Chapter 4


(No subject)

February 24, 2011 11:51:36 AM
Just wanted everyone to know that the talk with the surgeon Tuesday, went well. It was not a biopsy. He needs to see what was going on first and now has the biopsy scheduled for Tuesday at 6:00am.

He is the head surgeon at the U of M hospital as well as the VA hospital and he has been specializing in this field for over 16 years. He deals only in ear, nose and throat issues.

He said Paul’s primary Dr., did the right thing by ordering the tests and he was happy that he didn’t try to treat him with antibiotics etc… He will not know exactly what he is facing- until he sees the results from the biopsy. They take a small scope and put it into his throat and take small tissue samples. He did say, that if we wanted his opinion as to what it may be- he would say it is cancer.

Squamous cell cancer.

His left tonsil and the gland on that side of his neck are enlarged. He showed us the CAT scan and the reason for the concern. He was a great guy, he made him feel very secure about what he is facing.

He said it is treatable and curable.

This type of cancer is usually not spread in the whole body, it’s usually isolated. For precautionary reasons, they are doing a scan of his chest today. The surgeon liked that they had already ordered it.

Again- they are not completely sure- until they do the biopsy.

Continued prayers and love are all appreciated… we can feel it- thanks in advance!

Be Blessed,



(This is the email from Paul to me)

Monday, March 7, 2011 11:41 AM

They just called me back and said it is cancer of the tonsil, and needs to be treated with radiation, and chemo. He said my appt tomorrow with oncology dept is to go over the pet scan, and to talk about the treatment. Damm!!




Monday, March 7, 2011 3:09 PM

Hello everyone,

Paul spoke to the surgeon today, and the pathology report came back as cancerous. Not sure any more details at this point- but I am sure we will know more tomorrow.

We meet with the Oncologist tomorrow morning to discuss the treatment options and the results of the Pet CT. The Pet CT Scan- is the test they ran on Thursday. The best way to describe this test is they inject a mild radioactive substance into the system- they described it as sugary- it will adhere to cancer and illuminate it. They then take a series of scans or pictures of the entire body- from the top of his head to about the knee area. The Oncologist will read the scan and determine where the cancer is located, if it has spread- and a best way to treat it.

There are still many questions and at this point- we don’t know anymore… sometimes that helpless feeling is more than you think you can handle… but again- that’s where a person’s faith comes in. My God is at his strongest- when I am at my weakest.

The Doctor he spoke to is the primary surgeon that we spoke to on day one in Ann Arbor. He said the treatment will be radiation and chemotherapy. (That is what he told Paul today… sometimes it’s because of where the cancer is located- and the main reason for opting for this is probably because of reconstruction with it being in his neck/throat)

He also said that he would want to do the treatments in Ann Arbor. I told Paul that we will cross that bridge when we get there. It’s hard to imagine what… where… and how to make it all fit. We had hoped that they would be able to treat him in Reed City- and maybe they still will… so for now- we’ll just keep praying and everything will work out as it should. If we need to make it happen there… then it will happen there… it really is out of our hands anyway- when you think about it.

So my friends- I continue to ask for your prayers, your love and your good thoughts for healing and safe travels.

I’ll talk to you all soon.


Chapter 3

Prayers are working


Monday, February 21, 2011 1:45 PM

Hello Everyone,

I just want to say thank you for all of your love, support, prayers, emails and general concern. Something is happening- and although we can’t explain it- it feels good. I guess that is what faith truly is… the walking “as if” and knowing that you’re going to be okay.

A few days ago- Paul and I both started to feel things shift. We both sensed that something was different. When we were told that “It could be cancer”… a feeling of sadness, anger, dread and confusion set in. It was like someone deflated us. Our faith tells us- no matter what… we’re going to be okay… people have prayed with me and have said things like- when you’re at your lowest- that’s when God is at his strongest. I can honestly say, it doesn’t make me feel any better when I buy into the fear.

Paul and I spoke at length over the past week- searching, digging… trying to make sense of stuff. It dawned on me what a control freak I really am. The not knowing was driving me nuts. That is faith in the opposite form- right? As long as life is going my way… I am okay. What about when we’re faced with a challenge? All that went right out the window. In an instant- my faith was rocked. My sense of knowing who I am… disappeared. I am a person who likes rules and boundaries… it’s weird- I find security there. I am not the fly by the seat of your pants kind of gal. Nope… I can play by the rules- as long as I know what they are.

All I have wanted, was for someone to point me in a direction. I didn’t even care if it was the wrong direction… I just wanted someone to tell me what to do.

A few days ago, we both surrendered to the fight within. We didn’t even realize that we were doing it… it was just happening. After all of the talking and processing, we realized that we already had our answer.

That was the key! As soon as we both “knew” we would be okay… the peace and calm came back.

The fear left, just as quickly as it came. There is no reason to fear. Paul is a strong man… I have never met a more determined person in my life! I am writing to you all- my friends and family to ask this… Please- let’s all focus on who he is- who he is to each of us… the beautiful soul that we all know and love… do not give any energy to the fear.

Tomorrow we go for the biopsy- and whatever the results… we know- we are going to be okay. Paul just left my office- I read him what I wrote- and he thanked me. Please don’t post on mine or his Facebook… we don’t want to live it out in public. He is very private, as you all know… so keep doing what you’re doing- and we’ll let you know what’s what in a few days.


Thanks everyone- and God Bless,




I honor the place in you

in which the entire Universe dwells,

I honor the place in you

which is of Love, of Light and of Peace,

When you are in that place in you,

and I am in that place in me,

we are One.

Chapter 2

Continued Prayers

Saturday, February 12, 2011 8:03 AM

Hey Everyone,
Well- here’s the deal… the Dr. called Paul and told him he thinks it’s cancer. Bottom line.
He said that there are other lesions and spots deeper within his neck and throat and they want to do a biopsy and more tests on Feb 22nd. We have to go to Ann Arbor for these tests and this procedure.

I am not sure how I am feeling… but my thoughts keep stopping at fear. I have no doubt that I’ll be okay- whatever happens… I am okay. But I am scared as hell and don’t like it.

Paul got the call yesterday morning- but didn’t tell me until late afternoon- he is still processing it too. We had a good cry last night- hugged- and talked… just talked about our love and how it just doesn’t seem fair.
He said he wants to see the other girls have babies and he is not ready to give up. I called them to let them know what was up and told them he would call when he could. He doesn’t want them to be scared. He is a great protector. Very strong.

I urged him last night after dinner to call his girls- he did, and felt better. I told him it was okay to cry- to tell them it is okay to cry too. Don’t hold back and let it flow… it’s all okay. We are in this together and whatever happens- we’re going to be okay.

Everybody feels like they have to be strong for the next person. Nobody wants to be scared out loud. Or cry with the other person. F- that…. I got them all crying and talking… that’s where the healing begins. Not in the closet, but out in the open with each other

I feel the love from all of you- and from all of our friends. I know I am blessed and I know that people are praying for us. Talk about blind faith. Holy crap- nothing like practicing the second and third step right out loud!

We are going away for the night- no phones and no interruptions… Please just pray- We don’t want phone calls right now… we are all talked out at the moment… Send me an email if you want- I’ll read it on Monday.

Love you all!
With love and gratitude,

Your sister Denise

Just Send Love



It’s been four months and two days since I lost my husband. I have been working a lot on healing and learning what I feel I need to learn.

Here’s the tricky part… some days, I can run with a thought… even when I know it’s not good. I can also get enough people to validate it and can actually start to believe it as my truth. I am thankful for the real friends who are willing to call me out on this. I am thankful for the truth in my heart… that little voice that I have cultivated for years. The one that won’t let me lie. The one that won’t let me hide. This is the voice from God. The voice from my heart. I believe he resides there. It’s funny… or maybe it’s not… but I have not given that much thought. I just know it to be. Just be.

I am searching deep. Deep within my heart. Deep within my mind. Deep within my faith. It’s not a pretty journey… but I know it’s going to be beautiful when I am done. You’ll get a glimpse of that, towards the end… when I share the aftermath.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger? Oh sure… easy for you to say… you didn’t lose your best friend. You didn’t just lose the one thing in this world that made you feel whole. Or maybe you did…

I am finding strength in the coolest places. I am finding answers in the most obscure situations. Every now and then-my heart flutters and I remember that he’s gone. Just the other day, a white vehicle came pulling up in front of the gym… I thought- oh- my baby is bringing me lunch. Then it hit me. Not all at once… but like a slow-moving brick. I didn’t feel the sting until I shared it with a friend. Then… the healing began.

I think healing comes when I am ready. It’s been a slow process. People are very kind… but death is not an easy thing to talk about. It’s not easy to ignore. It’s awkward and it’s messy. Sometimes they forget that you’re still hurting… days and weeks later. It’s a process and it’s also a solo journey. There is nothing anyone can do or say- to help speed up the process. They want to offer comforting words. They tell you how you should be doing… how much time it took for their second cousin Zelda to heal or get her life back… or they will let you know how much time it has been…trust me- I know how much time it’s been. They offer stiff hugs and little pats on the back… come on- hug me. Hug me with both arms. Hug me and share your heart.

One of the most wonderful things that recovery has taught me is how to give a hug. I remember going to my first recovery convention and watching the “huggers”. I thought- wow- that would be a fun job. I was told later that it’s an emotional job. It’s an exhausting job. Those huggers wrap both arms around you and embrace you. They hold you tight and they send love directly to you and receive the love you are willing to give. No matter who you are- no matter what you are… no matter how much time you have in the program. It’s equal and it’s love. So- the next time you get a hug or give a hug… ask yourself? Did I give love? Did I feel that love? One of the kindest things anyone has said or done since my husband died- is to give me a warm hug- tell me that they love me and that they are sorry. Boom- that’s magic.

I hope your heart is ready for the ride. Enclosed are my email updates and a few other thoughts about my journey thru Paul’s cancer. Many of you have asked me to write these down. To write a book. So here it is… My book.




I won’t make any excuses or apologize for my poor spelling or grammar. It is what it is. I write like I talk. These are slightly edited versions of my email updates and my correspondence throughout Paul’s illness and his death. The emails began as support for me… to ask for emotional and spiritual help when I didn’t know what to do. To rally the love and help us on the Cancer Path. It’s a frank look at my mind during my husband’s treatments. It’s a glimpse into the lives of two people who found each other at the perfect time. The perfect moment… No, there are no such things as coincidences. God had a plan…


Prayer request



Thursday, February 10, 2011 9:45 AM

Hello everyone,

Last month at his regular check up at the VA- Paul had his Dr. check out a lump on his neck. They scheduled an ultra sound and detected a 2cm mass. They are doing a CAT scan and blood work today.

He is so private and didn’t want to even mention anything to his girls… I urged him to tell them what was going on. They both freaked…

I guess being in recovery has taught me to live in today. I also have to respect his boundaries and allow him to feel and process stuff his own way. As hard as it is… I need to let him- be him!

He emailed me and told me what the Dr. found… how would you like to be his wife and get an email? I sooo wanted to scream at him and say- hey- a phone call would have been nice… but again- I need to let him process his own feelings and support who he is. Doesn’t mean that I like it… I just told him whatever it was,  we will deal with it, and I am not going to worry about it until we find more out.

He is going by himself today- he didn’t want me to take off work or be worried about nothing… he is a very strong man. But deep down- I can see his fear.

Please keep Paul, Melissa, Jennifer, Hailey and I in your prayers…. I would appreciate it.

The Doctors have already told him it could be many things. An infection, something to do with his kidneys or it may be other minor things… so- it’s not necessarily something terrible…. so let’s just send him love and he’ll get through it.

Thanks! Denise