Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Dear Dan,

Today is Valentine's Day. You're headed to Fargo today for tests and scans to be done this afternoon, and then your chemo treatment tomorrow. But even if you had been in town, we wouldn't be celebrating Valentine's Day, because you don't "believe" in Valentine's Day. You think it is all a ploy by the candy, flower and card companies to make a ton of money. (Not to mention jewelry stores, lingerie stores, restaurants, etc.)

And that's fine. But I wanted to tell you that I still believe in Valentine's Day. I want you to know how much you mean to me. You do so much for me in so many ways. To name just a few things, both large and small, you've always:

Started my car for me every cold winter morning.
Helped out with household chores, like the dishes and laundry.
Bought the big bags of dog food that I can't carry.
Remembered to buy toilet paper, paper towels and paper plates.
Shoveled or blown the snow in winter and mown the lawn in the summer.
Had a positive attitude to balance my negative attitude.
 Had a great sense of humor.
Been a terrific dad.
Not yelled at me for spending too much money.
Loved dogs, Christmas, sitting out on the deck on a summer night and reading books, as much as I do.

You've comforted me when I've lost family members, pulled my car out of a snow-filled ditch, got up with baby Kristen when she cried during the night, supported me when I've quit a job, consoled me when I've lost a job, helped me get through the loss of our home by fire, calmed me down when I'm flipping out over something, brought me soup when I was sick, done a million kind things for me.

I didn't realize just how much I counted on you and took you for granted until you got sick.

Until you stopped cooking, I didn't know how much I would miss our weekend "gourmet" meals accompanied by a nice red wine. I am craving your "Martha Stewart" pork chops, your steak with peppercorn sauce, your spicy chicken. In fact, I miss sharing any old everyday meal with you.

After your first chemo, when you had that lousy cold/flu, I still called upon you when the oil light came on in my car. I've always counted on you to deal with car issues 'cause I hate doing it myself.

Until you felt unwell and were crabby, I didn't realize that you are almost always a sunny, happy, pleasant person to be around.

I even miss your snoring since you found out you get a better night's rest sleeping in the recliner or on the couch.

You're a good guy. I'm glad I've had you in my life for over 41 years. I hope you're around a long time to come; that you get well so things get back to normal. I won't care (much) if you leave the newspapers in the bathroom and the clothes in the laundry room, forget to wipe out the microwave, control the TV remote, watch war and hunting shows, wear your Elmer Fudd hunting hat, not want to go to movies with me, insist on keeping the ratty old recliner and  leave your mail, papers and assorted crap scattered all over the dining room table and three pairs of cowboys boots lying around to trip me up.

And when your CAT scan comes back clear and you can eat again, I'm taking you out for a big filet mignon.

Happy Valentine's Day
Love, Julie

Thursday, February 2, 2012



I've been asked by several people for an update on Dan, so here goes:

He's had two rounds of chemotherapy so far. After his first round, he caught a terrible cold/flu. He said his body ached more than it ever has in the past. It lasted a good week and a half or more. An awful side effect, for me, is that he was incredibly grouchy. I had a tendency to snap back at him when he snarled at me. I know it was wrong, but it was hard not to respond. Thank goodness, my cheerful, sunny, happy-go-lucky guy is back now.

He has done a lot better after the second round, which was last Wednesday. He always feels really good the day of the chemo. They must put some "happy juice" into one of the 3 pre-chemo IVs that he gets before the 2 chemo IVs.

He is craving fruit (especially strawberries), which is a good thing, and also hard candies, which must mean his body is needing fuel from sugar. Still, he is losing weight, and needs to pack some more protein into his diet. He does drink Ensure, but does not like it. He also has chocolate milk shakes mixed with ice cream and whole milk.

It is difficult for any cancer patient to keep the weight up, but it's even harder for Dan, because his cancer is right at the junction of the esophagus and stomach. He feels ill if he tries to eat anything but soft foods. Anyone who has any advice on how to pack on the calories, please let me know.

As far as I can tell, Dan does not seem to be losing strength. However, he is losing his beautiful white hair (it's even whiter than in the photo above). He said it is coming off on the comb like a "white cloud".
He said he will feel sadder to lose his mustache than to lose all his hair. I told him I will still love him even when he is bald. (And I've always preferred him without a mustache.)

On Valentine's Day he is going back to Fargo and this time will stay overnight. The first day he will have some tests on his kidneys and have a CAT scan, and the next day he will have chemo as usual. I was surprised that they are doing a CAT scan this early. I thought they would wait until all six rounds of chemo are over, but what do I know.

I certainly do appreciate all the kind comments I've received, and I feel all your prayers and positive thoughts coming my way. I hope you will now pray for a terrific looking CAT scan.