A tree went down last August and destroyed a car and hit the house.
I was upset – little did I know. Fortunately, insurance covered the removal.
During the same hurricane season, a branch fell at Oakley and damaged my Dad’s truck.
I was upset – little did I know. Unfortunately, no insurance on the old truck.
A huge part of an old oak tree at All Saints’ also went down.
I was upset – little did I know. Fortunately, insurance covered the removal and
the repair to several gravesites.
A few more aggravating things happened during the year until April 25.
My home caught on fire while we were there. It was destroyed.
What little was left had to be demolished.
I was very upset. Little did I know. We did have good insurance.
We are living in a rental house with some rental furniture,
some furniture found at the many consignment shops in Williamsburg.
We were getting ready for Anna’s wedding on August 11.
Geoff was not feeling well, but we thought it was anxiety over the wedding.
We both did our services on August 4 and came home to Williamsburg.
On Monday, my throat was so bad, I called my doctor. I had bronchitis and was put on antibiotics.
On Tuesday, Geoff went in for a routine blood test that he has periodically
because of the medication he takes for his heart and his psoriasis.
Within a few hours, both his cardiologist and his internist had called in a panic.
Two of his enzyme levels were 6 and 8 times as high as they should have been.
Geoff was sent to a gastroenterologist.
The diagnosis was not good – possibly pancreatic cancer.
On Thursday, he went in for a sonogram. On Friday, a CAT scan.
Geoff skipped the “bachelor party” – a fishing trip in the bay he had been looking forward to.
We got through the wedding, leaving each event as early as was polite.
Nineteen members of Geoff’s extended family came, but he had little time to visit with them.
We were both off on Sunday, family had all left, and Geoff slept most of the day.
On Monday, we went to see the GI doctor together. The news was still grim
On Tuesday, we talked to our accountant about finances
On Wednesday, we went to the bank to put all of Geoff’s accounts in my name as well.
On Thursday, Geoff had an MRI.
On Friday, we talked to the doctor. The news was mixed.
The good news: Geoff does not have pancreatic cancer as feared.
The bad news, he has a rare cancer: cholangi carcinoma – in plain language, bile duct cancer.
He is feeling bad most of the time with only a couple of hours a day of limited energy.
We decided that he could not do his services tomorrow – and I will not leave him.
Thanks to Harry Harper for going to All Faith and
to Gordon Hughes for being at All Saints’ again this week.
Gordon is trying to get us in touch with a doctor at the Cleveland Clinic.
Doug McCarthy has had this same cancer and we are in touch with his doctor at Johns Hopkins..
Right now we have an appointment with an attorney on Tuesday –
our wills were destroyed in the fire…they were not current anyway.
We have a appointment with the local doctor on Wednesday and
an oncologist at MCV, in Richmond, on Thursday.
I am sad that I am not in St. Mary’s County this week-end as Annie Hill nears death.
I am in touch with her family and have Harry covering for me.
I visited with Annie several times at the nursing home and in the hospital –
she was weak, but her usual cheerful, saintly self.
Since Annie is no longer lucid, I feel a little bit less guilty for not being there with her.
I am sad not to be at the tea scheduled for tomorrow “in my honor”.
I thank you for those kind thoughts – with special thanks to Barbara Seeman for planning this event.
I am now upset – little did I know when it seemed that the worst had happened
that it could get even worse.
We have good health insurance that will pay much of the cost of the treatments Geoff faces.
However, “health insurance” does not insure us, or assure us, of good health.
Just two weeks ago we thought we had a wedding and a home to rebuild.
Now we are wondering how we will rebuild our lives.
You know that I have for years had an interest in the peacock.
He is a beautiful, proud bird.
I learned after the fire that in Russia he is called the firebird.
So I have been thinking about this peacock rising out of the ashes.
The peacock is a symbol of eternal life.
He now has taken on a whole new meaning for me.
I pray that we will not only rise out of the ashes, but will have some time left together in this life
before we move on to the next.
The only “gift” I want right now is the gift of your prayers and your patience.
Right now, I feel that I have, as Paul phrased it, groans too deep for words.
With the help of my family doctor, I am holding on and holding up.
I hope and pray that in the days, weeks, perhaps months, ahead that Geoff and I will be able
to practice what we preach.
While writing this, I went downstairs and got something to eat.
I dropped the pottery dish I was using and looked at the back to see who made it and/or
where it came from. The inscription of the back: Hopeful!
I pray fervently that we can remain HOPEFUL and that our hope is not shattered like the dish. Please pray for us strongly and loudly.
Rector, All Saints’ Church, Avenue, Maryland
Facing More Challenges and Changes
Following our frustrating admission to Johns Hopkins last Wednesday, there have been
several people in that community who have been outstanding.
Doctors Choti and Theissen would not have been more patient and pastoral with us.
They have explained Geoff’s condition thoughtfully and thoroughly.
Dr. Theissen has sent Geoff home to rest and recover from the ERCP and the panchreatitis
that he developed following the procedure.
We are at Oakley this week and, if all goes as planned, we will leave for Ohio on Thursday.
Dr. Choti, the surgeon, has explained that he will schedule surgery in two or three weeks.
At that time, if the spots in Geoff’s lung, liver, and lymph nodes are not malignant,
he will proceed with surgery to remove the bile duct and the gall bladder,
and create a new duct.
If the spots indicate that the cancer has spread, no further surgery would be effective.
In that case, some chemotherapy and/or radiation might be possible.
To add insult in injury, Holly was driving to Williamsburg to get Geoff’s car on Sunday
and was re-ended in a ten car pile up on 95.
She was not hurt, but her car was seriously damaged, but driveable.
One tire was being scraped by the bumper. At a service station, they changed the tire out
or the smaller “donut” spare and she went on to Williamsburg.
In Williamsburg, our new neighbor, Jacque has been watering the plants and
bringing in the mail.
Our friend, Bonnie, had taken the dogs home with her.
She brought them back for Holly and helped gather up the things we needed from home –
we had left prepared for an overnight stay, but not for two weeks!
Holly is in negotiation with the insurance companies –
we are hoping that the damage won’t exceed the value of the car.
George, the architect for my old and new house, arrived at Oakley on Monday with
the first plans for the new house.
He and Geoff are excited, but I must admit I am having a hard time visualizing it
and even getting my brain to try to focus on it.
I got my computer from Williamsburg and thought I could catch up on a few things here
at the Rectory while Geoff rests.
Alas, the cloud over my head has descended again – there is a virus in the computer.
I have no e-mail capability – outgoing or incoming.
I can receive e mail on my I Pad, but outgoing is more challenging and I have no way
to print anything.
I find myself trying very hard to be positive and upbeat for Geoff, but it is becoming
increasingly more difficult!
Thanks to my friend, Teresa, at home in Williamsburg, who has been in touch almost every day.
And to Doug and Donna McCarthy who call frequently.
And to Gordon Hughes who visited with us at Hopkins and is helping us understand the
And to Harry Harper who is there to cover for me whenever needed.
And to Mary Friess, the only other member of my parish to call with
words of comfort and support – Mary is our local cancer survivor saint!
I believe in the power of prayer – If I did not, I should turn in my collar!
I have Daughters of the King who have called/written from Seattle to Homestead, Florida.
Bill Lewis, a priest in the diocese and a former assistant to Geoff at Rock Creek, called
and prayer long and well with me.
I know that the answer is not always the one we want however.
My prayer is that this cancer if operable and that the long surgery goes as well as possible.
I ask your prayers for the same.
Faithfully and hopefully,
Facing More Challenges and Changes of This Life
Dear Annie has gone be with God - with special thanks to Harry Harper, myself acclaimed assistant!
As I read the gospel during the Burial Office, I knew that I had to listen carefully-
"let not your heart be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me."
I am trying hard. That is a verse that has gotten me through some rough times before.
I pray it will again. My guardian angel seems to be off duty!
Just when you think things cannot get any worse, they do.
We got what we thought was good news - not pancreatic cancer, but bile duct cancer rare
and more treatable.
We were sent to the Emergency Room at the VCU Medical College of Virginia.
The doctors in Williamsburg thought Geoff was deteriorating too quickly to wait any longer
for our negotiations with Hopkins.
Tuesday he was in the ER for 18 hours - and they did nothing.
Geoff was admitted to a room at 2 a.m. and given some medication for itching a
side affect to jaundice and elevated bilirubin.
On Wednesday, at 8:30, we were told he was scheduled for the needed ERCP that day.
At 9, Hopkins called to say they were ready for him and they would transport him to Baltimore.
Our insurance would not cover the move because MCV could have done the same procedure we
were electing to go to Hopkins expecting better treatment.
Round and round we went until 2 when I got Geoff released and drove him to Hopkins myself.
We stopped in Ashland for lunch as he had been NPO since the night before.
Geoff could not even eat all of what he had ordered and went to the car while I finished my meal.
I was in constant phone contact with Hopkins several times during the day
with the assurance that they were getting ready for him.
Holly made a reservation for me at a nearby hotel.
At 4:30, we were close to the hospital and I was told everything was in order.
We got to Hopkins shortly before 5. Admitting had no record of our coming.
The waiting room was full and noisy and Geoff was very ill.
I fought for a blanket and found a pillow in an abandoned wheel chair.
I took him to a quiet part of the lobby and he stretched out on a sofa and slept fitfully.
Admitting never helped much, but a security officer and a greeter could not have been nicer.
It was they that found him in the system.
I called patient assistance and found that they "close at 4:30"
I finally found someone on call in the administration office and things began to move.
Geoff was admitted by 8:30.
On Thursday, tests were done and the good news was that the cancer seemed
to be contained in the bile duct.
Friday more tests and scans were done on Geoff and late in the afternoon the surgeon
sat down with us to outline our options. This time it was bad news.
New tests have shown some small spots in the liver, the lung, and the thyroid.
This may mean the cancer has spread.
If it has, surgery will not be an option -It will be too late for that.
If it had not spread, as we believed earlier in the week, surgery might have given Geoff a normal,
in remission, life.
If it has spread, chemo will be the answer and the prognosis is not as good.
I believe every comforting word in the Burial Office with all my mind and soul the
heart is lagging a bit behind.
I was married to my first husband for 17 years - it ended in a painful divorce
Geoff and I have been married for 17 years - will it end in a painful death?
Right now, we don't know.
We have a house to rebuild - or lose the insurance money.
We had plans for some fun things in our retirement.
We are now in the proverbial limbo.
After the Burial Office, I returned to Hopkins for an appointment at 4 with the doctor more
tests were run this morning.
Geoff is determined to fight and I will be there every step of the way with him.
Thanks to Rona Harding for being with us today - the Bishop's office contacted her.
Bruce will do Morning Prayer next Sunday as we were supposed to be in Ohio for
Geoff's brother's retirement party.
If Geoff is strong enough, the doctors have encouraged us to stay with those plans.
He needs a couple of weeks to get healed from the procedures before surgery can be considered.
I again ask for your prayers and your patience.
Doug has given me Psalm 118, verse 17 for a mantra on to which I now hold.
Don't hesitate to call me with your own concerns - or to be a comfort to my own.
Challenges and Changes Continued!
A few things overlooked in the last update:
Less than two weeks before the wedding, we came from Oakley to find the master bedroom,
on the first floor of the rental house, leaking from the ceiling light/fan!
Guests were coming soon – but the builder was able to fix the leak quickly and efficiently!
Geoff got into my car and discovered that the inspection sticker had expired in July!
No more driving until we could get to Virginia!
Leverett has called three times to check on Geoff.
Two of those times we were able to talk to Chamberlain – our granddaughter
and the brightest light in our life right now!
My friend Barbara has called three times as well.
We left Johns Hopkins on Sunday, August 26 and went home to rest at Oakley.
We left on Thursday for Ohio…in Geoff’s big car with Holly driving.
We spent that night in Pittsburgh where Holly and I visited the Children’s Hospital
to see little Lilly Smith, her mother, Kathleen, and her grandmother, Sue.
For those of you who don’t know, Lilly has Krebbe disease and
has been in the hospital since March – she will turn one this month.
She is improving and there is hope that she will be back in St. Mary’s County
by her birthday!
We went on to Ohio on Friday for the retirement party on Saturday.
Geoff’s mother, at 98, is as sharp as a tack and had already figured out what was going on
from the questions she had asked that Geoff had not answered directly!
Geoff had a good time at the party connecting with family and friends from high school.
We got back to Oakley on Tuesday early afternoon.
We had some minor issues in that I could not find the keys to my car for the drive in the dark
Finally found them- in the first and last place I looked!
Did I mention earlier that my computer crashed in the midst of all of this!
I had left it at Best Buy for repairs and went to pick it up before we left for home.
We got to Williamsburg and found that the internet still does not work – which was the problem
it went in with…a minor challenge but a frustrating one.
In Williamsburg, we have gotten our wills in order, as well as powers of attorney and
Geoff is on a very limited diet – low fat and low fiber – he has lost 25 pounds which he needed
to lose, but not this way.
The current challenge is to try to get him to stick to the limitations –
very difficult for one who loves to eat all the wrong things!
Bishop Johnston (Virginia) just called with great concern for both of us.
He reminded me of how important it was for me to have some “pastoral care” too!
My head knows this, my heart knows it, but right now my brain is not listening!
Geoff just returned from some errands and the garage door to the rental house is stuck – open.
I don’t need to tell you how difficult these little things become when we are already under
Someone at the Republican National Convention, I think Condoleeza Rice, said that
with a diagnosis of cancer there comes a new normal.
I know what she meant. We hold hands a little tighter, sit and sleep a little closer,
speak a little more gently, listen a little more intently.
We are living in a limbo of stress until the surgery on September 19,
not knowing where September 20 will find us…or in what condition.
I ask for your continued prayers that the cancer will prove to be operable and
after a challenging recovery we will be able to return to a “normal” life…
whatever that is!
Faithfully and hopefully,