Chapter 35

***If you are just joining the blog, you may want to read a few of the previous posts to catch up,  this is a healing journey. It’s my story, as I walked along side of my husband Paul during his battle with cancer. We began this journey in 2011- these are the emails that I used to keep all of our friends and family in the loop. *** Update 11.26.12 Hello Everyone, It’s been a bit since I have written an update… Not sure if it’s even appropriate at this point, but because so many people still ask- How are you doing? I thought I would write a little update. (My last post was from the UP in August.) I just got home this evening from WV, visiting Hailey and Cody and Bogey Chupp- for Thanksgiving. The trip was exactly what my soul needed. A nice trip to reflect and to be thankful. My life may not be what I feel it should be… But it’s mine, and I am thankful for it. I have awesome friends and family who have loved me though this… And, I am okay. I am gently reminded on a regular basis that I really am okay. I still feel like I am in a haze… I do still cry a lot… I am working on a routine that works for me… And most importantly, I am working on feeling everything that comes up. (I will explain more later on this process.) A friend reminded me just last week when I was talking to her about not sleeping well… and overall feeling poorly- she said- Denise, you lost your husband. (Four months ago today to be exact.) Give it some time… I guess- because I am not used to everything that keeps happening or coming up… I feel out of sorts. Still. All of these “firsts”. When I talk about people asking me how I am doing, I am not suggesting that it’s a bad thing. I appreciate the concern and the ear to talk things through. I was talking to Paul’s daughter a couple weeks ago and we touched on this… People ask me daily- sometimes ten to fifteen times a day- if I am okay? Again… it’s not a bad thing… it just is. It’s a way for me to process- talk- listen and to talk about my husband. I miss him terribly. It’s hard… but anything in life that is simply that good- should be hard, I suppose. The strange thing about the conversation with Jennifer, was that nobody asks her anymore. After her dad’s memorial… people just don’t talk ask how she is doing or about her dad. A few people have asked me if going back to work has helped? Dp they mean, does keeping busy help? Help with the process or the grief? The answer is no. Nothing makes it better. Nothing makes it feel any less. It’s always there. Always. It’s something that I have to go feel my way through. When a person attends a memorial, they witness grief. They experience sadness. They may even feel bad for the family for a day or two afterward. When a family loses someone, it’s a hole. A gaping hole carved into the very fabric that held them together. It’s like a bad dream… with each new day as a reminder that it isn’t a dream. I have started my book. Most of you may remember that when Paul first got sick, there were emails that went out and I asked everyone to pray and to send love. I believe love is a universal language. It doesn’tconflict with anyones spiritual principles or religion and I feel that is where God lives. In. The. Love. I remember a particular conversation with a friend, he was so shook up when he found out about the cancer… He went to church and he prayed. He asked me what else could he do for us? He is not a religious man, he just felt like he needed to ask God to help, but didn’t know how. He asked me to help him understand. (You don’t know how much your question and your concern impacted me… thank you John Caskey.) I asked him to just send love. When someone doesn’t have a particular faith or a deep relationship with God… Praying seems foreign. We almost feel hypocritical showing up and asking for anything, or undeserving. I know it may come easy to some of us…but he- struggled, and wanted to know how he should be praying or what he should be asking for? I told him to concentrate on a beam of light from God (From heaven above or Papa daddy, as he now calls him) to Paul… and in that beam… to send Love. So… that will be the name of my book. “Just Send Love”. Thanks to Hailey and Cody for the invite to Thanksgiving. Thank you for letting me hog your dog for five days. (Bogey is my granddog, he sensed my grief and didn’t leave my side. He slept with me each night.) They surprised me with a Spa day for my birthday! It was perfect! Thank You to my friend Karen, for coming to watch Cody’s game… it’s nice to travel over 500 miles from home and have a friend in a neighboring town come to visit and hang out. I am in awe of the kindness that people have shown. Truly amazes me each and every day. People have also asked me if it’s getting harder because of the Holidays? I don’t know… it just is. This time of the year was always hard for Paul… he lost his son nine years ago in a car accident- Paul Jr., was his bestfriend. They did everything together. So in our house, every October, things got different. Hunting season brought back memories… then the accident Anniversary… then his son’s birthday… Thanksgiving… his birthday… Christmas and then New Years. So- I am sure it will all hit me soon… but right now- I just miss that… I miss the unusual feeling that had become my norm. I used to call it the “weird”. I had never met his son. But- it’s been my norm for the past few years… almost like the change of the seasons… so- I miss him- missing his son. I find a lot of strength- knowing they are together… but here in my house… I miss that. Please send me an email- and let me know if you’d like to be removed from the email list… I really won’t take it personally… I love each of you- thanks again. Peace and Love, Denise ***This is where the email updates ended. On my computer, I have a journal… along with an unposted email update. I got scared because of a response from someone to the last email… and I didn’t send it. Here it is… along with some Journaling that I did to stay connected to the healing process. Some of these are before the last email update… Some are afterward. This is what it took and the path that I traveled- to get to today. *** 1/22/13 Hello Everyone, Just wanted to share a few thoughts and to let everyone know that I did indeed- survive the Holidays… I was talking to a friend- in order to sort through some feelings. Some old hurts seem to re-surface from time to time that need to be healed…also I always try to check my motives to find out my part in any uncomfortable situation. And… there have been a few recently. Today was no different. What she helped me realize, is that when we deal with the loss of a spouse and the journey through the cancer process…that we suffer from PTSD in some aspects. How could I forget this or not know this? I was with a friend a few weeks ago who was diagnosed with cancer and spent a few hours in the Oncology ward at Spectrum Health.  Since then… anger and shortness seem to be my new friend. Anyone who knows me- knows … this is not who I want to be. This is not who I strive to be… so it’s uncomfortable. My friend had a tumor removed from her uterus the size of a head of lettuce and two smaller ones in her stomach and intestines… Just walking around the hospital gave me a sense of peace, de-ja-vu, and anxiety all at once. Watching woman walk the halls with patches of hair gone… talking about their children. Listening to the fear in their voices. Watching family members with red noses and swollen eyes walk into the elevator…. Damn it… I hate what this does to families. (This friend passed since this post… RIP Kristin C) Okay- so back to my Holiday’s… I survived. It wasn’t easy- but it was okay. It’s all okay… until someone asks me if I miss my husband? Umm… yes… like my left arm. *** That was the last update- but it was never finished- and it was never sent. I will explain why and finish some thoughts now. During the first six months after Paul’s death- I had moved back into my little house, gone back to work and started attending meetings again. I got through my birthday, the Holidays then jumped into the new year. All firsts… and anyone who knows the healing process, knows that these moments stick out. There were times when I honestly felt it was all too much. I went back to work in Sept 2012. It was overwhelming. You may remember, I was the manager of a gym with over 500 members. People would come up to me daily to see how I was doing. Dozens of times a day. People would ask me a question about Paul, about cancer, about the VA hospital, about me, about his girls… As I mentioned above, I had spoken to Paul’s daughter Jennifer, shortly after he died and realized my journey was different than hers. She had lost her dad… and a few weeks later- nobody asked her how she was. This was an uncomfortable phase with us. We avoided each other. Things got sticky. (I won’t go into details because it’s not important… just know this- it was all necessary to bring me too where I am today.) The difference between my grieving process and hers was that each and every day for many months- someone would ask me about my journey… She went through all of those firsts… and nobody asked how it felt to her. I had invited so many people into my world through the updates and being so candid with my feelings- people felt nothing was off limits. Friends would openly discuss my grief and allow me to cry and not interrupt. It was so magical. It was surreal. A friend of mine was upset with me because I wasn’t available to her during a time of need. She responded back to my November update with some painful words. It made me realize when I started the Jan update… that I seemed sort of needy. Or at least that is what I was feeling at the time. Attention seeking? Important? Not sure…. I say these words to not diminish the process or to place blame on anyone. I am merely explaining why I never sent or finished my last update. I am not someone who enjoys the spotlight. I am open and try to be transparent- but by continuing to do the email updates… meant that I felt that I had something to say- and that people would want to hear it? Again… the voice in my head said- Stop it Denise… it’s time to move on. And… that’s what I did. I stopped writing the updates. They were supposed to be about Paul. They were started to update everyone on his condition. They turned into a journal of my feelings and my healing. They were intended for one thing- and ended up being another. It’s okay… I look back at it all now and know it’s all as it should be. So here are a few of the things that stuck out in the process over the next few years… Remember, they jump around with dates. I didn’t update this information publicly. *** Saturday Sept 1,2012 I spent all day yesterday with my mom at Munson Hospital… boy did that bring back some painful memories. Good- yet painful. My heart aches with the loss… as it is healing. I have decided to continue to write as the time allows or the thoughts come forward…hoping to heal. My biggest fear is fear. The thought of being trapped, without options… fear can be so overwhelming. It is the one thing that I am learning more about as I go along. My husband taught me about strength. He taught me thru his illness how to be strong. He taught me with his Marine blood- how to push on and not to get trapped. I love, that he showed me how to be strong. I love that he showed me how to love. I had a massage the other day in Traverse City. When I showed up at the massage office, I asked her to limit the conversation.  I told her that I really just wanted to enjoy the massage and sort of meditate. (Insert smirk here…) I wanted-something different. I wanted an escape. It was funny… AND- not at all what I had anticipated. Not at all- what I thought- I wanted… But exactly what I needed. She was very kind and talented therapist. She did trigger point therapy and Asian body work. She was also a Reiki Practitioner, who had learned from the same teacher that I did. We had an immediate connection. I told her why I wanted what I wanted. She knew I was a massage therapist and that I had lost my husband. She began asking me questions about pressure… then the conversation started rolling about our Reiki Master Teacher- and the blessings of knowing spiritual healing and spiritual people. I told her about how Paul and I had met. I told her about his illness and how I was processing as I went along. She asked about the things I needed to heal. I told her it was anger and my fear. I told her about my book- the reasons I didn’t feel I could write right now… and that I had gotten advice and words of wisdom showing me that if I write my truth- Not wanting to deliberately be harmful-  if someone took offense- then it was their problem and insecurities not mine. If my intent was Not to cause harm… and it did- because of what the other person was working on… then it was their issue- not mine. It was the longest massage I have ever had… our conversation flowed. (Remember that I initially told her I didn’t want conversation… lol) She asked me what I had learned from Paul. She asked me what I had taught Paul. I had to dig deep into painful memories and I cried. I told her that Paul had taught me how to be strong when I didn’t want to be. He was a Marine… he taught me the real meaning of loyalty and showed me the rewards of standing up for what you want. I taught him how to relax. He was a work-a-holic who didn’t know how to separate his work from who he was. I taught him how to enjoy a slug day, and we both taught each other how to love again. During the massage, I learned to accept what God wanted me to have- as he wanted me to have it… not as I felt, that I- needed it. I learned that God will give me what I need, as long as I am open to receive it. She also told me this- and I will never forget it. She said, “Denise, I can’t promise you when it will happen… But I promise you that it will… You are like a buoy floating in the middle of the ocean, just bobbing around without any sense of direction. You don’t know why or what you are doing- but the universe and the people who love you- are supporting you and holding you together in prayer and in love. I don’t know when it will happen… but it will- Anytime someone experiences this level of grief, there will be a huge growth spurt. Huge. At some point, you will be catapulted forward at such a rate of speed… you won’t know what hit you. It’s a gift.”  (This sounded familiar to me… I knew it to be true… but didn’t know why.) Thank You Amy Yee… Namaste. Now- back to my mom’s surgery. My mom had total ankle-replacement surgery and I spent the morning and day with my step dad and early evening with my sisters and nieces. I went to the hospital at 7:00 am and didn’t leave until late. Here’s how it played out…Phil (my step dad) and I were there together. After the surgery- my mom’s Surgeon came out and took us into a room to go over the details. He was directing his conversation to Phil (this is the first time I had met him…) He was going over what to expect, as far as pain. Immediately, I felt myself go into “caregiver mode”. I interrupted and asked him if he knew of my mom’s intolerance to a certain pain medication? He said- Yes… they had discussed it. He continued his conversation and at one point- he said something like- “As we discussed earlier, about her therapy and her healing…” I interrupted again. I said- “Excuse me, but could you please repeat that previous conversation? I was not privy to it- and would like to know what the outcome will look like…” I swear to God – he rolled his eyes at me. He did answer my question and then proceeded with his conversation- to Phil. Okay- here’s the magic… In that instant- right at that very moment… I knew what it was like to be the daughter. During Paul’s illness- I kept a tablet with me at all times. I knew all of the details of every procedure and at times even got the Doctors on the right page. I had all the details, and if you needed to know something- just ask me- not the Dr.’s.  In that instant… I knew what it felt like to be Jennifer and Mellissa. (Paul’s daughters.) They had every right to ask who ever and whatever they wanted. That was their dad. They had every right to act or do whatever they needed to do… to be okay. In my controlling frame of mind… I thought I knew what was best. I thought I knew how they should behave or act and when they should be there… They had every right to be whoever they wanted to be. That was their dad. Just like I had every right to-ask those questions to that surgeon. That was MY mom. Here is the beauty of this…Because I want to heal the anger- God gives me these types of awareness’s. That night as we were all sitting in my mom’s hopsital room… talking and going over the details of her surgery… it all hit me again. You see- I was hurt. I was angry. This was about two months after his death and I was talking to my sisters about my feelings. I was talking about Paul’s daughters- how I felt abandoned- but wasn’t willing to reach out to them. Here’s the real deal… I am going to be honest about this. My communication with his daughter’s had pretty much stopped after the memorial. We had a few emails and a few struggles with “stuff” but it wasn’t at all what I thought it should or would be like. We held Paul’s hand on his death bed and promised to look out for each other. And then… I didn’t see them.  I was throwing myself a pity party about the hospital journey and about why they weren’t helping me. I was sad because I felt like I was doing it all alone… I felt like his family just left it all up to me. I had told them how I wanted it… even went as far as to-say- this is how it’s going to be… then I was pissed that they let me do it. I was hurt. I was angry. I was feeling a lot of things… and they were not pretty. All necessary but not pretty. As I discussed these things with my sisters, I realized this was one of those times- when I could either rally people into my corner and allow them to decorate that pity party with me- or I could see what God- was really wanting to show me. My family is wonderful. They were willing to co-sign anything that I threw out there… after all- I was hurting. I was a mess. They love me. They validated me and made me feel justified in my anger. They did what I needed them to do. Stand with me in my corner. Stand beside me. I no longer felt alone. But I also- didn’t feel good. What the hell? Really? I finally got to play it all out and got everyone to see why I was so mad and hurt… and… I didn’t like it. The next day- I sat down and wrote an email and apologized to Paul’s girls. I wrote an email that said I was sorry for being so controlling and judgmental and until that very moment wasn’t able- or willing, to see what I was doing. Here’s another thing I know because of being in recovery…  Making amends isn’t to ask for forgiveness. It’s to apologize for your behavior and to cleanup where you have wronged. As soon as I was willing to see this- the anger started to subside. I saw that I had a part in all of it. I had set the pace and even dictated the outcome… I apologized and I set the wheels in motion to heal. Today is 01.06.13 I am settled into my house and work is getting better. I survived Christmas and realized that this is going to take a long time to heal. I didn’t understand completely or maybe I just couldn’t comprehend it in that moment…  I wasn’t prepared to lose my husband. I look back now with the help of these emails at my actions… I had completely immersed myself into the process and the fight. I have done some healing and have had lots of help. I see an Acupuncturist, a Spiritual Healer, a Chiropractor and a Massage Therapist. I won’t go into detail about what those appointments entail… let’s just say- I have to learn how to release Paul and his energy back to him and to God. And now from Neale… On this day of your life, Denise, I believe God wants you to know… …that how bad things may look right now means nothing. It’s how good you know they can look with God’s help that counts. Life has a habit of changing itself completely around in 24 hours. Heck, in 24 minutes sometimes. Don’t you dare give up on Tomorrow because of the way things look Today. Don’t even think about it… Love, Your Friend…. Neale Goodmorning- today is 2.24.13 It’s been a few months since I have written. Not sure why- I just know that I was not supposed to open up to the emotions until now. Sometimes, I can just feel things. Sometimes I just know when I am headed into a dark time and when I need to process stuff. I have had a time of that recently. The Holidays were rougher than I let on… It didn’t hit me until Christmas day when my step dad mentioned those we had lost and the loved ones left behind at the blessing before our meal. I couldn’t stop crying. It hit hard and I felt weak. Thought I was going to hyper-ventilate. I cried until I shook. I spent time with Hailey and Cody and my family. Paul’s girls didn’t come up- so I didn’t get to see them. I am going to talk about some painful things in this post-and it’s not meant to be a jab at anyone- they are just my feelings and the things that have come up. I have been feeling very angry and short with people. I have had an extreme sadness and jumped right into the “victim mode”. (As I look back now… I realize I was in a depressed state. I had tools, but I still felt very alone and sad.) I had a few things that popped up recently and immediately I took offense. How dare this person? Why wouldn’t they be thinking of my feelings? This is what I know about me… I have come too far to play the victim card. I am not saying that I am immune to it… I am just saying that I don’t like how I feel when I do it. Today I recognize those feelings and I don’t stay there. I also remember thinking shortly after his death, “DON’T THESE PEOPLE KNOW WHAT I AM GOING THROUGH?” I would walk into a store or a meeting and people would be laughing… I didn’t like it. Today when I am faced with feelings that I don’t like… in other people and in myself. It’s an opportunity to work on me. I am not always willing to see it like this- but I think God will keep bringing it back around until I do take a look at my behavior. Because at the end of the day- I can-only change me. Not other people. Sometimes it means I have to “own my own power”and stand up for what I feel is right. Other times- it’s to gently let go of painful stuff and just know it’s not my garbage. It’s extremely tough to know what is mine- and what is other people’s junk sometimes. This is why I am grateful for a program of recovery and loving friends who don’t validate my BS- but point out my defects and help me, to be a better person. Recently I had a situation that hurt deeply. I really felt like I was giving my all. It was five months after Paul’s death and I had resumed my work and was falling into habits. I started feeling overwhelmed. Almost toxic. I asked to have some relief from work. It wouldn’t have cost anyone money- but me. I was willing to pay for someone to relieve me. I asked my bosses at the gym if I could have my friend who covered during Paul’s illness come in to help. They said no. As a matter of fact, they infomred my that my job was about to change. They told me that the entire format would soon change and that I was going to be expected to do more. (They lived in another state- I ran the gym. I. Did. Everything.) I found myself quite emotional, I wasn’t being heard. I cried. I walked away from the conversation and stepped away to compose myself. About fifteen minutes later, my boss came into the kitchen and said- “I just asked (Husband), how long this stuff takes?” Really? How long “this stuff” takes? She didn’t understand grief, but her husband did. He had lost his first wife. She went into the back room and asked him, “How long does this stuff take?” Like, there is a formula for grief… insert this time, this tool or this emotion and you will be done. WRONG. The lesson came weeks later- when I realized that I didn’t need permission to do what was necessary to keep balance in my life. I was unhappy with the words that were exchanged and had given my power to people. I was relying on them for financial and emotional security. Hmm…. Step back. As I was explaining (okay… complaining) to a friend about the scenario… the answer came to me. I control my destiny, my income and my happiness. If I am looking to-other people for these things- I am giving my power to them. In that instant… I made a shift in my perception and took a new path. I also had an opportunity to look at what makes my heart happy. For a very long time I have been stuck. Probably since Paul’s illness began in 2011. I abandoned the Spiritual Healing Certification program and took-on a new role. I wouldn’t change any of it for the world. I am just saying that I am now realizing how completely immersed in this whole thing I have become. It had become my identity. Part of the problem recently has been that I felt my job was to grieve. I went right from caregiver to grieving widow…Who decides when it’s enough? Who decides when you can move on? Nobody can tell me the answer to these questions. Nobody can tell me that it’s time to move on. That answer has to be an individual one. It comes when I am ready. It comes when the time is right. If you’ve lost someone- then it will come when you’re ready too. Don’t rush it… don’t let other people push their reality on to you. It’s your life. Live it like you want. For me, it has come in as hope. I didn’t feel a lot of hope in the beginning. I haven’t felt many new feelings- until recently. This is what it feels like… It feels like old crumpled up and squished down, wrinkly, old wet sweater. Heavy, smelly, old wool sweater. It seems as if I have been weeding through bags and bags of old clothes. Realizing what fits and what I need to get rid of… the problem is- if I never look for new clothes… I am stuck with all of the old stuff. The heavy smelly old stuff. These new feelings have come in like fresh cotton sheets dtraight off the clothes line. They feel crisp and new. They feel like hope. I feel like I have hope. Maybe this is the beginning of that “catapult” the massage therapist spoke of? Hmmm….. Namaste everyone- until there is more… I sign off. Denise

Chapter 34

***If you are just joining the blog, you may want to read a few of the previous posts to catch up,  this is a healing journey. It’s my story, as I walked along side of my husband Paul during his battle with cancer. We began this journey in 2011- these are the emails that I used to keep all of our friends and family in the loop. ***

Update from the UP 8.17.12-8.21.12

Hello Everyone… this is going to be an ongoing journal of my weekend… I am in the Upper Peninsula… I have decided it was time to do some soul searching.

Sat 8.18.12

The past few weeks have flown by… but it seems I am standing still. I am still so sad… break out in tears with the mention of my love. I was at the dealership getting an oil change yesterday before I left and one of the sales people asked- “Hey Denise, how you doing?” I said… all-right. He frowned and said- “Are you okay? You don’t seem like yourself…”  I started crying. He didn’t know Paul had passed… and said- damn- I am so sorry. Then he hugged me and the tears rolled… ugh…

I am trying to feel each and every feeling- embracing the sadness- but also trying to not wallow in it. I just miss my friend. He was there every day… I find myself wanting to check in with him… find myself wanting to ask him questions. I feel like I am lost…it’s going to be a long road.

I brought Paul’s ashes up with me…and it was horrible to look inside the box. Oh my God- why did I do that? It made it so real… even more than my heart tells me that it is.

I keep thinking back to the days of his treatments… when he spent days and nights in the hospital. I love that I got to spend most of those nights with him… I slept in fold out chairs- next to him- in recliners and in waiting rooms. I can’t imagine not being there… and I am so thankful that he wasn’t alone. There were so many long talks… so many moments to cherish. I guess I am glad that I didn’t know his time was so short…I would’ve been a mess… I was really counting on him beating the disease. I was counting on at least 18 months… really- was that too much to ask?

I hate that he had to go. I am mad. I am sad. I am lonely. I can’t find the words…but all I have are words.

I am sad about one thing the most though…when I called Hospice the last time. It was a Monday morning… he was still talking and walking and could communicate. The nurse gave him a dose of meds…then another… and he was resting. I hopped in the shower… not knowing that would be the last time I could communicate with him. When I got out of the shower- she medicated him a third time… and he never came too- again. He needed the rest… his body was tired… and he was in pain. I am thankful that he didn’t suffer months or years… but I am super sad that I didn’t get to talk to him again. I am sure that I would’ve wanted more… I guess- we always do.

I have read a couple of books…and have been disappointed in them both. I wanted a story that showed me what to do… something I could relate too… one that explained the process. One that gave me a road map on grieving. I guess there isn’t one. I want some help… but know that it is a personal journey. This is so new- so foreign to anything I have ever felt… I don’t know what normal is. I don’t know… I just don’t know.

I read a blog last night… Thanks Meg. I finally found something that made sense… It was a story of a woman who was grieving the loss of her marriage. Although it’s not the same… grief is grief. It said that when a person is faced with such sadness… and can embrace it without being it… kind of- in the third person… they will be so much stronger. They will grow. Holy Holy… I am going to grow. Here’s another part that really touched me:

“Rinpoche, if everything is impermanent, and will die or pass away, why love it?” I wondered aloud. “Because that is the privilege of being a human being,” he answered.”You get the opportunity to love at a capacity that breaks your heart open. It is a gift, indeed. In addition, you get free-will, and the opportunity for choice,” he continued. “A broken heart is a contrite spirit. If you utilize this gift of the broken heart, it can advance your internal progress greatly. You see it as an annoyance. Something that hurts so badly you want it to go away. If you can hold fast, in the fires of its purification, you will be molded like a blacksmith’s sword in fire,” he whispered.

Here’s the link if anyone cares to readit in it’s entirety…

I am going to sign off for now…Hoping the rain stops soon so I can go to Picture Rocks…

Okay- so I did some meditation- chakra balancing- took a nap- and it stopped raining! I wiped all my tears- redid myface… and collected myself.

I was laying on the bed-listening to my iPad and decided to download a Bob Seger album… totally worth the $12.99- there are 26 songs. I love love it. I plugged my iPad into my car… and headed out for a ride. I knew I wanted to see a sunset over the water… but didn’t know where I wanted to go. I drove down on M28 and spotted a scenic turnout. I stopped and snapped a few pics. Not what I was looking for…

I drove a bit further and found a nice roadside beach area… perfect. I waited for a VW Bus to move… and was secretly jealous… okay- being real here… I was envious. I want one. Then I strolled down the beach area. It was a really nice night. It was 63 degrees… and the sun was just beginning to fade. I love the colors it produces… the clouds were just right. As a few people left… I made my way back to the car and scooped up some of Paul’s ashes into a bowl. I grabbed my peace bag… threw it over my shoulder- like I had a purpose… and went back to the water’s edge.

I honestly felt like I was doing something wrong- I kept looking over my shoulder waiting for someone to ask me about my intention.

No-one was in sight… so I slipped the lid off the bowl and scattered the ashes onto the shore. Then I waited for the waves to come and wash him out to sea. I took a few pictures of the waves washing over them… just as a memory.

Then I just stood there – quiet- waiting for the sun to set. (I said good bye again… told him I loved him very much and that I missed him terribly… and I was happy that he was free…)

I snapped a few more pictures… hopped back into my car and Roll Me Away- was playing… I drove back towards town.

Like I said- today is Sunday… I am moving to a new motel today… and going to head to Marquette for an NA meeting tonight. Headed to the shower and maybe a little yoga before?

Oh… big news for me. I stopped wearing my wedding band today. It was actually a good/sad feeling all in one. Almost like I could release something in me by setting it free… and I replaced it with a new ring… so it’s not a gaping bald spot on my hand.

Peace out for now…

Monday afternoon… I am bored. I decided to do some more writing and make myself stay another night.

HAPPY Birthday Mom! 🙂

I think this trip gave me the peace of mind I needed to get through another month… I guess all I have is today…I’ll cross the next bridge when I need too. I am not looking forward to the end of the month… our Anniversary would’ve been August 29th… three years. We didn’t quite make it three years. Breaks my heart…

I took the noon tour of the Pictured Rocks- it was amazing…

I was thinking the other day… and I can’t remember who I was talking too- but the thought occurred to me. I am glad that it’s me grieving this loss- and not the other way around. It made me so sad to think of what Paul would be going through right now if the tables were turned.

I know he experienced a lot of grief with the loss of his son. I am not sure if he could have handled more… I know how strong he is… was… but I am really glad- that it’s me, in this position and not him. I guess that is progress- right? I guess that’s something to be grateful for- right? I can see a lot of things today- that I wasn’t willing to see a few days ago… I can see how much more sincere I am. I can feel growth in many ways… just not in all. I am a work in progress… and I thank you for the love- to help me thru.

I understand grief a little better today than I did before I lost my husband… I have learned that grief includes anger, denial, bargaining, depression, and eventually acceptance. I read recently that these emotions are felt in no special order and are sometimes skipped over… Other than the bargaining… I think I have felt them all.

Tuesday morning…

I made myself stay another night… I guess when I start something- I hate to bail. If I start a book.. even if it’s bad.. I usually finish it. Only once- have I ended a movie and not watched the whole thing because it was a disaster. I guess that’s just who I am.

I have showered and it’s not even 8:00am… thinking of heading out soon. Going to take my time- and just see what I see.

This is what I have realized on this trip. I am okay. I am exactly where I need to be. I am further along than what I thought I was… but still have a lot of work to do.

I have opened my own eyes- and have appreciated the little things even more. I have learned that I won’t absolutely die… by going into a restaurant by myself. I think that was the hardest thing… who knew?

I have looked at my life and my love for Paul… and have decided to still cherish it close to my heart and feel it all… I am not willing to set it aside yet.

I think there will come a time- when it will just be a sad fact about who I am… not my identity. Today.. it’s still my identity. I am the woman… who just lost her husband. It’s okay… That’s how I know I have more work to do… I have pealed back a few more layers of the onion… and healed some holes within.

I am still going to write a book. I need to pray and decide more about the format. My biggest fears- are making people mad with my truth. Making people upset… so that is something I need to settle within. My friend Kitty calls it owning my own power. Owning your own power is being strong enough to say what you need to say… without hurting someone else. Or if you do- then know that it’s okay- because your needs are important too. I don’t give myself permission to outright hurt people. That’s not who I am. I try hard to be respectful and to allow others their truth… so here I sit.

Tomorrow is a new day… but I still have today to finish!!

Peace and Love-


Chapter 33

***If you are just joining the blog, you may want to read a few of the previous posts to catch up,  this is a healing journey. It’s my story, as I walked along side of my husband Paul during his battle with cancer. We began this journey in 2011- these are the emails that I used to keep all of our friends and family in the loop. ***


Hello Everyone,

Thank you so very much for the love and support during this difficult time… this is much harder than I had imagined it would be. (But truthfully, what did I have to compare it too?)

Four days after the memorial, I took a friend and went to MRCNA. (Michigan Regional Convention of Narcotics Anonymous) Each year we have a convention and this year our area hosted the event. I knew I didn’t want to be alone. With several thousand people in attendance- I was not alone.

My friend Keri was in a bad spot in life. She called me from the park the day before, she had nowhere to go. She had burned all of her bridges. She was thinking of going to the homeless shelter. I told her to stay put, I would be right there. I picked her up an hour later and she didn’t leave my side for the next 45 days. She was a Godsend. She allowed me to cry. She didn’t try to fix me.

Here is the think about grief… it comes in waves and it makes everyone else really uncomfortable. I just needed to talk, I needed to process stuff, I needed to cry. I didn’t need people to say anything… I just needed to feel what I was going through. As ugly as it was for other people… it needed to be done.

She let me cry. She helped me clean. She helped me paint. She helped me move. She helped me piece it all together… She helped me heal. Thank you dear friend… I owe you big time.

Part of the healing was to reflect back and to see what and how I got to this place. How Paul and I, got to be- Mr and Mrs Henry.

I remember the decision I made years ago, and how I agreed to do whatever it took to feel this deeply. I agreed to feel Love. I agreed to cherish it too. It is worth it… but, at this particular moment- I question my sanity. Seriously, who would sign up for this? Some of you may not know the story of Paul and I…

About 7.5 years ago- I met Paul Henry. I was originating mortgages and he was doing appraisals. I was still involved in a dead end relationship when he asked me out. I declined his offer for a date. He did some more work for me and delivered the appraisal to my office a few weeks later. He sat down at my desk and I explained why I had declined his offer. He explained he had the same thing with someone… and was ready to move on.

We talked and got to know each other a little better… then he told me about his son. (His son Paul Jr had died in an automobile accident two years before.)

I realized that I knew his daughter! I asked him if he had a daughter-named Jennifer? He said- yes- how do you know Jennifer?? She lives in Kalamazoo.

I met his daughter at the coffee shop, that I had co-owned with my friend. I said- oh my gosh… I love Jennifer! It was so right at so many levels. That is where we began…

It was the first time in many years… at least 20- that I went into a relationship and didn’t hold anything back. I had always kept people at arms length. It felt safer. This was the first time that I didn’t do that. I didn’t play it safe.

I fell so head over heels in love with this man. He was so complex- and I-didn’t care. I was going to love him thru it all… (Insert picture of little girl here… skipping around with daisies in her hair dancing… )

We would be driving down the road and I would look over at him and just smile…I got butterflies by just looking at him. I loved him and damn- it felt good.

Then, just as suddenly as we fell for each other- he pulled it all back.

I was devastated. It rocked my world upside down. I hurt like I had never hurt in my life.

It was my fault. I sent him an email and asked him if he was really interested in having a relationship.

I asked him if he was ready to let go of his past. I suggested that maybe he needed to do some soul searching to find out if he really did want this. I asked him to take a few days.

Well, he did. He took a few days. He took a few weeks… He took a few months. I. Was. So. Lost.

He wouldn’t return my calls- wouldn’t return my emails… and he didn’t come back. As a matter of fact- I found out months later, he had gone back to his old relationship. The one that was comfortable, the one that didn’t demand anything from him.

During this time- my sponsor-shed some light on my behavior. Because really- it wasn’t about him… it was about me.

She pointed out that what I was offering was pretty selfish. Selfish?? I wanted to help him. I wanted to help heal his heart.

Paul wasn’t emotionally available. He hadn’t healed from losing his son.

I was a mess.

He wasn’t ready to be vulnerable again. Actually, he told me later that he wasn’t sure he could ever love at that level again.

Here is where it gets messed up. I thought if I could love him enough- he wouldn’t have to hurt. I thought that if he loved me enough… that he wouldn’t have to hurt.

This is why I need a sponsor in my life. Recovery has taught me how to ask questions and to get help when I need it.

My sponsor told me- “Denise, strip away the-big pink bow- the lipstick and the perfume… and what you’re offering is-really pretty selfish. It’s all about you- and how he can make you happy. How he can fulfill your needs. If you want a relationship with this man, you need-to stop trying to change him.”

In my ignorance… and with my “help” – I had pushed him away. My help, was pretty selfish...

She also said that if I ever got back together with him… that it would be with him and his son.

She told me that I couldn’t change that fact… I sent him an email and apologized. Not for what I had said to him… but for my selfish motives. I asked him to give me another chance…but he couldn’t. He didn’t trust me- and didn’t trust his ability to love me again…

I cried for weeks. My sponsor told me that my only job was to feel. My only job- was to feel?

UGH… She said that when I got to the other side of those feelings- that I would have an answer. That God, would show me what he wanted me to know…. so I cried and I cried.

After about three months.. I saw the sadness in my eyes start to fade. (Someone pointed out to me a long time ago-that you can see sadness in people’s eyes… and boy did I see it…)

At six months.. it was gone. I finally felt okay. And… drum roll… God did show me what he wanted me-to see. I did learn what I needed to know.

I learned that LOVE was worth it! As much as I hated those feelings… as much as I hated going through all of that… I realized that I would do it all over again- in order to experience what we had in that short time. I was so thankful that I knew how to love again… and that I wanted to love again.

I felt that whatever the cost… I wanted that again.

Love- does make everything better.


Fast forward in time- a year later… we got together at Christmas and had New Year’s together… things didn’t work out. (We did the same concert for three years- on New Year’s Eve… but nobody knew we were dating on and off…)

 We got together again the following year… but things didn’t change until July of 2008.

He kept sending emails… kept sending text messages. He even scheduled a massage!

I had given him many massages- but this was different, he called, scheduled and paid for it!

Anyway- on the intake form- I ask a question- “Why are you here today” And his answer was “Flirting”. 😳

We got together for a friendly date in the park for Lake City’s greatest fourth in the North. We watched the Battle-of-the-Bands.

I honestly felt there was too much water under the bridge. I didn’t think we could have a real relationship again.

I didn’t trust him, now.

He would break dates with an email… or a text message… or he just wouldn’t show up.

I told him that I couldn’t keep doing this. I told him i wasn’t a yo-yo. He promised it would be different and he would show up.

I said okay and thought we’d just be friends and hang out. He walked me home and when he left, he kissed me good night.

I-told him it was very nice seeing him again- and his reply was- “I hope to-see much more of you”… hmm….

The following week- my niece asked -what’s up with Paul? I told her I wasn’t sure.. She said- He was awfully affectionate at the park the other night! Wow- we didn’t see that coming now did we?? And we didn’t… that was our new beginning… July3, 2008.

We married on August 29th, 2009.

Our life together was brief… but man was it intense.

I am processing all sorts of feelings with his loss.

It’s so big. I am working through it all day by day. I hate having to learn how-to deal with these things. They are sticky. They are murky. They are consuming.

I am not really good at surrender. I only surrender- when it hurts bad enough. I am at that point with the grief.

I had no time to process it while I was in it. I just moved from appointment to appointment, we all did the best we could.

Now he’s gone… I am forced to deal with all of those feelings that I had stuffed.

I realize how much I was in denial about the possibility of losing him.

I never made peace with the possibility… I felt that I would’ve been giving up the hope. I needed hope, to get through each day.

I also had to censor information. I tried to not give the disease energy. I also had to protect everyone’s feelings. I tried really hard to protect his privacy. In reality, I was writing behind a veil of fear.

A fresh thought popped into my head yesterday when I was reading a book… it brought me back to when Paul was in the hospital in Detroit- and we were talking to the surgeons about his upcoming bladder surgery. We were talking about the possibility of puncturing his bladder- about what would happen. They talked about the percentages and how he would have to live without the use of his bladder inside his body- I look back at that particular conversation now… I realize that I was not planning on him going anywhere. I was still planning on him living. I didn’t accept the terminal diagnosis.

Today I am dealing with anger. It’s hard for me to admit that out loud… but I must be honest.

I have had all sorts of anger surface recently… things that I had stuffed. I am processing why I pushed things aside.

Why I gave away my power to other people.

Why I let people push me?

I am learning that I can only heal the things within me, not others. But first, I must acknowledge them… then I can dig. By digging, I usually uncover layers of other stuff. I usually find the real source of the anger.

I am still doing acupuncture- to help with the emotional part of this and the stress.

I feel toxic at times… it’s as if everything I held in for months has surfaced.

My Acupuncturist is amazing… she touched some of the anger stuff the other day… and I feel better already.

I know with all of my being, that when I get to the other side of this… I will be a changed person.

I am thankful for the opportunity to grow- even though it doesn’t feel good. I know that if I surrender to the process, move with the process and acknowledge each step… I will be okay.

I get cards daily- it’s overwhelming to even look at the Thank You notes that are still sitting on my kitchen table.

Please know that I appreciate all of you very much. I am so Blessed to have such loving people willing to give so selfishly.

I am so blessed to have friends and family who are still willing to let me cry.

I have yet to get through a-day without tears.

It will take time… and I am okay with that. I face each day without expectations… A friend asked me about the next chapter of my Life? About what I see next? My answer was that I can’t even see beyond tomorrow. That’s all I have at the moment. I have nothing else to give…nothing else to offer.

Thanks for the offers for lunch dates- I am just dong the basics today. Not ready to face that yet… when I am ready, I will let you all know.

I ask for your prayers, good thoughts, energy and the Love…

Peace and Love~


Chapter 32

***If you are just joining the blog, you may want to read a few of the previous posts to catch up,  this is a healing journey. It’s my story, as I walked along side of my husband Paul during his battle with cancer. We began this journey in 2011- these are the emails that I used to keep all of our friends and family in the loop. ***

Update 7.1.12

 I don’t know where to begin… Life as I once knew… will never be the same.

I find myself bumping into old thoughts- sitting quietly with new ones… spinning around and around…sometimes I make sense- other times – not. Sometimes I want to be alone… other times I can’t believe- I am alone.

On Friday June 29th at 1:45- my friend Kearney started strumming his guitar… he played some easy listening music…he picked… and sang… everyone found a place to either sit or stand. Over 200 people signed the guest book…

We were gathered among the beautiful plants and flowers that lined along my parents patio- overlooking the Clam River. The day was beautiful.

The sky was blue and just when you thought it was just any other day…there was a breeze to remind you of the present peace. Of his, presence and peace.

My nephew Marc Hicks began with Paul’s obituary… the rest of the order is a blur. There was a bagpiper- he played Amazing Grace. The song brought everyone to tears… and then faded off into the distance as he played.

Father Joe Fix said some memorable words and my brother in law Don played a few songs. People shared stories and memories- and then Marc finished with some kind words and an email from one of Paul’s nurse’s in Saginaw.

Mikailu aka Mike, wrote to us a few weeks ago and told us how we had touched him with our journey… It was a testament to our journey… it needed to be shared.

The Honor Guard presented me with a flag and a wooden display case. They played taps and gave my Marine a 21 gun salute down by the river.

The breeze blew lightly… and everyone reveled in the words from Father Joe about Paul’s love for Nature… and Marc’s words about the Angels rejoicing in heaven.

My mom’s best friend and a few others made a luncheon and everyone ate. The food was superb… but it always is… I am eternally grateful to those ladies, my mom and step dad, Pastor Hicks, Father Joe, the Honor Guard, the bagpiper- my friend Kearney… Shawna for the montage and my brother in law Don. It was the most moving service I have ever attended… and many people have said the same thing. It showed every aspect of who he was… and who he is- in each of us.

On behalf of the family- I thank each of you. I know these emails have been forwarded- passed along- read to neighbors and friends… I am not sure how many people I reach with my words… but you all, played a part in the journey. Each of you has a piece of my story. Each of you has helped carry my burden.

What happens next? Well… my renters are gone from the Lake City house and we will begin with that project.. then I will move my things from the Dighton house… and begin anew. It’s hard to say when that will happen… it’s simply one day a time right now… and I will cross the next bridge when I see it.

Once I get settled… I am going to take a trip. I need some time to heal. I am thinking seriously about going by myself… to heal and to write. I am going to write my story… and someday I will publish a book.

I want to thank everyone for the kind words- the tolerance of my grammar… and for encouraging me to write this journey down for others to heal along with me. I can honestly say that I don’t feel worthy. I feel my story is plain. It’s my story… I hold it dear to my heart… but because so many of you, urged me forward- I will try.

I am tired… I am sad. I have never felt this much sadness… I don’t know if my heart could handle a single ounce more… it’s overwhelming. It’s consuming and it’s heavy. Sometimes it floods over me like a heavy wet blanket… and I want to curl up and cry for days. Then there are moments when I feel okay.

Okay has always been a good place for me to be… I think I will just try to get through each day…and do the best I can.

One thing- before I close… remember this please- I am broken- but not unrepairable. I may be a mess- but it’s temporary. You can’t fix me… this is mine to heal… my sister Kim, said it best last week when she showed up each day and just sat at the edge of the couch…. “I am here behind the scenes… just in case Denise needs a hug. I sit quietly… out of sight.. just in case she needs anything….”

Thank you so very much to my family for helping me – to not fall.

Thank you so much for not leaving my side and for helping with the auction and the memorial.

I am the blessed one… I got what most people will never, ever have… even if it was for a short time… I still got it.

Thank you Jesus.

Peace and Love,


*** Side Note:

This is the email that was read fromPaul’s nurse at the VA Hospital:

FWD: Update 6.21.12

Hello Paul & Denise,

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading all your narratives on your husband. It has certainly been a great pleasure to meet and work with your family. In my 18 years of being a Registered Nurse, I have never met anyone in my clinical practice as courageous as Paul! I am so inspired by the support and fortitude shown among your family; and your love for God … the almighty!

I would just like to seize this opportunity to say how I feel so blessed that I got the chance to meet you all

And for coming into my life …

Believe me I would ask you to do it again!

I have only known you and your family through this face of immense trial

But because of you Paul, I have gained a deeper meaning of courage and love …

And friendship means a whole lot more to me!

You have also shown me what America can be…What for years we stress in liberty…

And yet, there is more, much more to see.

Paul and Denise, you have turned it all around.

You, through your genuine Hearts and Souls,

Have shown Love – the Love that is only blessed from above!

You have shown me what a friendship should be…

It is Compassion, Love, and Caring for all!

Thank you for what you have taught me …That friends, true friends surpasses all –

Politics, greed, distrust, the hollow shell of loneliness, and fear –

You have turned them around

And now, I hear friendship and freedom’s true sound.

Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Henry for what you have done…

You have created a new life under the Sun

I appreciate your Love and Friendship too!




*** That message touched my heart more than once. Each time I read it- I read more into it. Wow… what a great man- to take the time to encourage us and write such beautiful words. I am grateful too Mikailu… Namaste.


Chapter 31

***If you are just joining the blog, you may want to read a few of the previous posts to catch up,  this is a healing journey. It’s my story, as I walked along side of my husband Paul during his battle with cancer. We began this journey in 2011- these are the emails that I used to keep all of our friends and family in the loop. ***

Paul update 6.26.12

This morning at 3:50 am, my Marine went to be with his son, Paul Jr. I can’t even imagine the party they are having right now in Heaven.

He was sleeping peacefully when the Angels took him home. In his hand, clutched to his chest… he held the cross necklace that Mellissa had given him for Father’s day. 

As my heart aches… I am relieved to know he is not suffering. He was surrounded by loved ones for the past few days. We all got to say goodbye and urged him to go be with his son, his parents, his brother…

We will be having a memorial service at my mom’s house in Lake City- the place where Paul and I were married… Where we started the journey as husband and wife… we will say our final goodbye.

I will send an update when we decide on the date and time.

Please blanket the family in love as we mourn. He is a great man… and we won’t soon forget his strength and his love.

Thank you- Peace and Love to you all,


Memorial Service forPaul 6.27.12

A Memorial Service is planned for Paul Franklin Henry on June 29th at 2:00. Location is XXXXXXXX S XXXXXXXXX, Lake City MI  49651

Parking will be available along the road, across the street and up the driveway- a shuttle will be running.

Please join us to celebrate my husband’s wonderful life and to honor the man that we all loved so much. A luncheon will follow this casual event… just the way he would have wanted it.

A Military Service- with a heartfelt song of praise for the Marine, that touched so many.

*** Side note

I remember the very first morning that I woke up after he was gone, I showered and went to grab my jewelry.

I looked at my daughter with tears in my eyes. I was so lost.

I asked- “At what point, do I stop wearing my wedding ring?”

I didn’t have a clue. I needed to know – what was right? Is there a rule? What’s appropriate?

This. Is. The. Day. My. Healing. Truly. Began.

Alone. Sad. Alone. Grief is so powerful. What was my job now? Who had my answers? Who could help me?

It’s all a blur… I can’t begin to tell you how many people it took to keep me “okay”. It was a lot. Many prayers, many people sending love…


Chapter 26

***If you are just joining the blog, you may want to read a few of the previous posts to catch up,  this is a healing journey. Its my story, as I walked along side of my husband Paul during his battle with cancer. We began this journey in 2011- these are the emails that I used to keep all of our friends and family in the loop. ***

Paul Update 5.23.12

May 23,2012 10:14 PM

Hello Everyone,

I am just home from Saginaw and Paul is still there. He probably won’t be coming home for a few more days… I hope… but there isn’t much change. In fact- things are different- but not better. There have been better test results… but then other things appear.

I have noticed he has been having more unclear moments, he has repeated himself, insists he is telling you what he “knows” is the situation and then in a few moments later… will say- “Wow… I don’t know what I am talking about.” Those moments are rare… most of the time he insists he knows.

He is also popping up with some off the wall stuff that isn’t a reality. It’s hard to know if he understands what’s happening… or if he is in denial. He will tell the Dr.’s what he thinks- they want to hear.

The Urologist came by today to specifically look at his urine. Because he was telling the nurse that it was normal… and it’s not. There is still blood. The Dr. came and said it now appears to be old blood… but it’s not been clear since he has been there.

The changes are this: He no longer has a catheter, and he had another blood transfusion- two more pints. His hemoglobin levels are back and forth… but are currently above 8. His platelets were normal- but have dropped again. He is still taking pain meds… and is still not urinating without difficulty. Here’s one of those situations where reality and his “knowing” don’t match… You can hear him in the bathroom trying to go… he is straining. He also has to jump up in a hurry and go to the restroom- because the urge comes on strong. Then he has just a small output. When they ask him- He says- It’s okay… and answers “Yes” he is going. (No mention of the straining… no mention of the little output or the instant urge and constant urge.) I am thinking he will need another catheter by tomorrow.

The other change is he no longer on the steroid… they weaned him off that gradually- and his last dose was late last week. Here’s my other concern… is there now brain swelling again? Because his behavior suggests there may be. I let his nurse know what I suspected- they also noticed a few times of him being confused- so they ordered a cat scan. The results weren’t in when I left tonight.

I spoke to a Nurse Practitioner, who was updating me for the Urologists… Her feeling is that there isn’t much more that can be done at this point. I am sorry… but I would like them to try something to find out something… the guessing game is enough to drive me nuts.

She said they have spoken to Ann Arbor- and basically they are of the same opinion…. UGH!! I am so frustrated. I am going to email Dr. XXXX, once I am done with this update… I need them to know where things stand. I told the lady that I felt that they weren’t trying enough… that if they could get this under control… he may have a few more years…  this doesn’t have to be his demise.

It seems that they feel that he is terminal,so they aren’t doing everything to get things back on track. I understand that it’s not wise to do certain procedures… I get that… but let’s try something. The irrigation didn’t work. And honestly- I think he is still bleeding. I don’t think it’s just old blood. If it were old blood- then it would have eventually stopped with the irrigation- right?? He would’ve eventually had a clear catheter bag.

Okay… so- all of that being said. I finally hit a wall. It was rough. His mood has been swinging and his fuse is short. Some days are just tougher than others. I got there late on Monday… and he was miffed. It didn’t get better. He insisted he knew the answers to what was going on and was insulted that I didn’t believe him.

His sister and brother in law came… and he started in again… I had to take a time out. I let them visit for a bit… came back- and it hadn’t changed. I guess when I left- he started in on Laura. I left early… I also had a mighty good cry on the way home and decided to not go back on Tuesday. I needed a break and to be refueled. I was exhausted. I can’t be everything to everyone… this just isn’t working.

I had lunch with a great friend- she helped me to redefine my role.

She helped me to set some new boundaries and be safe again. She is amazing… I am forever grateful. I hope everyone has a friend like this… someone who believes in you- unconditionally. Someone who will listen to you cry… whine… snot and mascara… and tell you how beautiful you are.

Sometimes Grace and Peace aren’t ushered in on the wings of a dove… sometimes it skips in over coffee with a few f-bombs. I love you Kitty.

Someday I want to be that friend to someone else in need… She is a great listener. When I doubt if I am able to do the next right thing- she gives me permission to do the best I can. When I doubt if I am capable of making sound choices… she told me I have good character and she believes in me. When I want to be mad… she says it’s okay.

When it was all said and done… I was okay again. I didn’t feel as fragmented… not as pulled. I was able to get re-grounded and re-centered and was ready to go back today.

She reminded me of some important things- Pray and hope for the best… prepare for the worse… and to lose my expectations for each day. Basically- keep living in the day… face it as it comes- and know that I will have what it takes to get thru it.

Jennifer, the babies and Nancy came today- This brightened his mood… then Hailey and Cody visited… and brought me dinner! The stinkin cafeteria closes at 3:30 and the grill closes at 3:00… that’s twice now that I have missed it! (Since I had popcorn for lunch… I didn’t think it was a good idea to have Frito’s for dinner.)

I want to thank you all again for your love and support- the cards- the prayers- the hugs… even the sweaty ones at the gym… the money- gas cards- for mowing the lawn, handling personal paperwork… covering his business, working for me… and the emails ofencouragement. Again- I am not sure if you all realize there are more than100 of you… and just one of me. So- please don’t ask questions or ask me torespond… I just can’t. I may not update as often as you’d like… but it’sthe best I can do… and my friend Kitty says that’s okay! 🙂

Love and Peace,


Paul update 5.25.12

May 25,2012

Hello Everyone,

Well I finally felt like we got some answers yesterday at the Saginaw VA. The original lead Urologist had been gone-to a conference since the second day Paul was admitted last week. He was the one who said he didn’t want him discharged before the catheter was running clear. He said if someone tried to release him… that he was supposed to threaten to call his Congressman. He returned yesterday and saw Paul and gotthe ball back rolling.

Late in the afternoon- he met with Dr XXX and he called the Urology department in Ann Arbor and told a few people of Paul’s case. He also said several times- I need help. He ordered an MRI to be done in Ann Arbor- STAT. They are waiting to transport him to Ann Arbor to do the MRI on his bladder/pelvic area. He will also be admitted there- as soon as they have a bed available.

YEAH!! I cannot begin to tell you how much relief this is… We had a rough morning yesterday. When I got there- there was a Dr. and the Nurse Practitioner, that he doesn’t really like- having a conversation about his status and his care. This is what it felt like to me… they were trying to release him… or convince him of something. Not sure what that was… because- I immediately stopped the conversation and led it back to his present condition and the blood in his urine. She went as far as suggesting that we take him out of Saginaw and just show up in Ann Arbor at the emergency room- and they would have to take him. She kept talking about his “stage four” status… and his adamant decision about not doing ANYMORE treatment. I told her this was not the case. He wanted treatments… just not sure about chemo and radiation.

At this point- we needed to re-visit those decisions, now that he was symptomatic. But- we needed time to process things and to make an educated decision. She kept telling me- he was adamant! I told her it was based on information two weeks ago… not today…. My gut was telling me that I didn’t like the two ladies… but I wasn’t being rude. I listened- then when they left- I cornered the one in the hall and gave her a piece of my mind.

I told her that he was MY HUSBAND- and I had a vested f’ing interest in his care. It was my job- as his wife- to make sure he got the best care. To make sure he understood all of his options and that she was not helping things by asking him questions- when he was not thinking clearly and was drugged up. She said he was very competent and that any judge would deem him competent… that wasn’t my point… but I let it go.

I made sure that he made all of his wishes clear as far as his treatment was concerned. He has also signed an Advanced Directive- stating his wishes with a social worker. He does want to live. He does want to try everything possible… even if that means chemo. When he decided no against the chemo… he had no symptoms. The Dr. kept saying- even if it makes you really really sick and your last days will be spent really sick? UGH…. I can’t begin to tell you how mad I was. Shut up… he doesn’t need you in his face telling him what he will be facing… BECAUSE YOU don’t know. Nobody does.

SO- the good news is he is getting moved to Ann Arbor as soon as they have a bed. He got the catheter back last night to give his bladder a rest… he was going- but not completely emptying it. They started the irrigation back up… and the bleeding is much much less… just pink now… not really dark… might just be old blood clearing itself out. For those who ask- then why not just send him home now? Because the bleeding could start back up at any minute- because of his condition. Once it begins… they really do need to figure out why it was bleeding and the source.

The other good news is they started him back on the steroid for brain swelling- and he seems to be talking sense and is less confused. He is now having vision problems tho.. seems to want to wear his reading glasses all the time.. said he has problems focusing…  But hey- with that cute- cue ball and a stylish pair of glasses… that is the least of my concerns.

I am heading to the gym for a few hours-to do some paperwork and let the carpet cleaners in… then I will see if he has moved yet- and head out to be with my hubby.

Keep praying- keep believing… he will get better. Just wait and see. The cancer might eventually take him… but that won’t be soon… he has time… we have time.

Bless you all- Happy Memorial Day Weekend- Thank a Veteran… I am going to go be with mine.

Peace and Love,


Chapter 23

1/20/12 Present Day.

Please stay tuned to the Blog for some major changes. I am committed to finishing this story- the one about my journey with Paul- and when I am done, I promise it will go fast… I am committing to something new. It’s time.

Thanks to everyone for your patience and for supporting my growth.

***If you are just joining the blog, you may want to read a few of the previous posts to catch up,  this is a healing journey. Its my story, as I walked along side of my husband Paul during his battle with cancer. We began this journey in 2011- these are the emails that I used to keep all of our friends and family in the loop. ***

Mother’s Day 2012 Paul Update

Sun, May 13, 2012 at 9:35 PM

Hello Everyone- and Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mom’s~

We are on the third day of Paul’s new supplements and also introducing a few changes… Going to go slow… I can’t see taking everything away all at once. It’s not fair… he deserves some chocolate milk if he wants at this stage… in a few weeks- hopefully that will not be in our house.

A new eating plan and a plan to starve out the cancer. For those who don’t know… Cancer loves sugar. Loves it… so that will be the first thing that goes… sugar! Next will be processed foods, then we will be on a whole food diet. Paul has been taking a concoction of Flax oil and cottage cheese too- I know… cottage cheese is not “a clean food”… but the book I am reading says that mixed with the flax oil… it changes the makeup, and it doesn’t have any “dairy” left in it. I blend 1/3 C of Barlean’s flax oil with 2/3 C of cottage cheese. I also add about 4 plump strawberries and a handful of blueberries and three packets of Stevia. I have been blending the mixture and he eats that for lunch each day. It’s not bad tasting… it’s thick- like a yogurt would be but it’s filling- and lots of protein too. He still needs a few other supplements- but they didn’t have them in Cadillac- so my friend will pick them up from Oryana in TC.

He is happier since we have started these changes and it’s not poison! It’s a natural approach.

We also just ordered a new water purification system for the counter top… cancer cannot live in alkaline- and the new system will dispense water with that is ph balanced and alkaline between 8-10%.

Anyone who wants to know specifically what supplements… and more about the book- I’d be happy to share. I know there are skeptics… but at this point- what do we have to lose? He has decided against the chemo- and we have to try something to keep him alive. We have to become our own advocates. We must learn how to strengthen his immune system and help him fight.

This morning- he had some blood in his urine… it scared me… I asked him if he had any pain? “Nope.”

I asked him if anything hurt anywhere. “Nope.”

I also made sure he didn’t have a fever… and nothing else was happening… so- this is what I believe. It’s the ugly disease leaving his body. He has been drinking lots of water and is staying hydrated- he says he feels good. If it continues- he said he would call his Dr., but for now- he said he is okay.

If it’s the cancer tearing him up… he is happy- he is home… and we are good. But… like I said- we are believing it’s leaving. (It was just pink.. not bright… it’s a concern… but they would only run tests and say… hey- you have Cancer… duh… )

Well- I was in total denial about Paul losing all of his hair… right up until the moment that I shaved it off for him. It kept coming out in patches. He would leave chunks of hair everywhere… and it looked pretty bad all over his collar. The doctor said the radiation may make some of his hair fall out… and it did.

This morning before I left to spend a few hours with my family for Mother’s day… I buzzed him. When I got home- I shaved it and smoothed it all out! Then I treated him to a head massage… he said- “Man… I’ve got it pretty good- don’t I?” I just smiled. I wish that I had done it a few days ago… besides, he looks cute bald!

Tomorrow I am back to work… I am looking forward to it, but also, a bit scared and sad to leave his side. It has been a few weeks that we have spent each and every second together. This will be new. We must get back to our lives and routine. Paul has decided to retire, and his focus will be on getting better.

I went to the Social Security office on Friday and filed for disability for him. They were super. The gal behind the counter asked me to wait a few minutes… she came back and asked if I could bring a few papers and come back at 2:30? I said sure. Her supervisor wanted to get started on it right away- and sent the claim in that very day.

He said “I see your husband was in the military- can I ask what branch?” I replied- “He is a Marine.” He smiled… and told me that he liked how I answered the question… not- He was in the Marines.. or that he was a Marine.. but- He is a Marine! He is also a Marine, he told me to tell my husband that a Marine was handling this for him, and would see it through.

The good news is that he will get approved. The bad news is that it takes five months. They have a mandatory wait of five months. The date of the claim is the first day of his hospitalization… so In October- he should get his back pay… and begin to receive a monthly check.

Things will be okay.

We have an auctioneer coming on Thursday to sort thru Paul’s things. He wants to lighten the load. There is something healing, something “freeing” about getting rid of stuff. Stuff weighs you down… so we will unload some stuff- and prepare for the worse… but live each day to the fullest.
We are not naive about the prognosis… but we also aren’t going to just sit back and let the disease win… he will fight… and I will be right by his side helping in any way that I can. It’s not going to be easy… but we pledged forever- and we meant it.

Thanks to everyone for the love- please continue to lift him up in prayer and send him love… it is so necessary to beat this. Thanks too for the nice gestures, comments and emails… I am so blessed to have such good friends. I may not get a chance to always write back… but I do read and share each of them with Paul.

Until the next time…

Peace and Love,


Chapter 9

(Email from Paul)

Thursday, March 31, 2011 1:58 PM

This is the hood.







(Email from me to Paul)


thanks for the flowers…


 Monday, April 4, 2011 2:53 PM


I do not pretend to know what you’re feeling… the best way for me to know- would be for you to tell me. If you want me to listen to you rant, get angry, scream- I can do that… But I shouldn’t have to be the brunt of your anger. Deal with it…. however you want… but don’t take it out on me.

I am sorry you have cancer. I still love you. I am sorry you’re confused, hurt, angry or even scared…. those are things we can talk about- if you chose to let me in… but I can’t be the only support that you have. You should have someone else to sound off too as well as me… it’s not healthy to hold it all in.

I am not telling you how to handle your life- I am not telling you that you need to do anything different than you are- you’re entitled to handle it anyway you can or want too… but I will suggest that you find an outlet- because this is too damn early in the game to have a defeated attitude.

I am your biggest supporter- I more than anyone else in the whole world, understand how much this is effecting you… it’s not fair for you to say things like I don’t support you. It’s not fair to snap at me and it doesn’t make it all better by sending flowers. Words hurt. They can’t be taken back once they are thrown out there. Sometimes I just need to hear I am sorry from you…

When you act angry towards me- it brings out old painful hurts from years gone by… it makes me want to run. I will not abandon you through this- but I will walk away when I feel like you’re taking it out on me.

If you honestly don’t see anything wrong with the way you acted this weekend- then God help us… because there is too much left to go through… this is just the beginning! We need to stand together… be each other’s support- otherwise the cancer wins.

You have forgotten that you have a life to live… that you are not the Cancer. It doesn’t have to consume you. If you need a nap- take one- if you feel overwhelmed- then sit down and talk about it… but don’t walk around like you’ve lost your best friend.

We have to remain strong- you look like you’re giving up. Hold your head high… walk tall… you’re a winner- you have hope- and I love you. We will beat this- but only if you stop the negative thoughts and turn to a place of love. The anger and the negativity is cancer… do not let this become who you are.

Your loving wife,


Forever isn’t long enough….



Here is a side note- I want to explain a few things as I remember them.

Paul was very angry and short tempered at times. It was not him… it was his illness. It was the disease. He was so sick. He lost so much weight… was tired. He was in pain. He had huge blisters and sores in his mouth because of the radiation. He was a strong man… but the sickness beat him up pretty bad. As the closest person to him, I took most of the brunt of his anger. It happens. My hope is to let other caregivers know that it’s okay… it’s not the person you love. It’s temporary… and it’s just fear- disguised as anger. It’s not okay to be a door mat. It is okay to stand up and speak your mind. It’s okay to do it with love…Kitty taught me that this how we “own our own power”… we stand up for ourselves and we do it in love. We don’t hurt back. Hurt people hurt people. It’s not okay to scream back. It only makes things worse. Be strong. I had to bite my tongue so many times- I developed my own canker sores. It’s okay… it’s only temporary. Keep the love. Love does conquer all.

Paul learned from a fellow blogger that the disease also effects the spouses. He sent flowers after he treated me quite poorly one weekend. We called them the asshole flowers. Each time he let that side show… I would get flowers. I loved the flowers. I didn’t like the asshole.

I remember going to meetings during this time- and sharing- crying- and venting. I kept my circle small- I learned that it was easier to be real to a few people- rather than trying to balance all of the advice and energy of many.

I also got regular massage and started seeing an acupuncturist and a chiropractor on a regular basis. I needed to take care of me. It does affect the entire family. Please remember to take care of yourself.

I developed sciatica for the first time in my life. I had never had any low back problems before this time. Your body has a great way of storing the pain. I also had a “body talk” session. That helped me to store the parts of me that I couldn’t face at the moment. In hindsight… it probably saved me and my sanity.



Update 4.7.11


Thursday, April 7, 2011 9:03 PM

Hello Everyone,

My biggest challenge over the past few days… knowing I need to send out an update… is to find some balance in the process… it can’t be just my feelings… it has to remain about my husband… my best friend… my hero… and his healing progress in the journey.

It’s been tough… things can be a little hairy. Emotions are higher… treatments are getting more intense.

Paul came home on Friday- after four days of radiation- and two days of chemo last week. It was so great to see him… good to just be in the same room with him!

He had to start doing injections this past weekend too. The injections are Nupagin (sp?) and they are to extract white blood cells from his bone marrow- to boost his system while he is going through treatments.

If you remember- the chemo they are using may lower his white blood count… so this particular shot needed to be injected every night for five nights. The nurse told him to do it before he went to bed- because one of the side effects of the shot are flu like symptoms… and if he is sleeping- he may not even feel it. So, that’s what he did. He didn’t feel much of anything the first two nights- then Sunday night- he said he sort of felt like they described he would.

Other than that- he was not having any ill effects from the treatments. If he would have gotten sick from the chemo- it would have happened when he was home… about five days afterwards. Praise God- no sickness from chemo!

Now, that being said- there was a lot of not knowing why and what, stuff going on… He was tired… felt poorly… and we didn’t know why. They told us during the first few weeks of treatment- he may not feel any different… so we were confused. He was very deflated… spirits were low- and it scared me.

He found out when he returned to Ann Arbor that the feeding tube was infected… it happens. He kept saying he hated the stinking tube… and it hurt. Finally, on Tuesday- after sleeping most of the day on Monday- he went to get it checked out. They sent him to the ER- and it was infected.

They put him on an antibiotic for ten days- if it doesn’t feel better by Friday, he is going to have to stay in the hospital for the weekend on an IV drip. So… keep those good thoughts and prayers coming!

We all know that it’s going to get tougher… they told us more than once- that during the first few weeks- he may not notice any changes…. So this is why- at four days into treatment… we were wondering what was up? I can only imagine what it feels like to have a tube sticking out of my belly… and then for it to be irritated and infected? Infection running through my stomach… ick…

So- after two days of antibiotics- he is bouncing back. He walked a mile on the treadmill yesterday- and sent me a picture of some geese by the river today. He took a walk- watched some fisherman… and found some peace.

This morning he mentioned some mouth ulcers… he said his throat is starting to get bumps too- he said it looks like they are cooking his tonsils! I can’t even imagine… He is preparing himself for it getting worse… but also is trying to stay in the day and enjoy eating as much as he can right now. His appetite hasn’t been the greatest because of the infection…

He is okay now with posting on his wall on Facebook– so everyone go ahead and cheer him on! Last night I said- I am pretty close to just posting “cancer sucks” on your wall… he said- “Go ahead- I am ready!” So I did… All these amazing people came on board and supported him… his friends… his family… it’s like a weight was lifted.

It’s not as scary when there is light on it! God’s light! He said it feels even better than his blog site- because these are people that know him… these are people in his everyday world! 🙂 I love it!

So- yesterday I was thinking that I needed to research and be… drum roll…. Humble. It’s something that just spoke to me in the morning… so I said- Okay… I will try. The day is yours- Lord… please help me.

I looked up the word- liked the definition… then decided to try all day long to not be pushy- know it all- and to just be…. Notice how I said “try”?

Okay- so most of the day- I spent talking it through with him and then his daughter … we had it all figured out… we were going to do this and that… we were going to “help” him… get him back on track and all would be well. I pretty much obsessed about it all day… yup… had it all figured out.

Then it dawned on me… God really is in charge. God really does know what is best. Usually when I insert “my will”… things don’t go so well…. so- I prayed again.

Guess what? God really does have a plan… He took charge- when I finally let go of the ropes… things smoothed right out! No concerns- really!! There really wasn’t anything to be all fretting about anyway- he just felt icky because of the tube being infected…

So- another lesson learned… The word for today was also Humble… might have to hang on to it a few more days!

Attached is his radiation mask- it’s his blue suit! This is a hard substance that keeps him still on the table while he is getting radiation. It was molded to fit him- so it’s snug! They use the guides to line up the “laser” so to speak… then direct the radiation right at the X.

Thanks so much for your thoughts, prayers, and love! I ask everyone to please continue to lift him up… it’s pretty touchy at times… and he can use all the strength God can give him.

Peace and Love,




(This is an email from me to his Dr.… and following is her response. When I wrote the updates- I had to keep some things private. Although I alluded to the trying times… there was so much more involved. This was one of those cases… I tried to let everyone know that we were okay… let you all believe that I was being strong and full of faith… the truth was- I was scared.

His daughters and I were speaking regularly on the phone. We were trying to keep an eye on him. He was pretty sick.

I sent an email to his Dr… then heard about it later from him. Not the only time I did this… and not the only time I heard from Paul on it. He got pretty mad when I called him out on his defeated attitude or let his Dr.’s know what was really going on. I did it on several visits- and also in a couple of emails. I am not proud of this… but I did- what I felt I needed to do- in order to make sure he was going to be okay.


Email to his Dr.

Paul Henry


Friday, April 8, 2011 10:56 AM

Hello Dr. XXXX,

This is Denise Henry- my husband Paul Henry is a patient undergoing radiation treatment for tonsil cancer with you.

I have some concerns.

He seems quite depressed, his daughters and I are several hours away- so we can’t see what’s happening each day. When he came home this past weekend- he was very ornery, short tempered and tired. Sluggish would be more like it. He seems forgetful and also not quite with it…

He saw a Dr. and nurse in the ER on Tuesday- because his peg tube was infected. This is what concerns me… He said the nurse asked him if he was taking anything for pain. He said no. She said that she sees too many macho men who try to fight this treatment alone… and they really do not need to be in pain. She asked him if he had any pain meds- he said yes- she said- start taking them!

Paul has oxycodone from his shoulder injury- or from the teeth extraction… I can’t remember which… He is now taking them regularly.

Two days ago he mentioned ulcers in his throat- I asked if it hurt? He said not really… well now he says his throat hurts- and he can’t eat anything but soft foods- and he needs these meds.

When we met the first time- and we discussed his treatment- we were told everybody is different… but we were also told that the first few weeks probably nothing would change. Is he really in pain? Or is he just isolating and being depressed or not wanting to feel emotions? Is he taking the meds for pain- and are they necessary at this point?

I don’t pretend to know how he is feeling. I just see a defeated attitude- and it scares me. It’s too early in this fight for him to be deflated… He is losing weight- not drinking water… and now taking narcotic pain meds. He said the Dr. checked with you about the antibiotics and about the pain meds- and you said yes.

He sleeps about 2-6 hours a day- during the day… now if you ask him… he will tell you he has taken a few walks. (He walked on the treadmill one day for a mile- then took a walk yesterday…) I check with him daily about how he is feeling- what he is eating- and if he is drinking lots of water. The problem is- I can’t be sure.

There is no room at the hoptel- so he is staying offsite. This is his preference too… I am concerned. I want to know if there is a psychologist on his case? I also want to know if we can call a team meeting- or if you feel it is necessary? He is not meeting daily with social work dept.- because he is not staying onsite.

I can be reached by phone xxx-xxx-xxxx or by email.

Thanks so much,

Denise Henry




(Later the next day… Another email to his Dr.)

Paul Henry


04/09/11 5:48 PM

Dr. XXXX, I apologize for the dramatic email yesterday… Paul came home and although he has lost a lot of weight- he seems in good spirits. I don’t see a concern… or maybe it’s just when he is there alone? I don’t know. Please just keep an eye out for any signs of depression.

Thanks so much,

Denise Henry


(Email response from Dr.)

Re: Paul Henry


Sun, April 10, 2011 9:48:34 AM

 Dear Mrs. Henry,

Thanks for the messages. It is always good for us to know any concerns that family members have, since patients often may down play their complaints.

I am glad that he seems to be doing better. I will be seeing him on Monday. It’s very common for patients to feel depressed during this time, it usually gets worse as the treatments go on and the side effects get worse.

We will do our best to make sure that he is well taken care of. However, I sit down and talk with him once per week. If he is having issues on the other days, he will have to let us know.


(My email reply)

Re: Paul Henry

Monday, April 11, 2011 8:33 AM

Dear Dr. XXXX,

Thank you for your response back to me- he said he will meet with you today, and that he would have you look at his mouth. That seems to be the concern now- he is eating very soft foods- says his mouth hurts- his throat hurts- his teeth even ache. It’s hard for me to imagine all that he will be facing- I really do trust that he is getting the best care- and I am thankful to you and all of the staff there.

It just scared me to hear the defeated attitude for so many days in a row… could it have really just been the infection in the peg tube?

Take Care,

Denise Henry




Chapter 8


(Email from Paul)

My Blog

Monday, March 28, 2011 6:04 PM

I joined a cancer support group and you can see my blogs at My name is pfhenry, and my first blog is (First treatment )

(This is an email from me- to my Reiki Master Teacher/Friend along with her response back to me)



 Tue, Mar 29, 2011 at 6:12 AM,

Good Morning Benita,

Thanks for the email address change- I hope you are doing well!

I spent my first night by myself last night- as Paul had to go to Ann Arbor for some appointments yesterday and begins treatment today… Mixed feelings all the way around.

My friend told me it may be a good thing… because he needs to find his own path- he needs to make his own peace with this. I didn’t completely understand at every level… until I went to a meeting that night. I haven’t been attending many meetings lately… a guy there said something to me that made sense. He said- I have missed you being here so much Denise. I have missed talking to you and running things by you… you’re always such a presence… but what it has forced me to do is to take my stuff right to God, because you haven’t been here to talk to about it!

Bamm… Okay- thank you- now I get it.

I think the hardest thing is to see the pain in his eyes. To see his hurt- to see his helplessness. He is such a protector… such a good provider… he is a Marine… a man’s man… I say this all in jest to make my point… he is also human. I have seen more in him in the past few weeks, than I have ever seen of his insides. I love this man- and I can’t wait for him to get better so we can get on with forever…

I am sitting sipping my morning coffee- and there is still a huge pile of snow out my back door… I am sure you don’t miss this time of the year in Michigan! Paul and I are planning a trip to visit his sister in NY, when this is all done- we need a trip! I know it’s not a tranquil place…. maybe the desert would be more suiting… but that is where two of his sisters live- and I have never been… so I am excited to go. Our trip was supposed to happen last week- but things change… and I am kind of glad it will be warmer when we go!

Well- thanks for letting me ramble with my morning coffee- I think maybe I’ll try to do some quiet meditation now! Bless you- and thanks so much for your support!





 Tuesday, March 29, 2011 10:29 AM

Dearest Denise,

Thank you for the update on your lives. I see that enlightenment, according to Chopra, has entered your life, i.e. finding the cues in the details in everyday experiences to show you the way. I can sense how scared you are and how difficult this journey is for your heart. It is one of those life events that have to resolve from the inside out, with a lot of help, both spiritually and practically, from the outside in. But the Peace has to come from within.

Read some Chopra books on healing or get his tapes. I have found them to be profoundly helpful…

As far as NYC is concerned, it is the greatest city in the world. I will go beyond that and say it’s the greatest any place in the world. I lived there for some 6 years and I long to go back and have gone back.

Each time, the first thing I do is start walking all over the city, for hours. The energy is such that it feels like if I spread my arms, I will take off in flight. New Yorkers are the friendliest people in my experience, as long as you are friendly to them. If you are rude, you sure get it back. They are fun and helpful and most interesting. When I think of the city, I always experience it as the arms of a Jewish-Italian mother. It is also the safest city to wander, but you need to know where not to go, as in any town. I’m sure your local relatives will know all that…. In the meantime, take care, ask your Angels for help and listen to their “feather touches”.

Peace and Healing be with you and Paul,



(Email from Paul)PFH2




Tuesday, March 29, 2011 4:25 PM

Lunch during chemo. What the hell, why not.





(Email from Paul)




Wednesday, March 30, 2011 7:57 PM

My monkey Mellissa sent me.





Wednesday, March 30, 2011 9:55 PM

Hey all,

Paul left Monday morning for Ann Arbor and began his treatments on Tuesday.

Monday he had a follow up with the dental department, then an appointment with the ENT dept. All went well… they actually did tell him that the cancer is stage two. (News to us… we thought that this “type” didn’t have a particular stage… well- now we know.) It’s amazing what we have learned.

They hadn’t plan on Paul coming to stay at the Hoptel until Tuesday… so when he was done on Monday- they didn’t have any rooms. Tuesday after treatment- they were still full- and that deptartment was closed… so he stayed the first two nights at the Fairfield Inn… real nice place- we have stayed there a couple of times when he has had early appointments.

Today after treatments- he checked back with the hoptel and they are still full… so they sent him to a long term stay hotel. I don’t remember what the name of it is… just know they are paying for room and he is comfortable! (Quite sure it’s the American Inn… or some little chain place…)

Okay so day one of treatments began early in the chemo dept. He said they were super busy- so even though he got there plenty early- they got started late… it ended up being about a 5 1/2 hour ordeal.

He got to the radiation department and because it was his first treatment there- they had to do x-rays too… that was about 1 1/2 hours… It ended up being a long day for him. He felt good- didn’t have any side effects- and even sent us a picture of his lunch! (Praise God! Not just for the no side effects… but also for the great lunch… he was pretty excited!)

Day two was not as long for him – things rolled right along- but he did say that he felt a little tired today. I honestly think that it’s the emotional piece of it… he is really coming to grips with the reality of what he is facing.

Staying hydrated is huge… and he is drinking lots of Figi water- I sent him with a case of 24 – and he said it’s almost gone… next week- I will send two! He said they are giving him lots of meds. He feels like a walking pharmacy- one for this… one to prevent that… and it’s all working great. No nausea, no aches…. all is good and we are thankful.

Just for today…. it’s all good!

He started blogging! Yes- Mr. Private is telling his story! I am really excited for him… it’s good to see him write about what’s happening and asking questions from other cancer patients. Very informative site- anyone who wants more info- let me know… I will email you the details.

He had a nice visit with Karen today- thanks Karen! (Melissa’s boyfriend’s mom) She brought him a monkey- from his Missy! 🙂 Love love the monkey!

We are so very thankful for our friends right now. The people who have stopped at the gym- just to say hello… for the calls… the text messages that say- I don’t want anything… just want you to know I love you and am thinking of you both… the friends who have come to hang- so I am not alone… the prayers, love, great energy….

You honestly don’t know how much this has helped keep us in the moment… and to keep us grounded… even in the baby steps… we are blessed.

Love to all,



Update 3.31.11

Thursday, March 31, 2011 12:33 PM

Hey Everyone-

I thought of a couple of things- I hadn’t mentioned last night… and then some personal feelings from me…

First of all- Paul did not get the personal trainer- he started treatments too late. I am not sure if he is a part of the study at all- but for now… he is on his own with working out.

His Radiologist Oncologist, Dr. Jolly- spoke to him the other day and said- I am your primary Doctor through this whole process- listen to what I ask you to do… let me treat this… do not take advice from anyone else.

A couple of things come to mind… I think she is very qualified and I am thankful that she didn’t mince words and came right out and said what she wanted. I love that she is confident, assured and that she told him to basically ignore all the advice from everyone who has a second cousin who did this… and who heard that this will help.

With the internet being a huge tool of discovery- we all have become more educated and have learned a bit more about things that really aren’t in our scope. Let’s face it- we have all watched a YouTube video and now think we know all there is to know… I know I have! So basically- she wants him to communicate with her- any problems- any symptoms… because she is on top of it. She is the expert.

Last night- Paul experienced some heart burn. Woke him up at 4:00 in the morning. He said it was awful and he couldn’t go back to sleep. Normally all of us would say- hey try this… or you should get this…

If Dr. Jolly had not spoken to him in such a direct way- he may have just thought… oh- it will go away… or it’s nothing… but today- he has an expert in his corner and someone to discuss it with. I like that he has experts and Specialists!

Okay- some processing going on in my corner… I am thankful for the people who have realized this affects the whole family. It’s sort of like addiction- it affects the whole family. Recovery is a family deal… and this I know about.

So- here’s the difference… in my recovery- I have a spiritually based 12 step program. If I work the 12 steps- and am honest… follow the recipe- so to speak… then I have hope. I never have to use again. If I work the program… I get better.

I find comfort in rules. Security… If I know the rules and have boundaries… I feel safe.

The reality is that I don’t have the same assurances with Paul’s recovery.

Paul is facing his disease- knowing it is going to get worse before it gets better… he now has a group of people who will help him. His recovery now includes his blog site. Although I am grateful he has new friends to discuss this with… I am also experiencing some mixed feelings.

When I log into the blog site and read the posts from other people… I am drawn in.

It’s like a car accident that I drive by… I say- oh… I hope everyone is okay. Then I immediately look deeper… It’s human nature.

These people who post are real human beings. They are facing horrible stuff. I read the different stages… I read about all the side effects and how they lose their hair, can’t eat, lose weight, and about all the pain and medicine they have to take. I read about the tough journey… and then I read about how some of them die.

I feel their pain… I hurt with them. It’s sad… and it makes me sad… Really sad.

I can’t stop looking. It’s scary stuff… and I really don’t want to know about it… but also know I can’t live in the fairy tale world… In my mind- there is sunshine, love and pretty stuff… not pain. Not fear. So- I am torn today. How do I remain supportive and full of hope and love… and not be real? It’s going to get worse before it gets better… how do I balance the hope and the fear?

What I do know… is this. It’s okay to be confused. It’s okay to process as I go along. It’s okay… to just be okay. Love will prevail. I love my husband- I can be supportive and not buy into the fear. Today as always I have a choice- what will motivate me? Fear or Love? I choose Love.

I just talked to Paul… told him how I feel. We discussed how sometimes he doesn’t understand why my recovery works for me… and I don’t need to understand how his works for him. It’s his… and I can read his posts. I don’t have to read other people’s stories. He told me to stay out of their stuff… okay… now I have some rules again… I feel safe. 🙂

Thanks everybody for listening to me… I am okay… just needed to be real.