A Forgone Conclusion

There are several tumors throughout my right leg, but two of them seem to be growing faster than the rest and are starting to become slightly painful – one in my ankle and one in my groin.   A couple of days ago I also discovered a new small tumor on the back of my knee.  At Dana-Farber they have agreed to move my CT scan up two weeks to this Wednesday, where I fully expect to be taken off the Crizotinib clinical trial as a result of the new tumor and over 20% increase in the existing tumors.  At this point I have very little interest in starting a new clinical trial with minute chances of success costing more time and money.  It appears that there will be no miracles for me and my fate is sealed.  The question that weighs on my mind is what will occur first; the tumors in my leg restricting my motion and confining me to a bed, or progression to my organs causing death.  I am still a fighter and fully intend to give everything I have to make it the latter, which I would view as a small miracle.  Yesterday morning I met with my orthopedic surgeon, Dr. O’Keefe, about potentially removing the larger and more active tumors, which in a way would reset my clock and give me the upperhand in my fight.  I was very excited to learn that Dr. O’Keefe agreed that at least one of the tumors could probably be removed with what would be either an outpatient surgery or overnight stay.  If I can make it till the summer to continue our road trip up to Alaska there would be little more I could ask for.

Recently I have had a couple of discussions related to everything that I am experiencing that I have given quite a bit of thought.  The first was an interest in my deepest darkest emotions.  Am I angry?  What do I want to yell out?  What am I really feeling?  I don’t have an exciting answer.  The truth is I have been very sincere with my blog.  I still think I am in a deep denial in which the weight of my situation has not hit me.  When we’re on the road my thoughts are consumed with the excitement of our experiences and companionship of friends and family.  The one emotion that I do occasionally feel is sadness.  It usually comes when my mind drifts and I start to think of what the world looks like without me.  I have images of Christmas morning with everyone in my family but me, my brothers drinking beer and eating wings without me, and most recently I pictured what our house looks like without me.  The thought of not being a part of these times that mean so much to me is painful.  I have great friends and family and struggle to think of anything that my life lacked.  I’m not mad and don’t feel cheated.  I always snap out of my diversion at the realization that I’ll never know what this looks like.

The second question was with my new perspective, what do I view as the meaning of life.  I have to say I don’t feel like a completely changed person with a new outlook.  I have shifted my priorities a bit, but the best I could offer is that I look back on my life as a collection of memories almost all associated with friends and family.  If I could do things over again, I would seek to fill my head with more great memories…more family camping trips, more motorcycle rides with friends, more walks with Shannon, and more new experiences.  The more memories, the more painful the loss, but worth every tear.

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About bhoefen

Going on a road trip.
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32 Responses to A Forgone Conclusion

  1. Cousin Mike says:

    Good morning sunshine. Thanks for coming up again today. No matter what happens in my life, I can always count on a few certainties. I can count on the sun coming up, no matter how dark the night may get. I can count on waking up and having to pee in the middle of the night and making the decision to either “get up” before 4am or lay in bed with my mind wandering (knowing that I’ll be exhausted by 7pm later today). I can count on my son to do something absolutely crazy each day that will make me laugh. And I can count on this blog to provide inspiration, and keep me updated on one of my favorite people (but don’t tell Ryan’s other brother).
    I know that my loyal followers count on comedic relief from “cousin mike” and I don’t want to disappoint… “There once was a man from nantucket…” well, perhaps “less is more” in this situation.
    Here is a small piece of news about Karmen that may seem insignificant, but it’s a memory, and it’s the memories that we can also count on to always be there for us.
    http://thelcn.com/blog/2011/01/30/auble-breaks-staterecord/
    Don’t worry. I’ll continue to remain the village, errrr, blog-idiot.

    • Aaron says:

      Now I know where Ryan’s other brother stands! Wow, I just read Karmen’s article. That is crazy impressive!!! Keep up the amazing work Karmen!

    • bhoefen says:

      …and we can count on Karmen to keep shattering pole vaulting records. Very impressive Karmen, congratulations! Great coaching Mike.

  2. Dad says:

    Bret – we will get to Alaska.

  3. Cousin Michelle, Mario, and Simona says:

    Bret, Alaska is awaiting you. You will be there. You continue to provide each of us memories everyday through you, your words, your travels, and your attitude. One day at a time, and the best day at a time. That’s all any of us can ask in this life. You have an amazing family and lots of friends surrounding you that can always lift you up.
    We are thinking of you.

  4. Uncle Kevin & Aunt Judy says:

    Hi Bret, After reading your blog today we just wanted to pass on a couple of thoughts. First of all, as Christians, we know that we are all only on this planet for a very, very short time–some shorter than other. We are promised eternal life with Our Lord, family and friends–all that we are asked for all of this is to believe. We spend our lives worrying and dreading that moment when we do leave, when that is the whole purpose for our existense. We know that you have already lived so much more than most of us ‘old folks’ will ever live and you have inspired, wondered, and humored all of us through your journey. When, and if, your time comes you will be the one who will have no regrets. That being said, we also believe in miracles and never give up hope. Anything can happen between yesterday and tomorrow so please keep that in mind as you journey on and know that we are always with you.
    With lots of Love, UK & AJ
    PS You will ALWAYS be there on Christmas morning!

  5. Aunt Bo says:

    Your honesty and vulnerability continues to amaze me and to top it off you ability to share it so openly with all of us. You are a tremendous writer. Thanks for sharing this with us.
    You are so right…in the end, memories of friends and family is all we have. Rarely does a person ever look back on their life and wish they had spent more time at work. Usually, you wish you had spent more time with family and friends and doing the things you love. You never know what tomorrow will bring.
    Keep the good ride going…all the way to Alaska and thanks for reminding me that today and every day that TODAY IS MY BEST DAY.

  6. Ryan says:

    Bret- When you can’t physically be present for beer & wings with Aaron and me for any reason, you’re still there — in our thoughts, in conversation, and in spirit. That has always been the case in the past and will always be true in the future.

    • Aaron says:

      Bret,
      The bond will never be broken. The three of us have been through so many great adventures over the years. We have so many amazing memories that will live on so much longer than us. You will always be with us for Beer & Wings. You will always be with us on holidays. You are and will always be our inspiration to live each day to the fullest. I have a half bottle of REALLY old Glenmorangie that reminds me of that bond! Pull up a chair and grab a glass Brothers!

      In the words of the great philosopher Eddie Vedder, “Rise up, turning mistakes into Gold!”

  7. Carol burke says:

    Bret, I feel my Holly in the sunshine, wind, the flowers and especially the butterflies. She hasn’t left. The only thing that has left is her pain. Even her sense of humor shows up! That is the really cool part. Thank you so very much for sharing all that you do. That takes guts and you gotta kid!

  8. Makiko says:

    Bret, I haven’t been much of a commenter on your blog, because I feel as if anything I say would be trivial compared to what you are actually feeling. Your perspective is incredible… and has had a seismic shift in mine (and countless others) for quite some time. I hope you realize that your influence is forever welded into how I am developing as an individual and a physician. I love this blog, because I could state such sappy things that I could never say to you in person (because my reflex is to just joke around with you in person without ever being serious!)

    I think there’s so much of Bret Hoefen’s influence indelibly etched into already hundreds of people and our children whom you’ve inspired. In that way, you will live forever.

  9. Donald & Laurie Fox says:

    Bret – Many of us are reading daily about your journey and inspired by your words, even if we don’t comment. Thank you for sharing this adventure with us – we will be with you all the way to Alaska!

  10. Nichole Steinhart-Billingsley says:

    Brett- You are in prayers everyday, I wish that you will comfort in everything you are battling. You will love Alaska, we went there a few years back. Amazing! Also, there is an easy website I have used every year to print out our family blog. If you or your family ever want to print out yours. I know if allowed I would personally buy a copy. You are an inspiration to many. You help people in more ways you will ever know. The name of the website is Blog2print.

  11. Uncle Lee and Aunt Sharon says:

    Dear Bret,
    Once again, you so honestly, openly and courageously share your deepest and most heartfelt feelings. We share many of the thoughts that have already been expressed above by family and friends so we won’t repeat what’s already been said. But we will repeat that you continue to inspire us in countless ways that will be a part of our lives forever. No matter what lies ahead, keep Hope in your heart, believe that miracles can happen and keep enjoying making those special memories with family and friends as you ride in that good direction to Alaska! All our love and prayers are riding right along side you and Shannon always.

  12. Debbie says:

    Dearest Bret–
    I’ve included one of the quotes from Theodore Roosevelt which has given me strength in the past. I hope with all my heart that it too, will lend inspiration to you.

    Love you very much!
    Sissy

    It is not the critic who counts;
    not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled
    or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
    The credit belongs to the man
    who is actually in the arena,
    whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood;
    who strives valiantly;
    who errs and comes short again and again;
    who knows great enthusiasms,
    the great devotions;
    who spends himself in a worthy cause;
    who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement,
    and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while
    DARING GREATLY
    so that his place shall never be
    with those timid souls
    who know neither victory or defeat.

    Theodore Roosevelt

  13. Cousin Mike says:

    By the way, every Christmas, Aunt Bethany will say grace in your honor. I can hear it now… “I pledge allegiance to the flag, of the United States of America…”

    Eddie: “That there Clark is an R-V”
    Clark: “It looks so nice parked in the driveway”
    Eddie: “Don’t get too attached, Clark, we’re taking it with us when we leave here next month.”

    Brett,
    I like Debbie’s post about Teddy Roosevelt. One of my personal favorites (also on the mirror in our PV gym) is: The Man In The Glass

    When you get what you want in your struggle for self
    And the world makes you king for a day,
    Just go to the mirror and look at yourself
    And see what that man has to say.

    For it isn’t your father or mother or wife
    Whose judgment upon you must pass.
    The fellow whose verdict counts most in you life
    Is the one staring back from the glass.

    You may be like Jack Horner and chisel a plum
    And think you’re a wonderful guy.
    But the man in the glass says you’re only a bum
    If you can’t look him straight in the eye.

    He’s the fellow to please-never mind all the rest,
    For he’s with you clear to the end.
    And you’ve passed your most dangerous, difficult test
    If the man in the glass is your friend.

    You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years
    And get pats on the back as you pass.
    But your final reward will be heartache and tears
    If you’ve cheated the man in the glass.

    Brett, I know that you can look in the mirror and be proud. As can your family and friends. There are many talkers in life, but the Hoefens are DOERS. And they do it the right way. Look into the reflection of the glass and rest easy my friend.

  14. Marianne Borrelli says:

    Brett
    THanks for reaching where we as human hate to go….. and speak of the unspeakable. I think of my Mom often and what she is thinking, at her age. Isn’t it the same for those who are in their golden or senior years? We will all face the questions you are asking yourself … at some point in our lives. Will we have the strength? Will our Faith guide us? At what age do we start thinking about not being there on Christmas morning? THat’s where our wonderful family experiences come in…. We will never be forgotten by those who love us and whose lives we have touched.

    I think living your life with no regrets is the answer for me. Something I have learned and hope to teach my kids. You are certainly teaching all of us to live life to the fullest! Who says you have to find the meaning of life and say something profound for us!!!! I think this journey has given you a rare opportunity to look at yourself , your devoted wife, your remarkable parents and faithful friends and followers in a way that many of us never take the time to see.

    Alaska awaits my friend for you to discover…Keep the Faith and Ride in a Good Direction. I’m following right behind you!!!

    Love Auntie Cuz
    Marianne

  15. Bree Miller says:

    Bret, you are an amazing human being! Your spirit will always be in the hearts, thoughts, and experiences of the ones you love and who love you. I’m following along each and every day and can’t wait to see your pics and hear stories from Alaska! That bear spray stuff really does work! And, tell your wife to call me;-)

  16. Shan says:

    Bretly, every day you amaze me, teach me to grow, challenge me and define who I am.  “I love ya, always have.”  Now get your walking boots on…we’re going to “Alelaska”…we need to see Russia. 

  17. Dawn DeBadts says:

    Dear Brett- Reading your blog tonight two things come to mind, your handsome face sitting at the end of my table with a bowl of chile in your hands and a big smile on your face. The smile is probably because it is my chile and not Danielle’s that you are eating up.

    The second is a poem that was writtten maybe 20 years ago by one of my students. He was in 1st grade when his mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. He wrote

    When it is dark, do not worry.
    I will be there
    With the moon in my hands,
    Out in the dark.

    Watch over us Brett.

    Love, Dawn

  18. Elisa says:

    Bret,
    You are with us everyday thru the blog, memories shared by Aaron and the girls talking about Uncle Bret. My sisters, parents and I chat about your blog and your amazing strength. At work, my co-workers ask me about you and many follow your blog too. Thank you for allowing us to be part of your journey. Alaska is right around the corner and you will have an amazing time. You inspire me to live my and my family’s life to the fullest.
    Keep the faith and know that miracles do happen.

    Elisa

  19. Ashley says:

    Bret,

    Like others that have posted before me have stated, I feel like most of the things I want to say seem trivial in comparison to what you and Shannon are experiencing. What I will say is that I am so amazed and filled with joy when I read about your travels and your thoughts during your journey. To me, what you are doing is LIVING – a concept that so many of us lose sight of in the daily grind of work and obligations. After Chris’ diagnosis, we had so many conversations about what it means to LIVE and began to enjoy and cherish things that we once took for granted – walks around town, dinners with friends.

    I hope you aren’t finding yourself getting caught up in the “if I could go back and change things” feelings you mentioned…Chris and I would find ourselves getting caught in those moments and would kick ourselves for using our time and energy to worry about things we can’t change. Keep pushing forward, keep fighting – I want to read about your travels to alaska!

  20. Dan says:

    See you in Vegas on Saturday. See you in Alaska in June.

  21. Hi Bret,

    You don’t know me, but I follow your blog regularly. I wrote to you a while back. You may remember I asking to have spiritual healing sent your way daily. Well, I still am! Just wanted you to know I’m still pulling for you! I am very touched by your story.

    I added the link to the spiritual healing site if you want to learn about it. It’s not religious or preachy and free of commitments. It’s simply a bunch of people who come together to learn about tuning into the healing available to us, from God or higher power whatever you choose to call him/her. It’s always out there, and this man, Bruno Groening teaches about how to access it.

    Anyways, it’s never too late for a miracle. Check out this website!

  22. Steve & Kathy Gilbert says:

    This blog, your family and especially you are very, very powerful. You have affected so many people in ways that you will never know. Thanks from all of us.

  23. Danielle says:

    Bret,

    This world will NEVER be without you. You’ve touched too many lives, made too many laugh, and built too many memories to ever have that happen.

    I drove by Acme Pizza yesterday on my way home from work and thought of you.

    I made “chile con carne” (which is now how it will be forever known) a few weeks ago and thought of you.

    I drove through Pultneyville last week and thought of you.

    Your presence is everywhere and will be no matter where you are. Those that have known you are a little better for having done so.

    You will see Alaska…she’s there waiting for you.

    Love,
    Danielle

  24. Lisa says:

    Brett,
    I’m not funny, I’m not clever and I would never give you words to live by, because Buddy you are already doing what you are suppose to do while you’re here. You are giving back and you will receive all the gifts that you have given. None of us can ask for more.
    I’m just a Mom, who loves to be part of your living every single day. A tear of joy, a smile, and peace in my soul. There is a reason for you and your life. I’m so happy that I am able to share…Your Ride In a Good Direction.
    Thank You for all the gifts you’ve given me.

  25. Nader Nasralla says:

    Bret I dont think your fate is sealed and i beleive miracles can happen. I want to share with you my view on the medication. even tho the greatest medicine out there cannot cure cancer because the underlying problem has not been fixed. for example scurvy is from vitamin deficiency even if there was a medicine to cure the symptoms of scurvy it would not be fully cured BECAUSE the underlying problem has not been solved. it is still deficient in vitamin c. vitamin c is the backbone of the illness and without the backbone no medicine will work. a fish cannot live outside of water even if we feed it all the food it needs. and although if there is the greatest medicine out there to cure an illness if the environment of toxicity of the cells are still there medicine wont work. why do cancer tumors keep growing back after surgeons cut them out? beccause the underling cause of cancer has not been fixed. therefore fixing the root of the illness is the core of treatment. there has been many patients whos doctors told them they have 4-5 or what ever months to live that are still living 20 years later. check out the gerson therapy or oasisofhope.com both clinics for cancer treatment . I feel that i must share this with you before you choose the road you will take.

    PS check out apricot kernels i heard they are very anti cancerous. a video from edward griffin on google video named the science and politics of cancer. talks about apricot kernels or the chemical in them called amygdalin.

    a film about people getting cured from cancer on google video called dying to have known

    PSS Ive heard that it is good to cut down on your sugar intake because cancer cells live off it its what keeps them alive. and animal protein

    God bless you

  26. Nanette Hance says:

    Bret … You are the miracle and you will continue to live life to the fullest as you make each and every moment memorable. No one ever really knows what the next day may bring and that is what keeps us going. While it is perfectly normal to be angry and to wonder about what lies ahead, I know you will continue to live your life with courage, curiosity and conviction, despite all the unknowns. There is so much more to see and do. Alaska awaits you and may you continue to ride in a good direction until you arrive there. As you ride on, you may not always do as much as you did the day before … but you will continue to do the best, and most, that you can. It’s all about you Bret and what brings you inner peace. Know that it is ok to be still and to enjoy the stillness of the moment that allows us to be in touch with who we are and what we want. Blessings … Nan

  27. Maryann Gilbert says:

    I’m moved and humbled by your courage Bret. Thank you for your honesty, you are truly amazing! You have taught us well.

    Maryann

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