Category Archives: Brain cancer

All hail the bitter enders

girl friends

The memorial service and celebration of Chris’s life that continued at friends Cathy and Mike’s was all – and more- that the female Dawn Jogger could have hoped for. The smiles in this photo says it all. Ten of these dear friends she’s known since before she turned legal at 21 (back in the days when that’s when you turned legal). Five of them before age 8! And those three Janey-come-lateleys, what gifts they have been. Guess it’s not surprising that it was this group that turned the party lights off, staying to the bitter end this evening with good wishes and good byes. Strength for the journey…


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Filed under Brain cancer, Support angels

First Blush: In a world of waiting

The female Dawn Joggers waits. The male DJ is in no discomfort but he is caught between life and death. That the sun will rise is more predictable than death’s timetable. But it did seem to take a long time this morning. She was out a bit earlier than she has recently. It was pitch black – with a hint of moonlight – when she made her way up to the Dish from Piers Lane. A little glow was evident when she reached the top. But the sun itself didn’t make an appearance until she’d run almost 3/4s of the route. Hoping for another kind of sun up…

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Filed under Brain cancer, Dawn Patrol

Master of the keyboard comes to play for Chris

Joe Guthrie

Soon after the DGs started attending the 5:00 service at Trinity, a new pianist was hired to provide the music.  Joe Guthrie had (and has) many gigs – organist at First Congregational Church in Palo Alto,  musician for Beach Blanket Babylon plus appearances at a local synagogue. He was an instant hit at the 5:00 and continued to carry that late Sunday afternoon service until it was no longer held. Now he’s back at Trinity once a month at the Taize service.

Hearing that the male DG was in the process of dying, Joe sent an email offering to come over and play, which he did this afternoon. The female DG gathered a group of appreciative listeners – Sara, Marty and Cathy. They all sat in silence for as the music unfolded. How wonderful to be bathed in Joe’s sweet sounds…


Filed under Brain cancer, Support angels

A take me out to ball game break

Game three of NLCS October 19 2010

In the midst of dying there is living. Good friends Cathy and Mike decreed a break in the action (so to speak) and with friend David Perry in town, the female DG took the afternoon off and went to the ball park, where she meet Julie to see the Giants play the Phillies in game 3 of the National League Champion Series. There’s nothing like a day of baseball to lift the spirits. Especially when the Giants win…


Filed under Brain cancer, Living each day, San Francisco Giants, Support angels

Gathering of the clan, prayer shawls optional

The testosterone level in the DGs house rose late this afternoon when a gathering of the clan (so to speak) arrived for a prayer service, surrounding the male DG’s bed with about as much care and love as a person could ever want. Among the assembled were those who’d shared Taize/Ameugny with the DGs last May, those who were part of their cherished old 5:00 Sunday service as well as a couple of the male DGs most loyal and faithful buddies, punctuated by a couple of clerics for good measure. Such blessings…


Filed under Brain cancer, Support angels

A walk in the rain brings Grace

Grace and the gang arrived a little before noon, along with the first rainfall of the season. All the better to talk a walk, do some puddle sloshing, and look at the neighborhood Halloween decorations. She’s brought her witch costume to show the male DG, aka Grandpa Chrissy…

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Filed under Brain cancer, Grace, Support angels

Some goodbyes are really, really hard

Chris Gulker and Heidi Engel

The DGs can not think of what their life would have been like the past three years if physical therapist extraordinaire Heidi Engel had not entered the picture. The summer of 2007 found the male DG swollen from steroids and nearly unable to walk. Rather than viewing him as a lost cause who was going to die anyway, Heidi put together a rigorous regimen of exercises, constantly tweaking the program as he met a previous milestone.

A year’s hard work later and the male DG was walking unaided – and enjoying his new twice a week morning outings with Scott and Lily. By early 2009 he was doing significant hill work and through May of that year, walking four miles at a time. In retrospect, the DGs agree the first five months of 2009 was the peak of his regained abilities, but even as his mobility began to slip and he added back a walking stick and then the hemi walker (naturally provided by Heidi!), it was always with Heidi in mind. “I would be so much worse without Heidi,” he’s said over and over.

Today Heidi made the trip down the Peninsula for what is likely the final goodbye. No surprise – there wasn’t a dry eye on the patio…


Filed under Brain cancer, Support angels