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

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.

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.

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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Image Provided by: moffitt.org

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.

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.