My Story

Hello.  My name is Bret Hoefen and I’m 32 years old.  In the picture above with me is my amazing wife Shannon.  Until recently, my life has been mostly occupied by my work and school.  I am a Senior Reactor Operator at R. E. Ginna Nuclear Power Plant in Ontario, NY.  I’ve been going to school part-time at the Univesity of Rochester’s Simon School of Business to get my Masters in Business Administration.

My life took a very sudden and drastic turn this past June 2010 when I was diagnosed with Clear Cell Sarcoma.  I’ve since learned that this is an extremely rare cancer that carries odds somewhere along the lines of winning the lottery.  How the hell did I get this?

It all started for me a few years ago when I was playing kickball barefoot at a friends house.  Kicking the ball barefoot made my foot a little sore, but it was the kind of pain that goes away quickly.  Not this time; when I woke up the next morning my foot was swollen and I had this intense pain that made it difficult to walk.  When the swelling finally went down a few days later, I still had a small bump on my right ankle.

My brother Ryan and his wife Makiko, both physicians, recommended that I see a doctor.  I’ve always had excellent health and never needed to see a doctor for anything other than the rare but routine check-up.  I reluctantly made an appointment, where I was told that I had a ganglion cyst.  I was informed that ganglion cysts sometimes go away on their own, so I should just leave it alone, and if it became a problem I could have it removed.  It did become a problem for me.  Whenever I partook in a physical activity like snowboarding,  it would get aggravated and become swollen and painful just like it had after playing kickball.

I decided that it was time to have the ganglion cyst removed.  It is never easy to plan a surgery into your busy life, especially when it will keep you laid up for several weeks.  However, no rush, it’s just an inconvenient ganglion cyst.  I finally found the time in June  of 2010 when I decided I would do it following a training seminar.  In  the middle of the training I went home to get an MRI prior to surgery.  On the following Monday, during the second week of training I received an urgent phone call from my doctor notifying me that there was concern that the bump on my ankle may be cancerous.  That same day I immediately went back to the clinic for a needle biopsy.

Tumor - Just Prior to Surgery

The following Wednesday, I received the phone call that changed my life in a way that is incomprehensible until you’re in that position.  I was in the middle of a class when my phone started to vibrate.  I let it go to message so I could check it on the next break.  Then, it began to vibrate several more times.  Without even listening to the messages, I knew the news was not good!  When I finally had a moment on break, I returned my doctors call and he notified me that I had cancer: Clear Cell Sarcoma.  Although rattled, I first shrugged it off assuming that cancer is very treatable these days.  My concerns were with how disfigured my ankle would be after surgery.  It was not until my doctor explained that my concern should not be with the appearance of my ankle, BUT LIVING, that I received the chilling shock that is imprinted in my mind.

Clear Cell Sarcoma is a particularly malignant cancer that is not very treatable.  It is very resistant to radiation, and there is currently no effective chemotherapy.  The best method of treatment is surgery, and you just have to hope that it has not metastasized.  I had my surgery at the end of June.  The large tumor in my ankle was removed along with a couple of lymph nodes in my groin that also tested positive on a PET scan.  The surgery was intense; the tumor was so massive at this point that the area had to be filled back in with muscle tissue obtained by removing one of my abdominal muscles.  Then, skin was shaved from my left thigh to graft over the muscle flap.  (For the squeamish, sorry the pictures are so graphic!)

Ankle - Soon After Surgery

Ankle - Two Weekes Later

Ankle - 5 Months Later

It took about 90 days before I could walk again without crutches.  However, I slowly and optimistically recovered.  Although, while recovering, it was soon time for another PET scan.  These scans make for the most stressful and emotionally draining days you could ever imagine.  The most intense part is after doing the scans, and waiting for the doctor and radiologist’s reports; it’s my “crystal ball.”  This time the news was some good/some bad.  The cancer still had not spread to my abdominal organs, but another tumor was found in my thigh.  I then had a second surgery to remove the new tumor.  This time the tumor was small enough the the surgery was an easy outpatient resection.  My fear of surgery and needles is nothing compared to what it used to be.  I can relate to Michael Jackson, I look forward to the anesthesia.

Along with the surgery I also received radiation.  My understanding is that although not completely effective at eliminating Clear Cell Sarcoma, it does help to eliminate the undetectable cells spread around the area of the tumor.  I received the maximum dose of exposure, 50 Gray, to my entire right leg in three rounds (ankle, calf, thigh) of five weeks.  The individual radiation treatments are painless; very similar to getting an X-ray, except that it last about 15 minutes.  However, it starts to have incremental effects through the course of treatment.  After three weeks, my hair in the area of exposure started falling out.  After four weeks, my skin turned red and in some areas broke down.  My foot was the worst.  I had severe blistering around my ankle that left the skin on my foot looking like a sock.  However, this healed over time.

Well that long winded explanation more less takes me up to now.  It is the Thanksgiving weekend of 2010.  This past Wednesday I had another PET scan and it resulted in the news that I have been fearing, but expecting; the cancer has once again metastasized.  This time there are numerous small tumors all throughout my right leg.  Although not visible on my scans, they also suspect that the cancer has spread to my abdominal organs.  My known effective treatment options have run out.  Even though I’ve set myself up for this news, it’s an emotional blow!

I’ve been told that I have roughly two months before the tumors begin to block the lypmphatic system in my leg to the point that it swells and the pain is too much to walk.  Ultimately the tumors will affect my organs in such a way that this will be fatal.  I am already seeing some swelling and experiencing tolerable, but uncomfortable pain.  Although maybe just paranoia, I also feel my body responding in ways that don’t feel normal.  I have given my employer notification that I am no longer in a condition to work, and I am going on disability full time.

The way I see it, I have two choices: (1) fight this cancer to the end; explore every new drug on trial; seek out and try every known method of alternative healing; or (2) accept my condition; focus my remaining time on family and friends; do my best to line things up for my wife, who I love so much, for the time when I’m no longer around.

Some might disagree with my decision, or think that a combination of the two are possible, but I’ve chosen to focus on the second option.  Shannon and I have had a dream of buying a Volvo Cross Country and taking a long trip across the US with no specific plans or agenda other than to do what sounds good that morning.  Life is too busy and this has been put on the back burner of our lives.  Now’s the time and Shannon, myself, and my parents are making this happen.  Because it is less than the ideal time of year to travel our only plan is to head south, and our motorcycles are coming, and visit as many people along the way as we can until my leg becomes too painful to continue.  Through this blog I plan to document our adventure.  I don’t want this to be sappy and depressing, but I do want everyone to know how much they mean to me.  I’ll do my best to keep it upbeat.

287 Responses to My Story

  1. Aaron Hoefen says:

    We love and support you Brother! I can’t wait to join you and Shannon on the adventure! Until then, I look forward to your next post. Hopefully it is of a new success titled “WE FOUND A TRAILER!” And what’s up with this “Ryan’s Brother” crap? I guess if he has to suck it up and ride in a side car, he needs this!

    • Ed says:

      Bret I just finish reading your Incredable story. In my eyes you have made the right choice family and fulling your dream is and inspiration to us all. Our prayers are with you, your wife, and parents as you journey down south.

  2. Shan says:

    What else can I say? You’re AMAZING Bretly! Luv you more than anything!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Mom says:

    Bret, you inspire us all. Thank you for making us stronger.
    This is going to be an amazing trip. You know how much we love you….
    But I agree with Aaron…I think the blog should be named something about your mother.

  4. Michelle says:

    Bret, you are amazing! We love you and are with you every step of the way! Have an amazing trip and let us know if you happen to be in New Jersey! All our love, Michelle, Mario and Simona

  5. Uncle Lee and Aunt Sharon says:

    You are an incredible inspiration to all of us. We wish you all an awesome trip and look forward to following your travels. Uncle Lee wants to know if there’s any chance that his moped would fit in the trailer?!!!! Love you and are so very proud of you!

  6. bhoefen says:

    Ha, of course there is! I’m going to get him all set up tomorrow, so he can’t back out now!!

  7. Christine says:

    Bret, the way you’re handling this is so impressive. George and I wish you wonderful and exciting road trip. We hope that you meander all over the country. You’ve got a wonderful support system. We love all of you. We wish you sunshine and mild temperatures.

  8. Carolina DeHond says:

    Oh Bret! After reading your full story- I am speechless! You sure have been through alot alreday 😦 It is just NOT fair! You are an inspiration to everyone who knows you!
    We pray for great weather and lot’s of great memories! So happy to hear your wife, Mom and Dad will be joining you!!! Look forward to reading your blogs and viewing pictures along the way!!

  9. Makiko says:

    Bret, your bravery is incredibly inspiring. I don’t think there’s been a single day when you and Shannon haven’t been in my thoughts and prayers (sounds really cliche’d but it’s true).

  10. Matt Davis says:

    God bless you. Please believe in the power of prayer.

    • tammy espinosa says:

      god bless you, shannon and your parents! can I ask if you guys have any kids? you are so young! It would be wonderful to hear that shannon is carrying your child.a piece of you to live on.and to give her a piece of you to hold onto when you pass. I wish all of you a safe and wonderous journey!

  11. Danielle, Jeff, and Just says:

    Hey There, Bret! You are a true inspiration to all those who love and support you! We are proud of you and hope this adventure brings you everything you need. We love you!

  12. Timpla says:

    Hi Bret! Keep your spirits high…and enjoy every minute of your trip!!
    Porter and I are thinking of you.
    And we hope to see you and Shan very very soon!

    All our love!

  13. Jessica says:

    Bret – thanks for taking the time to chronicle your experiences and allowing us to join you on “the Ride” from afar. Your attitude is amazing. Joe, Abby, Jack and I send our love with you.

  14. Debbie says:

    Darling Bret and Shannon,

    My love, support and prayers go along with you on your journeys. Live! Laugh! Love! and never regret a single day for it. I hope every single sunrise sees you smiling, surrounded by the people you love and who love you.

    My heart travels with you both–and until we see each other again, I will keep a candle lit in the window for you both.

    Love you both so much!

  15. Joseph de Vita says:

    From your neighbors down the street or up the street, have in incredible adventure. Although we do not know you well or for a long time, your spirit and Shannon’s are with us, and know our prayers and positive thoughts are with you.

  16. Alex Boyles says:

    Hey Bret,

    I wish you and Shannon the best!! Your in my thoughts and prayers buddy. Have a wonderful and safe journey traveling America! That would be something I would do if I was in your position.

  17. Zeke and Mary Lou says:

    Bret and Shannon, we are thinking and praying for both of you. You know that we love both of you and hold each of you dear to our hearts. Have a great and wonderful time on your trip and hope to see you soon.

  18. Reggie & Mary Lee says:

    “Happy Trails to you until we meet again!” We are praying for all of you as you go out on this incredible adventure! Stop for all the barbecues along the way and enjoy making lots of memories! Lots of love from us both.

  19. Aunt Bo says:

    Bret and Shannon,

    We are so proud of you and hope you have a wonderful trip! going south sounds wonderful today…..

    Happy Trails!!! Hope you beat the snow. Sounds like good traveling weather tomorrow!

    We love you!

    Uncle Mark and Aunt Bo

  20. Cousin Katie says:

    Hey Cuz,
    I love what you are doing, and I hope that you are planning New Orleans as a stop on the trip!!! I will stock my place with some interesting scotch as bait 😉 I’m grateful that the season pushes you south and closer to me. If you’re not interested in NOLA, I want to come meet you all somewhere. Thanks for sharing so much of your story with us. You and Shannon are in my thoughts and heart. xoxo

  21. Rich&Linda Martello says:

    Thank you for sharing your sad but courageous story. Yes, life sure does deliver some tough blows that we can’t understand,but your positive outlook is an inspiration to us all. As you know,coach and I are in Myrtle Beach,SC on the coast.If your journey should happen to bring you this way, we would love to have you and Shannon as well as Mom&Dad stop by and spend a night or two if possible. Our number is 843-449-4010-room 908.We would love to be a part of your journey.
    Coach&Mrs. Martello

  22. Mary Banach says:

    I have come across your post, through a friend of mine. Her name is Carol. Carol lost a daughter (Holly 20 yrs old ) to Clear Cell Sarcoma little over a year ago. Holly too had your spirit, and enjoyed every moment, and didn’t just fight, but lived ! We want you to know that we are new friends… cheering you on from “the balcony.” She told me to read your story, and I am glad I have.
    I think you are a very special man. I hope every thing that you find on the rest of your journey, brings you great joy. I know that God is going to be “riding” with you(both), and I look forward to your logs and hopefully more photos.
    Friends in Spirit, With love and prayers for you and your wife and whole family…
    Mary B.
    Buffalo, New York

  23. Mary and Bill Biggee says:

    Brett and Shannon,
    Enjoy every moment-have a great trip-give our love to your Mom, Dad, Ryan, Aaron and the rest of the gang. Bret, you are an inspiration and truly a remarkable person in this journey of life. From the hills of Wayland and from the roads of Springwater, we send our love and prayers. Mary and Bill Biggee

  24. Sherry says:

    Bret, Shannon, and Bret’s mom and dad,
    I wish you a great trip filled with many wonderful and unforgetable moments. How amazing and what a blessing it is that you can all take this time to take this adventure together. I will be praying for all of you and looking forward to your posts.
    Sherry (my mom had CCS/member of the CCS friends group)
    Ontario, NY

  25. Jose and Alexandra says:

    Hey Bret! I know that we don’t know each other but we just want to tell you that we really admire you! be strong, have faith. Miracles happen, we have been prying for you and all your family since we find out about your difficult situation.
    We hope that you have fun on your trip and hopefully one day we get to meet you and your wife.

    Jose and Alexandra

  26. Nanette & Bob Cownie says:

    From the first time we met you as a classmate of our Christopher in our beloved Wayland/Springwater community, we sensed what an exceptional individual you were….a soul of gentle warmth, grace, courage and love. And those wonderful qualities continue to define you today. We applaud your decision to embark on this journey surrounded by those you love. How very Blessed you are to have Shannon and mom & dad by your side.
    You are truly an inspiration to us all…a model of how to live one’s life. Thank you for sharing your story.
    Our prayers and love are with you each step of the way.
    Nanette & Bob Cownie

  27. Emily says:

    Bret and Shannon,
    Such a bittersweet way to arrive at such a wonderful adventure. Have an amazing time and enjoy every moment of it! Would love to see you if you hit up your old DC stopping grounds.
    Sending lots of love and good times your way. Enjoy!

  28. Robin Lickliter says:

    I’m sorry our paths are crossing for these reasons but you are in our thoughts and we admire your bravery, sense of adventure and spirit. We will be following along and if you swing by the Liberty Bell or have an inclination for an authentic Philadelphia Cheesesteak, look us up!

    Robin Lickliter & Jason (Vern) Crossett

  29. Dick Frederick says:

    This is an old Irish proverb that friends say to friends for a safe and pleasant journey…. “May the road rise up to meet you,
    may the wind be ever at your back.
    May the sun shine warm upon your face
    and the rain fall softly on your fields.
    And until we meet again, may God hold you in the hollow of his hand.”
    I think is appropriate as you embark on your adventure. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

  30. Gina Mathis says:


    The power of the human spirit is none more noble, courageous, and pure as the one that resides inside of you. Cheering for you, Shan, and your parents on this amazing journey. May the road rise up to meet you…

    You. are. an. inspiration.

  31. Eric DeGusipe says:


    Enjoy the trip man and keep your spirits up. I look forward to reading about your adventures along the way. Maybe I can meet up with you guys at some point, be it in Pittsburgh or the tri-state area. If you head to Baltimore at some point, try and relive the orioles game/night you and I had. Good times. My thoughts and prayers are with you, Shannon and your family throughout your travels.


  32. Matt Dorn says:

    I still remember all the wild times we had together in DC and Baltimore… I hope to catch up with you somewhere along your route. Enjoy the ride!

  33. karrie robertson says:

    Hi Bret & Shannon, We were so sad to hear about the status of your cancer and the news of last week :(. Dean and I feel so blessed to be related to to you and to be part of your life. You are very couragous and soooo brave. When we heard the news we were so sad and yet these plans that you have made and are carrying out are so exciting. Awesome way to spend time with the people that you love. I know that you will inspire many people to live their lives differently.
    We hope that someone in the family will let us know if you are going to be visiting family in NC and maybe we can see you. Please let us know if there is anything specific that Dean and I can be praying for and in the mean time we will pray that God grants you peace and lots of great times with family! We love and admire you guys!!! Dean and Karrie

  34. Matt Boss says:

    Bret – Your decision matches the kind of person you’ve always been. My thoughts are with you and your family. I hope every moment of the trip exceeds your expectations. Enjoy the ride!

  35. Kim Tyson says:

    Oh Bretters…your so awesome!!!!! You & and Shannon are truly an inspiration! Have an amazing time on your trip. Can’t wait to see all the pics and posts! We love you guys and your entire family so much!!! We truly enjoy every moment we get to spend with you guys! Please be safe and have a fabulous time! Your in our thoughts and prayers ALWAYS!!!!!! xoxoxoxoxoxo

  36. Judie Welch says:

    Brett, you are so wonderful. Shannon, you are so wonderful. Jim, you are so wonderful. Bets, you are so wonderful. (And it goes without saying, that goes for all the rest of the gang, too!) Thank you for sharing more detail re: your story. It’s so hard sometimes to know what to say when unspeakable things happen to people you love. We are thrilled you are experiencing a traveling adventure. If your wanderings take you anywhere near Dallas, Houston, Tuscon, Phoenix, Denver, LA, Portland (Oregon) or my beloved Chicago, I’ve got people lined up, willing to meet and greet you sharing the best of their hometowns. Looking forward to further posts on your journey AND you can trust we, Welch’s will be one of those holding down the snow for you here at home. Travel safely…and as your Uncle Bill would have said “Rise and Shine!” Holding you all in the light! Love, Judie and Aunt Tish

  37. Bree Miller says:

    Bret, you always were the adventurer! You and Shannon are in my thoughts and prayers each and every day! Have fun…I hope you get some sweet sun to ride in and I can’t wait to see you two in Raleigh! I’ll be following along on the blog and can’t wait to hear some great stories from the road. With all my love!!!!!!

  38. KT Haws says:

    Brett,… godspeed, …give it hell, ….and have a great time. Give Shannon our love … know all of us at work look up to you. See you when you get back … good food and drink … friends … we will hit it hard (ahh ..yea, I have some drunk stories with you guys). Plz keep us posted and keep a weekend open for your GINNA crew. We love you man!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  39. Fred Borrelli says:

    Bret & Shannon

    I hope you completely enjoy this time together and experience all that life has to offer. You are both special individuals and the world is a better place by having you in it. Stop by CT and I will show you Yale.


    PS – your wedding was one of the best parties I have ever been to.

  40. Don Cotton says:

    Your Mom and I recently had a reunion when I finally joined Facebook, she was way ahead of me. Anyway she is a friend and was one of my heroes when I was a student, she made a huge difference for me. Anway, I remember her talking about you way back then, I guess you were 3 or 4 at the time and I was a full of nonsense young teenager! I met you guys a couple of times at your place. I think we might have sledded together! 🙂

    Anyway, you are a real inspiration and my thoughts will be with you and your wonderful family, count me a new fan of the blog!

    Have a great time!


  41. Nanette Hance says:

    What an inspiration you are to the rest of the world Bret and Shannon. You are living life to the fullest and making memories that will be cherished in the days ahead. May you find strength in knowing that you are in the thoughts and prayers of so many people. Your approach to life is truly amazing and may all of your dreams come true. Happy and safe travels to you and yours on this trip of a lifetime.

  42. Kelly Alt says:

    I work with Carolina Dehond’s husband Craig and I’ve been drawn to their story, and now yours. I admire you for having the strength to follow your heart and your dream! Have safe travels with your family and enjoy every moment. 🙂

  43. Chris Cownie says:

    I’m sitting here with my 6 month yr. old son, Jackson, and I can’t help but hold him a little closer and cherish this life a little more. Even though my eyes have some tears dripping down right now, thank you for opening them a little wider. You have always been such a great guy- you and Shannon are so lucky to have each other….hey, a guy named Amos Lee is touring up & down the west coast starting in mid-January- if you happen to be near that path, I would strongly suggest trying to check him out- his music soothes the soul;) Good luck & have fun!
    Chris, Jackie, & Jackson Cownie

  44. Scott Dixon says:

    Geez, Bret. I hardly know what to say. I fully agree with your option #2. It’s a beautiful commitment to your wife, your life, your family and friends. You are one of the nicest guys I know. I am very glad for that. Your blog sounds like you are living your dreams while that damn nightmare hangs there too. I am grateful to be amongst your many friends. Hang in there, Bret. You and Shannon are in Laurie’s and my prayers. Hope to get together before the storm surges. God bless you and Shannon.
    Scott and Laurie

  45. Aunt Chris & Roy says:

    Hey Shannon and Bret

    Just heard the news yesterday Bret from Mary Lou. Our prayers are with you and Shannon and all your family. I hope your road trip is exciting and you meet a lot of interesting people along the way.

    May God bless you and keep you safe during your travels.
    Love Chris and Roy

  46. Kristie Bergvall Vota says:

    Bret & Family,
    Although I cannot fathom what you all are going through, I must say that you are such an inspiration to others. I am truly in awe of you. Thank you for sharing your story. You and the entire Hoefen family will be in my prayers.
    Safe travels and God bless.
    Kristie Bervall Vota

  47. Jennifer Nowatzki says:

    Dear Brett & Family,
    We are all thinking of you and admire your courage and strength. Life certainly throws us curve balls, some of which we never see coming. You are in my thoughts and prayers. God bless all of you.

    Jenn Nowatzki

  48. Kimberly Schickler says:

    Bret & Family,
    I work with Craig DeHond. I have just today learned of yours and Carolina’s fight. As a fellow motorcycle enthusiast, I will now remember you each and every time I get on my own bike. Your bravery and outlook is inspiring. Enjoy the ride, the experience and may God bless you and your family.


  49. HP says:

    Bret and Shan-

    Thanks for sharing your story and for letting us all join you virtually on your trip. Here’s hoping your trek down to Rockville was all the bad weather you’ll see – and that you’ll get lots of good bike time. 🙂 It was great seeing you for breakfast. We hold you in our hearts all the time… Much love to you all!


  50. Kurt Schnarr says:

    Keep cruisin brother, wishing you all the best on your trip and would love to see you and hear about it when you get back. Take care, love ya and tell the family I said hello!

  51. Michelle Lindsey Piedmonte says:

    Hey Bret- It’s been so long, and I regret this way to get back in touch, but kudos to you and your team for making the XC trip! To have such a large support system must be comforting to you and your wife. I noticed you’re in Nags Head-one of my all time favorite spots. Don’t forget Dirty Dick’s Crab Shack—DELISH!
    The times we worked together at the good ‘ol Food Mart in Wayland are flooding my memories today, but we’re wishing much more wonderful memories to be made this trip. I look forward to each blog post and hope you know how many people are out here thinking of you and praying hard for you!

  52. Tamera Pulver Strzepek says:

    I am so sorry for everything you have gone through but admire the strength you have. Thank you so much for sharing yourself and your story. May it remind us all that life has many unexpected turns. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. I look forward to following your journey cross country. Safe travels Hoefen family!


  53. JoEllen Fahy Schubmehl says:

    Bret & family,

    I’m so very sorry that this difficult time has lead to this message. As soon as I heard of your journey, fond memories of your fantastic smile and kind heart came to mind. I feel very blessed to know a person like you and your courage inspires me. Please know our thoughts are with you and yours.

    As for your road trip, we are just outside of Nashville, want to come Honkey Tonkin’? We would love to see you and the family and meet your lovely wife.

    Jim, JoEllen (Fahy), McKenna & Kinley Schubmehl

  54. Mark Wager says:


    I sit here and reflect on all the memories we shared growing up and can’t believe that it has been so long since our paths have crossed. I hope your journey exceeds your expectations and I will be following along. You and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers. All the best and safe travels.


  55. Marianne Borrelli says:

    Hey Cuz,
    THis is so inspiring. I admire you all. You are my heroes Bret and Shannon, Jim and Bets, Ryan and Aaron. Rock on !!

  56. Mandy Lindsey Cayouette says:

    Bret, Shannon, & the entire Hoefen family,

    Just want to echo the sentiments of everyone else here and say how much I admire (and am inspired by) your courage and your class. You will be in our daily prayers here, and I can’t wait to hear more about your adventures! Safe travels!


  57. JLaG says:

    Bret, Shan, & crew….

    Hoping the sun is shining on you and you have a wonderful ride. We are with you all the way. Much love always. Miss you.

  58. Kelly (Becker) Murray says:

    Seeing your name reminds me of our elementary school days…the kindness and comfort that just your smile created is something that fills my thoughts with just the mention of “Bret Hoefen.”

    After hearing your story and seeing your courage all I can say is…”amazing.” Thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

    Kelly Becker-Murray

  59. Gregg Joss says:

    How can I forget the myriad of testing related questions you posed?! I too would have chosen option 2 and you can bet everyone who knows you at Ginna will be anxiously awaiting details on your travel adventures. Have the time of your life and rest assured your” nuclear buddies” have you foremost in their thoughts and prayers. GOD BLESS.

  60. Jose G Salazar and Alexandra says:

    Bret, you rock man! It is so exciting to se you guys having so much fun, keep it up!

  61. Pam says:


    This is Tandy’s mom; he sent your blog to me. Thank you for showing your readers that positive thinking and the collective unconscious are powerful assets, as is the Force that is guiding you now.

    I didn’t find out until fairly recently that Tandy studied Zen Buddhism at State. I’ve just come across this quote: “‘The liberated mind (citta) that no longer clings’ means nibbāna” (Majjhima Nikaya 2-Att. 4.68). Your shared thoughts remind us all that enlightenment is a pathway. Thank you for this.

    Please add me to your email list.


  62. Heather says:

    Bret and Shannon,

    Tandy sent me the link to your blog this morning. I am deeply moved by your efforts, your outlook, and all the love surrounding you.

    Some paths only cross for moments, but it is enough to connect people in heart and mind and in ways we could never foresee. We are all behind you.


  63. Don House says:

    Bret I am at a loss for words,my thoughts and prayers and hope goes out to you and your family. Don and Kathy

  64. Coach Brownell says:

    Bret, I just found out about your blog and condition. As I read every word you have posted your strength and courage inspire me but but do not surprise me. You will be in my thoughts and prayers.

  65. Dan Piedmonte says:


    I can’t help but to think of the past. It’s been a long time. You are an amazing person and an inspiration. I am looking forward to hearing about your adventures. Have a great trip.


  66. Ryan Beiling says:

    Bret & Shannon,

    Well…what to say…. shocked, stunned, and deeply saddened to learn of this turn of events. I’m so sorry. This couldn’t have happened to nicer people. Our wish is that this trip gives you more joy & great memories than a thousand lifetimes.

    Bret, I’ll take the liberty of speaking not just for myself, but for the guys because I know they feel the same. In a world where it becomes so easy to get caught in the “thick ‘n’ thin” of our daily grind, your journey reminds us of what’s really important in life. You’re an inspiration in the truest sense… always positive, always smiling, never a complaint, and an example of how to conduct your life. It’s an honor to call you a colleague, but a much bigger honor to call you a friend.

    I confess, we look forward to reading your daily blog updates. It’s uplifting to see the support & love of so many friends and family. You’re without a doubt in our thoughts and prayers. God bless and take care buddy.

    Ryan Beiling & family

  67. Caroline Borrelli says:

    Dear Bret and Shannon,
    You both inspire me so much and have taught me to not take life for granite and live it to the fullest! I hope you have an awesome trip and I will be following you the whole way! Love you both very much!

    Caroline Borrelli

  68. Bret, Where do I start and what do I say to you and your family that youhaven’t heard from so many.I’m not sure if you remember me but I am part of the Peglow Rd past. Howard and Dorothy Kramer-my Mom and Dad. I know my sister(Barb) babysat for you and your brothers.I am still trying to wrap this around in my head. I am praying for all of you. You are an amazing man Bret. You have made the right choice to live not exist XOXO

  69. Jason Edmond says:


    Its been a long time since we hanged out in Raleigh, but hey man if your down this way swing by for a cold one. All my prayers and thoughts go to you and the family.

  70. Brett,

    I know you do not know me, but your story has touched my life. I have known your mom since I started teaching in Wayland in the fall of 1999. This is just a reminder of how valuable life is and how we must live every moment we have to the fullest. I will keep reading your blog to see where you are and how you are doing. I am very happy for you to have this opportunity to spend this time with friends and family.

    My family and I will be praying for you and your family.

  71. Jeff Brooks says:

    Bret, You’re unbelievable. Your courage humbles me. I heard rumblings through the Wayland grapevine and I was ultimately led to your blog through Wayland connections on Facebook. I’m checking-in every day to follow your adventure.
    All my best,
    “Life is life, and kind is kind”. – Sal Paradise –

  72. Laura Buisch says:

    Bret, I only know you through your mother. She and I worked together at WCCS. She spoke so lovingly of you. I will keep you and your family close to my heart and in my prayers. Enjoy your journey!

  73. Cousin Mark says:

    Bret, my thoughts and prayers are with you and shannon. Reading your posts on a daily basis is emotional but exciting to see what each day brings you. I can’t explain how proud I am to be related to a man of such character. Enjoy ever minute you spend on your journy as I know the people around you will. I look forward to the posts to come as they inspire me and wish you and everybody else the best of luck.

    Mark jr.

  74. Jill Gibney says:

    Dear Bret and Shannon,
    I just finished reading your story and I’m feeling both heartbroken and inspired. I’m thinking of our old city neighborhood and how happy we all were when you moved in. I’m thinking of impromptu porch parties and long talks over yard work. I remember your wedding day like it was yesterday. It was a moment of crazy, wonderful new beginnings for both our families. Patrick and I felt so honored to share it with you. Shannon, you were so radiant and beautiful. And you Bret – well nobody was really looking at you, but I’m sure you were very handsome. We all knew that we were witnessing the union of a very special couple. You are both remarkable, and I’m so sorry that you have to go through this nightmare. Some people wait a lifetime and never do what you’re doing now. My hope for you is that in your travels you taste mostly the sweet and not the bitter (those Buffalo wings looked sweeeeet). Enjoy every moment of your adventure together because it seems that the moment we are in is really the only certainty that any of us have. Love you guys.

  75. Ted Miller says:

    Godspeed on your journey.


  76. MS says:


    You’ve always been a special kind of person – your decision to live your dream, and let us share the journey, illustrates that even more clearly.

    I’m sorry for the tragedy that life has presented to you and I hope that there is a silver lining somewhere, not only for you, but for your family as well.

    Take care and safe journeying,

  77. Dan Rugg says:


    I worked with your mom and I remember you at WCCSD as a kind gentle guy with a great smile. Thanks for your courage to reach out with the wonderful gift of reminding me what is important. Your journey is stopping in the hearts of family, freinds and beyond your wildest dreams. I will keep you in my meditations. Peace.


  78. Sarah Bolduc says:

    Hi Brett and Shannon!

    I am so glad everything ended up working out with the motorcycle. I wanted to know that David and I are thinking about you often and love reading your posts. Your strength and courage are truly astounding. I will keep you all in my prayers.

    Enjoy the Road!

  79. Sherri Kennedy says:

    Brett –
    I am so thankful Sharon Miller and Sue DeVito posted this link on their Facebooks. Although I was only at Ginna 3 years, and our paths didn’t cross a lot, I remember you. I remember an upbeat, intelligent, nuclear professional. My heart goes out to you and your family. Know that your CENG family is with you in thoughts and prayers along your journey. God bless you.
    Sherri Kennedy

  80. Mom says:

    How’d you get your father to wear those chaps?

  81. Kate (Lawrence) Burkhard says:

    Bret –
    It’s been a long time, and reading your posts has brought back many terrific memories of our years together at WCCS. You have always been a wonderful person, and your courage inspires me.

    Thank you for sharing the story of your journey with all of us – enjoy and savor every moment! I look forward to reading about your adventures. Safe travels!


  82. Christina says:

    Hi Bret,

    I don’t personally know you, but I’ve heard a lot about you through my husband and brother&father-in-law who worked on the roof. You are so brave, and your story is truly a heartfelt situation. Enjoy this time with your family. You and your family will be in my prayers,


  83. Casey FitzPatrick Rogers says:

    Hi Bret,
    Thank you so much for sharing your story!! You are a truly brave and amazing person. My parents still have the giant portrait of Erin you painted in their house & we think of you often…although it’s been so long you probably wouldn’t recognize any of us 🙂 I look forward to reading all your updates and wish you all the best of luck on your adventure!!!

    Casey (FitzPatrick) Rogers

  84. Dawn (Macomber) Prince says:

    Your courage is inspiring. Thank you for sharing your story, and I wish you and your family a pleasant and safe journey!

  85. Karen (Ellis) Chapman says:

    Bret you are Inspiring as you’ve always been!! Lots of Love and Safe Travels to you! See lots of Fabulous Sites My Friend…Wishing a memorable trip for everyone… I don’t know what else to say, but will be thinking about you and your family everyday. I really admire how you are handling all of this, it must be difficult however You are Amazing! *HuGs*

  86. Marissa Siciliano says:


    I am so sad to read what you are going through, but I am impressed with your courage and strength. You and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers. I am glad that you and your wife are taking the road trip you have been wanting to share together. It’s wonderful that your parents are able to be with you as well.
    I will continue to look for updates and pictures and I hope you really enjoy your time on the road and with your loved ones.
    Memories of you are flooding my mind because I always thought very highly of you. You have always been a very talented guy. A great runner, snowboarder and athlete. You are incredibly smart and kind. I will be thinking of you and your wife as you travel together.
    Thank you for bravely sharing your story. God bless.

  87. Betsy Wager-Stenclik says:

    Thank you for sharing your story and your journey. I really admire you for your courage. Enjoy every moment with your family and friends. You are in the thoughts and prayers of so many. Keep riding!


  88. Jessica Scott Wolfanger says:


    It’s been far too long and I hate that this is the reason for getting back in touch. I’m so sorry for what you and your family are going through. I remember our time together in high school well – you were a kind and amazing person then and I can see that nothing has changed in the years since we’ve seen each other. Your story is an inspiration to us all. It sounds like your trip with your wife and your parents is going to be incredible. You’re in our thoughts and our prayers.

    Jessica and Shane Wolfanger

  89. Michelle Richardson-Markle says:

    Bret and Family,
    I graduated high school with your brother Aaron, and your mother was my art teacher. I never had the pleasure of meeting you, but your story and journey is amazing! It is a true inspiration! I hope your ride in a good direction leaves you and your family fulfilled.
    “The great thing in this world is not so much where you stand, as in what direction you are moving.” -Oliver Wendell Holmes
    God Bless you and your family!

  90. danny dean says:

    Your story is so inspiratonal. I worked with you at foodmart and was in your brother Aaron’s class. I wish everyone could read your story of your journey. I know when I think I have had a bad day, I will think it could be worse. We are all dealt a hand that we cannot control and have to make the best of. We can choose to do nothing but accept it, or we can do what makes us happy and live life to the fullest. I am glad to hear you are choosing to be happy and live life to the fullest. I wish you and your family a safe and enjoyable trip together, I will be following your adventure, and thank you for shairng… My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family…

  91. Chris Bush says:

    It has been such a long time since our paths have crossed. The last time was probably under the tent on the lawn of WCCS. As I was reading your story I could not help but drift back to those days. . . I can see that you have not changed all that much since then. It is apparent that you are still the same sincere soul with resounding strength and conviction. Thank you for sharing your journey with all of us out here- it has made the world a bit brighter and easier to see what matters. You are an inspiration.

    “Run hard when it’s hard to run” – Pavvo Nurmi

    Safe travels and great adventures-

  92. Sandy (Hough) Snyder says:


    Wow! I dont really know what to say! You are such a strong man to make the decision you have made! Im sorry this has happened to you. You and your family have always been such great people. Thank you for opening my eyes so that I realize what I have and that my life really isnt that bad. And thank you for sharing your story! You are an inspiration! You and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers!!


  93. Diane says:

    My prayer for you Bret, is that you receive the complete and radical healing that God has for you, right now. I don’t know if you are saved, but I am and I call you healed and made whole now in the Name of Jesus.

  94. Jennifer Smith Noragong says:

    I am amazed at your courage and strength, and wish you much happiness in your journey. I am very glad to have spent our school days knowing you, you were always positive and smiling, and you seem to be exactly as I remember. Thank you for sharing your story. You and your family will be in my thoughts.

  95. Tim Ashley says:

    I know we’ve only talked a few times but I know you are well respected at work and seem like a pretty good guy. I hope we get a chance to chat again on Brain’s back deck over a couple of beers. Your choice to take this trip with Shannon is wonderful. I’m sure there are plenty of us that go our entire lives wanting to live more fully but we just get so caught up in the next big thing. It’s unfortunate that it takes catastrophe to make us take the time for ourselves. There are so many things I would love to do but, in the end, I’m too afraid of not having that secure feeling of what I’m comfortable with (job, house, money, etc.). There really is no time like the present. Good luck, Bret. You and Shannon are in my prayers. I’m wishing you all the best on your journey!


  96. Scott Gammell says:

    I admire your courage and strength for what you and your family are going through. May the journey never end and godspeed through your travels. God bless.

  97. Kate Avery (Evans) says:

    Bret- I don’t even know what to say.
    I have a paperweight on my desk with a quote I like very much- “May you live all the days of your life” (Jonathan Swift) How many of us actually do?
    What a terrible thing to happen to a wonderful family. I am so amazed at your resolve and perspective. You are in our thoughts. -Kate and Lars Avery

  98. Peter Cook says:

    You are a brave soul. It’s amazing the hands we are dealt and all we can do is make the best of them. Don’t fold, bet all your chips, sit back and enjoy the cigar. I wish things could be different.

  99. Lisa Orlowske says:

    I was just glancing at FB and seen your blog and couldn’t believe what I was reading. You have always been a great guy and what a way to spend the remaining part of your life traveling. I wish you and your family happy and safe travels and my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family as well.

    Lisa 🙂

  100. Shana Blaze Prickett says:

    My prayers and thoughts are with you. I can’t help but remember you as a sincere person and wonderful artist. It has been years since I have last seen or spoken to you, and I am sorry that I now leave you a message under these circumstances. You are truly an inspiration and you have the love and prayers of so many behind you. I wish you a lifetime of memories and happiness in your upcoming journey. I would have included love but it sounds as if you already have it.

    Love ,

    Shana and family

  101. Daniel Siciliano says:

    Hey man I’m glad to see you have a wonderful mindset. I don’t know if I could or would be the same way but I find it very admirable and courageous. Enjoy your dream, enjoy the wind in your hair as you ride. Say hi to your family for me…its been years. You’re in many thoughts and prayers.

    Dan, Sara, Eevie Siciliano

  102. Rob Hughes says:

    There are men in this world and then there are MEN. I appreciate the reminder of perspective your story and approach provides us all. Now that you are down south, it would seem appropriate to mention my all-time favorite Jimmy Buffett line from the song Growing Older but not Up. Actually, on second thought, I’ll spare typing the line, but try to add something to your journey by suggesting that you (and any of your admiring fans) pull the song from iTunes for a close listen. Thoughts and prayers are with you and your loved ones. We will long remember the lessons you are teaching us all. You are the greatest gift.

  103. Tom Cosola says:

    Bret- as a former health physicist for the US Army I can understand the hell that is chemo and the amount of radiation you are being exposed to. You are amazingly strong keep fighting, don’t ever give up. If your voyage brings you near Killeen, TX you’ve got a place, or a friendly face here. Stay strong, always FIGHT!!!!!!

  104. Mike Mauro says:

    Reading your story i can’t help but feel the pain you’re going through. However, your outlook on what life has handed you is outstanding. You have always been the type of person who’s rarely ever given up and to that, i honor you.

    May your travels bring you the happiness you deserve, and exceed all the expectations you’ve made! God’s speed.

    If you’re ever in the neighborhood of checking out the worlds largest casino, look me up, there is a spare room for you and your family.
    Mike Mauro

  105. Elizabeth Shaver Cavanaugh says:

    My husband and I were reading your story on FB. We were captured by your perseverance and courage. Your effort to share your story gives strength to those facing similar challenges and reminds others of the blessings we have. We were inspired by “Into the Wild” and the main characters desire to see the beauty in the world and within one’s self. Now you are embarking on this journey! Not to mention a killer soundtrack! I’m blessed to have experienced your smile and loving-nature at WCCS. Keep smiling and enjoying the ride!
    All our love and prayers to you, Shannon and your family!!
    An Irish Prayer
    May God give you…
    For every storm, a rainbow,
    For every tear, a smile,
    For every care, a promise,
    And a blessing in each trial.
    For every problem life sends,
    A faithful friend to share,
    For every sigh, a sweet song,
    And an answer for each prayer.

    Elizabeth, Kevin and Fionn Cavanaugh

  106. Kristie Bouck (Kay) says:


    Thank you for sharing your story. You are truly an inspiration! I wish you and your family the best on this wonderful journey! You are in my thoughts and prayers.

    Kristie Bouck Kay

  107. LC says:

    I am deeply moved by your story and the courage you possess to share it. I’ve particularly enjoyed the video posts and marvel at how quickly you are able to produce and post them. I am praying for you and your family, and that you know what a real gift Life is. Please watch

  108. Danielle West-Chuhta says:

    Bret, you are amazing and so courageous – 🙂 I am wishing you the best on your trip across the country. I think of you and your family often and all the fun times I was able to share with you all at the lake and family events. I will keep praying for you and your family and watching your adventures on your blog. Thinking of you often, Danielle

  109. Jessica Hamilton says:

    My thoughts are with you and hope you enjoy every moment of your trip. Life is too short…

  110. Christine & George says:

    We’re following your trip each day. We’re so glad that you’ve had your best day ever. I have to say that I think you are right about living your life to the fullest. I don’t ever remember you without a positive attitude. You are incredible!
    Our love and best wishes to you and all of your family. Happy birthday to Makiko!

  111. Rindy Tokarz says:

    I am saddened by what you and your family are going through. A friend always says how he’s a strong individual through merely trivial situations compared to yours. Your courage to face these hards times makes you a truly strong individual. I wish the best for you and your family and enjoy every moment. My thoughts are with you all.

    Rindy Tokarz

    • Linda Tokarz says:

      Hi Rindy. I was looking for my dad and found this story from over a year ago. This story is truly heartbreaking and I’m praying there has been good news since.
      If you care to respond, I’m thinking of family too..

  112. Geoffrey McIntosh says:

    I have a hard time putting my thoughts into words. Hearing this news makes it even tougher. You and your family have given me many positive memories in my life. Keep being the competitor I remember you as. Take every moment for what it is worth.
    Keeping you and your family in my thoughts and prayers. Ride on

  113. michelle struble says:

    This morning I woke up and checked my facebook, read your story, and my heart sank. You were always a friendly and easy going person in school, as I am sure you are today.
    I have read your blog throughout my day and just wanted to let you know that I had a different take on picking up messes and conquering the never-ending laundry monster that my family seems to create so easily. I realize that I am thankful to have my family to do those things for.
    I wish you luck in your travels and fun with your family. You and your family will be in my thoughts every day,

  114. Brad Bowers says:

    Dear Bret, Betsy and Jim,
    Ellen and I are stunned and deeply saddened by this tragic news. Bad things should not happen to good people…..and you are good people. We are following your blog and are glad to be sharing in your family travels. Although we have lost touch, we have terrific memories of the times that you and Brian played, skied, skateboarded, built snow board jumps and other crazy activities — including film production of those adventures. I really believe that is where Brian developed his early interests in what he is doing in Hollywood today.
    I have just scanned some pictures from the 80’s that you might get a laugh or two from seeing. Please send me your email address–I don’t know how to attach to this blog.
    I also have to tell you that the first time I rode a Harley/chopper was in the early 60’s
    on the IC campus. It was borrowed and the ride did not last long–I was pulled over by the Ithaca campus police for doing 90 and they impounded the bike—but you probably never go that fast….

    Savor the trip, smell the roses, and give your wife and parents a hug from us. Just know that we are thinking of you!

    Brad and Ellen

  115. Stacey Bowers says:

    Dear Bret,

    I have always known you to be an amazing person and I know you will have an amazing trip! I have so many wonderful memories of you…the oldest being you at Brian’s childhood birthday parties and the most recent is running into you at a Simon School event. The one thing that stayed the same was you! Always kind, always warm, and ALWAYS a great smile. Thinking of you.  


    P.S. Your bike is super cool!

  116. brett says:


    Your story is very moving and one that will not be forgotten.
    I admire you for following your traveling dreams.

    My wife Alyssa and I send our love and prayers,

    Brett and Alysa Johnson

  117. Brian Finn says:

    Dear Bret,

    Wow! Ive read just about every1s reply and there are so many people out there that u know and havent seen in years or mayb u did yesterday. I know i havent seen u in about 14yrs. Well Bret I’m sry that we have to play caught up like this. I didn’t know alot of ur family, but ur mom and U were very good people to me and i know the rest of ur family is to. I c that u are married and what a beaitiful woman that she is. I have 2 kids. Curren that is 11yrs old and Cabhen that is 2 yrs old. and i guess i tell u this because Bret when u have FAMLIY u have everything in the world!!!!

    U have INSPIRED so many people including myself. I hope that ur journey takes u placeses, foods uv never had, sites uv never seen, and meet people u nerver wld have ment. I wish nothing less than the very BEST for U and ur FAMILY on the rest of ur journey. U and Family will be in my thoughts and prayers.

    Brian, Jamie Brooks, Curren, and Cabhen.

  118. Reggie & Mary Lee says:

    Bret –
    We are loving reading your blog every day! An amazing adventure! And we have to find that barbeque place the next time we head south! Keep riding and smiling.

    Love and lots of prayers,

    Reggie & Mary Lee

  119. Steve Wager says:

    Thank you for sharing your very inspirational story and reminding us all to live every day to its fullest. It’s hard to believe that it has been almost 20 years since those Babe Ruth years at the park. When I look at all these photos, I still see that same wonderful trademark smile that I think of whenever your name is mentioned. Some things never change. Stay strong and know I am praying for you and your family.

  120. Jill St. George Forsythe says:

    I have been reading your story and looking forward to each new post. I had to speak with your mom to gather the courage to respond here. You are a remarkable man, but this is no surprise being raised in such a loving supportive family. I volunteer readily to be a Hoefen. I have one simple request, if you could. Any chance I could see Betsy in the chaps? Thinking of you all.

  121. Dee Shanley says:

    I worked with your mom at WCCS. Although I don’t know you, I’m compelled to comment on your story. My whole life has been about the great lesson/lesson plan and teaching. Your courageous journey is the greatest lesson on living I’ve been privilaged to see. Teaching us to live each day to the fullest is the greatest lesson that any of us can learn. Thank you. Peace be with you. Dee

  122. Renee (Smith) Munden says:

    Bret (and family),
    It’s so hard to find the words and I considered NOT posting, thinking we didn’t really know each other well, but as I do have memories of you, I feel blessed to have known you at all. Your journey is one that is more difficult and trying than I or any of us not going through can even begin to imagine, and yet you still seem to inspire us all. I was recently attempting to get back into painting, as I haven’t done any in 12 years. I’m not very good (never was but had a FANTASTIC teacher) and I remember your art, and thinking how amazingly talented you are. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your beautiful wife and awesome family. If you’ve never been to the Grand Canyon, I highly recommend it, there is a sense of wonder and amazement (and so many other descrpitive terms we often use too lightly) there that I doubt many people ever experience. My wish for your trip is that every place you go gives you this feeling. God bless.
    Renee Smith

  123. Regis says:

    I want to thank you for letting me share in this amazing trip and more importantly sharing your incredible spirit that emerges so clearly in each of your entries. I have always felt that the our biggest challenge is how to live and how to touch the lives of those around us that we love so much. You are an inspiration to me and I am sure so many others!! I look forward to following along!

  124. Darren Kemp says:


    Take care of yourself old neighbor, please let us know if we can help in any way, or if you need us to check on/take care of anything on Rowley street during your travels. We miss you both!


  125. Shannon Becker says:


    I am so sorry for what you and your family are going through. I look forward to reading of your journey and hearing more of your inspirational story. You are truly courageous. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

    Shannon Becker

  126. Daniel Schey says:

    Your joie de vivre is contagious. You have an ever expanding legion of supporters across this vast land that love you & celebrate this important journey you and your family are on! Because of your courage and creativity we get to accompany you along the road. My greatest wish & prayer for you is another and yet another morning with sun on chrome. Ride on.

    Only a biker knows why a dog sticks his head out of a car window. (Unknown author)

  127. Diane Bergvall says:

    Bret, and the entire Hoefen family,
    You are all an inspiration to everyone who is reading your blog. We are so sorry that you need to go through all of this, but in doing so your are teaching everyone who reads your story how to live every day to it’s fullest! Your decision to embark on the journey of your dreams with your family by your side is wonderful. Thank your for sharing your story with others. You are in our thoughts and prayers. Prayers for safe travels and good weather.
    Randy and Diane Bergvall

  128. Katie Crossett Marshall says:

    Reading your story makes me think about how lucky we all are to say we have crossed your path in some way. Continue to persevere. You are in my thoughts and prayers. Please tell your mom, I said hello. Enjoy every minute.

  129. Tara Fox says:

    Thank you for sharing your inspirational story with all of us. Since I learned of it this weekend I find myself thinking of you constantly. I am deeply moved by your courage and by your strength. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family daily. I look forward to following you along your journey. God Bless.

  130. Monica D'Agostino says:

    I came across your blog through FB. I dont know if you remember me from back in the days at WCCS. I am truly sorry to hear what you are going through. I just wanted you to know that your story has given me such inspiration and I admire you for your bravery.

    My prayers and thoughts are with you and your family

    Monica (Sick) D’Agostino

  131. Jackie Cownie says:

    Dear Bret,
    I was moved to comment when Christopher shared your unbelievable story with me. I lost my dad to cancer in October of 2001 and the summer before he died all he wanted to do was ride his motorcycle. I feel so lucky to have those memories in my heart when the thought of missing him hurts too much. You are a wonderful selfless person who I know realizes that by choosing option #2 you have given your Shannon, parents, siblings, friends and the rest of us an amazing gift of courage and inspiration. Thank you. We will be sending our positive thoughts and praying for you all.

  132. Michelle Brzezniak says:

    I heard about you through Carolina De Hond. Ironically you probably have worked with my husband Jaret Brzezniak. I am touched by your story and am going to start sending you spiritual healing each night. I am a therapeutic touch practitioner and member of the Bruno Groening Circle of Friends. You need to do nothing but what you’re doing…live your life the best you can!! I wish you the best!!!

    Michelle Brzezniak

  133. Nichole Steinhart-Billingsley says:

    Brett: After having just lost my brother and have lost many family members to cancer you are a true inspiration and great sign of hope. I have had some great laughs with you throughout the school journey at WCCS. My family and I will have you and your family in our prayers.

  134. April Griffin says:

    My Heart and prayers go out to you and your family. Enjoy your trip and time to the fullest!!

  135. Tara H says:

    My thoughts and prayers go out to you and all of your family. What you are doing is truly an inspiration! You are extremely courageous! I always remember how friendly you always were in high school and I can tell you haven’t changed one bit. Enjoy this time with your family and cherish every moment. I know you will! We are rooting for you!
    -Tara (West) Harnish

  136. Terry Burke says:


    You are a true hero! Your strength and conviction is evident in your words! I am so sorry that you are going through this! I wish you and your family the best on your journey!

  137. Hey man, my mom sent me your link last week and I was floored. Thank you for writing your story, sharing your adventure, and posting pictures to remind everyone of your genuine smile.
    Each one of us is only given so much time. What’s important is what you do with it. Based on my friendship with you, on your entries, and all the people who care, I’d say you’ve spent it well. It’s like you on your bike, you never know what’s around the bend – it’s both terrifying and exciting. And there’s a lot of freedom and joy to experience (BBQ, beaches, and chaps are great).
    But I do have a request? Some of the pleasure we get from reading your entries is to know you more than we already do. Please, continue to tell us something about yourself (favorite movie or your fastest 1600 time for example). It’s the small things that add up.
    As I reflect back on our HS days I recall you and I spending quite a bit of time together (track and skiing – flying wedge!). Prior to even reading this news I’d occasionally wonder why we weren’t better friends. I guess that is just how things are sometimes. If your trip takes you through Charlotte, please don’t hesitate to call (704-293-6073).
    A runner has to have a certain personal confidence and perseverance to succeed. Those character traits are serving you well now. But know you are not alone.

    You have many followers on your journey and we look forward to every entry.

  138. Muhammad and Shayna says:

    Hoefen –

    Internet Dorn managed to stumble upon your blog about a week ago (figures, huh?), and since then we’ve been struggling with what to say/write. Our inability to put all these thoughts into words just makes us respect and admire your strength and courage even that much more. After all this internal deliberation, we’ve realized that there’s nothing more that we need to say other than that you, Shannon and your family are in our thoughts and prayers and that we love you.

    We think it’s fantastic that you’ve decided to embark on this cross-country journey and to constantly surround yourself with your family and friends. Furthermore, we absolutely love how you’ve managed to capture your adventure, thoughts, emotions and (most importantly) passion for life; who knew you were such an eloquent writer! We thoroughly enjoy reading your postings and can truly see the happiness the trip is bringing you.

    On a couple of lighter notes: (1) You look bad*ss on that motorcycle! (2) Shannon should watch out for those “ladies in red”; rumor has it that they like biker guys dressed in black leather. (3) Congrats to Shannon for finally buying the car of her dreams and convincing you that you had a say in the decision. Ha. (4) How could you go through NC without stopping for a Cookout tray and a milkshake?

    Please be careful on the remainder of your journey; we look forward to seeing you soon.

  139. Kristen Brown-Greisch says:

    Bret – go where the wind will take you! LIVE! Every minute to the fullest! My mother was diagnosed with leukemia in April, a week later she was found to have breast cancer. A month later after a week of chemo, she went into septic shock and we lost her. I am sending every “happy” thought I have left your way. I went to school in Wayland and new your mom and graduated with Ryan. Give your wife my best wishes and I hope faith and love can help you live your life with all the joy and excitement you can find.

  140. Danielle & Matt Bondgren says:

    Our love and prayers to you and your wife and your family. Safe travels on your trip and enjoy every minute. Your an amazing man and we wish you the best of luck and will continue to pray for a miracle.

  141. Rachel Caylor says:

    Brett: The courage you have is nothing short of amazing and inspirational. You have always been a person to look up to, a good friend and always had a warm smile for all you meet. I hope you enjoy every moment of your trip. You, your wife and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers. Thank you for sharing your story and I wish you all the best!

    The Caylor Family
    Rachel (Bissell), Jake, Jayden and Ryland

  142. John and Donna Drake says:

    You are the kind of person we all strive to be. You are an inspiration to all of us. BTW…suggestion for tattoo….how about a Buffalo Bills tatoo?!! LOL!!! Anyway, our thoughts and prayers are with you.
    John and Donna

  143. Jamie Arias says:

    I work with Aaron at Marriott and have learned of your story through him on our daily lunches. You are so inspiring! I wish you and your family well on this amazing journey. No regrets!!


  144. Brian Bowers says:


    You’ve always been the brave one, and this journey is just another example.

    I never hit any of those monstrosities like you did- the ramps we’d spend all summer planning and building out of sheets of plywood and hay bails from the barns – setting up to tear up in the winter. I’d eventually get the nerve to go, but you would always go bigger. I admired you then, and I admire you now.

    After high school, we grew apart like most, but still hung out when we were home from college on break. After that, it was a phone call every now and then. And now, it seems like ages since we’ve talked. But we’ve always connected- same taste in music, art, sports, and women (a couple of them anyway). I’ve always considered you one of my best friends from “Home”, and I’ll remember all of the good times we had and trouble we used to get into. You have had such a profound affect on myself, my family, our old friends, and everybody else in your life apparently.

    I’ve been checking your blog daily, thanks for sharing. Thanks for being.

    Your buddy,


  145. Scott Elsenheimer says:

    ‘carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero’ translates as ‘Pluck the day, trusting as little as possible in the future… Good luck, drive fast, take lots of chances…

    -Scott Elsenheimer

  146. Jason Cansdale says:


    We didnt hang out in school but i did know you and your mother. I really dont have the words that is going to make this better for you and your family. I guess the only thing i can say is stay strong and i wish you the best of luck and i hope your trip is all you want it to be. Reading this blog is really an eye opener on how life can suddenly go bad. I just want to say thank you for sharing your story and you are an inspiration to many. You and your family will be in my familes thoughts and prayers.

  147. Bob and Rosie Hughes says:

    Hi Bret,
    Bob and I are two old (and I mean OLD) colleagues of your Mom at WCS–Bob was the Guidance Director and I was in the Business Department. We just want to say that we are inspired by your decision and by your fulfilling of your dream. So many people go through life with “I wish I had . . .” or “I shoulda done . . .” and the list goes on–you, on the other hand, are taking the ride of your life with people you love and that is totally and absolutely amazing! Go flying down that road and enjoy every exciting moment. We will read your travel journal and ride vicariously with you. Love from two people you don’t even know but who care about you . . .

  148. Jan and John Burroughs says:


    Steve Wager shared your blog site with us. We are enjoying “traveling” with you and your family.
    My memories of you are you and your two brothers sitting on the bleachers after school at wrestling matches. You were so young your legs didn’t reach the floor.
    Through your Mom’s teaching and the organizations we belonged to together, I followed you as you grew up. You are blessed with a wonderful family.
    I am presently on a cancer journey very much like yours, so it is interesting to hear about your battle. Hang in there. Have a wonderful trip. The famous Irish blessing comes to mind……”may the wind be always at your back”….. enjoy your adventure.

    Jan and John Burroughs

  149. Rich and Kerry Marflak says:

    Brett, I remember you from middle school band, of all things. I always thought you were an old soul in a preteen’s body. I remember thinking that such a grounded, but fun loving kid is going to turn into a cool adult! What you and your family are doing is inspirational and profound. Thank you for taking time to share your thoughts and your journey with us. You are in our prayers.

  150. Dayna says:

    went to Wayland high school, will be praying for you!

  151. Chrissy (Cowley) Finn says:

    The first word that comes to mind to describe you is BRAVE…and I don’t even “know” you. Your story brought tears to my eyes and I can’t imagine all of the trials you have faced and will face throughout your journey.

    In 2006 my mom was diagnosed with cancer (for the second time) and was given a short period of time to get her affairs in order….her and I planned on traveling south in order to spend some quality “no worries” time together before she had to leave us….her time was shorter than we had hoped and we never were able to do so….so it brings a smile to my face that you and your family are able to do this together! Enjoy yourselves and remember from here and above there are many cheering you on!


  152. Nikki (Burdin) LaPlaca says:

    Bret & Family –

    I’m not sure if we ever really met while at WCCS, as I was a few years behind you. But coming from a small school, you remember a lot of people, even if you weren’t friends. Your wonderful smile is one thing I remember as I read your story. I was always amazed by your artistic talent and looked forward to each year’s art show to see your next masterpiece. After reading your story, I am again amazed by your strength, courage and heart. I thank you for sharing your story and giving us all hope that we too can face anything that comes our way with the dignity that you have shown. You are truly an amazing person.

    I look forward to reading about your journey with your family. Have a wonderful time and enjoy every moment. All of your are extremely lucky to have the chance to make these wonderful memories. You are all in my thoughts and prayers.

    – Nikki

  153. Kristen Burroughs Coleman says:

    Safe journey to you, Bret. I look forward to your posts.

  154. Cheri Gerber says:

    Hello Bret, I went to school with your brother Aaron. After reading the first part of your story come to find out you work at the same place as my husband Craig Gerber. What a small world.

    I commend you for your courage and strength to fulfill your life’s dreams, wants or desires. I like the part that you wrote stating that you have concluded that you have always lived your life to the fullest and that you are happy! There is nothing more rewarding than to be truly happy. You are truly blessed to have such a wonderful family and support.

    May God bless you all during this journey and bring you peace, love, and laughter.

    Thank you for sharing your story and I look forward to reading your next blog.


  155. lisa says:

    Bret, over the past several years i feel that i have gotten to know you during your 6 mos dental visits and your decision is the one i thought you would pick …I find you an amazingly strong individual…your story is so inspirational. Safe travels and enjoy your journey with your wife, family and friends. But dont forget to brush and floss daily! have to say it im your hygienist:) Have Fun!!!!

    • tammy lynn lafaye says:

      I do not know you but, your story is inspiring! im sad for what your going through and know how hard it can be when you find out a loved one has cancer . my dad has been fighting with lymphoma cancer since august. its been a road of ups and downs and hard family times but we are strong and stay together through it no matter what. im glad you went with the 2nd option. my thoughts and prayers are with you!!!!!!!!!!

  156. Carrie says:

    Life can be hard and the blows dealt us can go only two ways, we can be defeated by the adversity or we can make the best of the situation. You are making the best of the situation and setting out on a spectacular journey. I hope you and your family make many good memories along the way. You truly are an inspiration. I will be thinking of you and your family with warm thoughts and only the best of wishes. God Bless

    Carrie Keene

  157. John VanDelinder says:

    Bret, so sad to read about this heartbreaking turn of events. I remember you from Way-Co High… quite a talented artist you were if I recall correctly! (and hopefully still are) Your mom’s art classes were very influential to me. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family. Have the trip of your life. Seize the day!


  158. Sam and Gail Cali says:

    Local boy makes an impact on the world! Your Mom inspired our children and now you inspire us. Your courage under fire shall move all of us to be better people.
    Enjoy every day and may our prayers somehow stretch them into more than expected.
    Smile, laugh, love, pray and enjoy. Make many memories.
    Sam and Gail

  159. Tom Cordner says:

    My thoughts and prayers are with you. Look forward to reading about your adventures…

  160. Denise says:


    Words cannot describe the shock and the sadness that comes with this type of news. From what I remember and from what I’ve read on your blog, I believe that your choice to really live life to its fullest from day one is really inspiring. You have always set out to be the best in everything- whether it was in cross country, skiing, snowboarding, art, math, or mischief. And today, it looks like you are continuing your journey of ultimate greatness. I wish you the best of luck and the best weather possible throughout your amazing travels!

    If there is ever anything that I can do, please let me know. I e-mailed Aaron first, so I believe that he has all my contact information.

  161. Marissa Siciliano says:


    I love the Wendy’s photo! I’ve been checking your entries and pix and videos…cute one of Shannon on the rollercoaster! Looks like you all are having fun and really enjoying each other’s company. I think it’s great that you are taking this time to make a lot of fun memories and go on great adventures!
    I didn’t know you got into bikes…and riding without a helmet is definitely a different experience! I went on a 3 hour bike ride in Arkansas without a helmet and it was scary/fun.
    You have a much larger support system than you probably ever thought; we are all cheering for you and keeping you and your family in our thoughts. All of the comments that people are posting about you are true…you really are an amazing person. You always have been!
    I’ll keep checking back for more fun posts and pix.

  162. Natalie J. Hanlon says:

    Such a courageous story. I read every word and shed many tears.

  163. Nichole says:

    You dont know me as I went to school with your brother Aaron. We are praying for you and your family. Thank you for sharing your story. Enjoy your trip with your family..

  164. Maria Staley says:

    Dear Bret & family,

    You do not know me,nor my kids,as they were a few years behind you. Your mom did have a few of my kids in her class.
    I read your blog,and I have to say, you are amazing! Your story is an inspiration to everyone. My heart,prayers and love go out to you! God bless you,and thank you for sharing your story.It reminds all of us,who may be going through hard times,that we have alot to be thankful for! I wish you the safest trip,rideeeeeeee baby rideeeee.
    Please keeps us informed of your great journey!
    Prayers and love to you,and your family

    Maria Staley

  165. Carrie (Shaver) Vahue says:


    I have read your story over and over again. Words cannot express how much i am inspired by your courage and love. Even though i only knew you through cross country and track, I will truly treasure the memories of our practices and meets together. You are truly an amazing man and a wonderful son and husband. I wish you nothing but fun and happiness on your trip. I wish you and your family a safe journey and i cannot wait to read all about it.

    Enjoy your ride!

    Carrie (Shaver) Vahue

  166. Dan Clarcq says:

    Bret, it has been a long time since we’ve talked and I have been wondering what you have been up to all this time, recalling some of those memories all the way back to high school! Bret, I also remember you as an awesome person and all I can say right now is, I hope you enjoy your trip and the company of the people on it to the fullest and I will be reading, too.

    Dan Clarcq

  167. Jessica Tamburrini (Fiacco) says:

    I have such wonderful memories of you and will cherish them. Enjoy your trip and I look forward to the updates. You will be in my thoughts and prayers.


  168. Jennifer Nowatzki says:

    Hi Bret,
    There is so much to do in Florida! I have family in St. Augustine which is a beautiful area. If you are up for going in a lighthouse…I know you can find one there! Kissimmee is also a fun place. Universal Studios is one of my favorite places to go. I visited Islands of Adventure last summer and went on all the roller coasters you! I loved the HULK! Safe travels and have a blast! Tell your family hello for me!


  169. Jennifer Krusko says:


    I hate that this is the way that I am reconnecting with you however I want you to know that I think you are a very brave individual. Your story has affected my life in so many ways. Everyday I read your post and it reminds me how short life can be and that I should embrace everyday as if it is my last. I will always be thankful for this. I wish you luck and hope that you find everything you are looking for on your journey.


  170. Michelle says:

    Wow I am amazed by your courage and wish nothing but the best for you and your family!

  171. coleen swan says:

    Dear Bret and Family…..So many fond memories from all those years with the WAWC~! This journey you are on is touching the hearts and souls of those who know you and many who do not. We will think of you riding throughout the southern states, enjoying true family time, and making lasting memories for all. Your spirit, love, and concern for others makes you a truly inspiring man. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of you as you travel together. The Swan Family…..Mike, Coleen, Chris/Gwyn/Annabeth/ Maddy; Michael; Andy/ Melissa/ Evie/Lyla; and Patrick…..God Bless you and keep you …

  172. Michelle (Cassata) Wolfanger says:

    Bret- As most everyone has expressed I am saddened this is the way we have crossed paths later in life. I have many fond memories from growing up with you at WCCS which I truly cherish. I am truly inspired by your journey and look forward to reading your blog. It has helped me realize how life is very precious and should be lived to the fullest every minute of everyday. You are still the same person I remember driven, brave, optimistic and very courageous. I hope your journey finds all that you are looking for as you travel with your wife and family. 🙂 Get the tattoo, with Shannon:)

  173. Scott Mastin says:


    I will forever remember and be grateful for your direction and guidance during my schooling at WCCS. You and your family have brought so many positive and good experience into my life, many of which have adhered to the quality of character I retain to this day. Your story is a true inspiration to me and to those around you that will carry on forever. “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive” Thank you inspiring me and those around you to come alive. I am truly bless to know a great human being, great man and warrior in my life. Live life to the fullest, enjoy your travels and God Bless.

  174. Jennifer Quinlan Worden says:

    I wanted to say thank you for sharing your story with all of us. We will learn a lot from your experience. Cancer is horrible and causes big change in your and loved ones lives. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers. I was diagnosed in 2006 with HER2 breast cancer. One thing I learned from my jpurney was to keep positive. I am inspired by your story and your courage. God Bless you and your family. Keep riding!!!!

  175. Kala Stein says:

    Dear Bret,
    I wish you a safe and amazing road trip- your optimism and strength to travel brings a smile to my face. I am glad you realizing your dream with your loved ones!
    You are a remarkable character, one to admire and like. When we were going to school together, I always have (and still do) thought of you very highly- like a wise man. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us though your blog. I will enjoy traveling with you in spirit! Learning and seeing and loving…..
    With love, warmth, and blessings,

  176. Laurel Grisewood Musser says:

    I LOVE ROAD TRIPS, kinda cold though…I’m new to this whole computer communication thing so…I’m on the Connecticut coast if you want to switch up the Barbeque with chowda…My thoughts and heart go out to you and the Fam..ily.

  177. Maya (Janson) Blakeslee says:

    I came across this and find your story very inspirational. We were a few years apart at WCCS but I definitely remember what a strong and positive person you are and I admire your courage. Enjoy your travels with your family…I am looking forward to seeing pictures and postings along the journey. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. Travel safe, I wish you the best of luck.

    – Maya

  178. Heather Palmatier says:

    It has been about 13 years since I have seen you but it is hard to forget someone I went to school with for so long. Although I never said much back then, I always thought you were an AMAZING artist! I am truly touched and inspired by your courage, strength, and optimism. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family–how awesome it must be to have them share the trip with you! I wish you a safe and wonderful journey wherever your ride takes you. Looking forward to reading future blog entries…..the road is your canvas! Take Care and God Bless
    P.S. Is it me or does Coach Martello look exactly the same?!

  179. Anne Garippa Bassage says:

    Brett, I read your story and wish you all the best in the world. I know we haven’t seen you since you and Matt graduated but we often think about you and your family. I want you to know that you and your family are in our thoughts and prayers. We fondly remember all the baseball picnics and games with you and Matt. Enjoy your trip! We will keep watch for the pictures! You are truly an inspiration.
    Anne and Caity

  180. Claire says:

    Praying for you and your family. God bless!

  181. Chad Wilcox says:

    Hey Brett,
    Long time no talk. Wow… don’t know what to say but I cherish the memories we have growing up. I am saddened with the news, but love how you always live life to the fullest. That my friend is who you are to a tee. Don’t really know what to say. Miss you and hope your trip is wonderful. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your great family. I only hope that my kids can grow up with your courage and inspiration.
    Our thoughts and prayers,
    Chad, Nicky, Dalanie, Nolan

  182. Jackie Anson says:

    Hi Bret,
    Did not want to comment at first because I do not personally know you. However, I have been emboldened by the many others who have written and don’t know you and that you stated your appreciation for all the comments. So here is mine.

    I work with Shannon. I am the person, that when you call Shannon at work and ask what she’s doing, she sometimes says “just sitting here talking to Jackie” (not to imply that she is not working of course, we are ALWAYS talking biz, right Shan?)

    Anyway, I have been quite inspired by your story, and hope that when my time comes, I will be able to face it in the purely existential way that you have. It is unfortunate, in a way, that not all people have this opportunity (to know that their time is limited), and instead go through life only experiencing the mundane, as though they might live forever. What they don’t realize, as you do, is that they don’t get to live forever…that life should be lived RIGHT NOW! Your blog seems to indicate that you have ALWAYS lived as though your life could end any time, which is quite admirable. You are a role-model for living what I believe.

    I know I am being long winded, but I want to say this: Shannon (your WIFE) is an incredible person. There are few people with whom I have identified with over the last four years, but Shannon is one of them. Her love of life, and for what she does, is infectious. When I was having hard times myself, I always knew Shannon was just down the hall to cheer me up. Her laughter filled the halls and always made me smile. I had the pleasure of spending the night at your place in Pultneyville (sp?) and was amazed by the household you two had built. It was beautiful. It seemed like a home out of a magazine. To know that this beautiful life was so cruelly interrupted offends my senses.

    OK, to the point. First, please know that Shannon is loved and cared for by not only her friends, but the people she works with. Upon her return to work, she will be cared for by not one, but by many of us. I (and many others) will be there for her even when you cannot. She will be okay. She is strong, she is independent, she is loved, but she will never be alone. I (personally) promise that. Second, I can’t recommend any places in Key Largo, since I have not been there. But you seem to have a sense of humor, so here is my advice: When you go around talking about being in Key Largo, pronounce it Key Lah-go. Sade, a singer from the ’80’s, made it rhyme with “Chicago.” As in:
    “Coast to coast, LA to Chicago,
    Across the north and south,
    to Key Largo”
    That is my suggestion. From now on, refer to Key Largo as Key Lah-go.
    Have fun, and thanks for sharing. Warmest regards to you and Shannon.

  183. Steve Robinson says:

    Dear Bret,
    We are so inspired by your story. Your strength and spirit shines through. It is wonderful that you are doing things that other people long to do but never take the opportunity. Thank you for sharing your amazing story and reminding us about what is really important- family, friends, and living life to the fullest. You truly are riding in a good direction! Our hearts and prayers are with you, your wonderful wife ,and your awesome family.
    Steve and Katie Robinson

  184. debbie knight says:

    i am so srry to hear of your health news. I do know that we have a great healer in the lord jesus and i am praying that he heals your body and your family. I am glad that you have chosen to take this trip you guys had planned before you found out you were ill. Good luck to you and God bless you and your family Love Debbie

  185. Nannette says:

    Hi Bret,
    We are so impressed by your courage and inspired by your choice of living life to the fullest. It is so beautiful to see the expression of love in your family in this journey. You are teaching all of us what carpe diem really means. We’re fans of the Hoefen family!! Keep the love in your heart! You are all in our thoughts and prayers.
    Nannette and Karl

  186. Kathy (Palmer) Hummel says:

    Brett & Shannon,

    You also don’t know me, but I just had to post. You are such an inspiration to so many people! Good luck on your journey and truly live life to the fullest. Know that you have people all over the country praying for you and your family. Keep the faith and know that there is a reason for all of this – it is part of the Master Plan that God has for each of us. Thank you for sharing your story with us and helping us to also put life into perspective.

    Safe travels,

  187. jason edmond says:


    Hey buddy if your still in key west, then all of you should check out the garden of eden. Its definitely a place you wont My wife Brittainee and I hope your trip is going well and that the bikes are running strong. Enjoy the ride
    Many thoughts,
    Jason-n-Britt Edmond

  188. Nannette says:

    Hi Bret,
    Just talked to you grandma and she wished she had a computer to send you a note so I’m sending on her behalf….
    “Miss you. Hope you’re having fun! Think of you everyday. Love you”

  189. Dick Frederick says:

    Looks like you guys are eating your way across the South. We may need to send a bigger van out to rescue you soon! The pictures are great. Hope it warms up in Florida…seems like NY weather down there.

  190. Tina Coombs says:

    As so many have said, you are an inspiration to us all to follow our passions and live everyday to the fullest. I wish you and your family a safe, memorable, and loving trip.

    If you find yourself in Park City, Utah, you have a place to stay. While it’s a bit chilly here now, it’s still amazingly beautiful!

    Warm wishes.

  191. Sandy and Red says:

    Well Red and I can no longer ride but we will be riding with you and following your travels.
    Your Peglow Rd. Friends

  192. Zeke and Mary Lou says:

    Just wanted to say hello, and I know both you and shannon are enjoying yourself on this trip. I also love the grouper sandwich, as a matter of fact, grouper is my favorite fish. Thanks for letting us keep up with your trip and enjoy every moment of it.

    Love as always

    Zeke and Mary Lou

  193. Erin Brooke Gorman says:

    Bret and Shannon,

    I have so appreciated being able to read your inspiring blog and track your traveling adventures. Please know that I am thinking of you both and spending tons of positive thoughts and prayers. I am so happy to know that you both are experiencing the trip of a lifetime with family and friends. If you find yourselves near Denver, CO or anywhere in the vicinity, I’d love to see you guys. Thank-you so much for allowing me to share these special moments with you both! Bret, you give us the gift of calling into awareness what is truly important in life. Thanks for showing us how to live in the moment. I wish you all amazing times and experiences together.

    Lots of Love,
    Erin Gorman
    (EBG) 🙂

  194. Diane Bergvall says:

    While in Key West you and your artistic family need to go see the body painting!! It’s a hoot! Oh no! Did your first grade teacher actually just tell you to do that?? 🙂

  195. Laura (Evans) Marflak says:

    Brett and Shannon,

    You probably don’t know me or remember me. We may have worked at the Food Mart for a brief time, but I remember you and your family from school. I am so glad that I saw this link and am very touched and shocked at the same time. You have amazing courage and I look forward to following your trip. I know it is hard to accept that there is a reason for all things in God’s planning, and sometimes it is painful, but I wish you the best time with your family and dear wife!

    Laura (Evans) Westbrook

  196. Bren Jobe & Family says:

    Hey Bret

    Mom & Dad (Red & Sandy) sent me a heads-up and passed along the link to the blog. You are a trooper and a true inspiration for the way you are handling this … I’m sure others are wondering what they would do in this situation. I think you are doing the right thing by spending time with family and friends doing something you love to do. Say “Howdy” to the folks for me.

    Enjoy the Ride!

  197. Regis says:

    I continue to be amazed by your spirit and your energy. Thank you for inviting me along to join you and your family and friends on this incredible journey! The pictures are wonderful – and each experience seems more colorful and meaningful than the others. I didn’t realize there were so many characters out there! You seem to have found each and everyone of them. Thanks again for letting me see how rich life is by allowing me to see through your eyes!

    I look forward to tomorrow. Get your rest and importantly take care of your dad – I still am getting used to him on the motorcycle! And your mom too!


  198. Tammy says:

    Saw a link to your blog on Facebook. So glad I checked it out. Even though you’ve probably heard this 1000 times by now, what an inspiration you are! Its been a moving experience following your trip. So great to hear about your supportive group of family and friends! Saw your note on a tattoo. If you go for it, how about “Live Strong” or in honor of your bike trip “Live to Ride…Ride to Live”. God Bless you and your family. Enjoy the warm weather in the South! Keep the stories coming.

  199. Dan says:

    I don’t know you but I felt compelled to comment on your blog since your story is so touching, dramatic, sad and inspiring all at the same time. If only everyone in the world knew how important each and every day was, just one day in your shoes would do it.. and the world would be a better place.
    I truly respect you for your decision to ‘seize the day’. Hows that for a tattoo idea? “Carpe Diem” , a saying you truly live by.
    Take care, and if possible, ride a jetski through the Florida Mangroves near Key Largo. I rode a boat through there and always dreamed about how awesome it would be to rip around on a jetski!

    Wishing the best for you and yours,

  200. Kevin Andrews says:

    Hi Brett,

    I am a friend of Brendon’s and he passed on your story, just wanted to say hi. You have a great attitude about your situation, looks like you guys are having a blast enjoying life to the fullest. I wish you and your family the best.


  201. Robin Gantt says:


    I have not had the pleasure of meeting you, but have the pleasure of knowing your mother. Betsy is an incredible woman and although I’ve only known her for a little over a year now, I know that your strength and comes from your mom. Just know that God is in control of your situation and that it is He who has the last word. Keep the faith and know that you are blessed. You are the most courageous person and that your story has left me in awe. I will keep you and your family in my prayers throughout your travels.

    God Bless,

  202. Carrie Jester Midgett says:


    I am a former student of your moms. Your blog was shared by a classmate/friend of mine. AMAZING is all I can say. If your travels take you to New Jersey/Philadelphia you and your family are always welcome in our home.

    God Bless you!

    Carrie Jester Midgett

  203. Casey Boss says:

    Bret, As so many have already expressed here, your family, and your Mom as our art teacher had a profound impact on our lives. Though your and my school years mostly amounted to courteous hellos in the hallway, I have enjoyed all the updates from your Mom as she shares the immense amount of pride she has in all of her sons. It is no surprise that you, a Hoefen, are continuing to teach, inspire, and make us all more aware people as you share your journey with us. Enjoy the ride, thank you, and my thoughts are with you all.

  204. Leslie Pond says:

    I do not know either you or your wife, but I wish I did! Through your story you are doing much more than you realize to encourage and bring hope to others. I think that your choice to live the dream to the fullest is the best way to be! What an inspiration you are! I am being blessed with every entry I read. Have an awesome time! And God Bless. Ride On!

  205. Marissa Siciliano says:

    Sounds like you are all still having a nice time together. I’m glad to hear that the weather is getting better for you! Where to next? If you have time, will you tell us about your wedding/proposal…I love the love story!
    I’m enjoying the journey that you are letting us all be a part of!

  206. carmen bastos says:

    Dear Bret,
    Just want to share this with you; and let you know that my whole family in Florida, my christian family here in California and many other faithful friends are continually, earnestly praying for you. In His love, Carmen

    “Real Love”
    For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to seperate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord(Romans 8:38, 39).
    The apostle knew it. The love of God is greater than the measure of man’s mind. It is higher, deeper, broader, than all things and all thinking; and nothing can seperate us from it, ever.

    A starry-eyed young woman, having written a number of poems, went to an editor and told him she wished to have her poems published in his magazine. “What are they about?” asked the editor. “All about love,” was the prompt reply. “Well, what is love?” questioned the editor. “Love,” said the young woman, “Is gazing upon a lily pond at night, with the shimmering moonbeams, when the lilies are in full bloom, and ——” “Stop, stop! cried the editor, sternly. “You are all wrong. I’ll tell you what love is. It’s getting up cheerfully at two o’clock in the morning to fill the hot-water bottle for a sick child. That’s real love. I’m sorry, but I don’t think I can use your poems.” The editor was right. Real love is doing something for somebody who needs our help no matter how hard it is for us to give it. And “God so loved.”

    Nothing tha happens in life, not even death itself, can seperate us from the love of God revealed in Christ Jesus. The inspired apostle John beheld the height, the depth, the breadth, of the Father’s love toward us. Failing to find suitable language to express it, he called upon the world to behold it. “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the son of God” (1John 3:1).

    “God is love” is written on every opening bud, on every blushing flower, on all the beauties of nature. It is written in the heart of a mother; but clearest of all, upon the cross.

    MEDITATION PRAYER: “Let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me” (Psalms 40:11)

  207. Erin FitzPatrick says:


    It doesn’t feel like so much time has passed since highschool….driving your blue Honda on the back roads of Springwater, the zip line over your pond, or the journey to go watch Trainspotting. And of course your amazing painting talent!

    I was shocked and saddened when I heard you were sick. Then reading your blog has been so inspiring. Thank you for sharing your story and reminding everyone who has had the chance to know you how fortunate we all are. You are in the thoughts and prayers of my whole family. And if you get to Naples, Fl go visit Gramma Williams. Enjoy the ride, the time with your loved ones, and can’t wait to keep reading your blog!


  208. Andrew Poole says:

    Hi Bret-

    I work at the Hornell Evening Tribune. I’ve read your blog, and I would like to do a story about you for the newspaper. Our office number is 607-324-1425. I’m in Tuesdays through Saturdays if you’d like to give me a call.

  209. Jaclyn Barnett (White) says:

    Hey Bret,

    It’s been a long time since our paths have crossed, but I am truly inspired by your words, your story and they way you have embraced life. Just as when we were “young”, you have taken your strength and wisdom and applied it in a way that not many people can say they have. Your journey is exceptional – just as you have always been. Thank you for sharing your life with all of us and God bless you and your family.


  210. Judy says:


    If laughter (and love) is the best medicine, you are healing us all.
    Please keep writing.

  211. Ryan Schuyler says:


    My mom sent my wife (to be) getting married in JAN in Key west this email about you. I am currently stationed in Jacksonville, Fl. On your way up if you are interested I fly on C-130’s and can give you all a tour. I always wonder what I would do if I was in your shoes and can say exactly what you are doing! My number is 360-929-3258. Have an awesome trip. Oh by the way my mom reminded me 0f a picture she has of you and I in PEE WEE wrestling and I think we both had trophies. Have a safe trip florida drivers cant drive!!! Our thoughts are with you and your family.

  212. Laurie Dixon says:

    As we are here at the nuke plant going about the dull business of making electricity, I see that you have moved on to a new position. You are now a teacher. You are teaching all of us, reminding all of us, to live. To LIVE life and not just survive it. To suck the marrow out of every day.

    Today is my best day.


  213. Natalie Bowers Kelly says:

    Hey Bret,

    Thank you for sharing your story. We will be following you and your family along the way. Have a safe trip and enjoy the journey.

    Natalie Bowers Kelly

  214. Mike & Trudy Szymanski says:

    You are the bravest young man that we have the privilege of knowing.
    Your Mom, Dad and Shannon without a doubt are so proud of you. You are giving them and the rest of your family the greatest of all memories. God be with you.

  215. Matt Bowers says:

    Thanks for sharing your story! You have inspired many to follow our dreams and live everyday to the fullest. Enjoy your adventures, stay positive, and have fun!
    Matt Bowers

  216. Nanette & Bob Cownie says:

    There can be no greater gift than to be part of a family centered on living, sharing, embracing and loving as one….How blessed you are, Bret, to be part of such a family.

    Keep on riding together.
    God’s peace be with you.

  217. furiousball says:

    Wow. A friend sent this link to me about 20 minutes ago and I’m amazed. Your attitude, spirit, perspective, and courage are exactly the lessons I want my children to learn. If you ever find yourself near Medford Lakes, NJ – you have a place to stay.

    Honored to have learned about you.

  218. Debbie Kruse says:


    I have been reading your blog daily and I am so inspired by you and your entire family. I am truly impressed that you got Jim to wear chaps!! I still chuckle about that one.

    If you make it farther west on your journey, the door is always open for ALL at Chez Kruse in Richmond, TX.

    My best to your adorable Shannon and the entire Hoefen clan.

    debbie kruse

  219. Chris & Jackie says:

    Hey Bret,
    I’m a little jealous of all of the tasty food that you & the crew have been enjoying on the trip thus far! But, it made me think- I want to extend another invite if you happen to be rolling through Buffalo on your way back…I’m guessing that any Chicken Wings that you may have tried elsewhere have been sub-par…Sooo, give us a call when you want the real deal- however, they may not compare to 10 cent Miller House or Wayside wings from back in the day;) I would love to see you…take care brother. 716-725-8414

  220. Wes and Paula says:

    Bret and Shannon,
    In keeping with your motto of “Ride in a Good Direction,” we couldn’t help but notice that you have made it to Louisiana. As Texans, it looks to us like you’re fulfilling your motto. Now, just a little bit further west and you will REALLY have reached a destination befitting that motto.

    If your ride takes you to San Antonio, be sure to stop in to see us. Although the foods you’ve been sampling along the way have sounded good–even intriguing–there is nothing like Texas-style BBQ and Tex-Mex cuisine to feed body and soul. To sweeten the “deal,” Wes’ and Paula’s B&B has an open door and extra beds. Join us, as time and travels permit!

    At this point I’m sure you’re thinking “Who are these people?!” We met the two of you when Heather was living in Rochester. You had been out for a walk and dropped in to say hello and share your wedding pictures. [BTW: Heather can let you know how to contact us.]

    You continue to be in our daily thoughts and prayers. Ride on! Go West, young man!
    Wes and Paula

  221. Andrew Russell says:

    Dear Bret,
    Our family has just learned of your current situation. In reading your story online we are impressed with your upbeat spirit and bravery. We all have fond memories of you and your family and wish you nothing but the best. You and your family will be in our prayers.

    Andy Russell

  222. John and Donna Drake says:

    Hey Brett!
    We are really enjoying following you and the rest of your family on your adventures. Tell your mom and dad they should consider coming through Buffalo. We would love to see all of you! You just amaze us with your strength and courage so much.
    Best wishes always,
    John and Donna

  223. Andrew Poole says:

    Bret, sorry I missed your call at the Evening Tribune. I’ll be in Wednesday, Dec. 22 and Thursday Dec. 23 if you want to give me a call for the story. 607-324-1425.


  224. Lynn and John Siciliano says:

    It is a blessing to us all that you so willingly share your life and malady, adventures, memories and family. You and your family are often spoken of with great admiration in daily conversation. Keep up your positive attitude as that will be the strength to your challenge. May God keep you in His care, and encamp His guardian angels about you. All our love to your family, John and Lynn

  225. Margie Brogan (Colleen's mom) says:

    May God bless you on your journey. Colleen always felt the “cure” was just around the corner. Hang in there….there will be treatment one day. If you find yourself in Chicago on this journey (probably not……who would come here in the middle of winter?) please let me know. I would love to meet with you and your family.

  226. Bill Cotton says:

    I just recently heard that you were ill when my brother Don called me into his office and told me. Apparently he and your mom have connected via Face book. Brett I was so sorry to hear this news.
    Your courage, character, and class is inspiring to say the least. Not only now but throughout your life and when you were younger as well. Just this past weekend I was talking with Chris L. he reminded me of a story of when the three of us were snowboarding/Skiing at swain. He spoke about the jacket his mom got him to wear that year for riding. Maybe you can remember it?? The terribly ugly blue/purple and puffy jacket (he wanted the Burton Jacket to match his board) He said he was pretty sure we both knew that he hated it. He told me every chance that you got you told him how cool you thought the jacket was. In an attempt to make him feel better about it. (it had to be to make him feel better the jacket was UGLY :)) Like I said Character and Class. I see you have never lost your love for the bikes I still remember you riding my old beat RM 125. Enjoy them rides, Great bikes, fun toys. Speaking of toys Metroid, Mike Tyson’s Punch Out, Super Mario Brothers, and Kid Icarus. Are you kidding me? Blast from the past. I’m glad you had a great Christmas. If you find yourself cruising Florida again be sure to say hello.
    God Bless you bro
    Bill C.

  227. Michelle Worden Meyer says:

    Hi Bret, you were just a wee one when your mom taught me at WCS (only one C waaay back then). My dad, Ken, was a wrestling coach. He’s the one that called me to tell me the news tonight. I’m so happy to see you embrace life and hold on to the positive light in what can be such a dark situation. Cancer takes so much from us but there is so much that it can not take…our spirits, our joy (if we choose to not let it), the love of our family and friends….by keeping those you are still winning every day. I can say “we” because I speak from experience. I was diagnosed with a one in a million cancer and was initially given a zero percent chance without treatment. Luckily a doctor at Roswell Cancer Institute in Buffalo could help me and I am still here 2 1/2 years later still looking down at the grass and not up at the grass. Your hopeful spirit, positive attitude, and sense of humor (I gathered from reading your blog) will carry you far. Way farther than even the most rad of Harleys. 🙂 I fully believe in the power of prayer and positive thoughts and with the number of people on this blog alone, it is one more sword in your arsenal. One of the gifts that comes out of a situation like this, it that the goodness in people comes shining through and people out “there” you don’t even know are pulling for you. BTW… I believe my doc, Dr John Kane at Roswell, is also involved in Melanomas and Sarcomas (and I believe he was just promoted to chief of staff of that unit). If you think speaking to him can help, please email me at and I will gather his info for you. I think he’s starting to believe I am his Kevin Bacon patient because I’ve come to know or I’m connected to a lot of his Either that or I’m the president of his fan club. And of course feel free to get in touch any time if you think I can help in any way. Love to you and your family. And a hug to your mom from an “old” student.

  228. carmen bastos says:

    Dear Bret,
    know that we are continually praying for you…and just want to share this with you. May God keep you with His peace!

    8:34 AM Dec 31, 2010

    Home > Archives > Staying Young >
    Email | Print | Share Digg Facebook MySpace Yahoo! Buzz Twitter

    Guarding the Temple

    Photo: Alex Ling
    Lately, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the temple. My body temple, that is. I think the reason for this is that I’ve been spending some extra time in private Bible study and prayer, and as an unexpected result, I seem to be experiencing conviction along the lines of how I am taking care of my body. The Scripture that keeps coming to mind is found in I Corinthians 6:19, 20.”Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

    I think the reason that Scripture keeps coming to mind is because of my increased desire to receive the Holy Spirit in my daily life. Naturally, then, I shouldn’t be trashing the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, which is my body temple.

    Not that my habits have been all that bad. By the standards of the American diet, I’d probably be considered somewhat of a health nut. But who wants to be a follower of the American diet?

    McDonald’s in the Heart Center!

    I spent the last two days at the Iowa Heart Center with a friend who has just had three stints put in her heart. While there, I couldn’t help noticing that the majority of people dressed in scrubs were very overweight, eating junk food, and drinking coffee. And, to top it off, when I asked where I could get some lunch, I discovered that the one and only restaurant in that entire complex was a McDonald’s! McDonald’s in the HEART center! What kind of an example is that? A Big Mac alone has 34 grams of fat! And who ever heard of eating a Big Mac without an order of fries? Then we all know that the only way to wash down all of that grease and salt is either with a large coke or ice cream.

    Well, enough of my ranting.The point is I am responsible for my own temple-building. McDonald’s cannot be blamed for what I put in my mouth. Nor can the Iowa Heart Center. But here’s what is really occupying my thoughts most: I have always been convinced of how to take care of myself, but I have not until now been truly convicted. I’ve found that there is quite a difference between being convinced and being convicted. The biggest difference is that now, I want to build my body temple. I want to have a clear mind so that I can better receive the Word of God and retain it. I want to have more energy so that I can better serve my family, God, and work. I want to glorify God in my body and spirit because He is so good to me. Because of my change of attitude, I am now having the most wonderful time expanding my knowledge of healthy food choices, how to cook better, and even getting back into an exercise routine.

    Respond to this article View Reader Comments

    By Gwen Simmons. Copyright © 2010 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW KING JAMES VERSION © 1982.

  229. Figs for Your Health

    Photo: Markellos P.
    Figs originated in Turkey and the Eastern Mediterranean region. The fig is mentioned more than fifty times in the Bible including a mention in the Garden of Eden. In Deuteronomy, figs were one of seven foods God promised the Hebrews upon entering the Promised Land. Figs were not brought to America until the early sixteenth century by the Spaniards.

    Figs were important in ancient Greek culture. Dried figs were used as a sweetening agent. Greek athletes ate figs to improve their strength and endurance, while fig laurels were awarded to athletes who won at the Olympics.

    The ancients viewed figs as having medicinal properties. They were used in ancient Egyptian medicine, internally for stomach problems and as a purgative, and externally for back pain and skin conditions. King Hezekiah in Old Testament times was told to apply a poultice of figs to his boils for healing. After boiling figs in barley water, the liquid was taken for the relief of coughs and chest pains. In China, fig leaves are used to provide relief from hemorrhoids. Today, the oil distilled from fig leaves is used to provide a woodland scent for perfumes.

    Figs can be used fresh, dried or canned. They are used in bread, pastries, confectionery, fruit cakes, jams, and desserts. The most common varieties of figs are the golden-colored Calimyrna figs, and the dark, purplish Mission figs. Unlike most other fruits, figs ripen gradually and are picked from May through October. As a soft fruit figs don’t store well or transport easily, and so they typically end up in a dried form.

    Rich Source of Calcium

    Figs are a rich source of calcium and iron, dietary fiber and a wide variety of health-promoting phytochemicals including lignans and tannins. Three to four figs provide about 20 percent of the daily need for fiber. The fiber in figs provides useful laxative properties. The low sodium, low fat and high potassium content of figs make them useful in diets to lower blood pressure.

    Figs also contain a number of anti-tumor compounds including benzaldehyde, coumarins, and terpenoids. Regular doses of benzaldehyde to terminal cancer patients revealed significant regression in many patients. Figs also contain the flavonoid quercetin in high levels such as that found in apples and sweet cherries. Quercetin has strong antioxidant properties that protect us against cardiovascular disease and cancer. Figs may also protect against osteoporosis, due to their rich supply of boron.

    Respond to this articleView Reader Comments

    By Winston J. Craig, R.D. Copyright © 2010 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

  230. John and Linda Ann Ventura says:

    Dear Bret,
    From some more neighbors of your parents,
    our prayers and best wishes are with you and your wife.

  231. Florence Hamilton says:

    Brett & Shannon,

    My thoughts and prayers are with you both. I admire your determination and courage. I’ve really enjoyed reading about all the places you have traveled to, and all the fun you are having!

    Florence Hamilton

  232. Lynne Hudak says:

    Hi Bret,
    I’m glad to see that my nephew has not lost the ability to stand on his hands. I’m glad Jeff was able to spend a week with you, Shannon and your Mom. Can’t tell you how much I look forward to reading about your adventures. Your site is truly amazing, as are you!
    Keep having fun and we’ll keep praying for you.
    Lynne Hudak

  233. Debbie Kruse says:


    Thank you for letting me be part of your adventure! Your family has always been a special part of my life, as you know from all the “coincidences” that we share, it was meant to be. I’m sending you all daily hugs and love as you continue your trip. Don’t forget how to get here if you find your way through my little piece of Texas again.

    Love to all,


  234. brandy halstead says:


    I commend your bravery and strength during a time when most would give up. You are an insperation to us all! My prayers are also with you and your entire family. May you and Shannon create some extraordinary memories while living life to it’s fullest!!!
    God Bless,

  235. carmen bastos says:

    Dear Bret, Hope you like this. God bless you!

  236. Nanette & Bob Cownie says:

    Hi Bret,
    We just returned from a beautiful day at Bristol Harbour and thought of you and your family. Was it Ryan or Aaron who was married there? After church, we treked over to Bristol’s lodge for a nice brunch, then hit the cross country ski trails that meander around the golf course. It was one of those gorgeous January days, temp around 20 degrees with a light breeze and the sun was peeking thru the clouds, reflecting off the waters of Canandaigua Lake. Amazing sight….We could actually see our place across the lake. There is such incredible beauty in this world. Thank you, Bret, for reminding us to cherish the beauty that surrounds us each day of our lives.

  237. Nader Nasralla says:

    Hey bret i wanted to share with you this cancer therapy that has been successful. It is called the gerson therapy( ). It has cured many people with many different kinds of cancers. I think it can help you so please check it out I am sure they will be happy to help you. this place doesnt requre any drugs or medications other than natural therapy. If you want to know more about it you can read case studies on or watch a film on google video called dying to have known. other good documentaries about it is the gerson miracle, the beautiful truth, and food matters. Dr Max Gerson has cured many people with it and i think you should check it out. they have a clinic in san diego. Dr Max gersons daughter has set it up if you want to know more about it just youtube charlote gerson or gerson therapy and theyr is a lot of information but if you want to see many people cured from it watch the documentaries i listed. Good Luck. Bless.

    PS to begin your therapy stop eating fast food junk and begin eating heatlhy organic fresh fruits and veggies!

  238. Scott Curtis says:


    Just want to say that you and your family continue to be in the thoughts and prayers of many of us here at WCCS. Thanks for sharing your adventures. Your pictures and comments have been great. Keep it up.

    Mr. Curtis

  239. Wes and Paula says:

    Your travelog continues to amuse and amaze. Keep it up, amigos!

    Your trek westward through New Mexico brought back many fond memories of Carlsbad, the caverns, Albuquerque (particularly old town), and Santa Fe. Ah… and the food, food, food!

    The post card with a Texas rattlesnake recipe reminded us of another event that may be of interest. The JCs of Sweetwater, Texas have hosted a Rattlesnake Roundup there since 1958. In addition to providing a major source of antivenom, it is a significant fundraiser for the organization. Most importantly, it is one place where you can be sure to get plenty of fresh rattlesnake. It is usually held the second weekend in March, so keep an eye out for it!

  240. Thinking of you, Bret! Much love from former colleagues of your Mom at Wayland Central.

    Bob and Rosie

  241. Hoefen Family-
    Best wishes to you all. I am two hours fromLogan Airport should you ever get snowed in….better yet, the nice weather is especially relaxing on Cape Cod. Standing invitation….Just learned about this blog. I will be checking in from time to time.

  242. Wes and Paula says:

    Been thinking about you guys a lot lately, and this promised blessing keeps running through my mind. “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

  243. Claire Stein says:

    Just read the article in the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle this morning. What an inspiring story!

  244. John & Tina Corregedor says:

    We read your story today in the Democrat & Chronicle online news section. I later Googled your name and seen a few videos posted on YouTube of your journey to Georgia, etc. We were enlightened by your story and how your wife, family and friends, have supported and participated with you, on your journey to enjoy life to its fullest.

    My wife and I want to let you know that we will keep you, your lovely wife and family, in our thoughts and prayers.

    You are truly remarkable individual…. God Bless!

  245. Claire Talbot says:

    Brett, I am one of the many people who will be following your blog after reading your story in the D & C this morning. You are an inspiration, and I so admire you with what you have chosen to do with your life. You have definately influenced what I think is important – wishing you a joyful ride!

  246. Nancy A. Wehner says:

    Hi. I read the article in the Democrat and Chronicle on Friday, feb. 25, 2011 The article was well done and it brought back memories of my husband, David E. Wehner, who died on Dec. 11, 2009 ……We were married for 30 years when he died. At the time of his death, our 2 sons were 18 and 15. He was dianosed with clear cell sarcoma in Aug. 2008. It was in his right leg….upper thigh area. He had 2 surgeries….one in Sept. and the other in dec. of 2008……his cancer spread to his lungs and head.
    I loved hearing that you and your wife are traveling…..doing such wonderful things. Keep living each day to its fullest. I live in Spencerport, NY with my 2 sons… 21 and 16 (going on 17)……I retired in dec. 2010 a year after his death

    hang in there…..your story will inspire others to live each day as if it was the last one. God Bless you and your wife.

    Nancy A. Wehner

  247. Scott Curtis says:

    Bret, it was good to see your story in the D & C. Thanks for sharing your story, thus inspiring so many others. Your pictures have been great. Thanks again for sharing them. Stay strong.

    Mr. Curtis

  248. Bob and Rosie Hughes says:

    The article in this morning’s Democrat and Chronicle was great! Love your tattoo–a philosophy to which we should all ascribe! You and your family are wondrous role models–thank you for teaching us all how to live. Lots of love from two of your Mom’s former colleagues . . .

  249. Kate Rowe VanderBrook says:

    Just finished reading the article in the Rochester D & C.
    So happy to find your blog, and will be sure to follow it.
    I grew up just down Lake Road from you in Sodus….beautiful part of the world!
    My Dad (my hero & best friend) had Clear Cell Sarcoma, and lived his last years with a similar mindset as you. One of his favorite expressions was ” I’m going to buy green bananas”…… So he would be around when they got ripe!
    I miss him like crazy, but he taught us not to be sad or depressed.
    I just wanted to thank you for your blog & your courage.
    Safe travels and Godspeed.

  250. Anthony Dentino says:

    Well, reading today’s paper was a complete shock to me. I’ve been thinking about you two all day. I knew immediately when we first met in August that you were both very genuine people. The kind of people you could trust with anything. I like to think that I’m good at judging people, but in your case it was just so obvious. I admire you Bret and Shannon.

  251. Doug Warren says:

    Just read your story in the Tennessean and couldn’t help but to get on your blog. I was diagnosed with cancer last year and remember the feeling. I’ve read some of your blogs and they say they’re sorry for the two of you. They should be happy for you. You’re living life. I’ sorry that you found life only after such a terrible disease. People dream of the LIFE you’re having now. I’m sorry I didn’t know of this earlier when you were in the South. Could have showed you a great time in Music City a.k.a. Nashville, Tn. Got to close for now. Looking forward to your blogs about living life. Live free and ride hard. God Bless.

  252. WT says:

    Just read the article in the Tennessean as well and was so intrigued by your story. Please know that you are positively affecting lives across America. I am in high school and letting you know that my friends and I are all cheering you on. The trip is a dream to me as it was to you, and although you are going on unfriendly circumstances, it is a great opportunity for you to LIVE, live like some never will and/or never have. I am praying for you and your wife, your family, your journey, your friends, for everyone who ever knew you, and for your story. You are brave, an inspiration. Good luck Bret, go get ’em tiger, grab life by the horns and live out loud. Thank you, and thank GOD for giving us the grace to know your presence on this magnificent earth.

  253. Linda Halfpop says:

    Bret, I just read your story in the Des Moines Register. There is something that I believe can help you. It is called Protandim. It is real, not a gimmick. I am asking you to do the research on it so that you will see for yourself. Please give this information to your physician family members so they can show you what the 7 “peer reviewed studies” mean to you. Protandim is “antifibrotic” and “antiinflammatory” will not and cannot interfere with any medication or radiationn or chemo you might be on. It is all natural. Please go to to see the published studies done by numerous universities. I have included a website above so you can view a primetime video done in 2005…it will explain to you how it works. I do not need anything Bret except your diligence to look into this. You may contact me at my email if your doctor needs questions answered and I can set up a conference call for him or her.

  254. Monica says:

    Hi, I read the story about Bret’s condition in the Democrat and Chronicle newspaper. I had ovarian cancer about 3 decades ago, and my website is
    Some people get their healing in this lifetime, while others may get it in heaven. It seems to me that it’s an immune system disorder.
    God bless and comfort, Monica

  255. Ray and Audrey Horan says:

    We have recently learned of your blog and the challenges you are facing. You undoubtedly do not remember us as we have been retired from Wayland Central (even that dates us), but we were coworkers of you Mom’s. We have always been very fond of her and her creative achievements as well as her devoted efforts to inspire her students. So we know what a super Mom she is as she is with you every step of the way in your journey.

    My memory of you and your brothers is when you arrived to school each morning in the back door by the cafeteria and bounding up the stairs with your Mom close behind

    We’re sure that you don’t remember us from Wayland Central (that in itself dates us), but we along with many have been following your journey. We both taught in the Social Studies Department and were friends with your Mom. You and your family have given us a look at the beauty and expanse of this country through your descriptions and photos. We are so impressed with your courage as you fight this cancer as well as the introspection into the important things in life. We will continue following your journey and pray for healing as you continue your fight against this disease.
    PERSONALIZED INTERNET COUPON. Distribution of these coupons in PDF or other portable document formats is not permitted. Void if copied, altered, reproduced, auctioned, sold, traded, transferred or assigned. Any such misuse or other misuse constitutes fraud and is prosecutable under federal wire and other statutes.

    © 2011, 5555 Darrow Road, Hudson, OH 44236
    For all inquiries, click here or e-mail Thank you.

    • Ray and Audrey Horan says:

      Sorry about the disjointed comments from us. I lost the first part of the comment, so I started over and then was surprised to find that both paragraphs had ended up in your blog.

  256. Mary says:

    Hi, Bret,
    I read about you in the Rochester newspaper. I want to share some info that may help you—

    I don’t know if you believe that God does miracles of healing today, but I can assure you from experience that He does! There are numerous ministries around the world and in the US that have a verifiable history of praying for miracles and having people be healed. Some pastors or ministries seem to have an anointing for it or else are just farther ahead of the rest of us in their ability to believe what God has said!

    I have studied the topic of miracles of healing for 15+ years and have familiarity with some of the ministries that have a significant number of testimonies re: healing miracles. I want to share with you info about 2 in particular—ones I know are solid and I believe through which you have a very good chance of receiving a real, honest-to-goodness miracle of healing. God does heal people miraculously today. I know it, I personally have experienced it and I know many people personally who have received miraculous healings.

    Two ministries I want to tell you about:

    Bethel Church in Redding, CA (Northern CA, maybe 6 hours north of San Francisco.)

    Be In Health in Thomaston, GA (an hour southeast of Atlanta)

    If I or one of my loved ones had a serious illness, I would do whatever it would take to get them to Bethel Church in Redding, CA. It is a wonderful church and they have one of the strongest records of healing ministry of any ministry I know of. There have been miracles there that have even been verified by doctors’ reports. If you can’t get there, they also pray for people over Skype and people have been healed while being prayed for over Skype. The Bethel people are just wonderful servants of God and have such incredible faith. They believe what God has said and they step out in faith, believing, and He answers. Not everyone gets healed, but a LOT of people do, including healing from stage 4 cancers and other major, major diseases! The stage 4 cancer healing is one of the testimonies on their website.

    I encourage you to check them out via their website and then go visit!

    Their website is

    Go to the “Features” tab and under that is a “Testimonies” section with tons of healing testimonies you can read. Read the one from 12-18-2010 about the cancer healing over Skype!

    They also have videotapes of people telling about their healing at this part of the site:

    There is another ministry worth visiting and that is in Thomaston, GA. It is called Be In Health and the head of it is Pastor Henry Wright. His ministry is centered on the spiritual roots of disease. They have found in their 30+ years of ministry that where there is a spiritual root of a disease, once the spiritual root is removed through prayer and ministry, the person usually is healed. They have had a lot of success with cancer. They also have an extensive list of testimonies on their website and they have plenty of doctor-verified testimonies, too. I would start by reading Henry Wright’s book, “A More Excellent Way” (which is an excellent book). Some people are able to simply apply what they read in the book and get healed. Some diseases are simpler than others. But more often, people go take their week-long “For My Life” class in GA and get healed through what they learn and put into practice from the book and class. Henry Wright also has a small book specifically about cancer, but to get the full benefit of the cancer book, you really need “A More Excellent Way”. Their website is

    I hope you are not offended by my e-mailing you about this, but the church world has not done a good job of teaching about miracles of healing and has not done a good job of embracing what God has revealed in this hour about miracles of healing. And our society has so pushed God out, that many people don’t know about Him at all. So those of us who have seen, experienced and know that healing miracles are for real have to spread the word! (BTW, I am not a wacko or a religious fanatic. I am a well-educated, reasonable person. I have a BS degree from Cornell University and I have worked 15+ years in highly responsible positions for major corporations such as Black & Decker, General Dynamics and others. I own a house. I am not a nut!)

    God is able and willing to heal people miraculously. And He does it now, in our time. I have seen it happen, I have received 2 healing miracles myself and I know many, many people personally who have received healing miracles. I pray you will receive a healing miracle!

    One caution: our ability to receive a healing can be limited by our unbelief. The Bible says that Jesus Himself found that in some places (Nazareth, for example), He could do few miracles bec. of the unbelief. Henry Wright’s book “A More Excellent Way” has a very good section about spiritual blocks to healing. So even if you opt for contacting the Bethel Church people, I would first read Wright’s book or at least read the chapter on spiritual blocks to healing. In that chapter, Wright lists and explains many things which can block healing– like unforgiveness, unbelief, looking to man rather than God, past or current involvement with occultism and other spiritual blocks. All of it is totally Scriptural and throughout the whole book he cites Scripture to back up everything he writes. He is not a nut, either. Henry Wright was actually a pre-med student before he went into ministry, so he really understands disease, medical issues, the medical community, etc. and his ministry does a lot of medical research and consults with doctors all over the world.

    Bret, even if you don’t believe in God and/or even if this all sounds like a bunch of hooey to you, go visit one or both of these two ministries. What have you got to lose?

    May God bless you and your family!

  257. Maria Jepson says:

    Hi Bret,

    My name is Maria Jepson. My husband and I, are your cousin Jeff’s neighbors and my husband Chris is an I& C technician at Ginna and is friends with Emily Tiberio. I have been following your blog since Emily told us about it. After reading your blog entry yesterday I knew I wanted to leave you a message to tell you not to give up. What you, your wife and your family are doing is completely amazing! I am in awe of what you have accomplished so far! I give you so much credit. You are an inspiration. You have amazing strength, courage and determination. I have been praying for you and your family from the day Jeff told us about your terminal cancer. And I continue to pray for you to this day.

    Stay strong! Please know that there are a lot of people cheering you on and holding you up. If you and your wife should ever make it out to Gananda to visit Jeff and his family, we would love the chance to meet you. Chris and I are known to have some awesome bonfires when the weather turns warmer.

    God Bless and “Ride in a Good Direction.”
    Maria and Chris Jepson

  258. Kris says:

    Hi Bret and Shannon –
    I’ve been following your blog since I saw your story in the Rochester D&C several weeks ago and have shared it with many of my friends. First, thank you for sharing your story with all of us. I feel like I know you and your family now, even though I’m just a “stalker” on your blog. I know so many lives touched by cancer, but no one who embraced the challenge quite the way that you all have.

    Your mom is right (aren’t mothers always?) when she says that all anyone is guaranteed is this moment in time. So many people lack the courage to ever live fully in the moment, and it is so inspiring to see you doing that every day. I hope that you enjoy many more moments surrounded by family, friends, amazing scenery, sunny weather, great music, and delicious food.

    Thank you for sharing your stories and AMAZING photographs with all of us out here. We’re with you in spirit on this journey. Take care and travel safe.

  259. Mark & Marisa Manthey says:

    Brett, and I thought I had the rug pulled out from me! I can’t imagine being in your position but I think you’re taking the right course. You will be in our prayers. I enjoyed our time together. Take care…..
    God Bless you and your family.

  260. Carly Szabo says:

    Bret…I’m not even entirely sure how to reply to this. I’m so glad that I ran into you at Dinosaur BBQ, but really wish I had more time to talk to you. I had no clue any of this was happening until today when a girl from Caledonia posted it on her facebook (she works with your uncle at Strong). Your decision to me is a brave one and I hope you enjoy every second of your adventure. I will follow your blog and share it as inspiration to everyone I know! Good luck….Carly-Nick Radell’s former neighbor 🙂

  261. Wes and Paula says:

    Bret and Shannon,
    Spring has come to the Texas Hill Country. With Spring has come a profusion of wildflowers, particularly bluebonnets, primrose, and a variety of daisies and asters. All this despite the prolonged dry spell in the San Antonio area. [Were I not so technologically challenged, I’d include some pics… such is not to be!]

    We continue to regularly lift you up in prayer. Speedy recovery from the surgery, rest and comfort, and a peace that passes understanding are high on the list. Let us know in your blog if there are things that we can focus on beyond these.

    When the time is right, that downstairs master bedroom is ready for you and Shannon. Ah, yes, and that 6-foot long whirlpool needs to be put to good use. Just give a call or drop an email, and it will be ready in no time! Hopefully, you’ll agree with us that Baja Tejas is always a “ride–or a flight–in a good direction.” 🙂

  262. Barbara Delisi says:

    Has anyone from ACA (American Coalition of Amputees) contacted you yet? In addition to publishing a bi-monthly magazine, they also have peer counselors and an annual convention where amputees get together with each other and providers to discuss needs and solutions. Just being with and talking to other amputees has been very helpful for me. Also, check out the website ‘Less Than’. It’s from a guy named Josh Sundquist who’s in his twenties and lost his leg to cancer when he was nine years old. Now he’s an author and inspirational speaker as well as being a really funny guy. He’s a hip-disartic and does use forearm crutches but also has a prosthesis and uses it on occasion. He dances and raps–you have to see him to appreciate him.

  263. Jennifer Nowatzki-Jerome says:

    Thinking of you and praying for you each day.

  264. Chris Ashley says:

    Hey Shannon and Bret!
    Loved the new post Shannon. You both did “ride in a good direction” and took the curves with the greatest of ease. These times will never be forgotten and will be in your heart forever. I love that memories can never be taken away from us. They seem to pop us just when we need them.

    I want to send our best to you and Bret! If you need us for anything, please give Roy and I a call and we can be there “Lickety split” with no questions asked.

    I pray for you and Bret and Bret’s family every day. I know the Lord is with you and will help you and Bret through anything. I believe this with all my heart and soul. I couldn’t have made it through my rough times without him.

    Love you both
    Aunt Chris
    North Carolina

  265. Wes and Paula says:

    Bret and Shannon, Just seeing your most recent post on “Taking the Curves.” Although I’ve glibly talked from time to time about ‘life throwing a curve,’ the two of you continue to show how “leaning into the curve” makes all the difference in the world. Thanks for the sharing. BTW: The “run in a good direction” Heather initiated continues, too. I ran the Colorado Classic 10K in Colorado Springs (starting elevation about 6,200 feet AMSL) and the Twlight Red Rocks 1/2 marathon in Las Vegas (starting elevation 3,200 feet AMSL with a 1,000+ foot rise in the first 5.3 miles) in honor of Bret.

  266. Sue K. Hill says:

    Praying each day!
    Sue Hill

  267. Todd Hoefen says:

    I just happen to read this while doing a random search. I am also a Hoefen. I grew up in Rochester and have to be related to you. There are very few Hoefen’s in the country. 90% of the Hoefen family I know is from NY. I wish you the best and hope you have better daysQ

    Todd Hoefen

  268. Matt S says:

    It’s at least worth trying.

  269. Kevin L. says:

    RIP Bret Hoefen.. your story has inspired many to “Ride in a good direction”..

    I hope today was your best day.

  270. Fred Borrelli says:

    Brett will be missed as he brought hope and love to us all. Shannon has shown us what true love is and we are fortunate to have her influence over us all. The Hoefen family will carry on Brett’s legacy as they all are deeply connected. I am deeply saddened by the passing of Brett, however, positively influenced by the courage and love that I experienced through Brett’s Ride.


  271. Chris Cownie says:

    Thank you Bret & Shannon for sharing your life & love with all of us in this past year… Bret, I will never forget you & the memories we had back in our day…Rest in Peace my friend.

    I also just want to share a link to a song that I would listen to whenever I would check this site to get an update…its called Duet, and these are 2 musicians that have beautiful voices, especially when they came together for this song- to me, it just embodies the love between Bret & Shannon.

    – Chris C.

  272. Bret; you were one of the coolest guys I ever met. I’m happy to have met you and I hope you found peace. Your family loves you very much and we do too. We’ll continue to pray for your family…they are so brave and I know they got their courage from you. Rest in Peace.

  273. Penny Hollins says:

    Thank you for sharing your amazing love, inspirations, the ups and downs, the happy and sad, the journey with us. You all are a true blessing to us and each other, we were so fortunate enough to share and explore this last year with you. My heart is with you all at this sadden time, you are in my prayers now and forever. God Bless and Keep You with him Always.

  274. Sue K. Hill says:

    Thank you for allowing us to share in the precious memories of your journey. What an inspiration the 2 of you are. I cannot imagine the pain that you’re going through now. Praying for peace as you live each day. Love You Shannon!

  275. Ai.Me.Be. says:

    The Liebster Blog Award:
    Liebster means beloved – a fitting name for someone who is dearly loved by many. I just wanted to show my appreciation.

  276. Dark stools. *Verbally praise your dog. One simple and reliable way to save on flea and tick prevention is to purchase these shampoos, pills, and sprays from online pet pharmacies.

  277. There are actually plenty of details like that to take into consideration. That could be a nice level to convey up. I offer the thoughts above as basic inspiration but clearly there are questions like the one you bring up the place a very powerful thing will be working in honest good faith. I don?t know if finest practices have emerged around things like that, however I’m sure that your job is clearly identified as a fair game. Both girls and boys really feel the impact of just a second’s pleasure, for the rest of their lives.

  278. Aaron Hoefen says:

    You continue to inspire Brother!!! Miss you like crazy!!!! Keep leading us Bretly!

  279. Nannette says:

    Thanks for sharing your beautiful experience at Taughannock Falls with 4K Cancer. What a wonderful group of people! Bret’s legacy continues to inspire so many.

  280. Aaron says:

    Thinking of you and reliving the adventure today on your birthday Brother. Love and miss you Bret! You continue to inspire me every day. Twisting the throttle back and taking the curves…. Riding in a good direction with you Brother….

  281. Carolina says:

    I know I’m a few days late but thinking of Bret on his birthday brought back many great memories of the little time we knew him! Bret, you are remembered by ALL who knew you! You continue to inspire us to Ride in A Good Direction!!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s