My Story


I started this web journal to keep everyone updated about the recent and dramatic turn of events in my life. As most of my loved ones know by now I was diagnosed with a very serious cancer on February 19.

I have been experiencing some digestive troubles for the last month that progressed to some other symptoms that finally drove me to seek help from the clinic. They initially thought I was suffering from gallstones and there was a possible obstruction so I was sent to a hospital for an ultrasound (Wednesday, Feb 18).

It has been a whirlwind ever since.

They discovered a tumor where the bile duct leading into the gallbladder connects with the liver. I underwent a series of other tests and the diagnosis has continued to worsen. It appears that I have cancer of the bile duct that has metastisized (spread) well into my liver, possibly to other sites as well. It appears to be a stage IV cancer which is the worst.

Gall bladder cancer is quite rare in this country and is completely symptom free until it actually obstructs the bile duct, so it is generally not discovered until it is well progressed, as in my case. The outlook is pretty much 100% fatal, prognosis at Stage IV is generally 2-6 months, although there are a few people who beat the odds and make it a year or two.

I am going in for a procedure tomorrow in which they will try to place a stent to allow my congested liver to drain, and I will also undergo more testing and consultations, and hopefully obtain a more definitive diagnosis and prognosis for my particular case.

I am taking it surprisingly well so far, although I feel like I am in a movie and it probably hasn't fully hit me yet. Right now I am learning as much as I can about it and using intensive nutritional support to keep myself as healthy as possible while I am dealing with this. I have no pain whatsoever other than an occasional "stitch" in my side, and discomfort when I can't digest certain foods. I have lost nearly 15 pounds in the last month and am rather jaundiced and experience horrible itching at night. This should be relieved by the stent tomorrow.

I have an incredibly supportive community where I live and feel well prayed for and carried right now by so many people's loving concern and kindnesses. I have a very loving companion, Dwight, who I mentioned in my Christmas letter, who has been right there for me through this thing so far, and my family has rallied around me as well. Tammie has already made one trip from Minneapolis, and will be at the hospital tomorrow for the procedure, and Beckie is flying up from Arkansas tomorrow night for a few days. Mom and Dad are also helping as much as they can, although there's not a heck of a lot to do at this point.

It is a very profound experience to come face to face with your mortality in this way, and I have had many, many holy moments so far, life seems very vivid right now and I have an inexpressible gratitude for every little thing each day. I also feel the Lord's presence in a very special way that is an enormous comfort to me. I am sure I will get even more religious than I already am in response to all this. I was given an Annointing of the Sick by a priest soon after I found out about this that was very comforting as well.

I have lived a very rich and full life, more so than most people have ever dreamed of. Even so I am not giving up hope and will do everything I can to heal from this or buy more time to be with my loved ones.

I am most concerned for Sophie, as she is only 9 years old and will be most affected by this. I have many decisions to make and am grateful that I will at least have time to take care of unfinished business in my life and make my wishes known.

I covet all of your prayers as I get ready for this first major procedure tomorrow and prepare to hear more from the doctors about the state of my cancer.

Love to all who read this.


Rose Barlow posted a new journal entry.

Just after sunrise, November 15, 2009, I saw my sister's headstone for the first time. A beautiful, light frost was touching the ground and touching her memory. Grief ... Read more

Gail Slosser signed Rose's Guestbook.

Wise is the person who writes their name in kindness, in love and in mercy on the hearts of the people with whom they come in daily contact.  That name will never be ... Read more

Emily Strickler signed Rose's Guestbook.

I am so happy to hear that Sophie is doing well in Iowa-Willa was just talking about her this past weekend.  I am hoping someone could send me her new address so Willa ... Read more

Linda Conroy signed Rose's Guestbook.

Thanks for sharing about Sophie. I think of her often and am glad to have a glimpse into her life and that you all were able to visit with her. I miss her and Rose dearly ... Read more

Bruce Axelrod signed Rose's Guestbook.

Greetings all This is "Uncle Bubba" as I was called by Sophie and named by Rose, as I was there when Sophie took her very first breath in that little cabin in ... Read more

Rose Barlow posted a new journal entry.

Just after sunrise, November 15, 2009, I saw my sister's headstone for the first time. A beautiful, light frost was touching the ground and touching her memory. Grief ... Read more

Joyce Barlow signed Rose's Guestbook.

                         The Butterfly & The Caterpillar The Butterfly came to rest on a beautiful flower.  There she saw a Caterpillar, ... Read more

Carol Barlow signed Rose's Guestbook.

her. (My computer hiccuped so I am continuing.) Greg and Joanie it warmed my heart to read about the memories you have of Rose. Of course I too have memories of both of ... Read more

Carol Barlow signed Rose's Guestbook.

I pass each day routinely but there is a huge void in every hour. Rose's Dad and I went to the crematorium this afternoon to pick her up and bring her home for the last ... Read more

Valerie McBrien signed Rose's Guestbook.

The path our lives takes us is never just straight and forward. And sometimes - while on the journey we really don't know why we are on the path. I never really knew Rose ... Read more

Driana Buonanducci signed Rose's Guestbook.

Even thought I never met Rose personally, to know about the journey and  to follow the story was sufficient for me, to know such a kind soul. I happen to have the gift to ... Read more

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