Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement. Thank you for visiting.
Please meet my husband Ron…and here is his story…the story as it begins with his recent diagnosis of cancer.
As you will learn, stories and community form a huge part of Ron’s life! I hope I do him justice as his storytelling is far more colorful than mine!
Ron has recently been diagnosed with a spinal tumour, called a chordoma which is a form of sarcoma which is another word for bone cancer. For the last few months he has complained about pain in his tailbone. The tailbone pain was pretty much only after sitting for a time. Then he discovered that he could use certain memory foam cushions that allowed some air space between his tailbone and the seat of whatever he was sitting on…chairs, driver/passenger seat in a vehicle and he could get some relief or at least, no pain. It got so that he had to carry his cushion with him wherever we went just to avoid pain. We never knew what seating arrangements might be! And because he has a high tolerance for pain and because Ron’s philosophy in life is ‘it is what it is’, he managed. He went for chiropractic and massage with hopes that perhaps he had simply bruised his tailbone (he has fallen more than once on his rather tiny little butt) and that it would just take some time to heal. Nothing was helping.
Fast forward from five months of tailbone pain to the recent diagnosis of cancer.
Late June Ron woke me in the middle of the night in excruciating abdominal pain. We waited until the next morning and then went to emergency. We spent a whole day of baffled doctors, residents and medical students who were looking for gallbladder problems/stones. MRI’s, ultrasounds and x-rays were ordered. (Ron seems to have a knack for odd presentations of medical conditions) When it seemed like it should be gallbladder but maybe not gallbladder, an abdominal CT scan was ordered to rule out the possibility of bowel obstruction. And just in case it was bowel obstruction, they ordered an NG tube (nasal gastric tube) to remove stomach fluid. But no bowel obstruction. A decision was made to remove the gallbladder anyway despite their being no gallstones because there was no other explanation for the extreme pain.
Ron was admitted, and gallbladder surgery ordered. The night before surgery, the head surgeon spoke to Ron and explained what was to happen. Even though there were no stones and the gallbladder looked fine, they were going to remove it anyway…just in case. Then the doctor says…and by the way…who is taking care of your tumour? ‘What tumour?’ ‘The one on your spine. I suspect it has been painful sitting on your bum recently?’ Yes, Ron replies…quite painful but only if I sit in certain ways. ‘Well…the doctor says, the CT scan shows a tumour on your tailbone. It is likely benign, but I have ordered a biopsy just in case.’
We celebrated Canada Day in the hospital. Post-surgery Ron was high as a kite on pain meds and wishing he were at home. Thankfully, he was discharged within a couple of days. We found out post-surgery that in fact Ron’s gallbladder was the worst infected organ that the doctor had ever removed. Grateful? Yes. Saved from a burst gallbladder that could have been septic? Grateful. Next step…a biopsy.
Biopsy done…a 2 ½ week wait and the results the day after Ron’s birthday. A chordoma – bone cancer. We are now waiting for a surgery date. This will be a complicated surgery as there are nerves that are in that area of the spine.
Within one month, Ron has gone from an emergency gallbladder surgery to anticipating spinal surgery for a cancerous tumour. Which brings us to this page.
But I want to share about Ron…because he is way more than this recent diagnosis that has the potential to be so disruptive in his/our lives.
Community and Storytelling – Who and What Ron is really all about…
Wherever Ron goes, whatever work he does, whoever he is with – you all become woven into the story of what is meaningful to him – family, friends, work, neighborhood and community. Everyone is a friend just waiting to be a part of the fabric of his life. His most recent discovery of Facebook has added to his joy of sharing laughter, celebrations, milestones in people’s lives…he loves being in contact with so many of you. A simple thumbs up or heart or smiley/laughing/sad face works for Ron! Life is pretty simple.
If you have found this page, you likely have shared a story with Ron…or have heard at least ten if Ron is doing the telling! Or you have worked with him on a construction project or volunteered your time at the Renfrew Community Association when he was president or worked at the nursing home where Ron visited his aunt Lurline and his mom, Fernie Powers when they were alive. Or you might be a colleague of mine – Ron has embraced the work that I do as a homeopath and he has even travelled to India with me where I took some extended training.
From home/restaurant renovations to building new churches to building new/custom homes to handyman fixes for seniors to volunteering to travel companion (I really think Ron has had a past life in India), Ron has the incredible knack for making everyone feel like they belong and that they are an important part of the paid and volunteer work that he does.
And every job, every interaction, every travel adventure is simply a story waiting to happen and to be told.
Has he ever told you about the story of his heart operation 3 years ago? Yes…even an event like that becomes a story to be told and he always makes you laugh. And in the hospital that time, he met a rancher, Scott Palmer and Ron’s circle of friends simply grows. He has other stories about that time as well…just ask him!
Have you heard the story about his mother’s passing? So poignant and so Ron. That is a more tender story and he might be more tearful with that one that his ‘manliness’ allows. Behind the big guy who is full of jokes and funny stories, who has a loud voice barking orders is a very big, tender heart.
Have you heard the stories about his childhood? Stealing vegetables from the neighbor’s garden? The bakery heist? There are a million and one stories from his childhood. Dare you to get him going!
Or ask him about his grandchildren…more stories. Who else would think of pushing a little one around in a rolling office chair? One of the now must-do activities when the family gets together! Building attic forts for his grand-daughter so that she has a secret space all her own? Come see it sometime.
Another story - The flood in High River and Ron was called back to restore the damage to the church he and our son Gord built. Ask him who he met and the group he managed to get to volunteer for extra days…life is just one big adventure and story waiting to be told.
Our oldest son – and his work at the Calgary Drop-In Centre in Calgary. Ron is there to watch ‘his boy’ doing some amazing work.
The story waiting to be told – as it happens
Which brings us to today. We are waiting for a surgery date, which is likely going to be sooner rather than later. Which means, for a self-employed general contractor in construction more days of work missed. The recent gallbladder surgery meant the whole month of July without work and the optimistic outlook for the upcoming surgery is 2 weeks in the hospital, a month of ‘do nothing’ and 4-6 months recovery and all of that will be dependent on the tumour, whether it can be removed whole and in one piece (this is our intention and visual – a much better outcome), how the nerves are affected and the skill of his surgeons (I think he has some of the best). There is no guarantee about how much time will be needed for recovery.
Ron and I have received so many kind words, thoughts/prayers and offers of help. We are so grateful. This community of family, friends and neighbours reaching out with offers of ‘what can we do?’ is what Ron is all about…but he is usually the one on the giving end and not the receiving. This is hard for Ron and me, but this page has been initiated with the assistance of a friend, and this is one way your help will be deeply appreciated. We value prayers/thoughts/intentions and practical help too.
Come and share some stories, say hello and you can even ask Ron about some of the stories I have mentioned!
If you would like to learn more about the type of cancer he has, please go to (http://www.chordomafoundation.org/
*This website has a great FAQ’s section and will answer most of the questions you might have about Ron’s diagnosis.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Your help will make a difference in Ron’s healing.
I will be posting updates from time to time so that you know how Ron is doing. Watch for the miracles! When Ron is around they happen.