“When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?”Psalm 56 3-4 (NIV)

This is not the news we were hoping to share with all of you this week.
Most of you know that we were scheduled to head to Emory Cancer Center in Atlanta on Thursday, possibly to initiate the immunotherapy therapy in our efforts and beat back this latest round of metastasized cancer in my liver.   We never made the trip.
After I spent three days in the hospital during Thanksgiving week — in an effort to get a handle on my pain — son Erik, daughter-in-law Courtney and daughter Kristin noticed last weekend that my skin was turning yellow from jaundice.  In addition, a number of other signs have developed indicating further liver failure.
On Wednesday, when I was in an emergency pain situation at home with a blocked digestive system, I called my oncologist (Dr. Graves) to discuss options.  (My last choice that day was to go our local community hospital E.R. and risk getting admitted without relief — something with which I am quite familiar).  During our conversation, I updated her on my physical changes we had noticed since she had seen me last week.  Given the amount of liver function I have lost, it was pretty clear the window had closed on any chance of receiving immunotherapy.
With no other treatment options available, I asked her if she would call in hospice and decided to cancel the trip to Atlanta.   Three hours later,  a hospice nurse arrived at house, apologized for being late, and then turned in a heroic effort to solve my digestive pain problem.  (I will spare you the smelly, gory details, but I will say that whatever she was paid yesterday, it was not nearly enough.)   As a result, I slept better last night than I had in the two previous weeks and have had a terrific day today.  But the
And now the goodbyes begin.  When I asked Dr. Graves to give me an estimate of how much time I had left here on this earth, she answered with the “everyone is different” line but said it could be as little as three-to-four weeks.
Wow.  My head continues to spin. This has all happened so quickly since my gallbladder was removed in early September and they discovered the new cancer.
Even before this week, a number of our friends and family had asked if they could come to Alabama for a visit and say hello.  Now, it would likely be to say goodbye.  Unfortunately, as much as we would love for that to happen, Cheryl and I are not physically able to say yes.
Cheryl has become a care provider around the clock, which puts a big strain on her.  Sleep does not come easy these days for either of us.  The painkiller drugs take their toll on my nervous system and, with them, bring bouts of unsteadiness, nausea and hives.  On my good days, visitations would be simply an inconvenience.  On my bad days, it simply could not happen.
Cards, emails, texts and phone calls are no replacements for hugs and kisses. You’ll just have to picture me minus 50 pounds (at this point) and colored with a yellow highlighter.  It ain’t pretty.
Of course, some immediate family members are coming.  Already, my brother and sisters, are scheduled to visit next week.   Following will be visits from the other beautiful family I have, the Snyder side.
In the meantime, Cheryl, Kristin, Erik, Coco and I are trying to stay focused on God’s endless love, the empty cross, and the gift of eternal life for all who come to the Father through Jesus, accepting His grace and forgiveness. 
Personally I am greatly saddened by these events, as are most of you (OK, maybe some of you), but I try to stay focused on thanking God for all the joy and blessings He has given me over the past 65 years.
That includes you.  I am fortunate to have crossed paths with all of you (OK, most of you, ha-ha) and blessed to have walked beside many of you in our life journeys, sharing joys, wins, losses, miracles and tragedies along the way.
The good Lord willing, this blog will continue with a few more entries, authored by either me or someone else with a clearer brain.
But please know that I love you all.  I cherish all your prayers.  I treasure the many friendships over the years and the memories of our times together.  I am truly blessed in more ways than I can count.  Keep those prayers coming, and I will do the same.
To God be the glory!
Love y’all.
Rick, Duke, Uncle Duck, for Cheryl, Kristin, Erik and Coco.

15 thoughts on “Final chapter begins with Hospice …

  1. Duke – your humor, joy and positivity shine through even in a dark hour. I am beyond thankful our paths crossed and that we get to call your family friends. I’ve been and continue to pray for you. Much love

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Our hearts are breaking, but we know you heading Home to Heaven where there is no more pain or sorrow! You are such a great guy and inspiration to us all. Our family gatherings will never be the same without your sense of humor and the bantering you and Jack would contribute to those gatherings. Like Jack said the other night, we envy you that you can go Home. You have touched my life in so many ways. I have so many wonderful memories! Thank you for loving my sister so deeply. I knew it was love when I saw how you stayed with her after her accident! My grandkids adore you! We love you and will continue to pray for strength, peace, and comfort!
    Please give Dad, Dora, Mo and Po a hug for me! What a family reunion you will have!❤️🙏
    It’s never Good Bye, but I will see you later!
    Love, Ann

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Duke,

    It was an honor to work with you. You projected quiet, calm leadership during some of the Tribune’s most tumultuous times. Peace and comfort to you and your family.


    Curtis Ross

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Rick, it’s so hard to say how I feel but your post has hit me hard, and you have been in my thoughts and prayers (I know’s that become a cliche, but I sincerely mean it). It was always a pleasure to work with you and for you at The Blade. You were always fair and honest and transparent and led by example. You also managed to make work fun, despite the pressures of deadlines and inside politics. You worked hard and did a great job but work was not your whole life, which was always refreshing. Your latest post is another example of how honest and transparent you are. It touches my heart. You were a gracious host when I visited you at the Tribune quite a few years ago. As a fellow believer, I am so glad to see you have faith in the Resurrection and know there is more to life than our mortal existence. God bless you and your family.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. So sorry to read this via a link posted by our former colleague Dave Yonke on Facebook. As Dave said in his post, you’ve written this in a way only you could. As you always have done in the newsrooms where you’ve worked, you are handling this latest “story” in a way that reflects your perseverance, integrity, courage, and most of all your deep faith. Adding our prayers to those of the many who are united in our love and respect for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Rick, this is very sad to read. You are very much missed here at The Blade. You deserved a nice retirement. We all do. So sorry to hear of your suffering but thank you for sharing. God be with you. Tom T.


  7. I am so sorry to hear about you and your illness. In times like this, I feel so helpless. I can only promise to keep you in my prayers. I remember better times. I remember times when Mom, Dad and I would come to your house in Toledo. We would play and talk. I was always so impressed by how very smart you were. You always had a joke or funny story to tell. Sometimes I would imagine, that it would be great if you were my brother and we could be together everyday.
    I remember when we were about 11 years old, we were at grandma’s house. We were looking at the pigs and you walked up and touched the electric fence. Your hands were locked on the fence and you were in great pain. We were all scared. I ran and hit you and knocked you off the fence. You laid on the grass for a while and recovered from the electrocution. I was glad to see you get up and walk around.
    I remember a New Years night when your Dad gave us MANY samples of whisky at the kitchen table. We talked and drank. It was a HAPPY NEW YEAR. I remember the family reunions at Frank and Agnes King’s house. Those were great parties. We ate, talked and played games. I always looked forward to seeing you and talking to you. I remember the time we went to Florida to see Cheryl’s parents. We stopped in to see you and your family. Your kids were very young. Unfortunately, distance and time has prevented us from spending more time together. I always had a special place in my heart for you. I will always remember you and the time we had together. They are special memories. I hope for the BEST, for you and your family. Love, Your cousin and friend Marvin Kromer


  8. Dear Rick, Nanciann Cherry forwarded a link to your blog to The Blade Geezers (retirees). You’re one of my all-time favorite Blade-oes, always measured and with a healthy perspective in no small part informed by your faith. I saw you as a person of trustworthy character and principle, characteristics often in short supply in that bumpy newsroom. I’m honored to have crossed paths with you. That’s one heckuva blog you recently wrote. It is wonderful that you are in good hands medically and surrounded by love. With admiration, Tahree Lane (former Blade writer and Grammy to a 2- and an 8-year old).


  9. My Continued prayers are with you and your loved ones daily. Peace and love from your Stritch family of friends. We will be gathering this Friday and lift you and your family in heartfelt prayer. Mary Ann (Benko) Repka ‘71

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This is the first I’ve learned of your illness, Duke, and I’m so, so sorry. This is not supposed to happen to the good people! I hope you’re thinking (a little bit) of the many lives you touched in a good way, and I hope you know how lasting those touches are. I’ll never forget sitting by Gil’s pool, swinging our feet in the water, and talking in such a refreshingly honest way about our jobs. I send you love, gratitude and utmost respect on this journey. You are a great man, and I’m thankful I got to work with you.


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