Finding A Distraction

Friday was the day we had been planning to leave on our road trip.  But with the realization that the cancer is already back and extremely active, we were stunned and didn’t know what to do.  We talked through several variations of our road trip and knew we wouldn’t be making it to Alaska right now, but thought maybe a shorter alternative might be good.  Shannon ran errands to prepare for departure while I spent the entire day in bed feeling paralyzed by everything.  I came to the conclusion that if I have two bumps then there must be undiscovered others.  I did a thorough examination and sure enough found another.  When Shan got home all we could do was lay in bed.  To help clear our heads, we watched a PBS American Experience episode on the Kennedys…a great distraction.  Not living through this era, we only knew bits and pieces of the family legacy so it was interesting to see the whole sequential story.  Truly a family that has coped with tragedy.  For tonight, we would ultimately just sleep on things.


About bhoefen

Going on a road trip.
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20 Responses to Finding A Distraction

  1. Jann says:

    I hope you still go, and make all those special memories. I have you in my prayers.

  2. Dawn DeBadts says:

    We are humbled again. I heard this quote a while back and it helps me sometimes. “If you don’t like the way something looks- change it. If you can’t change it, then change the way you look at it.” It is clear you do this but I wanted to bring it back up right now.

    A quote by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale “Become a possibilitarian. No matter how dark things seem to be or actually are, raise your sights and see possibilities- always see them, for they are always there.

    You and Shannon and your family are in my thoughts and prayers- everyday,

  3. Nanette Hance says:

    A good choice. Sleeping on things is a good approach … sleep not only refreshes and renews, it gives us time to digest things and strength to look at each new day in a different way. Thinking of you and yours Bret and I am confident that you will not give up. You continue to inspire the world around you as you live each day to its fullest. Thank you for continuing to share your story with all of us and for your well-written and thoughtful updates. All my best to both you and Shannon … you are two very special people. From the heart … Nan

  4. Kris says:

    I see so many inspirational quotes popping us here that I wanted to reference one that I found meaningful. An incredible, brave, inspiring man once wrote: “I will use as much of my remaining time as possible to take a cross country road trip; no defined plans or agenda. This has really given me a lot of adventure to look forward to!”
    For all that you’ve been through – and we know that it has been a lot, and probably sometimes too much to bear – everything comes back to the same place. All of us have just now, just this minute, with no promises of anything more than that. Live for now, live to the fullest, and continue to have no regrets. Ride in a good direction, Bret.

  5. Cynthia says:

    Bret, we met at Aaron and Elisa’s wedding. I’ve been reading your blog for a while, and I am amazed by your courage. The lessons you are teaching me are countless and you’ve become a huge inspiration. I’ve began to have a new take on life. Thank you. You are in my thoughts and I pray for much strength for you to continue redefining the word LIVING and continue to ride in a good direction.

  6. Jessica says:


    As you know, my Mom was an English teacher in my childhood. Aside from straight out cursing (which was never allowed), certain words and phrases were really frowned upon in our house. Chad and I, of course, found a way to use them all in one stupid sentence. In trying to write you a note to express my sadness and frustration at your continued plight, only those words seem to really capture your latest news: “This, like, totally sucks dude.” (In layman’s terms – this is Christine’s version of abusing the English language and my version of cussing.) Unfair, ridiculous, and unbelievable pop into my mind, too, but Mom doesn’t object to using those…

    Seriously. I think you should be allowed a few days in bed to mull this one over. Looking forward to hearing about the options for treatment and recovery.

    With love,
    Jessica, Joe, Abby & Jack

  7. Carol burke says:

    Bret, Sometimes I wonder if I should leave my comments to you due to the fact that it would be easy for you to associate me with Holly and her life now in heaven. So many things that you are going through she did also.
    I hope what I am going to tell you will not make you uncomfortable but bring you some comfort. When Holly passed onto “The other side”, there was a profound peace that transcended. Days later, there also was a bright light that shown through from the sky on an already bright sunny day. I felt Holly’s presence. She spoke to me with no words. But let me know that she was Joyful and at peace.
    Love to you and Shannon

  8. Christine says:

    This, like, totally sucks, Dude.
    I think Jessica is right, this is so unfair. We also know that you will pull through with grace and courage, but give yourself a little time.
    Sending love and good vibrations,
    Christine & George

  9. jean loughran says:

    Cancer sucks (can I say that?)

  10. Valerie Frischmann says:

    Everyone that knows you and Shannon loves and admires your courage , grace, and zest for life. After reading your blog today, I felt so sad wondering why such a wonderful, young couple with so many gifts should have this news . Going through so much to fight this horrible cancer , this news is so unfair. I do think that to family, friends, and anyone who reads your blog, you have inspired them to appreciate life , to strive harder and not put off things that they have always wanted to do.
    You and Shannon take the time to do what comes next but don”t give up. My love and prayers are with you.

  11. Lisa Orlowske says:


    These past few months you have been truely an amazing role model for those battling cancer. I commend you for that! I am so sorry to hear about your latest results and please know that you and your family are always in my thoughts and prayers.

    God Bless


  12. Scott says:

    Bret, in the amazing words of Joe Dirt, Life’s a Garden… Dig it? You got to keep on, keepin’ on. You will forever be an inspiration to me and my family; strength and courage embodied and emblazoned. I can’t wait to hear how you kick this annoyance’s ass…

    (pardon my language)


  13. Ray Ferran says:

    To requote Jimmy V:
    “Cancer can take away all of my physical abilities.
    It cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart, and it cannot touch my soul. ”

    Your mind, heart and soul have defeated the disease. This wll never change.


  14. Pat says:

    Bret –

    When each of us arrives in this world, no one knows where or when the journey will end, nor how difficult the road will be to get there. Whether you will live to be 85, or die from a pediatric brain tumor when you’re 6, or are blown apart from a roadside IED in Iraq at 20 – (perhaps fortunately) no one knows what life has in store for us. What we DO know is that how we choose to live that life is entirely up to each of us, and whether we make a difference in the lives of others is our choice alone. For whatever reason, the “higher power” has determined that this is how your journey will unfold – and despite your worse fears, you have yet to learn the final outcome. What the thousands of people who follow this blog know is that you have chosen to share your story and your ride unselfishly and honestly with others, and in doing so have certainly touched and positively changed or influenced the lives of others in ways perhaps even they are not yet aware of. It’s hard, Bret, and we all feel your pain and your fear of the unknown – but you’re not on this journey alone. You have been, and will continue to be, an inspiration and a gift to others in circumstances even more dire than your own. My advice to you is to recall that old hackneyed expression: “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” – get out of bed and continue with your incredible journey, wherever that journey may lead.

  15. Ryan Frischmann says:

    Never forget meeting you and Shannon when you just moved in next door. You both were so warm and friendly, had a glow about you. You were doing some amazing things with Gannet and Business School, showing your true brilliance. A terrible, horrific turn dealt you something you really did not deserve: a battle with cancer. You did not give up and have fought the battle, while carrying on with your life and doing a wonderful adventure with your loved ones and sharing your experiences with this soulful blog. I am so sorry to hear about the most recent news. Echoing what others have been saying, get out of bed and continue on your adventure; whatever happens you have left lasting impressions on many people, including the people who love you most. I wish you, Shannon, and your family the best.

  16. Debbie says:

    My darling sister and bro-in-law,

    I could google inspriational phrases (though I really do like the one from Jimmy V posted earlier) and I could possibly find lyrics from songs to share to lift your spirit.

    I think that is because all of us who post who are your friends, admirers, family and others are at a complete loss on just what to say. And yes I too want to share “Cancer SUCKS!” because at the core of all our emotions, that is the root. We all want to rail at the heavens and the machines, shake our fists and say “THIS ISN’T FRIGGING FAIR!” I would, however..use a stronger word than friggin 🙂

    It’s not fair. And it makes me mad as hell that its happening. I–probably everyone–feels helpless because we just want to DO something. Hug you. Kiss you. Embrace you. Pay off some etheral hit man to make it all just go away. Some have the luxury of doing the whole hugging/kissing/embracing you guys while the rest of us have to send wave after wave through the universe to hope you feel it.

    With all that being said–this Saturday I will be walking the Roanoke Relay For Life FOR YOU BRET! I will have the sign on my back that says who I walk for. Who I light the candle for. I walk for both you and Shannon. Its the best I can do right now to help raise funds for cancer research while honoring you both.

    And I will be thinking of hugging you both as I walk around that track–with every step I take. I’m going to be moving in the right direction!

    I love you both sooooo amazingly much!! I cannot wait to give you that hug and kiss in person.

    Sissy 🙂

  17. David and Laraine Frohlich says:

    Dear Bret and Shannon,
    Just wanted you to know that we are sending lots of love and positive vibes in a “good direction” : out our kitchen window and into yours!!!! xoxo

  18. Dan Piedmonte says:

    You continue to inspire me and so many others. Stay strong and keep your head up. The ride is more important than the destination. As long as you’re with Shannon and your family you will be in a good direction.

  19. sophia santillan says:

    Bret, We met a few times a while back; I’m a good friend of Timpla’s from college. She sent me a link to your blog back in December, and I’ve been reading it regularly ever since. You are an inspiration. You’ve changed the way I look at so many things in my life and in those around me. thank you. You are amazing.
    Thinking of you and Shannon every day,

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