Monday, September 15, 2014

The Big C


Today, bloggers around the Web are sharing stories of how cancer has affected their lives. This collection of posts will go on to be part of an anthology ebook and all proceeds will go toward the medical expenses of our beloved friend, Melissa Bradley.

Melissa was recently diagnosed with cancer, and she and my good friend Michael Di Gesu have come together to host this fantastic blog hop to promote awareness, share stories, and join cyber hands to show no one has to go through it alone.

This post in particular is dedicated to my amazing father-in-law, Ray Hrezo.

A few months ago, Ray went to the doctor for a chronic cough that, despite great efforts, he just couldn't beat. The doctor decided they should do a full body CT scan, and they found a mass in one of his kidneys. A biopsy was done that later confirmed the worst news any one can hear.

Cancer.

My husband is one of six kids. You can imagine the kind of man it takes to raise six kids successfully. Wow. I only have two and there are days I wonder if I'll ever survive it. But six? Not only do you have to parent six kids, you have to be able to support a family of eight on one salary. Ray sometimes worked three different jobs in the 1980s in order to provide for the family.

Still, they went on cross-country camp outs, trips to Disney World, long fishing trips, and managed to ensure everyone had a good Christmas every year. One of my husband's favorite memories growing up is when Ray would allow him to "skip" school and take him fishing for the day for some one-on-one father and son time. Not an easy feat when you work three jobs and have six kids, so allowing a skip day was the ideal quality time, and absolute thrill to a young boy who should've been doing math work and reading.

Ray is also an engineer, a golfer, a photographer, and dabbles in music with his wife, who plays the organ. (insert whatever organ joke you like cuz we've told them all...lol). He's a Mr. Fix-It too, and thankfully, my husband picked up this trait, because if anything is broke, the Hrezo men can fix it. Ray rarely took an item, device, machine, whatever! to someone else to repair. He did all his own work and encouraged his sons to look on and learn as much as they could.

To give you a good image of Ray Hrezo, think of the guy who you can always pick out in a crowd because he's a head taller than everyone else. At about 6'2, he has a commanding voice (needed for six kids) and a deep hearty laugh that you can't help but smile when you hear. If Ray were a writer, he'd be a hardcore plotter. This man can make some plans, and diagram them, and have everything figured out before you ever arrive. Engineerical. (Yes I made up that word but it fits and you can now use it for yourself, permission granted.)

Of all people to be rendered weak by a sometimes debilitating disease, Ray Hrezo is the last one you'd imagine. Yet, it happened, and although we don't know why or how, we know that this is one man who will fight til the very end, and if anyone can weather the storm, it's him. Throughout these past few months he's been the most positive, optimistic sick person I've ever met. We are continuously baffled by his eagerness to get well and stay confident and cheerful.

After having the affected kidney removed and recovering fully--to the point of even mowing his own lawn again--a CT scan showed spots on Ray's lungs. Cancerous spots, that were the culprit of Ray's chronic coughing. After weeks of chemo, the spots did not retreat as the doctors had hoped, and a different type of chemo began. The radiation kind that makes your hair fall out.

Chemo is a tough treatment. It often makes patients feel nauseous and dehydrated, among other discomforts. The treatment itself is what causes cancer patients to look sick, not always the sickness itself. In August, Ray was given the green light by his doctor to travel across the country to Alaska and spend time at Denali and Mt. McKinley. This was a bucket trip destination for Ray, and just knowing that he and his wife were there gave my husband and I all sorts of smiles.

Now, that Ray is back home, and returned to regular radiation treatments, his body is feeling the brunt of it. He was admitted into the emergency room this past weekend for pain and dehydration. More tests are being run this week to see if the cancer has spread to his liver and other kidney.  On this very day, my husband is driving across the state to visit his dad, do whatever work around the house is needed, and spend as much time with him as possible to show his love and support to a father who was always there, who always provided, and who always served as the kind of role model every boy needs.

And I'd just like to show my appreciation to a man who raised and taught my husband what it means to be a good father and loving husband, because my hubby is the kind of spouse that you just can't ask for better of--and if you did, he'd work at being better.

We know Ray will stay strong and kick this thing in the keister, because that's just the kind of guy he is. When you're faced with something as life threatening as the Big C, you begin to realize just how valuable family and friends are. Faith grows, courage reveals itself, and love is what heals a broken heart.

To anyone and everyone who has had cancer creep into their lives, know that prayers go up around the world for you. Hope, harmony, and positive cosmic vibes are all around. Tap into them if you can, because I assure you they are there.

The human spirit is strong. That may be hard to remember when the body begins to whither, but hold fast to that which makes you, you. Your spirit will keep you fighting, and no disease can beat that. YOU CAN DO IT!



Thanks again to Melissa Bradley and Michael Di Gesu for this special opportunity. All the very best to Melissa for her strength and courage. I know her spirit is strong and amazing! For more posts on The Big C, go here.

On a separate note, I'd like to offer my sincere gratitude to everyone who's shared and donated to the Queena Kickstarter campaign. We are so thrilled with the response so far. Please continue to share this project with others. For links and badges, please see this POST. Our local newspaper wants to run an article and we are so excited about that.

Thank you so much for stopping by! I'm so privileged to be a part of such an awesome writing community. The love and support for Tina Downey and her family just weakens my knees. Not to mention this project for Melissa, and your encouragement for the Queena memoir. Makes me feel like ...



 Tell me, do you know someone battling the Big C? What do you do to stay positive when life seems to be pressing down on you? Please share ...

28 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Prayers your father-in-law continues to battle and eventually wins. He sounds not only tough but very wise.

Elizabeth Hein said...

Ray sounds like quite a guy. As a fellow cancer survivor, I appreciate what a rough road he has travelled lately. I hope he feels well today.
Elizabeth Hein - Scribbling in the Storage Room

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you for sharing Ray's story with us. He sounds like a wonderful father, and a real fighter.

Congratulations on the interest Queena's memoir has gotten from your local newspaper! That's awesome!

Hart Johnson said...

I wish him the very best and hope he beats it! This was a nice tribute.

E.J. Wesley said...

Beautiful tribute, and I'll keep him and your family in my thoughts.

I find myself trying to be grateful for little things when life gets too crazy. Going on a walk. Watching my favorite TV show. Talking to my wife about absolutely nothing important--like sports or what she thought about a movie we've seen recently.

Our health and time are not guaranteed. Make the most of all of it. Sounds like Ray is doing just that. :)

Nick Wilford said...

He sounds like a real fighter. Determination goes a long way. Here's to wishing him a full recovery!

Elephant's Child said...

Oceans of caring flowing out to everyone hit by this sucky disease. And to their families.

Michael Di Gesu said...

Hey, PK...

What an amazing man.... You are lucky to have such a man in your life... beautiful tribute! It's nice to know his love filtered down into your husband...

My list is growing for my prayers at the SHRINE of MOTHER CABRINNI.. A wonderful saint who spent her whole life helping the sick and poor. Her Shrine is only a block a way and I visit it almost daily and pray for my friends who have loved ones with cancer. I'll have a special prayer said for him at the shrine tomorrow... It's closed on Mondays....

All the best to him and his continued fight...

Thanks for sharing his story with us and posting for the hop!

Melissa Bradley said...

Keeping Ray in my prayers. What a wonderful and inspiring man. Thank you so much for sharing this and participating. Huge hugs!!

William Kendall said...

Your father-in-law sounds like a grand and good man.

Cancer's a beast that's taken too many people from my life.

Denise Covey said...

Cancer does not take account of good or bad people, it just hits as in Ray's case. He sounds like a wonderful man, as does your husband. Lots of support around for those battling the Big C. Thanks for sharing your personal story for the blog hop.

Denise Covey said...

Cancer does not take account of good or bad people, it just hits as in Ray's case. He sounds like a wonderful man, as does your husband. Lots of support around for those battling the Big C. Thanks for sharing your personal story for the blog hop.

Jennifer Ruth Jackson said...

My thoughts are with you and your family.

My grandfather died of colon cancer but I was too young to remember him. And mom is a survivor of a different kind.

Natalie Aguirre said...

My prayers to Ray and your whole family. He sounds like such a great person. And attitude is so important with cancer. My sister was also very positive throughout her 15 year battle with breast cancer. I think her attitude helped her fight it for longer.

Robin said...

Prayers going out to Ray. He sounds like the sort of man who just loves life. I hope he gets many more years with his family and friends!!!

Theresa Milstein said...

I'll be thinking of Ray and your family. I'm sure he appreciates this post.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Prayers for Ray and your family. It makes me feel so petty and foolish to worry about the stuff I worry about. Brave men and women like Ray know what a real problem is.

My mom used to let me take skip days- or mental hygiene days.

Johanna Garth said...

That's such a lovely tribute to your father-in-law, PK. I wish it didn't take something like cancer to remind us not to worry about the small things.

Michelle Wallace said...

What a special man - strong and determined...really upbeat and such an inspiration!
Great post, P.K
...and I'm so glad to read that the Queena campaign is moving along so well!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi PK - your FIL sounds amazing, as too your husband, one of the six kids Ray raised ... I certainly hope he beats back the dreaded C .. but he is obviously determined to live each day as it comes ... my thoughts ...

I congratulate you on the Queena campaign - such an amazing project .. Hilary

Susanne Drazic said...

Your father-in-law sounds like a real fighter. I'm saying prayers for him.

Kelly Polark said...

Wonderful tribute.

Very important blog hop. My daughter's close friend died of leukemia in July. There is not a week that goes by that I don't still cry over it. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of that sweet girl and her family.
Prayers to your father-in-law and those who are fighting the good fight. It affects so many. Too many.

Nicki Elson said...

I love so much that he didn't let this stop him from going to Alaska!

Yeah, the treatments themselves are brutal - the only thing that's made my dad seem sick at all is are the things that are supposed to make him better. Like your father-in-law, his positive spirit is what's keeping us all up.

May each day find Ray stronger.

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