The program works collaboratively with other health care practitioners to provide the extra layer of support that patients often need while undergoing anti-cancer treatments. While others are working to treat the disease, Supportive Care Medicine focuses its efforts on relieving the physical and emotional distress caused by the disease and assisting with planning ahead.

Upon having my initial appointment with the Supportive Care Medicine, the main doctor, Dr. C., immediately wanted to place me in the hospital due to the extreme pain level and the lack of quality of life.

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Image Provided by: moffitt.org

So, after waiting several hours just to be admitted that were becoming unbearable for me, finally a bed became available and the start of my 7 days would begin.

This is a turning point that Gary and I were looking for that would change the course of my treatment.

More to come my friends in future posts to explain so much more.