being  I am currently on “break” from school. My courses run in eight-week sessions with a two week break between. I had grandiose plans of getting so much done, but today is the last “official” day. And nothing is done.

No laundry, no changing my textbook/study center, no closet cleaning, no swapping out winter clothes, no basement hoeing, no plant planting. No “thing” is done. I didn’t actually hope to accomplish all of that, but I thought I would get to one or two things on the list.

Even though I sound discouraged, because I do like a tidy home and a lovely yard, I am not. All these things will get done when they are supposed to, if they are supposed to. You might be walking up my porch steps as I put away the last pair of underwear or wash that last pan, but “just in time” works. If November comes and I pull a sweater out of the dresser in my bedroom, where it has been for the entire summer and fall, then I’d say I’m ahead of the game.

So if I accomplished none of these “things” — where did my break go?

Two events come to mind. One event was a “must do.” Our lives are made up of those. Not because others dictate to us, but because we understand the importance for ourselves of doing them. This “must do” was attending my uncle’s funeral. Nearly all of us understand the “must do” component — while you want to support your family and be there for the event, the “must” part comes because no one likes facing death. But it is part of our lives and it is a fact of our history.

The other event was only a “must do” in that it was time for us to get away. But this was mostly spontaneous, especially in that we didn’t actually plan where we were going and just decided along the way. We didn’t actually book hotel rooms, either. Well, I guess that’s not so unusual for us. We just “hope” it works out and we might find a deal. My poor kids can tell you how this usually worked when traveling long distances!

So we ended up enjoying four nights and five days of spontaneity. Each night, the hotel room hunt was successful. The capstone night was finding the Common Man Hotel and Restaurant in Claremont, New Hampshire. What a lovely place. And we were offered a discounted rate, besides!

We didn’t have any particular agenda; no schedule to keep; no people to meet. So we drove, relaxed and rested.

But always present was one extra visitor that we didn’t invite. It was “that guy,” Cancer. He’s always with us these days. Though the doctors have indicated he is not active, neither do they say he is gone. And sometimes, we are reminded that he invaded our lives because of treatment side effects.

So in our wanderings, he was there. But because we were able to cut out other stresses, the time together was refreshing and brought us closer together. I recently heard a friend say that she is “living” with cancer — we are still learning how to do that.  It is a challenge to teach yourself to live in the moment; knowing that cancer wants to limit the moments. Our journey has been somewhat calm, so far, compared to others we have known. We are thankful for that and it reminds us to pray for those who face very hard treatments and prognosis. Our long weekend resulted in some much needed rest, introspection, conversation and rejuvenation.

So those things that I thought I’d get done during break don’t matter. Life isn’t about “things” — it is about moments. Our wonderful, happy, spontaneous moments this past week — that was living.

Here’s what we got to do!
Friday morning – rescheduled MRI in Rochester;
Friday night – Syracuse (NY) Mets ball game – Tim Tebow at bat x3 ;
https://www.milb.com/syracuse

Saturday morning – breakfast in Syracuse with Titus and Abigail  
http://www.thegemdiner.com/menu/ – “World Famous” Gem Diner;

From here I thought we were going to Boston, but the traffic dissuaded us.

Saturday afternoon – stopped in to see Bud’s Dad;
Saturday night – Dinner at Lizzie Keays (Bud’s sister’s restaurant in Warrensburg, NY)
http://www.lizziekeays.com/

Visit with friends in Thurman, NY;
Sunday morning – church at New Hope Church – Queensbury, NY;
http://www.sharingnewhope.org/ — excellent place to worship!
Sunday – Lunch with Bud’s Dad – Bud’s locally famous spaghetti;
Sunday afternoon – Andover, VT;
Sunday night — The Common Man Inn and Restaurant in New Hampshire
https://thecmaninn.com/ – a must do for you!;

Monday – Andover, New Hampshire
AND Andover, Maine
Had a great late lunch here:
https://www.facebook.com/AndoverGeneralStoreandDiner/;
Tuesday – Joshua Chamberlain Museum in Brunswick, Maine – Bud’s “History fix” – a bit of history about a Civil War general.
http://pejepscothistorical.org/chamberlain

and Home!

Half-Way Day!

As many of you know, I (Linda) have been working on obtaining my funeral director’s license. I take classes through Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science.

pims  download

Last week was a milestone because it included HALF-WAY DAY! October 4, 2019 is the last day of my program!

Thank you for your encouragement and prayers! We’re on the backside!

Business as usual

So, progress reports come slowly. That’s the nature of the medical community.  In a few weeks, Bud will have another set of scans to update the report.

In the meantime, it is basically “business as usual.” Bud returned to Wellsville Central School as a bus driver. He has only ever been a morning driver. This has been a great schedule for him because he is a morning person by nature and that time of day is rarely interrupted by other events. We believe it has been a help to the school as well. Have you heard how difficult it is to get drivers? If you have the right license, maybe you’d like to help out a school.

Anyway, he passed the required physical and he also successfully completed the safety test, so he is back on the bus!

Bud has returned to construction work as well. We have an upstairs office that he is working on. Most recently, he has spent time at our church helping to tape the drywall. This is a job that he does not like to do, but he is good at it. So, he has volunteered there a bit.

And, of course, you see him around town visiting with various people. If you see him, 02-16-18 business as usualstop and say “Hi!” He’s always glad to take a few minutes and shoot the breeze. Last night, we celebrated my mother’s birthday at Beef Haus. And we saw several of you there! What a great time to connect!

So, everything is running as it should.

We know that you have choices in Wellsville for funeral services. We are always honored to serve your family. We are quite capable of assisting you through this very difficult time. We have recently added an amazing space that offers a level of service and comfort never before seen in the Wellsville area. Many people look at this space and believe that we are no longer affordable. This is simply not so. We have not raised our prices since opening the doors on the Riverside Drive facility. And our prices match or are lower than other funeral homes nearby.

It is because of God’s provision, your continued confidence, and a little bit of help from Steuben Trust Bank that this addition happened. We prayed that we would be able to “pay-as-we-go” and that was almost possible. So, that is why we don’t have to pass building costs on to families who choose us.

We began this section of the blog, the cancer journey, so that we could be transparent with our community; so that you would know what is happening. The best places to get information are from this site, our Facebook page, or just give Bud a call.

The propagated rumors that say any differently than what you’ve read here or had us tell you are just not true. We welcome your questions and concerns. We also invite you to set a rumor straight if you hear something contrary.

It’s just business as usual.

A Time to Wait

That’s what this week has been; a time to wait.

Bud has had two cycles (of four weeks each) of the targeted drug therapy. At the end of two cycles, he gets a CT scan and MRI to evaluate the progress of the treatment. Tuesday, we went to Rochester for the testing.

Today we got results. To use the doctor’s words, the response of Bud’s body to the treatment is “phenomenal”! The small lesion in his brain is no longer evident. The larger one has reduced by 50%. The mass on his lung has reduced by 50%. The scan on his vertebrae shows that the bone is regenerating; the same is true of his hip. We are so thankful!

We are thankful for those of you who pray for him. We are thankful that we had opportunity for this clinical trial. We are thankful for so many things.

Even while we are receiving good news and are expressing our thankfulness, I am mindful of so many of our friends and family who are facing this giant and don’t have as much positive to report. We are praying for you every day. Battle fatigue for medical issues is a true obstacle and prayer from friends and family is so important.

Some have recently lost loved ones to cancer and are working hard to find a new equilibrium. The questions and the longings may be overtaking you. I think of my cousins and uncle who are living with the daily void that my aunt left when she went to heaven on December 15. I cannot begin to understand how they hurt. I will not offer platitudes and clichés. If I were able to just hug each of them, that I would do.

As my dear uncle stood beside my aunt’s casket, he said “Don’t cry for her.” Then he said, “Cry for us, that’s ok; but don’t cry for her.” What a tender heart to be so vulnerable and transparent.

So many hurting people; people looking for hope and help . . . As we forge ahead with continued treatments, we will continue to pray for you. And we humbly thank you for remembering Bud.pray-continually-gods-will

Sloan Kettering

Our visit last week with Dr. Wu was another of those God-moments.

We drove to NYC and entered a different world. Navigating that city is a resume-worthy skill! There are so many people; there is so much activity; their leisurely pace is “fast.” It was just . . . other worldly.

Things slowed significantly after we stepped off the fourth four elevator at Sloan Kettering Memorial Hospital. Noise subsided to nearly nothing, except the honking of horns below us and children playing in the school “yard” across the street. Once we were shown to a patient room, the quiet totally enveloped us and it was welcome.

Once again, God knew what was needed to give us peace in His plan. Dr. Wu is a humble soul who shared with us his expertise, knowledge, and opinions. He answered many questions and answered them well. At one point in the conversation, Bud began to talk about his relationship with God and his hope of heaven. Dr. Wu asked him to clarify something and then simply smiled. “Amen,” he said “I’m a Christian, too.”

And the relationship changed. Instantly we felt an understanding with Dr. Wu. Instantly we felt even more confident in his information as the Holy Spirit confirmed His presence. Dr. Wu did not give us an unrealistic view of the situation. However, he did indicate that he is hopeful for more time than we have thus far been told with regard to this strain of lung cancer.

He said that the timelines that the UR is working with (and other hospitals as well) looks backward on the old data and the old (chemotherapy) treatment. The study of this particular lung cancer (non-small cell adenocarcinoma, EGFR positive) is just emerging, as in about ten years. Dr. Wu indicated that the statistics have not been able to fully write in results of the new targeted drug therapy. And they don’t take into account that the drug therapy is now in the third generation of drugs. He is seeing great success with the drug therapy and is hopeful . . ..

Dr. Wu has confidence in the UR plan and the clinical trial. He indicated that even if Bud doesn’t get the more aggressive arm, that this study is a good thing. Getting the less aggressive arm will still allow Bud the standard of care treatment, which is the treatment that Dr. Wu described as “hopeful.” And being in the study will allow the collection of data to improve the possibilities in future treatments.

So, Dr. Wu was an encouragement about the possibilities. Once again, God placed a relative on our path to encourage and inform. God is good, all the time.

love one another

It’s Not a Wall

Joe. Not his real name. But he may have been severely beaten over some kind of Strong Memorial Hospitaldrug/money deal and he may have undergone surgery. And he may have been sharing a room with my husband in the hospital last week.

But he was definitely a hard roommate. Probably around 20 years old. Probably had been pretty healthy and hospital-free. Probably a bit entitled.

Definitely without loving family at his side. He was all alone and he knew it. He asked for someone to call his family. He demanded attention when his pain escalated. He was vocal about the medications he wanted. He was a heart-wrenching case.

Bud introduced himself through the curtain and a tentative relationship began. Joe occasionally asked Bud to help him, which he did. One time Bud went over and talked with him for quite some time and got to read to him from the Gospel of John. And at some point in the relationship, Joe cried out that he wanted to change. Bud showed him the way to the One who can change everything. And Joe prayed to receive Him.

And Joe was moved to a different room.

Matthew arrived – also not his real name. Matthew was on the opposite end of the spectrum from Joe. Good job, loving wife, clean life. But Matthew struggles with anxiety. We saw some of his anxiety response and it was pretty intense.

Bud sat with him a couple of times and listened to him talk about his anxieties, about what brought him to the hospital, about his life. And Matthew had a front row seat to our drama.

The curtain is not a wall; it is not a soundproof barrier. That thin fabric hanging between beds is simply a flimsy attempt at dignity for those who are publicly enduring hardship.

Matthew heard every time the doctors came in and all asked the same questions. He heard Bud’s medical issue and what brought him to the hospital. And he heard every time a doctor came in with a not-so-great report. He heard the words with us, “mass,” “tumor,” “lesions.” And he heard it at the same time we did – Cancer. As we were absorbing the words “lesions in the brain” Matthew was absorbing right along with us. This poor man, who struggles with anxiety, was enduring all of this with us.

And, thankfully, he was absorbing our prayers as well. In our grief we prayed; in our fear we prayed; in our sadness we prayed. Matthew was there. It is my belief that our prayers ministered to Matthew (as well as ourselves.) As he saw us cast our anxiety on God, Bud also shared with him just how to do that for himself. I don’t know that there was any great shift in Matthew’s belief system; but I do know that seeds were powerfully sown. Matthew had a very clear picture of how to cast all his cares on the Lord…I believe that image will stay with him for a very long time.