“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!
Rick, Duke, Uncle Duck, for Cheryl, Kristin, Erik and Coco.