Monday, October 14, 2013

A New Journey Begins!

Big Creek Trail - Great Smoky Mountains National Park
April, 2013

Since no human has visited the GSMNP (legally, that is) since October 1, I bet there's a family of big black bears that have taken over this amazing lunch spot my hiking bud and I enjoyed last April.  It was a perfect day as the hike was worth every step and enabled me to mark another trail off my map that I'd been wanting to do for a long time.

This post brings answers to questions and news I'd hoped I wouldn't have to tell.  My sweet Bill has been diagnosed with a malignancy in his neck.  Because his explanation to a group of his friends is so much better than mine, I am going to copy and paste it below.  It is lengthy and if you choose not to read any further, please know that I understand completely.  The blogging community is unique in that we find each other through a common interest and develop a friendship from there.  You came to this blog looking for a weight loss/healthy living source of encouragement.  Some came because they enjoyed reading about our travels and my hiking.  Some came because you are our personal friends and for some odd reason, get a kick out of reading the stuff on my mind that comes out through my fingers. I am acutely aware that NONE of you came to read about a journey through cancer treatment.  I can't promise what this blog will be from this point forward.  I will be honored if you choose to stay no matter how much or how little I post, but I do understand if you choose otherwise.

Having said that, here is Bill's summary IN HIS OWN WORDS...............

I got sick, a tracheal irritation, the weekend of Labor Day from removing old 
carpet in our house that we are selling. The complications from this episode led 
the doctors to find a malignant growth in the right side of my neck. The two are 
not related. The coughing from the irritation burst some blood vessels in my 
neck on the right side and in treating this we found the tumor. My voice loss is 
due to the swelling from the blood and now from the tumor which was aggravated 
by the whole episode. These are pressing on the nerve to the vocal chord and it 
is temporarily paralyzed. The doctors assure me it will be totally functional 
when the tumor shrinks.

The prognosis is very positive for this type of malignancy and is totally 
curable when caught this early. I will begin chemo on Monday which will consist 
of three aggressive treatments over a nine week period. The tumor is expected to 
completely dissolve but if not then surgery to remove any remaining cells. 
Radiation will follow for good measure. The oncologist is working with me to 
keep me working and has graciously scheduled the treatments to allow me to be 
good to go for all of the performances with my college groups between now and 
the end of the semester. I really need to be able to work and continue with my 
passion through all of this!

I want you to know this because you are so dear to me and I know you will send 
good thoughts and prayers our way as we travel this road for the next few 
months. Don't be sad but rather rejoice with me that this is fixable. I am 
acutely aware that many, many people do not get this positive an outlook. How 
can I keep from singing!

What amazes me is these words are completely honest and sincere.  To say we are both stunned is putting it mildly.  No way did we EVER expect this and there was no indication of any problem.  We believe nothing happens by chance and we certainly believe that circumstances were orchestrated so that this would be found before it grew any more.  

Yes, we have both had complete meltdowns, but they don't last long and for the most part, we are just simply taking one day at a time, anxious to get his treatment started to see how he responds and looking forward to the excellent results we are told should happen.

In the way that works for your own faith journey, please remember Bill in these two very specific ways.  1) First and foremost, that the treatment works, and 2) that he is able to tolerate the chemo and continue to work.  This will be a solace for him and will keep him motivated.  He loves his work, he loves the students he teaches and he is at his finest when he is making music!  

I have no intentions of abandoning the blog, but neither do I make any promises of how often I will post.  It is quite possible I will use this as a means to document our journey down this road.  We will just have to see.  You have been here for me and have been a source of encouragement on so many levels for 3 1/2 years now.  How could I think this will be any different?




  1. My sincerest thoughts and prayers to you and your husband, and may this journey be as easy as possible for both of you. Bill sounds optimistic and positive, and it's so great that he will be able to continue his work during treatment. You two are a great team and so lucky to have each other to lean on, melt down with, and rejoice over the anticipation of kicking this cancer to the curb. I'll be reading every word you post, whether they are many or few, and I know you'll both be inundated with thoughts, prayers and love from friends and family. Hang tight! And Sharon, add Pennsylvania to your list of states from where you have blog friends!

  2. Hugs and prayers to you both during this time, Sharon. You and Bill will make it through this. Hang in there and take it day-by-day. Glad you have a supportive group of friends. Take care.

  3. Sharon I am so sorry to hear this. I have been down your road and it is both a trail and a trial. But we are proof there is light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully forever for Bill. His description is wonderful, no wonder you have posted it. Such a positive attitude as his last line shows will help him a great deal. We will have you both in our hearts intending that his treatments will work fully and easily each and every time, that he will have few if any problems with them, that you both will maintain the strength and love you have shown and that the cure will swift, sure and permanent. Keep posting as you can. We are with you all the way.

  4. Oh Sharon! I am so very sorry that both of you must travel this road, but really-how fortunate that you discovered it so soon! You are right; it was fortuitous that circumstances allowed for it to be caught. So many junctures could've gone down a different path and made that not happen. My prayers and good thoughts will be both of you during this time, and with the doctors and medical staff as they treat Bill. Good hope, and good food during this rough path for the next few months! :)

  5. Wow, that is really amazing that it is treatable and curable. So often, that is not what you hear. And yes on the positive attitude, and the continuing with his passion. It sounds like the doctor thinks he will be able to work, but the nurse in me wants to say that sometimes medical treatments can be very wearying, and that our bodies need rest to heal as well. I know you will both be wise in this. I will be praying for grace and peace for you both in the next few months.

  6. Wow- good thing they found the tumor and sounds like with treatment the prognosis is good. Tell Bill I am thinking good thoughts for him (and for ou too).

  7. Oh Sharon, I am so sorry to read this news. I know it is devastating to you. My mouth fell open when I read it. It was totally unexpected. I believe as you stated, that the irritation was there to allow the tumor to be found. While I am so sad to know that you are going through this trial, I am glad to know that it it not only treatable, but curable. Please keep us all posted on his progress as you can.

  8. I haven't been following your blog long, but you do develop a sense of caring very quickly online. Both my wife and I have been through serious illness, so we know what it's like. I'll be thinking of you both. For me, this is where waiting patiently for the good Lord to do his work is a blessing.

  9. Sharon, I am so sorry to hear this. At least it is treatable and curable. My email box is always open if you need to vent or a shoulder.

  10. So sorry for the necessity of this journey and at the same time so very grateful for dusty old carpet. You'll both be in my prayers throughout the healing process.

    If there's anything I can do for you guys (perhaps you would like me to cook for you? :) ), please let me know. I'm only a states'-length away!

  11. Been there, friend, and the journey is tough. Of course I am praying for you both.

  12. Aw, Sharon, I will be praying hard for you and Bill. This story is amazing though, because I saw a very similiar thing happen to another friend.... His story was he ate a huge meal (which he says he Never does) on night...the point of overly stuffedness, and the next day noticed blood in his stool. The docs ran some tests and found that by overeating to that point caused some of the blood vessels around a tumor on his esophagus to rupture...they removed the tumor, had the raidiation treatments and he is cancer free!! But if he hadn't of eaten that big meal that day (just like if Bill hadn't of gotten the irritation from the carpet removal), the tumor would have never been found until it was much farther advanced or metastasized.

    Just as everyone else has said, and meant, tell us what you need....

  13. Sharon,
    I am so sorry to learn that part of the trouble Bill has had is a tumor. Thank you for staring this news with all of us. I am heartened to see how upbeat he is. I am sure there will be ups and downs and some uncertainty as you both move forward. I wish you both strength in the next weeks. I am sending you both a cyber hug! Michele

  14. Oh Sharon, *HUGS* I'm sorry. I am glad they found it early. Almost like this coughing thing was meant to be, to help you (yeah I know, that sounds stupid, but sometimes I wonder about the timing of things.) I'm here, email me if you'd just like to vent! And give him a HUUUUGE hug for me!

  15. I am sorry to read this but I am sending you both good thoughts and prayers. I admire Bill's positive out look! No doubt this is going to be a challenge and a bumpy ride ahead. I hope you will post about it and keep us informed on how both of you are doing. Cancer doesn't happen to just the one person in the family - it affects everyone. Blessings to you both.

  16. Hugs to both you and Bill. I know that it's been hard --and been an emotional rollercoaster for both of you.... I will keep you both in my prayers... I hope that Bill is still able to continue working throughout his treatment.... Hope you can get out and do some hiking also.


  17. All that stress of moving turns out to have been a very good thing! If you have too much going on with Bill's treatment to meet up with me in the Smokies next week I will certainly understand, but if you're looking for a stress relieving hike you can count on me to be there to listen while we walk. Must be pretty low dose of chemo if he can continue working during treatment, he is very lucky indeed. If you're not up for a hike but want a foursome for breakfast at your favorite place near Cade's Cove we'd be happy to oblige. I sent you an email with my cell #, if you need it and didn't get that info don't hesitate to drop me a line. We will be in Gatlinburg through the 29th and have no set plans so feel free to try us at the last minute if you'd like to make any plans.

  18. Praying for Bill and for you both on this new journey. God is gracious and will give you strength to walk this path. We're on a trip now, so know that prayers are coming from Salzburg, Austria.

  19. As scary as this is, I am glad his prognosis is so excellent...and that he has you (and you have him). I will keep y'all in my thoughts and will continuously send healthy mojo Bill's way...

  20. Sharon, of course I will continue to visit your blog; journeys in life take unexpected zigs and zags. I am praying that Bill's treatment will heal him and that he tolerates the chemo and can continue to work.
    "I will restore your health and heal your wounds, says the Lord." Jeremiah 30:17

  21. Sharon you and your husband will be in my prayers! I'm so glad to hear this was discovered early and that it has an excellent prognosis! {{{ hugs}}}

  22. Sharon, I'm sorry to read this (even though I'm very late in doing so). But I'm glad that the prognosis is so good! What a blessing in disguise that his laryngitis allowed the doctors to find the tumor before it grew any more. I will certainly pray for you both as this progresses. I'm sorry I wasn't aware and praying already, but it looks like you're getting lots of prayer support from others too.