Bill | CaringBridge

Bill’s Story
Bill Thompson III, Editor/Publisher of Bird Watcher’s Digest, is a beloved figure in the birding world; a devoted father to Phoebe, 22, and Liam, 19; a writer of both words and songs; a gifted musician and endlessly creative thinker.  He lives large and goes hard. After suffering severe stomach pain since mid-October, Bill was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer on December 16, 2018. As of Christmas, he’s not a candidate for surgery; the cancer has spread in his lower abdomen; and he is set to start chemotherapy soon. The life force in this one is strong, and he’s young and otherwise healthy, so now we fight. Of course, we hope for remission; we hope for anything for this man we love so fiercely.

Wendy Clark, Bill’s beloved partner, is taking the brunt of informing herself and managing Bill’s day to day care. She will be posting updates here. Wendy and Bill live in a farmhouse 1/3 mile from Indigo Hill, where Julie continues to live. Setting up a homestead nearby was Bill’s way to keep his connection to his children and our land strong. 

To be honest, entering a diagnosis like this is like being sucked down a terrifying whirlpool. What we don’t yet know is everything. We do know that it’s going to be expensive. So for all the people who’ve written, “If there’s anything I can do to help, just let me know!” we have a GoFundMe link on Bill’s “Ways to Help” page.

PLEASE NOTE: Directly below Bill’s story here, there is a donation plea. Funds given there will support CaringBridge, NOT Bill.

To support Bill:

Comments and well-wishes left on this CaringBridge site are public. If that’s not your style, or you’d like to write something more, we’ve set up a direct email here: 

Cards and letters can be mailed to:

Bill Thompson III and Wendy Clark
700 Scotts Ridge Rd.
Whipple OH 45788

Newest Update

Journal entry by Bill Thompson

Dear Ones Near and Far:


This is BT3 writing to you from the friendly confines of the Indigo Hill farm along Scotts Ridge in Whipple, USA. I’m staying here under the care of Science Chimp and Animal Rehab Expert Julie Zickefoose while Wendy is away overseas for work. Additionally, this house has better bed-to-bathroom proximity than the Pink Palace next door. That is critical I’ve found.

I am exactly halfway between chemo treatment #1 and chemo treatment #2, which is why I am sitting upright and able to type, much less string together words in semi-coherence. The treatments are about 17 days apart and the side effects seem to abate about 9 days afterwards. You don’t want me to describe the side effects. They are actually more like special effects dreamed up by some demented George Lucas character hell-bent on keeping you feeling as rotten as possible. But enough of my whining…

Getting news like this isn’t something you think will ever happen to you. When you see it happen to other people, it hurts you and makes you sad for them, but there is some small part of you that is thinking, “that sort of catastrophic diagnosis happens to other people, not to me.”


Well, guess what? Yes. It can.


And this is why you should wake up every day and be thankful for good health. Don’t take it for granted. I did and I am kinda mad at myself about that.


Now that I have a week before they nuke me again, I’m trying to fit in lots of stuff I won’t be able to do after the 17th—like play guitar, visit with friends, write, go for short walks, and revel in the overwhelming waves of support and loving words coming in from you all.

Today I feel good. The pain has disappeared, as has the fluid and swelling in my abdomen, which Dr. Bhati tells me means the chemo is working. Good stuff.

Work at Bird Watcher’s Digest is rolling along at its usual dynamic pace. I miss being in the office (and the BWD crew claims they miss me) but it’s a great relief to me that those folks are so talented and dedicated that they’ve hardly missed a beat. BWD will continue, as it has for the past 40-plus years. And yes, my mom is still there every day, answering phones and chatting with our subscribers.

Because of my need to focus on my health and treatments, I’m going to step back from most of my duties at BWD for the foreseeable future. The podcasts will morph into new formats, and I will be replaced on the Reader Rendezvous tours by folks who can kick things up a notch in terms of natural history insight and knowledge. My docs say my immune system won’t permit travel for a spell, which is a crushing disappointment to me. More on those changes will be shared via direct channels.


I’ve been having the weirdest dreams lately. I’m sure this is thanks to the pain meds. I can’t remember many of them, which is probably good, because they seem to share the dual themes of finding a complete cure and facing certain death. I’ve seen my dad in the dreams a bunch, but he hasn’t spoken to me yet. I want to ask him if I need to bring my bass and amp along when I go…or if that kind of stuff is readily available.


Each morning I wake up and go: “Oh. Yeah. That’s right…” But then I call my attention to the fact that I have a day ahead to do with whatever I wish. And I am vowing to make the most of each moment. So, a handful of pills, and off I go.

A few days ago, when I was feeling mighty bleak and awfully weak, some stories of hope began winding their way to me, like water finding a path through solid rock. I’m trying not to let my hope get too high, because cancer is a well-known backstabber. But hope is hope and I’ve got a cling on it.

Some final thoughts to share:
  • All hail Netflix. How did I not know about this before?
  • I don’t like to fight, but I am a fighter. I am prepared to fight hard
  • I am surrounded by rings of love and loving people, many of whom I don’t even know
  • When I cry now, it’s mostly because I’m moved by the kindness of you lovely souls
  • End of February/early March is when I will get a read on the efficacy of my treatment
  • I am getting the very best of care at home, in the hospital, and on the side
  • I love you all so much and this is me telling you that, right to your eyeballs
Now, let’s do a little exercise together:

Take a deep breath. Hold it. Ponder just how fortunate you are to be here, now, alive, in this amazing world.

Get busy living.





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