To Be or Not to Be

                IMG_3278 Sunrise at Sundog Ranch.  Something to live for.

3 months ago on October 28th

I was photographing this herd of wild mustangs in the Steens Wilderness in SE Oregon.IMG_2543-2I was out of cell range for most of the day when all of the sudden I walked into cell range.

Numerous text messages urged me to call home.  I called and in no uncertain terms my sister Trish who is a nurse like me told me the news that would change my life forever.

Rockin’ Roy has a brain tumor.  He is in the neuro-intensive care unit and can barely speak.  We are having a family meeting at 7:30 in the morning and you need to be here. IMG_2510Here I was in the middle of the wild horses at sunset in this breathtaking wilderness and I HAD to leave.

The horses were so peaceful and OK with me being there with them.  I hated to leave them.IMG_2517 As the sun set behind the stormy clouds on the horizon I realized I could not escape what lie ahead of me.

Roy lay incapacitated in a hospital bed 9 hours way with a catastrophe in his brain and I am not there.

I said goodbye to the horses and told them I would be back.

I flew like a bird on wheels through the night in the stormy desert on gravel roads and desolate highways.

I arrived by Roy’s side just after dawn.

7:30 AM October 29, 2014

The decision to be or to not to be was put on me by Roy’s neurosurgeon.

Put to me because Roy’s tumor had consumed his mind and power to decide on his own.

 In paraphrasing Dr. said “Would Roy want to live” or would Roy say “To hell with all those awful treatments, I’m gonna go one way or another so let me go now.


You are most likely saying to yourself who is this beautiful, happy woman?

This woman is Brittany Maynard.

Brittany and her family have been in the news lately.  Brittany made the decision not to be any more.  She lived with what Roy has and tried to survive what Roy has.  A catastrophe in the brain. She had surgery to remove her tumor like Roy did but declined chemotherapy and radiation.  She felt it would put her through too much pain and suffering and in the end she would die anyway.

I respect her decision.

I get how she could come to that decision.

The news you get when you talk with the neurosurgeon about whether to take the tumor out and get treatment or let nature take it course is about as bad as it gets.   Our Dr. could not have mad it any clearer that this is a tumor that will kill Roy in time no matter what treatment he gets or does not get.  They go over all the grim possibilities of surgery like stroke, neurological deficits etc. and death.  After hearing all about what could happen during surgery and the side effects of the treatment afterwards death does not sound so bad.

We were put to the task.    With help from heaven above and family we were able to make Roy’s decision.

We decided Roy would want to live.IMG_3285

Because Roy loves life and Roy is a guy who does not quit.

Even though I had to give him a few reminders to take this years Christmas tree out.

November 4, 2015

IMG_2867-2This is Rockin’ Roy one day after surgery to remove the huge tumor in his frontal lobe.

As you can see he is very much alive.  Eyes, ears, fingers and toes all working.  He needed something to hold on to.  When I saw the stuffed Golden in the gift shop the purchase was a no brainer.  Ha ha.

Rockin’ Roy does not need the stuffed Golden since now he has real ones to hug.  Guess who owns it now?

As you may have seen in my last post Rockin’ Roy rocked through radiation.

I wish Brittany Maynard had not been scared off by the treatments for brain cancer like I am afraid many patients are.  I get why she made her decision though.

The facts can’t be ignored. Even with current treatment the average lifespan of a person with a glioblastoma is 12 to 18 months.  And sometimes that time can be filled with pain and problems.

But there is a small percentage (15%) of persons who survive over 3 years, some over 5 years and there have even been documented cases of people living up to 10 years.

That is a bit of hope Roy and I are desperately hanging onto.  At least for now until his follow up MRI next month.


The idea for now is to live.

IMG_3383To get up in the morning and do your daily grooming.


To rest and make peace . Especially with anyone we may have hurt.  Our time is short on earth.

IMG_3411We are going to give and receive love.  Man cannot live without love.

If anything is going to heal Roy and give him life it is LOVE.

IMG_3282Even with love, life can be difficult.  It can be a struggle but what we are finding in our new quest for life is mostly life is full of beauty.

It is right in front of our faces sometimes and we still don’t see it.

Try to see it and your struggles won’t seem so difficult.

IMG_3445We are taking time to go places and explore new beauty.

Even if you have to be on a leash you can find beauty.

IMG_3349You can taste beauty in life too.   Even while doing your daily chores.IMG_3527We try to put down our gadgets (especially me) and have a conversation.

We have been forced to slow down.    We actually use the park benches.

What I want to say to everybody I know is……quit being so damn busy, busy, busy.

Do you have any idea how being so busy all the time affects your ability to experience joy and see beauty?IMG_3488Being too busy affected our lives.  It was not good for our lives.

Too bad it took a freaking brain catastrophe to slow us down.IMG_3535For the time being there is no end to the adventures we seek.  While the going is good.IMG_3427

Even if on a leash.IMG_3542Even when it is getting dark and cold.  To the end of the trail we go.IMG_3573If you go for the beauty life on earth can be like heaven on earth.

Especially for Rockin’ Roy rockin’ down the path of life.IMG_3574

“To be, or not to be, that is the question—
Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing, end them? To die, to sleep—
No more; and by a sleep, to say we end………..”

The opening phrase in the “Nunnery” scene in the play Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Pretty fancy stuff for this little blog huh?

Adios Amigos

Don’t forget to slow down, feel the love and see the beauty.

34 thoughts on “To Be or Not to Be

  1. Thank you Jo. A wonderful lesson for all of us to learn. Thank you for being open, honest, reflective and blunt. Love and prayers go out for you and Roy.


  2. I hope Roy lives happily for a long time. But when that time is over, I hope he has the opportunity to die with dignity and on his own terms. I support the rights of those who feel their time is done and would like to bow out gracefully. We put down our pets with
    care and compassion and yet our terminally ill human companions are left to suffer for weeks, months, even years without the blessed relief they so greatly want and deserve. Surely in this advanced civilization we can come up with a way for those who are truly at the end of their journey to calmly and peacefully take that last step. Peace to you both and live life fully while it is still enjoyable.


    • Thanks Karla. This post was not meant to be pro or anti assisted suicide or “right to die with dignity” but somehow I am finding myself right plop in the middle of it. Roy is not going there right now. I am not prepared to take position yet but I get your point. I have seen and been involved in death more that I care to admit. As a pediatric nurse for most of my career in bone marrow transplant and pediatric intensive care and home care we focused on saving lives until the very very end. Even in adult care the majority of the time people want to struggle through the hard parts of a illness to keep living. Thats not to say I am against assisted suicide when the time comes. I am not a hospice nurse like my sister Trish. Her focus and the hospice focus in California anyway is on dying with dignity without assisted suicide. These wonderful nurses really can greatly help lessen the pain and suffering at and near death. People can die with dignity with out prematurely ending their life. I’m sure you will hear more from me about this as Roy and I go down the trail of this life. Thanks again for your input.


  3. I remind Mama to slow down and smell all the bushes and trees and other stuff all the time! WOL! Much wuvwuvwuv to you twowooowooooooooo and all the fur kids toowoowowoooooo! ❤ ❤ ❤ Ku and the whole pack


  4. I often do slow down and smell, well everything. But then I feel guilty and think how lazy I am being. Your post reminded me that being busy is NOT the point, being content and happy and enjoying what is right there in front of you is the point…thank you and best wishes to you and Roy in this tough time.


  5. Jo, I love your blog. I love how you write and how you put things into perspective. I feel so blessed that I know you and that we have some of your beauty and talent hanging in our home.


  6. Very sage advice, Jo. Slowing down and taking notice these days isn’t the easiest with the distraction of our gadgets. The one thing I’m glad about is that my daughters aren’t “wedded” to their smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Regarding their horses, and the furries (cats), best not to stand in their way. 🙂

    I don’t if I said my wife Laurie is a trauma surgeon by profession. She’s talked to plenty of patients and their families on their worst day on what she needs to do save a life. It is in these instances when it can be very overwhelming, especially if an operation takes longer than she expects. The one thing she stresses to her patients and their families is to have plenty of hope, faith and prayer. It will bring you through your darkest moments and prepare you for the road ahead.

    My best wishes to you and Rocking Roy, and, of course, your beautiful dogs.

    So sorry for the loss of your Lassen. He was a handsome one

    Sent via secured network.


  7. Thanks for the reminder to slooow down. After chemo in ’93, i got a tattoo. It’s a lady dragon with her tail wrapped around a rose. She is looking over her shoulder and smelling the rose…. So i’m gonna get another tattoo. Feel the love. Good theme! Hope to see you two soon.


  8. beautiful heart felt blog, sister Jo…I’ve been thinking about you and Roy, thank you for choosing to see the beauty, see you this week, peace


    • Thanks for the encouragement. It is strange writing about what is happening to us personally but I have to come out and say what is really going on. Life is not all laughter and roses all the time. Despite the seriousness of our situation we are still entertained around here on a daily basis. Our animals are our best friends and take our minds off the unknown. Thanks Dina

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for this lovely answer, Jo, it’s good of you to let us take part of your life. We all have our everyday life and your photo stories are a fine reminder for us all how fragile life is.
        All the best for you all. Dina x


    • Thank you. I felt like I got hit with a baseball bat last fall or actually Roy should be saying he felt like he got hit with a base ball bat……anyway Rockin’ Roy is doing pretty good these days considering his diagnosis and as always our Golden’s keep us happy. Jo


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