jim bay2It was a long day.  I often feel like a little factory whose only function is to manufacture tiny fragments of  courage that will float like cartoon icebergs, allowing me to avoid the frigid waters below. This deliberate creation is the very definition of Fierce Hope. It is the kind of hope that is coiled like a snake in the corner, ready to strike when needed.

I had my first of many meetings today with the cancer team at Penn State Hershey Medical Center. While I’d love to report it went smoothly, it was actually a bit bumpy. We found out plenty of our scans and records had not made it to them.  A change-over in care from the California / Nevada hospitals to the East Coast was mostly to blame. So, much of our time was spent figuring out what they needed and what tests I still need to have done, therefore, I don’t have much to report on my condition today.

The primary oncologist did make sure to remind Amy and I that this is palliative (end of life) care only that we are receiving from them and not “curative.”  We already knew that this was an incurable and aggressive cancer that I have, so neither of us were shocked. I did attempt to get the doctor to give me a general idea of how much time I can expect to survive (I suggested 3 months to a year as an example to him), but he declined and said he may be able to do that when more of the tests come in. Things remain pretty bleak strictly from a medical standpoint.

As many of you know, we’ve been trying to arrange some kind of brief family trip (possibly to Orlando) and the doctor emphasized that this, right now, may be the best I ever feel again and to take that trip ASAP before I begin treatment. One reason for this is that he doesn’t anticipate any break in my chemotherapy once it is started. Unlike some patients, my treatments will be continuous until they can figure out if it is working. This is also where a tiny glimmer of hope remains. If the chemo works extremely well, I MAY be eligible to have a section of my liver tumors surgicly removed. I joked with Amy that I know I am in bad shape when I hope to get healthy enough to have a chunk of my liver removed!

Special thanks to everyone for the generous financial support you’ve sent along.  Amy and I have been using the gifts to support our move back across the country and our very survival. We are also extremely grateful for the support of loved ones, friends, and our church family who have helped in countless ways to make this move possible so that we can be with our family and support network. My heart breaks with gratitude for all of you who have taken time to subscribe to the blog, offer support, and share our story.

Best to everyone and thank you all

today I wanted to end with a favorite Rumi Poem

I am part of the load
Not rightly balanced
I drop off in the grass,
like the old Cave-sleepers, to browse
wherever I fall.

For hundreds of thousands of years I have been dust-grains
floating and flying in the will of the air,
often forgetting ever being
in that state, but in sleep

I migrate back. I spring loose
from the four-branched, time -and-space cross,
this waiting room.

I walk into a huge pasture
I nurse the milk of millennia

Everyone does this in different ways.
Knowing that conscious decisions
and personal memory
are much too small a place to live,
every human being streams at night
into the loving nowhere, or during the day,
in some absorbing work

7 Thoughts on “Manufacturing Courage

  1. Mark Kitzmiller on October 9, 2014 at 3:12 am said:

    You write beautifully.

  2. Jim,
    Fight like hell, live each moment to impart your knowledge and love to your family and friends. Focus on what you do know- the love you have for your wife, daughters, family and friends. Share your humor, whit, and perspective with everyone. Perspective is an incredible gift, you will awaken others by how you share yourself. You are an incredible gift, share it with everyone. I have no doubt, you will win this fight, God has greater things planned for you. Please believe me when I say, you will win and we will be beside you in this journey. God Bless!

  3. Stacie Kneip on October 9, 2014 at 1:32 pm said:

    Your fight with this beast is horrible as I know of a similar battle. My mother diagnosed with terminal brain cancer had a rough battle with her inoperable brain tumor. Seeing what my mother went through, I have a difficult time reading the updates through Amy as my heartbreaks to know that another family has to tread those waters. One thing I wanted to offer to you was the Dream Foundation, They are based in California and after you write an essay and win (which with your writing ability I see this as no challenge) they help pay for your expenses for your trip. I did this for my mom and we were able to travel to Florida and create some memories. I hope that you and Amy and the girls are able to go to Orlando as it would be a wonderful time and a big surprise for those sweet little girls and I know that it would mean the world to you to see their beautiful little smiles. My prayers and thoughts are with you always.

  4. Have you heard of the Dream Foundation or Legacy of Hope? They may be able to help you with the family vacation.

  5. Barb Woods on October 9, 2014 at 2:51 pm said:

    You continue to amaze me with your strength and your incredible writing skills. I think you have found a calling as an inspirational writer. We will be with you as you begin the fight of your life. It is an honor to have you in the family! God’s peace and strength be with you.

  6. Oops it’s not Legacy of Hope it’s called Inheritance of Hope.
    I don’t think I know you but I’m from Tunkhannock, class of 1989. I saw your website on Facebook through Suzanne Shedden. Anyway I work as a social worker with patients who have a limited life expectancy and these are two foundations I found in my research. God bless you and your family.

  7. Noreen Marsland on October 13, 2014 at 3:05 am said:

    Hi Jim,

    I know we’ve never met, but I feel like we have. I’ve known your sister, Jennifer, since 2nd grade. I haven’t seen her in years, but we’ve maintained close contact via Facebook. I’ve been following your blogs and have been quite moved by them. Your ability to write is a true gift. Thank you for allowing us into your world. You are an amazing person. May God bless you and your family during this difficult time. Please take care of yourself and know that we are thinking & praying for you. Sincerely, Noreen and Bruce Marsland

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