Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Words We Did Not Want To Hear

Hi! Yesterday, we heard the words we did not want to hear. Following our visit with Dr. Richards this past Friday, my strength continued to decrease significantly. We returned home on Sunday, the remainder of which I spent in bed. By Monday morning, I was so weak I needed Kelly’s assistance to get in and out of bed, walk to the bathroom, even kick off the covers. Kelly called the palliative care team at Froedtert, and the nurse said to bring me to the ER.

With help from my Dad and brother-in-law, Kelly got me loaded into the van and drove me to the ER. We checked in, and the nurses and doctors started their examinations immediately. They poked, prodded, measured, tested, x-rayed, and questioned me for several hours. Finally, the palliative care doctor, Dr. Marks, came to meet with me and Kelly. He said it appeared the cancer had progressed to the point where treatment was no longer possible. He also said I would stay in the hospital until I was strong enough to return home or make arrangements to stay in a hospice facility. He said—because I finally asked—the prognosis for someone with progressive cancer like this is generally measured in terms of weeks or months.

This was obviously not the news we wanted to hear, although it was not particularly unexpected. I knew I had been feeling progressively worse for quite some time. I could feel the lumps inside me, feel my swollen liver, my swollen kidneys, my throbbing subcutaneous nodes, my declining appetite, my growing fatigue and weakness (in case anyone wonders, I would associate fatigue with physical energy and weakness with physical strength).

Before sharing the news with anyone, we wanted to confirm Dr. Marks’ remarks with Dr. Richards. We called Dr. Richards’ office this morning and received his response rather quickly. He confirmed that the benefits of treatment—even a single chemotherapy with minimal side effects—would not outweigh the risks if I were so weak that I could no longer care for myself. Frankly, I agree with the assessment. I don’t want to be hooked up to tubes surrounded by nurses in a cancer ward when the end comes, nor do I want to hasten my death by pursuing treatment that will likely cause a fatal infection, fever, pneumonia, or some other harmful side effect.

Nevertheless, this has been hard news to hear, especially for Kelly. Ever since my cancer diagnosis, I’ve told Kelly that she has the heavier cross to bear. Today was one of those days when the extent of that weight began to reveal itself. Please pray for her when you can. We told the kids, and they took the news quite well. They have shown remarkable resiliency through this entire process. Their innocence protects them, I think; this is their childhood and they have nothing with which to compare it. Please pray for them, as well, as the coming months will be extra difficult for them I’m sure.

I will post another blog when we know more about what we’ll do when I get out of the hospital. If anyone wonders, I am in room 4NW-20 at Froedtert Hospital in Wauwatosa. My direct room phone number is 414-805-3400. If you want to visit, I recommend calling first and then planning to come between noon and 4:00 pm. My mornings are filled with doctor visits and my evenings will be preoccupied with visits from Kelly and the kids.


Emily said...

Jeff, Kelly and family~ We are thinking about you so much and are praying for you even more right now. Thank you for sharing this with all of us, your strength is inspiring.

Much love,
Emily Broyles

Amy said...

You fought the hard fight........many hugs and prayers your way.

Jennifer (Gutschenritter) Meier said...

Jeff and family,

I'm thinking of you and praying for you.

Jenny (Gutschenritter) Meier

Kara Smith said...

Jeff, as always your words amaze me. You are awesome in my eyes. I wish so much that I could just say or do something to help. Love your family with all you have! Please know that our community is praying for you all.

katie.elsener said...

Hi Dodds,
Know that our prayers and thoughts are with you all. Your family is amazing. Jeff, you are amazing. Thank you so much for keeping us posted.
Mark and Katie

Katie Clancy said...

Dear Jeff, Ed and I send all our love and prayers to you and all the Dodds. We think of you constantly. Katie & Ed

Amy Kutilek said...

Sending love and many many many prayers your way.

Mark and I continue to be awed and inspired by your thoughts and perspective on this whole mess. Thank you for sharing so much. We are in your corner and will continue to storm the heavens with prayers for the whole family.

Amy Kutilek

P.S. I ran into Mary Margaret in line for hot dogs at Wrigley Field last week! She recognized me first, but her smiling Dodd eyes caught me up in a hurry!

Martha said...

From all of us in Kansas....we love you and are praying for you and the family. We are so proud to call you our cousin.

Patricia said...

Dear Jeff et al.,

Josh Quinn of the ND Club just shared your latest news with all of us, so many more prayers are going out to you right now.

It is extraordinary that you and your family have been an inspiration to so many people during such a difficult time in your lives, and you should all be very proud.

I don't know how I recently stumbled across an essay Tony Snow wrote for Christianity Today, called "Cancer's Unexpected Blessings," but if you have not read it, you might like to.


God bless you,
Patty Zimmerman

mphaley said...

As I read your post today, it puts much into perspective for me (as it turns out, they usually do). Thank you for continuing to share your struggles and victories with all of us. I have prayed each day for you and your family, and will continue to do so.

May God bless you and your family.

Mike and Laura Haley

The Bokerns said...

Those are words none of us following your story wanted to hear Jeff. Our prayers for God's blessing are with you and your family each day. I wanted you to know how much we enjoyed having Aubrey with us over Labor Day weekend. She is a delightful young lady and it is obvious you and Kelly have excelled at life's most important job...parenting.

Tammy Bokern

Marc S said...

Jeff, Kelly, Everyone - Praying that God passes down an extra dose of courage and peace for you all right now. ... Marc

Ann R said...

Jeff & Kelly and Family,
I have no words to express my thought's for you all. And I will be praying for you and for your family. I am wishing you the best at this time and for the day's ahead and keeping my prayers for what ever your prayers maybe.
You always amaze me !
Ann Reins (Tracy Mom)

Gretchen Viney said...

You and your family have done what is humanly possible, Jeff. And now I am praying that you all feel God's presence in the coming days. And, by the way, the kids are beautiful, but I have a feeling that Finn is going to live up to his Irish name.

CathyBB said...

Jeff, you and your family are absolutely in my prayers, now more than ever.

I want you to know that every time I run into a fellow Class of '91-er, they always ask, "Have you seen Jeff's blog?" So many people are thinking of you, and praying for you. I hope you and all of your family will always feel that support.

gardiner said...

Dear Jeff & Kelly, We continue to pray for you and think of you continuously. We are saddened to read today's blog and hope for a steady stream of peace and strength to be sent your way. God Bless.

highdesertsultan said...

Jeff and Kelly...Hold on to each other tight. Thank you for being so open with us. May love and peace surround you. As always, I'm praying for you. You are amazing.

ox Katie (Wilkins) Leyden

TheRamFam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TheRamFam said...


Praying for you, Kelly, and the kids. Live Like A Champion Today. You always have, and always will.


Tom and Carmela said...


I don't believe we have met. I'm a casual but longtime member of the ND Club of Milwaukee. There are many things to say but no time to say them.

Suffice this: you are probably correct in assessing the nature of the cross for your wife. May God's will be done for you, her, and your children. As Pope John Paul II noted (along with others), suffering is a mystery, but it's also where we can meet Our Lord. I cannot know what you, your wife, and your children are going through, but I will keep you in my prayers. Be ready for death (shouldn't we all?) and for the life to come.

As a good friend has said for many years, "Keep the faith. Pursue the vision."

Tom Kustner

Jason Bryant said...


I am sorry the news could not be different. I will continue to pray for you and your family! I also want to thank you for being an inspritation. Your story has touched more people than you will every know. It has put lots of things in perspective, and in turn it has brought lots of people closer to God. You, Kelly and your family are amazing.

Thank you for everything you have done,

Jason Bryant

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tom said...

Jeff and Kelly--

Words fail me. This news is so heartbreaking. You and your family remain in our hearts and our thoughts.

Tom Mainelli

Peter said...

Jeff - You and your family are in my prayers. Every time I've seen you at DRB, I've just been amazed at how you keep plugging away. Thanks for being such an inspiration.

Justin Teasley said...

Jeff & family,

Being cousins we have known each other for a lot of years! I have followed your blog and thought of your family continuously since the beginning.

You truly are an incredible fighter and inspiration to anyone!! It is is my honor to be able to call you a cousin/loved one.

You are in my thoughts and prayers everyday!


Peggy Wilkins said...

Jeff may you be surrounded by all the love, strength, and peace you need today, and in all the days to come.

nacho_supreme said...

Jeff and all the Dodds,
I'm so sorry to hear this news. What grace and resilience you show, even in the face of such sorrow...I am praying for you all! God bless!
-Annie Wilkins

Tierney Family said...

Jeff and family-

We are very sad to hear this news. The dignity and love with which you conduct this battle are an inspiration. We are honored to know you, even a little. We keep all of you in our prayers and I reiterate that we are here to help if needed.

God Bless,

The Tierneys

JamesCrable said...


May God grant you and your fmaily the comfort needed to confront these difficult times with strength and courage.


mka said...

A Beatles song said something like, "and in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make." I think you will be going with a LOT of love. My prayers are with you, Kelly, and the kids. Love, Myrna (Mom)

Johnny said...

wish I knew what else to say...

Jim said...

Jeff, Kelly & Dodd Family:
We are so sorry to hear this news. Our prayers are with your family. God bless all of you.

The Carrig Family

Katie Clancy said...

Hi Jeff, just wanted to say hi and hope you're feeling good today. Ed and I are in Michigan and figuring out the logistics of making a visit to Wauwatosa. We'll keep you and Kelly posted and will coordinate something that works for everyone. Will talk to you soon! Love, Katie & Ed

rock said...

Jeff, Kelly, and the Dodd Family,

Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.


Rock, Neha, Rysa and Kanen Patel

John said...

my prayers are with you all.

Gould said...

We are praying for all of God's grace to be with you and your family at this time. Praying for your continued strength in faith and love. We are inspired by your life and family!

Much love,
Dave and Nellie

Sara (Gapp) Hess said...

I am heartbroken.
I want you to know what an honor it is to know you and to call you my friend. You are the bravest person I have ever met and truly a hero. I've only met Kelly a couple of times, but I hurt so badly for her.
Please know that your family will always be a part of our spiritual family. I will pray for your children as I pray for my own, but they will have the strongest and bravest of all guardian angels on their side already. I will always remember you, smile down on us from Heaven when you get there.
God bless you all.

Dollars and Sense said...

Jeff, Kelly, and Family,

My families prayers are with all of you. Keep on fighting Jeff! Please let me know if there is anything you need my help with.

Tony Ojeda

Sarah said...

Hi Kelly - You may or may not remember me. I am Sarah Curry - one of your Tri-Delta Sisters at UNL. I rec'd a copy of you and your husband's blog from Heidi Bartruff who forwarded it to Jan Hallowell (who forwarded it to me) Jan and I both work together at IBM. I just wanted to tell you how sorry I was to read about your loss of your husband. Your stories on the blog were very touching to me and hearing about you and Jeff's faith amongst the suffering were inspirational. I am now living in Atlanta, GA with my husband, Davy and my two year old son, Isaac. I know how hard it is to raise kids and manage a career as I do it - but I know your challenge is even greater with 4 of them and now being alone. I will keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers. Thanks for inspiring all of us to have such strong faith amongst a crisis. I also heard you had your wedding reception at the Tri-Delta house in Lincoln. How cool. I have very fond memories of that house. Take care. Tri Delta Love, Sarah Curry (Summers)