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Does anyone remember the posts about Don Rhymer.....

phrannie51's picture
phrannie51
Posts: 3745
Joined: Mar 2012

He was an HNC patient, but also a writer for TV shows, movies etc. I think Deb Lewis posted a few quotes from his blog on here. Very funny guy. I ended upsuscribing to his blog, I enjoyed his writing so much...He passed away day before yesterday...the blog was just updated last night. He had an article published in the Coping With Cancer magizine (I know you've all seen this mag at your Onc's office...even here in Montana they get them...

I'm copying and pasting this short article...he has a way of making us laugh in spite of ourselves...

"Sad Eyes

by Don Rhymer

Cancer pushes everybody’s buttons differently. For some, it’s a scary “what if it happened to me?” For others, it’s an all too present reminder of the traumatic experience of a family member or close friend.

Either way, cancer is a devastating car crash that even the most disciplined bystander has a hard time turning away from.

After I was diagnosed with cancer of the head and neck, I learned quickly that everyone’s experience with cancer is different, and you can’t judge people by their response to your diagnosis. You can only count on the fact that it is probably scary for them, or at the very least emotionally charged, so you just have to give them grace.

I appreciate the “cool kids” who come with a joke. Or at least an attempt at one. I have always felt “whistling through the graveyard” is the best way to get to the other side. It acknowledges that, yes, you are “up the creek,” but that doesn’t mean the journey can’t involve bits of inspired slapstick and the occasional fart joke.

In the bottom of the ninth with the game on the line, you don’t want someone stopping by the on-deck circle with a tear and a macaroni casserole.

The “medical geeks” are okay too. The ones who drill you with a million questions about symptoms and side effects and come off just a little bit creepy when they ask to see your surgical site. Usually, these people watch far too many medical shows.

I can even handle the “it could be worse” people. There are certain people in this world who feel that true empathy is pointing out how utterly awful things could be and actually are for someone else they know. “So sorry you have cancer, Don. But it could be worse. My friend was mauled by a bear that ate 80 percent of his body, and now his wife has to roll him around in a Tonka® truck.”

The only ones I can’t handle are the ones who come at you with the dreaded “sad eyes.” They slink up with droopy faces and speak slowly as if talking to a child or a foreign exchange student. “How are youuuu?” No matter how upbeat your response, their reaction is almost always, “Awww!”

Now again, I try to give them grace, but sister, it ain’t always easy. Nothing reminds you of your own mortality like someone who appears to be practicing to greet your loved ones at your funeral. “He looked so healthy – up until the end when he lost all that weight and his wife had to roll him around in a Tonka truck.”

The point is, in the bottom of the ninth with the game on the line, you don’t want someone stopping by the on-deck circle with a tear and a macaroni casserole. You want someone slapping you on the back and offering you his or her lucky bat.

It’s not easy having cancer, and I know it’s certainly no picnic being the friend or family member of someone with cancer either. You don’t know what to say or do. You don’t know if you should be present or keep your distance, if you should send flowers or a whoopee cushion. Well, speaking for cancer survivors everywhere, I can only say that we can’t help you.

Because we don’t know, either. We’ve never been through this before, so we don’t always know what we want or need. The only real solution is the hardest one – to be completely honest. To do what you want to do, when you have the opportunity to do it. To say what you feel, when you feel it. And for us on this side of the equation? We have the hardest task of all – to develop the courage to ask for help when we need it.

There are no right answers in cancer world, but that also means there are few wrong ones. Except for “sad eyes,” which are universally unwelcome, and macaroni casseroles, which are not gluten free and are bad for my colon."

Billie67's picture
Billie67
Posts: 834
Joined: Jul 2012

Maybe I'm too new but he is an excellent writer based on that post. I'm sorry he has passed on, I hate hearing that.
Billie

Tim6003's picture
Tim6003
Posts: 1497
Joined: Nov 2011

....because based on his post he would not want sympathy....another warrior whom I honor.

I did not know him, but I know his struggle and apparently his attitude was strong. Bless him and his family.

Best,

Tim

CivilMatt's picture
CivilMatt
Posts: 2982
Joined: May 2012

P51,

Yes, I remember the post. As I remember a few of us visited his blog. I read the history of his cancer today and it was quite intense. The article you printed confirms what we have discovered in this H&N forum he discovered in his forum. The same reactions from friends and family, the same side effects, cancer is an equal opportunist for sure. Funny thing is, when he talked about mac’n cheese I thought of you when you were describing what you could eat.

Best,

Matt

Pam M's picture
Pam M
Posts: 2194
Joined: Nov 2009

Early this fall:

Richard Russo has a new novella out. “Interventions.” If you don’t know Richard Russo you should, because if Richard Russo wrote a shopping list it would probably be one of the better things you read all year.

I finished it at the beach this weekend, far from the water, on my front porch underneath a slathering of sunscreen and a stiff umbrella to protect my Erbitux glow. As it turns out, it’s about a dude who finds out he has cancer.

Huh.

Anyway, the main character is talking about his father who refused to go to the hospital because – the bastards take your pants: “Never let the bastards take your pants, because bare-assed men don’t get to make decisions.”

Yes, it’s funny, and oh so true because Russo is right… this is what cancer does. Slowly and surely and then all at once, the ***** takes your pants.

It methodically strips you… of pounds, of hair, of white blood cells, of clear skin, of control, of dignity… it scars you inside and out until one day you look in the mirror and you’re not quite sure what, or who, you’re looking at.

I have written several times about my uneasiness and disconnection with all the “fight cancer” terminology, but when I read this passage it finally became clear to me. I’m not fighting cancer; I’m fighting for control of my pants.

You see, I can’t control the disease. I can lean on my doctors, endure the treatments, pray for the best, but after that… it’s out of my hands. All I can control is my pants. All I can control is my reaction to the mystery and chaos of it all.

But that’s a struggle we all share. At various times in everyone’s life, the world appears to conspire against us… physically, financially, relationally, spiritually… it wants to take your pants. It wants to strip you, control you, tell you what to think, what to feel, it wants you to give into your darkest fears, to believe the reflection in the mirror is somehow, not really you.

As I stumble through chemo cycle number five, number six looms ahead in a week or so and then recovery. I don’t know what happens after that. More scans, more decisions, more things I can’t control.

But one thing I can control, maybe the only thing… the bastards aren’t getting my pants.

Don’t let them get yours either.

phrannie51's picture
phrannie51
Posts: 3745
Joined: Mar 2012

He tells the absolute truth, but at the same time, it gives me a silent giggle inside...my stomach is giggling, my face has a grin...but I SO SO relate....He was an amazing person, and a wonderful writer who could pull you in and help you verbalize precisely what you're feeling.

p

Skiffin16's picture
Skiffin16
Posts: 8088
Joined: Sep 2009

So sad to hear of yet another lost to this disease....

Here are a few of the links you mentioned;

Comedy & Courage

Let's Radiate Don

Sad Eyes

John

alligatorpointer's picture
alligatorpointer
Posts: 131
Joined: Jul 2012

Thanks to Phrannie for remembering Don Rhymer and to Skiffin for reposting the links to Don's writings. He was a great writer and a courageous warrior in the battle all of you know too well. I hope he will continue to inspire new travelers on 'the bus' with his ability to describe the journey in ways that make people smile. I wish it were possible to provide a permanent link to his blog.

luvofmylif
Posts: 344
Joined: Sep 2012

Yesterday morning I awoke to an email sent from his wife about her husbands passing. It was titled, Love of my life , which struck an immediate cord with me. But, it was the most touching memorial about her husband and their life. I cried my eyes out and showed up to work with puffy eyes. I am sure people wondered why, but how do you explain to them all the feelings you have about this disease and the people who suffer and lose their lives. If I told them about why I cried they wouldn't get it...they would just think you don't even know Don Rhymer or his wife.

But, really I do know them and you do to because we are all linked to each other as we fight and suffer all the fear and emotions that go with this disease. So when one person loses the battle with this God awful disease we all hurt and share their pain.

Sorry for rambling but makes me feel better. Wish I knew how to forward the email so everyone could read it...I had signed up to receive his posts so that's why it was sent to me but, I am sure you can google , Let's radiate Don, and see his dear wifes poignant post about his passing. But, then again I just thought maybe it's not a good idea to read it , just don't want to cause anyone pain. I know I can't stop thinking about the post.

Oh, and one more thing as someone said in a previous post , it's funny how after you finish treatment everyone thinks everything is fine. They don't understand the fear that you will always live with, even though you try to go on. It's always there, in the little crevices of your heart and brain.

Joan

phrannie51's picture
phrannie51
Posts: 3745
Joined: Mar 2012

My sweet husband, the love of my life, passed away early Wednesday morning. We had been married 29 years, 6 months, and 7 days, and I’m left with a gaping hole in my heart. He was the strongest, most generous and most honest person I’ve ever known. Oh yeah, and he was funny too.

He had just spent one week at UCLA Medical Center, and one week at USC Keck Hospital. He had to drop the clinical trial he was participating in. He was poked and prodded, x-rayed and tested more in those twelve days than most of us will be in our lifetime. And still he kept going. We realized we weren’t going to win the war, but maybe we could fight some small battles and he would get to go home for his remaining days or weeks.

After surgery for a procedure we hoped would send Don home, he came out on the other side with a breathing tube. I sat on his bed with him, and because he couldn’t talk, was writing questions on a legal pad. After he understood what had happened, he wrote “Focus on the good”. Even from a bed in the ICU he was urging his family to remember the many blessings we have, and to give each other grace. He came off the ventilator that morning.

His last day, Tuesday, was a gift. Though he was still in ICU, he felt a little better and was more himself than he had been in weeks. He laughed and joked with us. He watched TV. His eyes were bright. But his lungs gave out on him early Wednesday morning with Andrew, Molly, Carrie and me by his side, as well as our best friends Dave and Kathy Gallagher. He was peaceful and not in any pain. We were able to experience a sacred time with him, for which I’ll always be grateful.

Through Don’s blog, he pulled back the curtain just a bit to give us a glimpse behind his humor to the pain he dealt with every day – both emotionally and physically. But it was only a glimpse, because, true to his nature, he was protecting us from really seeing the horror of what this cancer was doing to his body. He always said that his greatest sadness in this journey was the pain he caused me, our kids, and our friends and family.

Don’s blog provided him a creative outlet, as well as a bit of sanity in this insane experience. Thank you to all of you who faithfully read it, commented on it, or shared it with friends. He got so much satisfaction when someone going through a similar situation would contact him to say how much the blog had helped them. But I don’t think Don was trying to be inspirational. I think he was just trying to be honest. He was just being himself.

We will be celebrating Don’s life this Monday. We’d love for you to join us.

-Kate

phrannie51's picture
phrannie51
Posts: 3745
Joined: Mar 2012

My sweet husband, the love of my life, passed away early Wednesday morning. We had been married 29 years, 6 months, and 7 days, and I’m left with a gaping hole in my heart. He was the strongest, most generous and most honest person I’ve ever known. Oh yeah, and he was funny too.

He had just spent one week at UCLA Medical Center, and one week at USC Keck Hospital. He had to drop the clinical trial he was participating in. He was poked and prodded, x-rayed and tested more in those twelve days than most of us will be in our lifetime. And still he kept going. We realized we weren’t going to win the war, but maybe we could fight some small battles and he would get to go home for his remaining days or weeks.

After surgery for a procedure we hoped would send Don home, he came out on the other side with a breathing tube. I sat on his bed with him, and because he couldn’t talk, was writing questions on a legal pad. After he understood what had happened, he wrote “Focus on the good”. Even from a bed in the ICU he was urging his family to remember the many blessings we have, and to give each other grace. He came off the ventilator that morning.

His last day, Tuesday, was a gift. Though he was still in ICU, he felt a little better and was more himself than he had been in weeks. He laughed and joked with us. He watched TV. His eyes were bright. But his lungs gave out on him early Wednesday morning with Andrew, Molly, Carrie and me by his side, as well as our best friends Dave and Kathy Gallagher. He was peaceful and not in any pain. We were able to experience a sacred time with him, for which I’ll always be grateful.

Through Don’s blog, he pulled back the curtain just a bit to give us a glimpse behind his humor to the pain he dealt with every day – both emotionally and physically. But it was only a glimpse, because, true to his nature, he was protecting us from really seeing the horror of what this cancer was doing to his body. He always said that his greatest sadness in this journey was the pain he caused me, our kids, and our friends and family.

Don’s blog provided him a creative outlet, as well as a bit of sanity in this insane experience. Thank you to all of you who faithfully read it, commented on it, or shared it with friends. He got so much satisfaction when someone going through a similar situation would contact him to say how much the blog had helped them. But I don’t think Don was trying to be inspirational. I think he was just trying to be honest. He was just being himself.

We will be celebrating Don’s life this Monday. We’d love for you to join us.

-Kate

phrannie51's picture
phrannie51
Posts: 3745
Joined: Mar 2012

My sweet husband, the love of my life, passed away early Wednesday morning. We had been married 29 years, 6 months, and 7 days, and I’m left with a gaping hole in my heart. He was the strongest, most generous and most honest person I’ve ever known. Oh yeah, and he was funny too.

He had just spent one week at UCLA Medical Center, and one week at USC Keck Hospital. He had to drop the clinical trial he was participating in. He was poked and prodded, x-rayed and tested more in those twelve days than most of us will be in our lifetime. And still he kept going. We realized we weren’t going to win the war, but maybe we could fight some small battles and he would get to go home for his remaining days or weeks.

After surgery for a procedure we hoped would send Don home, he came out on the other side with a breathing tube. I sat on his bed with him, and because he couldn’t talk, was writing questions on a legal pad. After he understood what had happened, he wrote “Focus on the good”. Even from a bed in the ICU he was urging his family to remember the many blessings we have, and to give each other grace. He came off the ventilator that morning.

His last day, Tuesday, was a gift. Though he was still in ICU, he felt a little better and was more himself than he had been in weeks. He laughed and joked with us. He watched TV. His eyes were bright. But his lungs gave out on him early Wednesday morning with Andrew, Molly, Carrie and me by his side, as well as our best friends Dave and Kathy Gallagher. He was peaceful and not in any pain. We were able to experience a sacred time with him, for which I’ll always be grateful.

Through Don’s blog, he pulled back the curtain just a bit to give us a glimpse behind his humor to the pain he dealt with every day – both emotionally and physically. But it was only a glimpse, because, true to his nature, he was protecting us from really seeing the horror of what this cancer was doing to his body. He always said that his greatest sadness in this journey was the pain he caused me, our kids, and our friends and family.

Don’s blog provided him a creative outlet, as well as a bit of sanity in this insane experience. Thank you to all of you who faithfully read it, commented on it, or shared it with friends. He got so much satisfaction when someone going through a similar situation would contact him to say how much the blog had helped them. But I don’t think Don was trying to be inspirational. I think he was just trying to be honest. He was just being himself.

We will be celebrating Don’s life this Monday. We’d love for you to join us.

-Kate

phrannie51's picture
phrannie51
Posts: 3745
Joined: Mar 2012

My sweet husband, the love of my life, passed away early Wednesday morning. We had been married 29 years, 6 months, and 7 days, and I’m left with a gaping hole in my heart. He was the strongest, most generous and most honest person I’ve ever known. Oh yeah, and he was funny too.

He had just spent one week at UCLA Medical Center, and one week at USC Keck Hospital. He had to drop the clinical trial he was participating in. He was poked and prodded, x-rayed and tested more in those twelve days than most of us will be in our lifetime. And still he kept going. We realized we weren’t going to win the war, but maybe we could fight some small battles and he would get to go home for his remaining days or weeks.

After surgery for a procedure we hoped would send Don home, he came out on the other side with a breathing tube. I sat on his bed with him, and because he couldn’t talk, was writing questions on a legal pad. After he understood what had happened, he wrote “Focus on the good”. Even from a bed in the ICU he was urging his family to remember the many blessings we have, and to give each other grace. He came off the ventilator that morning.

His last day, Tuesday, was a gift. Though he was still in ICU, he felt a little better and was more himself than he had been in weeks. He laughed and joked with us. He watched TV. His eyes were bright. But his lungs gave out on him early Wednesday morning with Andrew, Molly, Carrie and me by his side, as well as our best friends Dave and Kathy Gallagher. He was peaceful and not in any pain. We were able to experience a sacred time with him, for which I’ll always be grateful.

Through Don’s blog, he pulled back the curtain just a bit to give us a glimpse behind his humor to the pain he dealt with every day – both emotionally and physically. But it was only a glimpse, because, true to his nature, he was protecting us from really seeing the horror of what this cancer was doing to his body. He always said that his greatest sadness in this journey was the pain he caused me, our kids, and our friends and family.

Don’s blog provided him a creative outlet, as well as a bit of sanity in this insane experience. Thank you to all of you who faithfully read it, commented on it, or shared it with friends. He got so much satisfaction when someone going through a similar situation would contact him to say how much the blog had helped them. But I don’t think Don was trying to be inspirational. I think he was just trying to be honest. He was just being himself.

We will be celebrating Don’s life this Monday. We’d love for you to join us.

-Kate

luvofmylif
Posts: 344
Joined: Sep 2012

Yep Phrannie that's it. You are amazing. Obviously I am low tech.

KareGiver
Posts: 290
Joined: Apr 2011

Thank you for sharing about Don Rhymer. Because of you, I read almost all of it last night. Really, I wish NO ONE ELSE had this disease, but it does help not to be alone...

Lynda

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