A Shorter Horizon

I’ve had several PET scans and every time the news has been some bad and some good; always new tumors but no evidence of spread beyond my right leg.  With the amputation of my leg and removal of the lymph nodes that had been described to us as a barrier to the rest of my body, I wasn’t sure what news to expect from this scan.  Dr. O’Keefe called Tuesday morning and I was anxious to get right to the results.  The cancer  is now evident in my wrist and one vertebrae of my spine.  It’s interesting because the tumor in my wrist is deep in the muscle tissue and the tumor on my spine is deep in the bone.  This makes me look at the cancer and its progression in a very different way than I had previously.  Maybe the tumor in my ankle that became swollen and grew quickly after playing kickball was not the first, un-agitated others may have just grown slower.  The key concern seems to be that if the tumor on my spine continues to grow it could eventually cause damage to my spinal cord.

Up until now, I’ve maintained some remote hope that maybe I could get ahead of this and be cured, or live this out for a while.  But treatment has changed from eradication of disease to treatment of pain and other side effects and maximizing quality of life.  Two things that now plague me are: how much time do I have, and what kind of damage do I face during that time?  Every time I write, talk to, or see someone, I feel like it could be the last.   So back to our question from the weekend — where do we go from here?  Now, just as always, it comes down to finding as much enjoyment through interactions with friends and family, new adventures, and good food as my tired and feeble body can handle.

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About bhoefen

Going on a road trip.
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77 Responses to A Shorter Horizon

  1. Scott says:

    I don’t know a lot about you Bret, but from what I’ve read, you are anything but feeble. What next? I’d say sky diving, bungee jumping, high-speed roller coasters, or just lounge around and do nothing, what ever you do, do with those you love.

    A lot of talk lately about judgement day happening on May 21st… as far as I’m concerned, when it’s our time, it’s our time, nothing anyone of us can do about it. I wish we all had your gumption, to just get up and do whatever we felt like doing, nay, whatever we feel has meaning, as long as we’re surrounded by those we love.

    Keep fighting the good fight, and above all, where ever you go, ride that way in a good direction.

  2. Dad says:

    Bret – this week I read an interview with Stephen Hawkings, the super-genius physicist who has suffered with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) for years and continues to generate ground-breaking theories about the origin of the universe. He is almost fully paralyzed and his communication is via pains-taking facial movements which prompt a computer to write brief sentences. When questioned, he said his life has been happier since his disease. That would have been impossible for me to understand before your cancer. Now I look at the richness of your life and your contributions to our planet over the past year and wonder if, upon reflection, you might respond in the same way. I love you Bret, and am desperately searching for a silver lining.

  3. Lin & Dan says:

    As always, our thoughts & prayers are with You & Shannon. If you need anything, we’re there for you. We Love You Guys.

  4. nanci bogan says:

    Keeping you in my prayers, Bret! You amaze me in your strength and how you have adjusted to the amputation. Maybe because all the amputees I have known were older (I worked at the VA hospital) and they were NEVER up walking and doing all the things you are doing. CANCER SUCKS and I am so sorry that the cancer invading your precious body is showing itself again!

  5. Christine says:

    Dear Bret,
    I’ve known many people who have suffered from cancer, but no one with as much courage, and love and support as you have. Lean on it. Just knowing you has been an honor.
    Sending you more love and support….

  6. Jean Drum says:

    I always read your blog and my heart hurts when you have bad news. You have been in our prayers and will continue to be. You are a strong person who has given many people the courage to forget about themselves and pray for you. Whatever life has in store for you now you will face with courage and bravery. Keep having faith and have as much fun as you can because none of us knows how many days we have left. God bless you and your family.

  7. Carol burke says:

    Bret, I am here for you and Shannon. Feel free to make a call at anytime, night or day.
    We don’t understand why (and believe me I still question) but the one thing that will never be bigger then the cancer is LOVE and COMPASSION from friends and family and even strangers. You have (as with Holly) inspired people to live life the the fullest, most importantly to help others. This chain will never be broken because of you and other heroes like you.
    Love, Carol Hollly

  8. jean loughran says:

    Dear Bret,
    I think you just taught me how to live. I’m working on “Every time I see someone, it may be the last time”. I guess you’ve made me a better person. I wish I could re-pay that gift.

  9. ginger johannes says:

    continue to be strong …. draw on the love and support from all who care for you

  10. John and Linda Ann Ventura says:

    our thoughts and prayers and love are all sent to you today. Thank you for having the courage to share all that you are going through via your blog. We have so much to learn from you.
    peace,
    John and Linda Ann Ventura

  11. Dawn says:

    Dear Bret,
    As I sit here and read what you have to say today, your truth brings back some comments that you made months ago. You spoke about what this world would look like when you are not in it. You have just help me figure out what my thoughts are at times. I think, if we are all honest, we think at times of how we will pass and what our own fears will be. For me personally Bret, you help me settle a big fear. I am afraid I will be forgotten when I pass. I don’t want to leave this beautiful world. I don’t want to be left out of any family/friends activities. I want to sit on my deck and look out over the orchards and watch the nature all around me forever. But most of all I don’t want to be forgotten.
    I hope my family and friends will think of me often and smile. I hope they remember some good I did. I hope they all remember how I may have eased their fears or made them laugh. I hope everyone who knows me thinks of me just because I am me. I think if I can rely on “not being forgotten” I am at peace.
    You introduced yourself through your Blog to a lot of people Bret. A much larger world than my world. Many people who think of you instead of some pain and troubles they have, a diversion if you will. They tell you how much they have grown or how they see things now different than before Bret Hoefen and that disease he carries (but is not him). But most of all we see the man, husband, son, grandson, uncle, cousin, friend, co-worker, new CCS friend, blog readers, neighbor, stand up comedian that has two other Bothers. As you can see there is so many out here. Way too many to forget Bret Heofen. So if you have the same fear as I do. Rest at ease every day, for this may be your best day! And if we can return that favor to you, it will be our best day.
    Love and prayers to you, Shan and your families,
    Dawn

    • Carol Huff Stanley says:

      So well said…and so true. You have truly touched so many hearts. Although I have never met you Bret, I have known your mom since going to school together in Livonia. Your strength and courage has helped me to appreciate everything around me every day. My wish for you is that you continue to have your best day and find peace in whatever you decide to do next. You and all your family will continue to be in my thoughts and prayers.

      Carol Stanley

  12. Marianne Borrelli says:

    Bret you have enriched my life as well and touched so many others. I loved your Dad’s comment. I too am learning how to live . Thank You for that wonderful gift. I will treasure it forever! You will always be a huge part of my heart and soul. We will also keep searching for that silver lining! Love you and Shannon.

  13. Debbie says:

    Hello my handsome brother in law and my gorgeous sister 🙂

    Just a few nights ago while watching American Idol with my friend Ange, she mentioned that she was bothered by the fact that they said “Which of your heroes will make it to the final round”.

    Heroes? Singers? She said the word hero should be reserved for those who really deserved the moniker–like soldiers, firemen, policemen, etc.

    I thought about that for quite a while. Some people list as their heroes sports figures, some political figures, others it may be those who accomplished amazing feats and gave them inspiration to try harder–to be a better person.

    My heroes have always been strong people who faced incredible odds no matter the obstacles or trepidations. They stood at the brink and stared fear and possibly death straight into the eye and laughed. They dared the unimaginable and strove for their dreams.

    Without realizing it, you made my hero list. 🙂

    Would I have the strength and courage that you had so abundantly shown over the course of the last year? Would I have had the gumption to say “if this is my fate, then I’m going to grab life with both hands and hold on” as you have done? Sadly I think I would have crawled into my bed and pulled the covers of my head and told the world to go away.

    Not you. And I want you to just think about that. How few of us would have had the tenacity to decide to do all that you’ve done? Cross country in a car? To see and witness beautiful images all the while at the side of your wife and family? AND decide to blog and tell your story–both the good side and the bad.

    And most precious to me–you’ve taken care of my baby sister through it all.

    And while it breaks my heart that you’re now facing new trials and tribulations with this horrible disease and yes–perhaps the horizon is a bit shorter–your bravery remains. And that makes you in my book–a hero.

    Your kin down here in the south love and adore you-misses you and we hope to see you very, very soon. We’ll keep sending those waves of love and embraces every single minute of the day. You just keep riding in the right direction and keep on being a hero to us all.

    Love you soooooo much!

    Sissy

  14. Diana C says:

    Bret:
    I think you have to take comfort in knowing that your life has made a difference and that you have lived a good one. I don’t know if you believe in heaven or hell. I don’t, but I do believe in our souls being recycled, so to speak. I like to think if I didn’t get it right in this life, I’ll have another chance after I’m gone. Silly as it may sound, it brings me peace. Know this Bret, no matter what happens, you will always live on in all the hearts you have touched. You’re an amazing young man. Blessings to you.

  15. Crissy Kid says:

    Bret,
    Sometimes what we need most of all is for someone to truly listen. Believe me, my ears (or should I say eyes! LOL) have been opened as a result of your very honest blog. The journey DOES get difficult indeed, but you have done nothing more than to make that journey one of truth and classiness. I admire you. To echo what Shan’s sister said earlier, “you have made it to my hero list” as well. Peace for this day!
    Love you,
    Crissy Kid

  16. mary beer says:

    Bret,
    Wow, such encouraging words from so many! I am still reeling from you sharing that your blog gets over 2000 hits a day…..I have been thinking alot about that. Jim just came in the room as I was reading your blog and asked me why do read that if it makes me cry? I think it’s because it also makes my heart sing to know you are not alone! Your words remind me everyday that it is so important to live a life of graditude.
    Others have stated that none of us know the length of our time on this earth. As a nurse, I have held the hand of many individuals as they passed from this life…..and every time I ask the same question….is it better to know that it is coming as in a chronic disease or cancer or better to die suddenly? In the end…it doesn’t matter. God calls us when He is ready for us to return. In the end, it’s not how we die that matters…it’s how we lived.
    I had a brush with death a couple of years ago on the day after my Dad died….on the way to church, a pick up truck hit me head on. Luckily, I only had a concussion, broken ribs and cuts and bruises. I remember that so vividly because I felt a peace that is indescribable as my life was spared. It has left me with a total lack of fear for when He does call me home and I am reminded everyday that life is about loving, forgiving, and being grateful for the things we are blessed with!
    Gosh…you are so blessed! Awesome family…..a wonderful childhood….an amazing, amazing wife, brothers who are by your side at the drop of a hat, mega friends and now thousands that are praying for you everyday! Does it really ever get any better than that?
    We just keep praying that your journey continues in the right direction. What an amazing young man you are….it is not easy to share……thank you for risking that.
    Mary

    PS….you might want to consider getting out of the Rochester area…..all this rain is not good for the soul!

  17. Wendy Kruse says:

    I have never met you in “real life” but when/if I meet you in person I will take you and Shannon into a huge hug. I married Ryan Kruse, and he told me of how when he moved here, you and Shannon took him out to eat. You are a great person. So thoughtful. Even though I didn’t know Ryan then, I really appreciate you both taking time for him. You’ve taught me that life is short and we should make the best of every day. And whatever comes our way, make the best out of it. You are truly an inspiration to me. Keep being who you are and making us all laugh, cry and most importantly, love.

  18. Heidi Plain Langdon says:

    Driving around Austin today I was reminded of you everytime I passed a motorcycle and I wished so fervently that you could be one of those carefree guys just enjoying a beautiful ride without a worry. I know there is nothing any of us can do to take away the pain/hurt/frustration that you and your family are feeling, but I hope it helps (at least a little) to know there are so many of us out in this big old world thinking of you and wishing you nothing but the best every day, every hour, every minute.

  19. Pat says:

    Bret –

    So many caring and heartfelt thoughts in response to your most recent posting – if you ever had any doubts about how you might have impacted the lives of others, you now have the answer. These posts reminded me of a quote from Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University who was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer: “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.” He went on give an incredible “Last Lecture” (and to write a book with that title) which wasn’t about death, but about the importance of overcoming obstacles and truly living your life to the fullest for however long it is that you have. If you haven’t already, google “the last lecture” and see if you aren’t inspired by his presentation – you have much in common with him in your courage and outlook on life.

  20. Daniel says:

    Even now, despite heartbreaking news, you continue to selflessly share your journey with the world. You’ve done so with courage, creativity and dignity. You are respected and adored not only by your family and friends but a much larger community of your fellow human beings. As you stated, we live for adventure and there is always time for exciting new adventures be they large or small. Alaska or a baked Alaska, your move sir!

  21. Laurie Sherner says:

    You know, Bret, I have learned a lot from you, like everyone else has echoed, and I have also learned a lot from the replies of “your followers” of this blog. It gives me great faith in humanity that whether we know you or not, we care/we pray/we want so much for you to have good days and many many many of them . The picture of you looking on, ensconced in a blanket makes me wonder what you are thinking and I only hope you know that you are indeed prayed for/thought of and it IS no surprise to me that you are getting so many hits on this blog. I tend to hesitate before writing, thinking maybe I am writing too often, but today my gut feeling is that you need to know how deeply your struggle has affected me, and so many others, and how very much I am behind you, even if you wouldn’t know me if you bumped into me on the street. If you write that you had your favorite Amiels’s sub, I will look at the picture–enlarge it a bit so I can see your smile–and be glad that you are enjoying the day; and if you say you are following through with your Alaska plans, I will jump with joy and click onto your blog from work, from home and at all hours of the day and night to share in your discoveries. I truly wish for EVERYDAY to be your best day! So much!

  22. Loretta says:

    Bret, I’ve been following your blog since the beginning, sometimes with weeks in-between; but always catching up. I’ve laughed, I’ve cried, but I have always, ALWAYS been inspired! As many have already said, you’ve made me rethink priorities in my life. You have touched so many lives! I liked you the moment I met you, had a great time dancing at your wedding, but this blog has truly changed me and so many others. You said you enjoyed the PBS show on the Kennedys? Well you and Shannon are truly “Portraits in Courage”. JFK wrote this book a long time ago and I remember how much it impressed me when I was just a teenager; but truly, you guys have gone above and beyond that.

    God bless you both and your families! You are in my prayers and in my heart!

  23. Maria says:

    For me, good books and good music are prayers when they speak to your soul. Heard this song today and it was a prayer for you…

  24. Cousin Nancy says:

    Maybe you should try the Cancer Centers of America, Bret. Get a second opinion on your treatments. I have a friend who went there and she said it was the only reason she is alive today. She was diagnosed with lung cancer 5 years ago and is cancer free . It can’t hurt to see if there is anything else that you might be able to do.
    I read your blogs every day. I look forward to them and I hope you know how much you have added to all of our lives.

  25. Uncle Kevin & Aunt Judy says:

    Bret, All of these wonderful comments from everyone pretty much sum up how you have influenced all of our lives. You have made much more of an impact in this world than we can ever hope to. When I was young, I always wanted to do something that I would be known for and remembered for, but as I matured I realized that it’s not about your accomplishments, it’s who you are. We are all guilty of trying to do so much that we forget to live. Until you, that is. Everyone of us looks at life differently now and we try to experience as much as we can and spend as much time with our loved ones as possible. So we all thank you for that. You must keep having best days and we all look forward to sharing lots of those with you. Lots of love to you and Shannie.

  26. Peter says:

    Hey Bret,

    I’ve really wrestled with making this offer Bret because I don’t want to seem overbearing, pretentious, or out of line. But should you need a nurse at any point, for any reason, I would be honored to assist you and your family.

    That being said I would love to visit you both some time, I imagine you can introduce me to some awesome food in the area. Sometimes I wonder if this is a food blog =D

    Peter

    peterwelch409@yahoo.com

  27. Celeste R says:

    Dear Bret, First off, I want to say that I am so very sorry for all that you have gone through, going through and are about to face. A few months back, the Courier Post, a local newspaper here in Southern New Jersey featured your story and a link to your blog. I checked it out once and have to say, I am hooked!
    My dear brother was diagnosed with adenocarcinoma of the appendix, Oct 2009, has been through 2 debulking surgeries aka: “mother of all surgeries”, latest surgery, 2 weeks ago, in Baltimore, MD his surgeon telling him point blank that this 2nd surgery was “uncharted waters”, he did well, however, he will have to remain on chemo for many more months. I read your blogs often because you are very much like him…. open minded, wanting to explore every option possible, every avenue…. basically, challenge/ embrace life as much as one can at this very possible moment. I praise you and everyone out there fighting Cancer to the BEST of your ability and Thank You for your very personal insight.

  28. Daniel Siciliano says:

    hey man I say you still got your s**t together…look at who follows you…look at what you write…you are impacting so many lives with your story…i was going into surgery the other day myself…and as they pushed versed into my veins and i began to feel loopy they gave me a lecture on how i had not taken all accessories off my body…and they pointed to my ‘ride in a good direction’ bracelet….even as drugged as i was i refused to take that off and i told the surgical team as much as i could about your story…whether they understood it or not is another story…but they let me keep it on…i am sure that im not the only one that feels this way but this bracelet is a sign of strength and determination, and everything else that has been said by everyone on this blog about you…every chance i get i look at it and remind myself that i need to look at things differently…that my decisions need to be made in a different mindset…its kinda like that ‘what would bret do’ thing…ha…but needless it gives me a chance to draw strength from something other than pain meds as i recover…this is just one person you’ve made an impact on…do what you do best…keep making that impact on people…

  29. Rachel Caylor says:

    Bret and Shannon: I have not posted in the past few blog posts because quite frankly I am really not sure what to say. You are both so strong and courageous that my meager words of sympathy and encouragement would be just that. Meager. So I wish only to let you know that you both remain in my daily prayers and thoughts. There are some others here in KS I work with that are keeping up with your story as well and they wish you nothing but strength and courage. You have touched the hearts of so many people Bret and your strength is inspiring to so many people you don’t even know. You and Shannon are truly heroes. Truly.

  30. Denise says:

    Bret,

    You are a true fighter, Bret. And I think that miracles happen everyday. With all the prayers from all the people on your blog, I think you should keep fighting for that miracle! You are an amazing person!! A true inspiration to many. I have found that in life there are many battles. Battles can be lost, but with tenacity, patience, and support from your loved ones you can win the war. Keep fighting that war, even if the battle objective has changed. Ride in a good direction towards a victory over cancer- whether that victory be physical or mental, you can do it! I know you can and I know everyone on this blog thinks so too!

  31. Marianne Borrelli says:

    Bret as my usual morning ritual I’m checking out the weather around the world. It is warmer and sunnier in Alaska (77) than most of the north East! Maybe now is your time to make that adventure happen. A plane trip through the majestic countryside would be easier on your body . Maybe the better weather is a sign for you. Or come back to Florida. Follow the sun and good weather! It’s much better for the soul. Love you.

  32. From one of the best movies ever, Kung Fu Panda (ok, I’ve never seen it; i was just looking for a good quote)

    Yesterday is History
    Tomorrow is a mystery
    But today is a gift…that’s why they call it the ‘present’

    Live life, don’t let it get you down. Yes, cancer sucks – there’s no denying that. And yes, it can bring you down…but only if you let it. Don’t let it. To paraphrase my company’s new motto – get out there and do…the world needs more doers.

    You, Shan and fam are in my thoughts…as always.

  33. Bob Cownie says:

    Bret – I believe I am echoing what many are thinking. I hope you know how much you continue to inspire each of us with your strength and courage. My prayer is that you will find peace in knowing how you have truly transformed the lives of so many whom witness the way you chose to live each day. How very Blessed I feel to be in your company. Thank you, Bret.

    For whatever reason, as I was thinking of you last evening, a favorite book came to mind. To quote my friend, Dr. Seuss, “Oh the places you’ll go….Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So….Get on your way!” And on your way, be assured you are surrounded by a sea of family and riding by your side.

  34. nanci bogan says:

    We haven’t heard from you in a few days, I hope you are doing ok. I imagine you are just digesting all the info you have been given. I want to know where to get a “ride in a good direction” bracelet. You are impacting so many people with this blog. Reading all the comments I see that people write you from all over the country, not just from NY………..amazing! Keeping you and Shannon in my prayers……………………nanci

  35. Mom says:

    Blog, Bret! Blog! We need your words, your wit, and your wisdom. We’re all here.

  36. Kelly says:

    I miss your writing!!! How funny that we all look to you for words of wisdom and support, but I think you know all of us – known or unknown to you – are here for you. The sun is shining – I hope you are basking in it! 🙂

  37. terry concessi says:

    i miss you….keep checking for any post…

  38. Judy Lynd says:

    Bret…we are thinking about you and Shannon at this difficult time and as always keeping you in our prayers…really miss your inspiring words, but do use this time to make the best choices for whatever lies ahead…we are confident those choices will be the best for you and Shannon and they will give you the strength and determination you need to once again move forward in the right direction no matter what or for how long…you are an inspiration for all who have been reading your blog.

  39. Tara says:

    Bret,
    I agree, we miss you and your words. We are all here pulling for you, cheering you on!

  40. Wendy says:

    Take in as much joy as you can whenever and however you can. You may find it in unpredictable places and situations. Missing you….

  41. Sally Leeson says:

    I miss you Bret.

  42. Yvonne M Sellers says:

    I cannot imagine what you are & Shannon are going through, the choices you have to make, the dreams you dream, but like everyone else, I am adding my thoughts and prayers, sending positive thoughts & energy your way. I too have checked in daily to read your words, your strength, and the way you find humor in just about everything. This may not be a time to be humorous, but this is also not a time to stop writing. Your writing seems to be a way for you to work things out, for you to share your feelings and a way to stay in touch with those who know you, some only through this blog, near and far.
    We all miss your words.

  43. Sherri Kennedy says:

    Bret –
    Dude – we need you! Please come back and blog.
    See…you think WE are here for YOU….Not quite Dear One. YOU are here for US. WE need YOU.
    We need YOUR strength. We miss YOU.
    Sherri

  44. Eileen says:

    Bret-as stated above we all miss your blogs. Please do not leave us now. I cannot imagine what you and Shannon are going through and maybe we are all being selfish but we need to hear from to make sure that you are ok. Let us be your footsteps in the sand and carry you the rest of the way. We do, however, need you to be on our shoulders to guide us. You have become part of our lives. Hope to hear from you soon. We need your strength, courage, and you.

  45. Uncle Lee and Aunt Sharon says:

    Bret and Shan,
    Thinking of you both throughout each and every day and keeping you both in our hearts. Sorry for not writing anything on here in awhile – quite honestly, I’ve been searching for the right words for days that might give you some kind of extra encouragement as you deal with this latest blow.

    Reading all of the wonderful comments that have been posted before me are such a supportive tribute to you both, for they once again show how you both have touched so many with your strength, courage, determination and love for life and each other. You have taught us all so well how to embrace life and live each day to the fullest. We’ve all been changed for the better and your handprint will forever be on our hearts. What a special blessing you are giving us all!

    After reading Pat’s comment about Randy Pausch and his amazing presentation “The Last Lecture”, I had to hear it again. I had seen it once and remembered being deeply touched by his presentation. It was so amazing and this time watching it, I have to agree, he reminded me so much of you, Bret – intelligent, creative, driven with motivation and determination, great sense of humor, a deep love for his wife and family, courageous and inspiring outlook, and the ability to rise above unimagineable obstacles and embrace the gifts of life. Through this presentation, he did what came so naturally – teaching, motivating and inspiring others. Through your blog, you do what comes so naturally – teaching, motivating and inspiring others with your beautiful, honest and heartfelt writing. WOW!!!!!!!

    You have given so much to us, we can all only hope, in these posts, to be able to give back to you, in some small way, some of the blessings you have given to us. None of us know how the stories of our lives will unfold, but know, Bret, that all our love and support are there for you and Shanny always. “When circumstances or situations cause us to suffer more than we could ever imagine, faith and hope are the lifelines that gets us through. Don’t worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself. Keep focusing on today and what you’re going to do with it.”

    Stay strong, Bret and never give up believing that even in the path of our greatest obstacles, miracles can still be possible. Lean on all of us – your loving family and friends when you need to and no matter what each day brings, may you find the faith and the hope to make it your best day.

    Love you both so much!

  46. Jessica says:

    Bret & Shannon,

    Your silence is deafening, but understandable. I can’t imagine the thoughts running through your head right now. Honestly, though, these reply posts are amazing. I hope you can feel the love and support your “cheering section” is sending your way. We love you both, just like “family-by-choice” should… Not surprisingly, we aren’t the only ones!

    I’m sure, when you started, you just wanted to ride your bike, enjoy your life to the fullest and document your trip for your friends and family. Who knew you would become a folk hero? A voice of strength, courage and inspiration – for those who know you (and already know how cool you are) and amazingly for those who don’t know you and have been touched by your story. We’ll take a turn at trying to inspire you, we owe you that, but under no conditions should you consider yourself “feeble.” Your body may not be able to keep up with you, but you are still a superhero in my eyes.

    All our love and support,
    Jessica, Joe, Abby & Jack

  47. Pat says:

    Bret –
    No Randy Pausch reference this time, but rather a Lake Ontario fisherman who signs off his fishing report with “Let me not go silently into the night – but rather, sliding sideways in a shower of gravel and spinning tires, and after coming to rest, when the dust settles, be able to shake my head, smile, and say ‘what a ride’!” You’ve pushed the limits and spun the tires as you’ve taken us all on this wild ride, Bret – it wouldn’t be like you to go silently into the night – not after we’ve all witnessed how courageous you have been. May you and Shannon find additional inspiration and strength in the love and concern expressed by all of your friends, family, and previously unknown supporters in these previous posts. I’ll repeat another line I’ve quoted here previously – especially apropos in the memory of our WWII vets on this upcoming Memorial Day – “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” They showed us what “tough” meant in the face of incredible challenges, and so have you. Get going, Bret.

  48. Cousin Michelle, Mario, and Simona says:

    Bret, we miss you! I think I am stalking your blog waiting for your next post! Sending you lots of positive thoughts!!!

  49. Carol burke says:

    Bret, It is your journey and you are exempt from what is the norm in the world. I
    remember Holly at the time where you are at now. Yes, I sorely miss your blogs and hope they will return soon. My angel is watching over you Bret. She is filled with love and peace for you. Please write soon. May I be selfish and say … I need your words.
    Love, Carol Holly

  50. Stacy Matz says:

    Thinking of you guys. ❤
    Love,
    Eric & Stacy

  51. Michelle Lindsey Piedmonte says:

    Bret-
    I’m getting scared over here. I can’t say how I would deal with digesting all this news, but it seems that you have always been able to write it down in the past and it’s helped. Selfishly, I think it helps us all. Stay as strong as you know you are, Bret. I’m still praying for you guys.

  52. Dani Solberg says:

    I read this the night you posted and it has taken me this long to reply. You havent let anything stop you with your recovery before and your adventures so you definitely shouldnt stop now. You are a brave man and are loved by SO many. You have been an incredible role model for me throughout this time we have known eachother and you will keep inspiring me. I am glad I have met you (via internet!) and your family. I honestly dont think I would be where I am emotionally if it wasnt for the support of your family for me during the rough time of my life. I am here day and night. Need to talk or vent let me know! Dont give up Bret. Keep writing, keep going with your quotes and today is a better day. You have come so far and have seen soo much you need to keep trecking. Keep your head up. HUGS to you and Shannon!

  53. Florence Hamilton says:

    Bret:

    You have been a source of inspiration to a lot of people and I just want to say I am thinking of you and what a brave person you are despite everything you have been going through. Keep on going!!

  54. Mike Gratz says:

    Hang in there Bret, we are all praying for you and your family.

  55. Cousin Geoffrey says:

    BLOG!…………………………………..BLOG!…………………………….BLOG!……………….BLOG! (everyone!)…………….BLOG!……………..BLOG!………..BLOG!……….BLOG!……BLOG!…..BLOG!…BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..BLOG!..etc…

  56. Linda V. says:

    Bret,
    Think of the little engine that could. Just reach for that first key and say to yourself I think I can, I think I can. As others have mentioned, we all miss you and are here for you when you are ready to share your thoughts. You can and you will blog again.

  57. Alex says:

    Bret,
    Just a word from a stranger and a friend of Holly Burke.
    I feel so fortunate to have been a part of Holly’s short life. Although it pains me, thinking of her still brings a smile to my face. I can only imagine how many people feel the same about you. Hope to see you write soon 🙂

  58. judy gratz says:

    Please come back Bret we all need to know that you are doing ok. You are always in my thoughts and prayers.

    judy

  59. Jennifer Gratz says:

    Bret – you have inspired people near and far — people that you’ve never met. You have shown so much enthusiasm for life, love for your friends and family, you’ve shown that you are humble. You are one of the most courageous people that I “know” — and that’s just from reading the short snippets that you share here on this blog. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

  60. Keith says:

    So difficult to find the purpose,or cause to live in the instant.the only sure thing I have found through-out my years given,to me.You are only what you leave behind.memories. in others mouths and minds.I wish I could say or do anything to comfort you.But it would be short and insulting to your suffering. I ask you look to God
    and find in him as I have.I will leave here with thoughts of you, In your travels and tribulations and my most sincere prayer will be an end to your pain.God bless us all.

  61. Jill St George Forsythe says:

    The photo of you speaks a thousand words.

  62. jeannine says:

    You have truly touched so many hearts!including mine

  63. Mandy Lindsey Cayouette says:

    We’re still here & we’re still pulling for you. Love to you both.

  64. Elizabeth says:

    Bret,
    I was led to your most inspirational blog by Mike Gratz many months ago, and have not missed a post since. I wanted to comment for several months, but have just found myself at a loss for the right words. You must know that getting to know you through your writing has absolutely changed my life in so many ways. In following your journey, I have come to face my own mortality and realize that none of us know when our time is up, so we must all live life to the fullest every single day… we should ALL be treating each and every day the Good Lord has given us as our “best day.” You are by far the strongest, bravest and most inspirational man I have ever “known.” If I ever were to find myself in similar circumstances, I know that I would simply curl up into a ball, give up and stop “living” right then and there. What you have done in the last several months is absolutely amazing and through you I have discovered that I have not been living my own life to the fullest and have wasted a lot of precious time. None of us know “when our time on earth is through” and in the words of Garth Brooks, we should all “tell that someone that you love, Just what you’re thinking of , If tomorrow never comes.” You have the most amazing support system behind you as well as thousands of strangers praying for you every single day. Never lose hope, always “ride in a good direction” and know that you are loved by so many and will live on forever inside all of the people that you have touched with your most insightful words. I miss your posts, please continue to teach us life’s most important lessons!
    – Elizabeth

  65. Joe Kostecki says:

    You definitely don’t know me, but I can say I know you thanks to your blog. I’m pulling for you and can’t wait to read more posts !!

  66. Laurie Sherner says:

    Dear Bret:

    Please don’t give up — ever! Life is full of surprises and miracles. I can see you are discouraged and I can hardly fault you for that. But you don’t give up…..you forge ahead. You have the greatest support system I have ever seen. Gather them together and travel to Alaska. I will cheer you on! Keep blogging……….show us your unwavering spirit. You ARE, after all, my hero! Never never never give up!!! There’s so much to see. See it all! And know we are all here behind you….can’t you hear us cheering for you?

  67. Elizabeth Welt says:

    Bret and Shannon,
    Like countless others, I log in daily to see how you are doing without ever having met you. I am a friend of the Gratz family and have been reading your updates since November, but never really knew quite what to say in a post. I could not say anything that could adequately express my amazement in your courage, your grace, and your resolve. I think we are all in such awe of the strength of each of you and the powerful love that you share. The world is a better place because of your presence and we are all a little better people because of the lessons you have taught us. Pkease know that people who have never spoken to you love and pray for both of you daily. Mostly, thank you for opening your life up to us during such a challenging an incredibly personal journey. Your ability to demonstrate to so many others what really matters in life is truly a gift to us all.

  68. SK says:

    “The best journeys answer questions, that in the beginning, you didn’t even think to ask.” Heard this in a movie I was watching this afternoon (180 South) and it made me think of you. What questions will you answer today?

  69. jean loughran says:

    thinking about dinner (ours & the dogs), laundry, housework, shower gift, dr appt, vet appt, plans for the week, plans for the weekend, and you.

  70. Carol burke says:

    Thinking so much about you Bret and Shannon. You are in my prayers.

    Much love,
    Carol Holly

  71. Mountain View Baptist Church says:

    Robin Brown added you to our prayer list and the following letter was written to you last night at prayer meeting …………..Bret, We lifted your name in prayer tonight. We know that our Lord is the Great Healer and is looking over you. He will give you strength to fight this battle. With His love and ours, Bonnie Walker, Margie Willard, Violet Cheek, Sharon Kelly, JoAnn Crouse and Kelley Ingram

  72. Dick Frederick says:

    May you finally find the peace that you deserve.

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