Journal entry by Meredith Fischer Bach

Please join us in spirit or person for Al's Celebration of Life service - 
  • Saturday,  Nov 24, 2018 [the Sat. after Thanksgiving]
  • 11 AM Light lunch to follow in church basement 
  • Historic graveyard surrounding building. Al's place near entrance to back parking.
  • Old Scotch Church [Tualatin Plains Presbyterian Church]
  • 30685 NW Scotch Church Rd
  • Hillsboro OR 97124
Thank you everyone for your kind thoughts. This is such a good way to communicate.
All my love, Meredith
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Journal entry by Meredith Fischer Bach

Our kisses for Al in the wee hours of Saturday, November 3rd, 2018, were the last he felt. The quiet in our room awakened me at 2 a.m. and I found my darling peaceful and still. 

As I held him, changing his position let me see his full face. Without those great efforts to breathe, his mouth relaxed and I saw that big gap between his front teeth again. His mouth shaped a familiar smile. What a lovely relief to see that expression all day. He isn't sick anymore, PRAISE OUR LORD!

The support of our family and friends is wonderful and made the last day of walking around Al's body a farewell with both joy and tears. We admire and marvel at his contribution to the continuum of our great wheel of life. 

It was a sorrow to let him go in the afternoon. Thankfully, our last view of him was a lovely sight. When he was taken from us, a colorful quilt covered his body and his face was open to the sky as a misty rain touched him for the last time. Truly, all our helpers have been graceful, knowledgeable, encouraging and compassionate. We are so grateful.

There are tears of loneliness here, but I am confident in our heavenly reunion. Hopefully, I will continue to represent Al in all I do. He taught me a lot.  That guy was surely good. He had fun, told jokes, traveled, hunted, shared, learned, loved and set a good example from December 15, 1938 to November 3, 2018. Well done, my true love. I'm glad to have been part of team MJnAL.

ALAN ROY BACH was one of God's best. We were proud we could kiss him into heaven. We will let you know the date for his Celebration of Life.

Loving you all for your listening ears. 
Meredith, Alix and Paul

Journal entry by Meredith Fischer Bach

Good morning my dears,

This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Thanks to hospice, we are safely at home with Al who is now using oxygen and various helpful prescriptions for pain and relaxation. He is easy to care for in a hospital style bed in our living room surrounded by light and gardenviews. Paul and Alix are with me. The visiting nurses and attendants have been tender with us, supportive and knowledgeable. We are truly thankful for these blessings. Friendly calls and visits are brief and everyone's caring and loving help is appreciated so much.

Tears of farewell and remembering stories of our one and only life together, holding hands and being together is our work for today. Al slept all day Wednesday, moves very little, but has squeezed my hand, and slightly smiled just occasionally. Thankfully he seems comfortable.

The time of a death is as unknown as ever, but yesterday, experienced hospice helpers said hours or days...and here it is, another new morning and the hours are still unfolding. Al always appreciated waking up to the smell of coffee! 

I trust in you O Lord ... my times are in your hands. Psalm 31:14

We have a loving family, fantastic friends and comfortable goodness everywhere. I am glad for this way to communicate. We love thinking back on our stories that include YOU! Please pray for God's peace supporting and surrounding us. It's such a pretty world today... 

Praise God from Whom all Blessings flow.
Love from Meredith [and for Al Bach and family]

Journal entry by Meredith Fischer Bach

Dears, here is an update about Alan Bach,

Al had a CT scan of neck and chest in August that showed a suspicious spot on one lung and the lymph nodes in his neck were changing. Though the brain MRI in September showed no cancer, his three doctors concurred that his "reserves are so depleted", any further biopsies, surgeries or treatments would probably not significantly extend his life. They shared their knowledge and reported that any efforts would likely cause such discomfort and potential isolation as to really reduce the quality of Al's remaining life. What a hard thing to hear. Thankfully each doctor was sympathetic and gentle.

After the CT scans, one doctor said there might be 6 months remaining for Al. Another doctor said with all that is known in modern medicine, we still don't really know when someone's death will occur. Hospice doesn't mean death is imminent, and we've heard that some people will rally and find they can stop the hospice attentions. We just continue to enjoy every unique day that unfolds.

Al still has his sense of humor in place. As we faced this new reality, he observed, "...well I knew this day comes to everyone, but I didn't think it would happen to ME!"

Agreeing to cease medical care means we will use our time for things besides driving to appointments. The Hospice care was started with the intention to help Al be comfortable each day. He is quite inactive now...walking so slowly it uses valuable energy. We take a wheel chair for outings. Moving slowly in the house, doing life's necessities makes a guy tired, so naps are frequent.  Since anytime is a good time for a nap, visitors are welcome whenever their schedules makes it possible. 

Al knows his people, wants his three meals a day and looks for reading material of interest. Now that the baseball season is heading into the World Series we're keeping an eye on the LA Dodgers. They have us as the North Plains cheering section, but a little TV is usually a sedative for the next nap.  Meredith appreciates her early morning exercise class. It's good to get a workout accomplished first thing four days a week.

At the end of September we really enjoyed a 10 day visit to Al's hometown, Lakeview, Oregon. It was the traditional time for the Bach family to camp and hunt. Al has seldom missed a hunt, so he certainly enjoyed this year's campfires, delicious meals, visiting with brother John and all the extended family & friends. We were comfortable staying nights in the Fremont Inn and "commuted" to camp daily.  Moving a wheel chair over the Ponderosa pine needles carpeting the ground was a workout for our beloved, generous, strong youngsters. It was an extra-special family reunion including Alix and Paul who both took time from their work to relive their childhood autumn camping trips with their Dad. We are all so glad he introduced us to Eastern Oregon!

Now it's time for watching grandkids grow and admiring the Autumn colors. If you feel like coming out to North Plains for a visit, call Meredith's cell 503-858-4316, and we'll see what day works. If you do texts, that's the best way for me to get your message. Ever the reporter, Al is always glad to hear your stories! We think of everyone often and are glad for good health we hope you all have. Our situation makes me say, "Keep on using your days in your favorite ways!".

Love to each of you from Meredith and Alan Bach
"This is the Day that the Lord has made. Let's rejoice and be GLAD in it!"

Journal entry by Meredith Fischer Bach

Hi from MJ & Al,

The new photo of Al and his brother John is from our Redmond visit. As hoped, we made a drive for fun including seeing our nephew Dan's house under construction and visiting the newcomers [2 yrs now] to Redmond, Sunshine and Bill. Amazingly, their two places are about a mile apart. Small world.

Speaking of visits, it's great to resume a one-day-a-week time with Anjali, now 1 yr 4 mos. She loves the outdoors and keeps MJ on the move. Wednesday is our "LiLi Day", so last week on the 4th she brought her whole family for hand-cranked ice cream and sparklers+. Then, on the 5th, we were delighted to have Paul home for several days...first summertime visit in many years because of his seasonal work in the Modoc Wilderness, CA. Paul drove us to Seaside for day-trip visit to family.

Al is taking on a task or two along with his daily walk down the block. He's pretty boney from the weight loss, but even a slim guy has muscles to build, so that's the plan each day. Pulling in the garbage cans yesterday was a workout! Also, we have visits from Kaiser's palliative care dept. meeting last week with Al's nurse, physical therapist and social worker. They have good ideas and are saving us going out to appointments.

June was a garden/outdoor month, with Meredith taking a break from these posts. So now we watch for the tomatoes to ripen on schedule along with a thorough harvesting of the Marion and blueberries for winter deliciousness. Xander's 6 variety apples espaliered tree has already provided 2 dozen early transparent "Winter Bananas" as Al's Mom, Melva called them. Yummy!

We talk about some autumn trips possible and we'll keep you posted if we are able to "get out of Dodge". Al's favorite thing is collecting the newspaper and reading any and all words that are on every surface here at home. Thanks to YOUR wonderful words, Al has a notebook of pages to reread the encouraging words of cheer you have sent to us. And thank you for the contributions given to the CaringBridge site that will help many other people too. 

We love you and thank God for you, and the beautiful place where we live, the safe travels we take, the ease of our daily life, stacks of books to read, TV reruns and MORE than could ever be listed.

Hoping all is well in your world too,
Meredith ~ and for Big Al

Journal entry by Meredith Fischer Bach

Dear Al Bach followers...

Hey! This was the final RayDay! We're home from the last of our visits for managing Al's 34 or so radiation treatments. There will be some follow up attentions but the daily tour is completed. Your prayers held us up wonderfully for safe travels, good general health and energy to accomplish the task.


On our completion visit with Dr. Jai Nautiyal, Al asked what he should do next & Dr. Nautiyal suggested, "take your wife on vacation." So, when we're a little rested up, we'll have a visit in Al's beloved eastern Oregon. The wide open spaces, sagebrush/juniper aromas and bluebird skies plus a visit with Al's brother John are just the ticket.

Now the challenge is for Al to keep building strength by attending exercise class, taking walks planning other trips and making his own schedule each day. One thing's for sure, his healthy routine of having timely breakfast, lunch, siesta, and dinner have sustained this guy through all his 79 1/2 years and he'll keep on with those excellent habits.

We are excited to resume a weekly-Wednesday visit from Anjali who is now 15 months old and watch her athletic brother, Xander, show off his track and soccer skills for us this summer. Some family gatherings are on the calendar which will be goals for Al to work up his vigor too. 

A long-time interest in observing the Northern Lights has us imagining a Dec. visit to the far north. Christmas under the aurora borealis would be an amazing 2018 finale and radiant contrast to the radiating experience just accomplished in this first half of 2018. We'll let you know via this wonderful way to communicate. God has done marvelous things.

Lotsa love and gratitude from Meredith and for her darling big Al.

Journal entry by Meredith Fischer Bach

Here is a GOOD morning report:

Al's three bumps-biopsied showed NO cancer cells. Hallelujah! We expect to resume and complete radiation treatments starting next week. The last two weeks away from radiation have showed us that Al's skin will heal and his appetite return with rest after this last radiating-tour.

We sent thanks to all All ALL helpers who have supported us in every way...
Prayers! Cards! Flowers! Visits! Emails&Texts! Phone calls!
Prayers! Food! Sweet treats! Drivers! Scientists! Clear highways and safe drivers!
Pray-ers! Inquirers! Balms&Bandages! Goodwill's supply of repurposed T-shirts for Al's beanies! Praying time... Music time...TV time... Reading time... Walks.... Exercise classes...
Prayers for for your forgiveness for forgetting any category above.

Now there are tomatoes for MJ to plant and AL to appreciate in the summer days ahead. On our way rejoicing and sending love your way.

Happy Saturday from
Meredith and Alan Bach

Journal entry by Meredith Fischer Bach

Dear dears,
Since the last post, Al has had 4 or 5 days each week in radiation therapy at Kaiser's Interstate clinic. Staff and Dr. care has been excellent and cheering. Fellow patients are interactive and encouraging too. One patient arrives in a taxi all the way from Albany OR. Our mere 42 miles roundtrip has been safe and showed us wonderful new views of springtime day after day.

After about 22 days of whole head radiation, Al's skin was indeed burned to a raspberry color from eyebrows to back hairline and right up behind the ears. During the last week, the skin started to peel just like from a sunburn after overdoing a summer day. Then, as was originally suggested, he was given a week off to let the skin heal.

Meredith's crafty talents are useful for wound care, figuring out how to make flat rectangles of gauze cover the nice curves-in-all-directions of Alan's pate. Think tiny pleats and sticky petroleum jelly called  Aquaphor.

April 30th we returned to the clinic to resume radiation. But we imagined that a detour was likely, because two worrisome bumps had appeared above Al's right temple on Saturday. The bumps seemed more like  blocked pores, but knowing the Angiosarcoma is an aggressive cancer that spreads, his doctor said a biopsy was in order which was accomplished this morning.

Again we ask for your prayers that these bumps are not cancerous. Al's week off not only let his skin return to normal, but his energy increased and his appetite is returning. Those signs of recovery are wonderful. Now adding another week off to await biopsy results moves various schedules out, but life is just one day at a time. Today was a beautiful day for a walk in our neighborhood. It's so good to see Al getting stronger day after day. We are trying to continue appreciating every minute.

Thanks for sending your positive thoughts! We prayerfully think of you too!
Love from Meredith and Al Bach

Journal entry by Meredith Fischer Bach

Good morning all you dears,

April 5, 2018. We are thankful that Al has tolerated the radiation quite well at this 1/3 mark of his 38 days prescribed. The first 28 days radiate his full head, from eyebrows to neck nape and right behind the ear. The last ten days will concentrate on the original site of the angiosarcoma.

His custom mask/form was modified last week because the swelling from surgery has predictably reduced. The staff at Kaiser's Interstate Oncology Dept. is attentive and thorough. We are certainly thankful for their educated abilities.

Every Tuesday, our capable and good-natured Dr. Jai Nautiyal inspects and encourages and reminds us about Al's process and progress. When we think of the knowledge all of Al's doctors have brought to his particular experience we are just about dazzled! Thank God for every one who has considered how and what will help Al fight off the invader "terrorist" cancer cells as Dr. Nautiyal labeled them.

Probably the biggest challenge for Al is going out the door and across the parking lots and into the dressing room five times a week. Most of our 48 years together, it's been "On the go with Merry Jo"* [Meredith Joanne]letting Alan Roy holding down the fort to welcome the Bach family back.

So, when you send your very appreciated prayers of hope and thanksgiving please imagine Al having a good night sleep and being ready on time.  Pray he will enjoy the commute as a way to relax and find energy and marvel at the springtime flower show we're watching en route. And hope that after sitting in the car and lying on the radiation table and napping away the fatigue of it all, he can still "coat up" and get a daily walk or do a few wall push-ups and leg lifts.

All in all, we are finding our way through this new activity without too much trial or worry. We send prayers right back to you that your day is a balance of fun and accomplishment and good health. Remember, THIS is the day that the Lord has made. Let us REJOICE and be glad in IT.

Love from Meredith and Al Bach
*Meredith's Aunt Lu Cutler had her clever slogan printed on stationery as a gift to MJ over 50 years ago...imagine!

Journal entry by Meredith Fischer Bach

Hi friends,
Al is finished with RayDay #6. The power of the radiation acts like a sunburn on Al's skin, but it also has the power to eradicate cancer cells. Go for it Rays! HooRay!

Right after the treatment and two or three more times through the day, we apply a soothing aloe lotion suggested by Kaiser's Radiation Oncology dept. Hopefully the cooling effect will help his skin endure, especially the new graft of skin from his latissimus.

This week there were three appointments at 8:24 a.m. so we decided to stay in the neighborhood near the clinic. It was a restful getaway, but now it's nice to be home. Our other appts. are about 10:20 a.m. so that seems like an easy time of day to drive 21 miles. There's always some congestion before the tunnels into Portland on Hwy 26, but traffic keeps moving, slowly but surely. That will be our approach, one day after another, slowly but surely.

We thank God for all our helpers. Alix and Paul have been attentive, wonderful children. Paul has taken some of his vacation time to stay with us in North Plains and Alix planned a little vacation for us "4 Bachs" in Seaside.

The daffodils, pink blooming trees and greening up lawns are a beautiful distraction. Pray for Al's good rest and ability to cope with this annoyance of daily on the go. He'll be glad for summer and free time and warmth outside. It's on the way, just like us.

Love to you and yours, Meredith [and for Al] Bach

Journal entry by Meredith Fischer Bach

Hi friends and family,

Al and MJ will head to Sunnybrook Clinic again on Tues Jan. 9, 2018. Dr. Andrew Kroeker will work again to be sure the margins of Al's original surgery on Dec 23, 2017, are clear of cancer cells from the angiosarcoma on Al's right front of his head.

The sarcoma was just an odd bump in October. We thought it was a cyst. A biopsy in early Dec. sent us to meet Dr. Kroeker on Dec 15th, 2017, on our mutual birthday...not the best party we've every celebrated together since 1971. But the birthday was enjoyed thanks to Alix and family, Scott & Mom who brought cakes and cards and joy on Dec 16th. Beethoven seemed ok about sharing his day with us.

We are thankful for prayers and loving conversations with family, church community, neighbors, loved ones, classmates and all of you!

The online community of bloggers sharing their experience is both uplifting and a blunt reminder of the bad cancer that Al is experiencing. It is rare and takes numerous forms. We feel well cared for by the Kaiser medical staff, but though Al seems himself, the reports are breathtaking. We know this is bad, but with lots of help and our trust in God, we are staying good. 

Psalm 31: 14, 15a 
"We trust in you O Lord. You are our God. Our times are in your hands."
Psalm 118: 24
"This is the day the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it!"

Until later, Love from Meredith and Al Bach

Alan’s Story

Site created on January 9, 2018

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