William B. Letter
Dear Board of Trustees,
Chris called me this week to tell me that you were sending an assistance check. It is greatly needed and appreciated. It always seems when things are getting worse for me your foundation is there for me. I am extremely grateful for your generosity. Please know that the work you do is so valuable and truly makes a difference. The bills are mounting from co-pays and hospital stays. Additionally, this disease is hereditary so many of the genetic tests that need to be performed on my kids are not paid for by insurance. Your gifts have helped ease those financial burdens. Also, please know that my hope is to overcome this disease and when I do I will do what I can to re-pay these gifts back so you can continue to help others.
I just wanted to take a few minutes to update you on what has happened over the last two months. All seemed to being going well and it looked like I was recovering nicely from the January surgery. I was scheduled for a normal follow up CAT scan. At the same time I had some back pain and had an appt. with my primary care doctor to check on that. Once I arrived at his office he told me he had my test results and the reason my back was hurting was because they found another tumor near my spine.
They immediately had me rush down to the Hospital and get an emergency MRI. The MRI showed a 1X1 tumor against my spine. It was pushing hard enough that if it had continued another week or two I could have ended up paralyzed from the waist down. The neurosurgeons made the decision to operate on that Friday evening.
They removed my T5 vertebrae and the tumor underneath. They got the whole tumor but there is some residual tissue that will need to be treated.
Then 4 weeks ago I was in Washington DC at the National Institutes of Health for a second opinion and additional tests after my back surgery. Unfortunately some of the tests revealed more tumors. I have ten small tumors in my liver, a few on my spine, and a few elsewhere. The Drs. are not worried about any of the tumors except the liver. They were aggressive with treatment and I started chemo 4 weeks ago. I just had my second cycle of chemo this week. I will have more tests to see if the chemo is working or not. If not they have a couple of other treatment options. If the tumors get smaller or even remain the same they said I could live indefinitely because none of the tumors are causing damage. The fear is if the tumors in the liver grow and cause function damage that it could then become very serious. They will not offer me a transplant because I am now a malignant cancer patient because the tumors spread and surgery is not an option because of the number of tumors. They are very optimistic they can put this into remission though. They said chemo is about 60% effective on these tumors. As you can imagine this was not what my wife and I were hoping for. We are scared but trying to remain positive. I need to beat this to help raise my four children. Please pray for us. Also, I am telling anyone who will listen........ make sure you have clarity on what is important in life. For me it is God, Family and Friends........... everything else is a distant second. We all work so hard. I do not want other to endure a life event before they take stock of what is important.
Lastly, I want to leave you with a story my sister sent me. A long read but worthwhile:
The Mayonnaise Jar and the 2 Cups of Coffee.
When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 cups of coffee.
A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.
The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.
The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous "yes."
The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.
"Now," said the professor as the laughter subsided, "I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things--God, your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions--and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the
other things that matter like your job, your house and your car. The sand is everything else--the small stuff."
"If you put the sand into the jar first," he continued, "there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you. "Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children.
Take time to get medical checkups. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first--the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand."
One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The professor smiled. "I'm glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend."
Again, I cannot thank you enough for your kindness. I wish you and your families a wonderful holiday season.