Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Chemo Day...

It is a good day. Jud has "passed" his blood test and his white blood cells are up, so he is able to have his second chemo. The last of the late afternoon sunshine is on him as he has a cup of coffee and prepares to sit back in his warmed Barcalounger. He is so lucky to be at Methodist Hospital which is a place he works, doing Courage and Renewal work. 

Check the view out his window. This is the "Healing Garden." In the warmer months, there are gardens of colorful flowers.  I think the winter view is just as beautiful. 

I am sitting on the other side with my crafts in hand (a collage from Silver Bella that I still have not finished). My latest "toy" is up by that big computer...my IPad...I love it!!! Note the TV on the wall and across from Jud's chair. Not bad, huh?

This is such a beautiful, relaxing setting for healing. We feel very fortunate to have him here.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Our Friends Are Like Angels...

Our friends are like angels
Who brighten our days
In all kinds of wonderful
Magical ways

Their thoughtfulness comes
As a gift from above
And we feel we're surrounded
By warm, caring love

Like upside-down rainbows
Their smiles bring the sun
And they fill ho-hum moments
With laughter and fun

Friends are like angels
Without any wings
Blessing our lives
With the most precious thing

Thank you for being our friends.
We are so grateful.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Visit from Saint Nick...

Several years ago a woman approached Jud at a conference. "You look like someone I know," she said, "but I just can't figure out who it is." "Well, I did teach at Phoenix," said Jud, "and I went to the conference in Minneapolis." "No, that's not it," she said. "I'll have to think about it."

Twenty minutes later, she returned. "You look like Santa Claus!" she cried. "You have those rosy red cheeks and those merry, twinkling eyes!" (He was also a bit heavier at that time and had the round little belly!)

So here he is...what do you think? Just imagine a little more hair, perhaps a white wig and beard...

Fast forward to this lovely couple. Some of you will remember Petar and Jelena. Petar was our much-loved exchange student son during his senior year of high school, after three very wonderful "daughters." Jud, Kat and I were lucky enough to attend their wedding in Croatia this September.

They were married at sunset in the Church of St. Nikolas by the Adriatic Sea.

Petar and Jelena sat in white satin chair during their wedding, gazing at the saint himself. Suddenly Petar started to laugh!

"He looks like Jud," said Petar to Jelena.

Those of use who know him can't help but agree!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Light at the end...

It is amazing how our life, in general calm and predictable, turned into a roller coaster when Jud was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Our latest episode took place at Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto,California, where we learned about SBRT radiation therapy, a form of treatment in which very specific radiation is delivered to the site of the cancer. 

Stanford Cancer Center is a beautiful place...the California version of Mayo Hospital. There is beautiful art on the walls and the waiting rooms all face toward the gardens outdoors. We liked the doctor and we felt the treatment offered some hope. Jud, however, needed to not have any other cancer in his body to qualify. We were anxious to get home but...

...the Midwest was in the middle of a blizzard and we were stranded in Denver. As luck would have it, Jud's parents had just arrived in Colorado Springs that morning and we had a wonderful twenty-four hours together. 

Jud and his two lovely sisters and amazing parents.

This one includes our niece, great nephews, great nephew-in-law and me.

Before we left. Jud took this beautiful picture of the sunset from his sister, Joan's, back porch.

We returned to the Twin Cities on Monday and today, Jud had a Pet Scan. We had some good news a couple of hours ago. The Pet Scan was negative, no cancer at any other place in his body except the pancreas. We met with the lovely Melissa, his doctor, and she was enthusiastic about the Stanford program. 

Jud will start chemotherapy on Thursday. Around January 6, we will head back to Stanford and he will have SBRT treatment. We will be there for three weeks, then come back here for three more weeks of chemotherapy. After that, they will do another scan to see if the tumor has shrunk enough to do a Whipple procedure, a surgery that could extend his life. 

Thanks be to God. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

I cried...

"Tears are words the heart can't express."

These days, I feel guilty when I cry in front of Jud. I don't want to add to his sorrow or to have him need to spend his energy taking care of me. It was bound to happen. We visited Stanford yesterday and looked at a different treatment, a radioactive knife that will remove tumors. We felt we had things in place before we left and we worried this would happen...that we would see something new and feel confused about what we should do. 

Stanford is a nice place and the people were kind (I give people lots of points for "kind" these days, especially in major medical centers). They were collecting blood samples in hopes that they would someday find a tumor marker for pancreatic cancer. Jud was asked to be part of the study and I was pleased to be asked to be his control. I could do my part, in a small way. Then...the blood draw. I am not very good with needles. I used to be downright phobic but repeated drawings for a pulmonary emboli twelve years ago somewhat desensitized me. I was glad to do my part. It went fine. I always thank the technician if I get a good draw. Really. It's a blessing! God slipped in!

We got home and the floodgates opened. It was not pretty. I sobbed. I started talking, amidst the sobbing, and all my worries came out. I thought the doctor was trying to "sell us something." I didn't understand all the "medicalese." I couldn't see how this was any better than what we had been offered at home. The "survival rates" were no better. My outburst lasted a long time. We snuggled together on the bed as I continued...snort...snort...sob...sob. So much fear. So much sadness. Serenity gone. 

I finally calmed down. Two hours later. My head is pounding this morning, but I feel calm. The Presence has returned. Once again, I am ready to continue up and down this roller coater called cancer. 

We will be here for the morning. Jud is meeting with an old high school friend who is head of radiology here (how did THAT happen?). Bob was actually at Jud's "Tumor Board" meeting yesterday. Then Jud is going to have some acupuncture with a Stanford-trained doctor. I will rest and read. We are renting a car and heading an hour or so north to see our friends, Susan and Gary. Susan was diagnosed with lymphoma a couple of years ago and is doing well. She is an old South Dakota buddy and we have known her forever. 

Hopefully we will have some great talks and some laughter. I am sure there will also be a few tears.

"Perhaps our eyes need to be washed with tears every once in awhile so that we can see life once again with a clearer view."
Alex Tan

Monday, December 6, 2010



"A blessing is a short meditative exercise in which a person focuses on the goodness of something in a way that it creates an opening for God." This weekend, two of my favorite grad school friends came to our house and we lit the candles on the menorah for the fourth day of Hannukah. Though our religious views may vary, it was a blessing. All of us experienced God's presence, though the three of us were Jewish, Congregationalist and Unitarian.


On Sunday night, we were again visited by Cathy Crooks, our dear minister, whose presence is such a balm to the two of us. At the end of our meeting, we held hands and she prayed about the goodness of many things in our life...the gentle caring of the "little white dogs," the healing nature of the act of breathing, and our community of loving friends who were bringing us food. We each felt very blessed to be in this sacred space and feel the goodness of God.


This week we will visit dear friends who practice an Eastern traditions. Their home is a center of calm and I know I will experience a sense of peace when we are with them. God is certainly present in the goodness of the lives of Susan and Gary. We will meditate together and when we will practice times of silence in our own home, we will think of them. It will be a blessing.


At our neighbor's home, we sang the Johnny Appleseed grace with our grown children this weekend, as we have done for thirty years. Each one tries to sing louder than the next. I hope God knows this cacophany is a blessing. I think he does and maybe He is laughing.

We ask you to bless us, in your own way, as we go visit another set of doctors at Stanford Medical Center in Palo Alto, California. Cathy prayed that we ask for help to open that door with the doctors, the clerical staff, the secretaries, the radiology technicians so that this can be a time of blessing for Jud. Help us open the doors for God to slip in.

"When we offer up blessings, we raise up sparks of holiness, releasing the God-light housed in our world back to its Source. We receivers become givers and the nurturing flow is sustained."

The circle comes around. Thus, we also, will be blessing you.

(Thanks to the work of Julie Neraas and Cathy Crooks. Quotations are from"Apprenticed to Hope" by Julie Neraas.)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sleep in Heavenly Peace...

                                                       picture by Zdenek Sasak

We arrived home after dark from our appointment at Park Nicollet, which also happens to be Jud's clinic and hospital. We felt quite good about our visit. We immediately connected with the oncologist, Melissa Sampson. Our friend, Kathy, described her as a "sterling human being." It describes her well. She is warm, kind, extremely intelligent, honest and well-versed in the area She helped us sort out a lot of our concerns.

Melissa divided the treatments roughly into those that focused on a chemo/radiation program, at the start and those that focused on the new True Beam-type programs which use radioactive knives. The best program in the first area is MD Anderson. The most prominent one in the second area is John Hopkins with Stanford also in the running. Mayo, while good at many cancer treatments, does not  have as good a reputation in the area of pancreatic cancer. We were ready to head there for a second opinion and will now go a different direction.

Our immediate plan is to visit the program at Stanford, which is now the Patrick Swayze program. Then we will be able to compare the two types of programs. We have dear friends who live only five miles from the clinic and have been invited to stay with them. We really feel we need to see this program first-hand to understand the differences. If is looks better for Jud, we will move out there for five-six months.

The MD Anderson protocol is also the one that Park Nicollet follows. Melissa feels very confident in her ability to treat Jud during this phase of his treatment. Jud and I could stay at home and have the same excellent treatment.

We will deal with the surgery part of the program when we get there. We hear the same name over and over again when people talk about this procedure and that is reassuring. He is also located in the Twin Cities.

Jud is asleep. Our shattered nerves are calming as we approach a plan. My guess is that Jud could begin treatment in a week and a half.

So tonight, I think we will both sleep.

You, too. I hope you sleep well. Thank you so much for being with us on this journey. May you sleep in Heavenly Peace!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Place of Calm...

We had our second visit today from Cathie, one of the wonderful ministers at Plymouth Congregational Church. We shared a meal together, which began with Cathie saying a beautiful grace about our conversation being comforting and enriching to each other, then Kat left and the three of us sat down before our family room fireplace.

Cathie is one of those people who really listens to you and asks just the right questions. Her voice is so gentle and caring and I could immediately feel Jud and I calm down. We talked about our worries and feelings and Jud and I snuggled on the couch and felt so connected. We also talked about sadness and hard times in the past and how we dealt with it and realized again that when we went through these storms of life, we often felt surrounded by the love and care of others and closest to God. There is so much genuine good that happens. So many redeeming events. So much incredible caring. When we were finished, I felt so much peace. I haven't felt this peace since the diagnosis.

Cathie brought us gifts. We each got a prayer shawl, knitted by women of our church. As they knit each stitch they pray, so the prayers, in a sense are knitted  into the shawl. 

The prayer Shawl Ministry in an incredible thing. I was given another one by my sister-in-law, Joan, and
treasure it. Now I have a set! I do tend to get cold when I pray or meditate so this is a wonderful gift in many ways.

She also gave us a lovely book, Sounds of the Eternal by J. Philip Newell, which contains beautiful Celtic prayers.
The prayer for Tuesday night...

It is in sleeping that my body is refreshed
It is in letting go that my soul is revived
It is in dying that I am born anew.
Bless to me my sleeping, O God
bless to me my letting go
bless to me my dying,
that tonight I might enter your stillness
that tomorrow I might awake renewed
that in the end, I may be fully alive to you.
Tonight,Tomorrow and Always, O God
may I truly be alive to you.

I am now heading to bed with the first sense of peace and calm that I have felt in a week.
May you sleep well, too.

Journey of the Heart...

We are on a journey. Jud is by nature a calm, gentle, peaceful person. I tend toward that nature myself. He realized yesterday that he didn't want to think of this journey as one of "fighting a battle" against a "terrible enemy." I agree. The more we think of things in a peaceful manner, the calmer we are able to stay. One wonderful Buddhist friend suggested thinking of the cancer as a two year old whom you love but limit. Interesting, huh?

Yesterday was hard. We were at the University of Minnesota Pancreatic Cancer unit for five hours and talked to an oncologist and a surgeon. We saw the scans for the first time and it was a bit shocking to see this tumor which is squeezing three arteries. They both agreed that, at this time, he was not a candidate for surgery. They did feel, however, that even though his cancer was a little more serious that those that they usually have prepare for surgery, he was close enough. They talked about several types of chemotherapy and both independently suggested the milder of the two, along with radiation. In his case, less may be more. 

Tomorrow we see the oncologist at Park Nicollet, his clinic. In the next few days, he will be getting a PET scan to be sure that the cancer is not residing elsewhere in his body.

It is very likely that we will be taking off in the next few days to look at other treatment programs. At this point, I don't know where. I do know that I will take you with me on our journey. Your hope for Jud helps nourish my own.

Hope is a strange invention-Of this electric Adjunct
A patent of the Heart-Not anything is known
In unremitting action But its unique momentum
Yet never wearing out-Embellish all we own.
                                                               -Emily Dickinson

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Caring Bridge access...

First of all, thank you so much for trying! Here's my best guess for some of you that are having trouble. Go to caringbridge.org. From there, I believe you might have to register, if you have not been there before.  Once you are in, you will be asked whose site you want to go to. You can then type in "Jud Reaney"

Let me know if you have more trouble. We have been registered for a friend so we are able to go right on.

Love and thanks,


We are waiting, expectantly
for the coming of the angels,
His parents,
the shepherds, the animals,
the Star, the Babe,
and the wise men, the coming
of the Christmas miracle

It is truly winter in Minnesota now. We drove to Rochester for Thanksgiving (in the snow) to spend time with the Iverson family. Iver has Multiple Melonoma and just had his second stem cell transplant. He is a wonderful example of living with cancer. We have been dear friends for a long, long time. We had set this up before Jud's diagnosis and hoped to be of support to them. Instead, they ended up being support to us! Interesting how things happen, isn't it?  We cried, we laughed, we were mad at the whole deal and we were so grateful for the time together. 

Tomorrow is a big day. We go see the oncologist and surgeon at the University of Minnesota. We heard the surgeon is incredibly knowledgable and that he knows what is happening across the country in the treatment of Pancreatic Cancer. They will review all Jud's records first-hand and tell us about his options. I will tell you honestly, we are scared. Jud has three arteries involved. He has this little tumor that is barely making him sick at this point but it is surrounding such critical places. He needs surgery for any chance of five-year survival, yet we don't know if it would be too dangerous. There are advances, including a Cyber-Knife at Stanford, which can cut more accurately. We are pinning out hopes on things like this.

So far, I will call this a journey of hope. Sometime diminishing hopes. Last week we were still hoping this was pancreatitis. Then we hoped there weren't arteries involved. Now we are hoping that the new technologies will help. Each "hope" seems as important as the last, and it keeps us going on.

We have received so much love from friends. Amidst the sadness, there is still joy and laughter. I do plan to answer those who have responded here. I cannot tell you how much it means to me. I read your responses again and again. We are loving each other and trying not to bicker over what's the most important when we are stressed.We feel the presence of God with us, much as we did when we lost twin sons thirty years ago. 

It's a journey. A journey of hope in this season of Hope. Please continue to travel with us. We need you right now!

P. S. Jud also has a Caring Bridge site. He loves to get messages there and each morning, asks me if there are new ones. Please write him there, if you are so moved. Just say that you are a friend of Kat and Sue's from the blog. He is so tickled to get something from someone we know.


Friday, November 26, 2010

Searching the Darkness

Search the Darkness
Sit with your friends, don't go back to sleep.
Don't sink like a fish to the bottom of the sea.
Surge like an ocean, don't scatter yourself like a storm.
Life's waters flow from darkness.
Search the darkness, don't run from it.
Night travelers are full of light, and you are too:
don't leave this companionship.
Be a wakeful candle in a golden dish,
don't slip into the dirt like quicksilver.
The moon appears for night travelers,
be watchful when the moon is full.

I returned from Silver Bella to a husband who had experienced chest pain and had not wanted to worry me. All heart exams were normal. The pain radiated to his lower left abdomen and another set of tests began. Several days later, he was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer. There are three arteries involved in the tumor which makes it hard to operate right now. We are researching treatments all across the country, as well as locally. We are learning how to live and navigate in the dark. Most of all we are learning about the love and caring of friends. 

We would love to hear from you...LOVE!!! We need all the support we can get. We really need your prayers and good thoughts. Please also feel free to go to Jud's Caring Bridge Site and write a note.We love to hear from you there, too.

We will stay in touch.


Suz, Kat and Jud

Monday, November 22, 2010

Project Runway...A Great Class!

Project Runway was my first class, taught by my blog friend, Colette Copeland of A Bird in the Hand. I have been following her blog (and buying some of her pictures) during the last year and love her style, often thoughtful, sometimes witty, and totally appealing. In this class, we decorated three vintage dresses on a clothesline.

My intention was to do a full "outline" of a class but I would have to go on forever! This, though, is the beginning of the project...one must think and think. This is my dear friend, Donna, doing just that.

This is a class member who is beginning to stitch her project. We were given full reign to stitch, glue, do whatever we wanted to do. Most of us brought our own supplies but Colette also brought us some cool items. 

This is such a sweet dress. The material in the background is French print and was given us to Colette who is from Canada and is bilingual.

This is a totally different interpretation, in soft pinks.

This is a lovely set, in sepia, brown and black. 

Here's another one that uses country-like materials, just charming.

Here is one with darling images. I see an adorable Paper Whimsy girl in the middle

I believe this one was created from family photos. What a sweet looking grandmotherly woman!

Isn't this a dear piece? Such an adorable little girl!

This woman is using a lot of embroidery on her piece.

Here is mine, still in process, but almost done. The pictures are baby pictures of Kat, Jud and I. I changed the dress to knickers for Jud. If you click on this, you an see the baby pictures better. 

And this is me and the lovely Colette. Not really the best people of either of us. She is a small, pretty woman. I am the one with the craft apron by Jem and my smile is getting cheesier and cheesier. 

A lovely time was had by all. It was such a cooperative group. Everyone shared their supplies and ideas so readily. I really enjoyed it. 

Friday, November 19, 2010

But Does She Make Things?

Why, yes I do! I got two things finished at Silver Bella. Last year, I didn't get anything finished!
I will be working on the other things and show them to you soon. 
But for now... I have...

This is a collage that I made in a class taught by Lisa Kaus. We brought our own pictures. I picked mine from one of my old primers.  The little girl looked so much like Kat when she was young. Lisa was so generous about sharing her techniques. We used graphite pencils to edge things and Caron D'Ache crayons to create some cool color effects. We wired a bottle on the bottom. Mine holds glitter and is a tiny old perfume bottle.

...is my teacup fairy doll from a class taught by Beth Quinn. This was loads of fun to make. We brought our own cup. I found this beautiful boullion cup which matches nothing in my house...but hey...good art doesn't have to match your sofa, as they say.  (Just kidding!) This actually needs a little more work. Some more bling around the neck and a bit more glitter and fabric below. It will give you a general idea of the project. Beth was a generous teacher and had lots of lovely fabric for us to rip up and use. Very therapeutic to rip fabric!

I am going to be finishing the other projects soon. A couple are very close to completion. I don't know why am so slow. Do you think it because I am talking all the time? 

This weekend I will share with you some pictures of my whole class. One of my favorites...Project Runway, taught by Colette Copeland.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Silver Bella...Little Sisters

I have brothers, four to be exact. I love them all but I have always longed for a sister. I have been very lucky to have some wonderful "sisterly" relationships with friends and family. Still, I seem to embrace every opportunity to play the "sister" role. 

One of the special parts of Silver Bella is the Big/Little Sister program. I was given Julie Jones from Illinois as my Little Sister. Needless to say, I was delighted! 

One of the jobs of the Big Sister is to answer the questions (and calm the performance anxiety) of the Little Sister. The other is to send them little treats. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a sucker for little treats, given or received.  

The "sleuth" in me was determined to find out what Julie liked and what kinds of things she created. Well, I could not have been luckier. Julie was coming to Silver Bella with her real sister, Merry Gray from Missouri. I found out Merry's email on the Silver Bella blog and wrote her a letter asking about Julie. I also asked whether she had gotten her Big Sister yet. Her response, "Well, I was kind of hoping you would be my Big Sister." How could I resist? I was totally delighted to have not just one, but, two Little Sisters!!!

Julie and Merry met us soon after my roommate, Donna, and I got to Omaha and started our day by taking us out to lunch. They are the kind of people who make you feel instantly comfortable.  You can see us up at the top, Julie on my left and Merry on my right. The best was yet to come.

Silver Bella has been my birthday present for the last two years. I have also celebrated my birthday at Silver Bella for the last two years. My Little Sisters (and my wonderful roommate) made it so much fun. Every time I returned to my room, there was a surprise under my door or hanging on the doorknob. I received a beautiful German silver glittered bird (with a crown), a plaque, a note pad, darling vintage cutouts, vintage wrapping paper. All kinds of fun. The biggest thrill were the flowers above. Julie and Merry made beautiful tissue paper flowers and attached them to my door. Even the maids were delighted. I left them up the whole time. I felt so special!

The Embassy Suites are built around an open court. Merry and Julie were able to watch Donna and I as we approached the door, as they were directly across from us. I am sure they could hear our squeals, too!
Surprises are just wonderful. It continues to make me happy inside just looking at the picture of my door. 

Thank you, Julie and Merry. You were wonderful Little Sisters! I hope we keep in touch and I hope to see you again!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Silver Bella...Finding Your Art Sisters

I have been back from Silver Bella for several days and I am still exhausted! It is a magical time and so much is crammed into a few days. You will see many beautiful pictures of Silver Bella on the internet. Mine are probably not among those! I was so busy that I only had time to grab my camera or quickly hand it to the next person to take a picture. 

To me, the greatest thing about Silver Bella is the people. Our thursday night project was titled "Art Sisters." Finding those sisters is what is all about. Often it is someone with whom I have shared a "blog friendship" and can now meet in person. I was delighted to meet many people that I had communicated with during this year. Laura Kaufman of 52 Flea is one of them. She is charming and kind. I instantly liked her...just like I do on her blog! I wish I had taken a picture of Laura. Robin Thomas of A Nest With a View and I got to see each other again after becoming even better friends through our blog friendship. Robin is very real and hysterically funny. I treasure our friendship. 

Sometimes the friend is someone who 
has done a special favor. Pat May of The Whyte Paper is one of them. She created Moo-like cards for me before Silver Bella (Moo Cards are tiny little business cards that people trade). At the time of getting ready, I had simply spent too much money to consider ordering the real thing! I wrote to Pat on her Etsy site and asked her if she would create cards from a picture I had. She did...for free...and with a wonderful sense of generosity. I was delighted to meet her and her equally lovely daughter and look forward to continued friendship with her. 

Sometimes it is a friend from the year before. Denise Nelson of Pink Pomegranate, also known as Pinkie because she loves pink so much, is a friend that I met last year. She is incredibly talented and equally unassuming. You must go to her blog to see what she makes. I am now lucky enough to own one of her paper shoes and will share that soon. I hope that someday I can visit her store in California. 

Sometimes the friend is someone who just wrote one the the best on-line books you have ever seen. Do go read Amy's book if you haven't already. It is beautiful and charming, just like Amy Powers of Inspire Co. Amy has been kind and welcoming to me since I attended Silver Bella last year.

Sometimes it is a new friend who shares her knowledge, her materials and her talents openly. Peggy Lucas (Peg 'O My Heart) ended up in almost all of my classes. Many people take beautiful pictures at Silver Bella. Peggy offered her pictures to anyone who wanted to use them on their blog. To those of us who were totally overwhelmed and didn't take every picture they wished to take, that is a huge gift.

Sometimes it is a friend who you met the first time when you were only twelve! Jane Paulson went to Camp Tepeetonka with me when we were just youngsters. She looks just the same! She really does! The beautiful woman on the right is her daughter, Emily, who is uproariously funny and quite the artist, just like her mom.

Sometimes the friend is the head honcho herself, Teresa MacFayden. Teresa has been more than gracious and welcoming to me (and others). She puts together an amazing conference and still has the air of a good old "Midwestern girl." 

Sometimes the friends include a whole table. This group worked so beautifully together, sharing ideas and materials so effortlessly. It was the best of Silver Bella.

Then there is the friend at the left. That one is Donna Robinson. A true sister in every way. I do not have a picture of her alone, or a picture of Donna and I, because she was so busy pushing my wheelchair and being the "Nazi" who told me to stop when I was playing too hard. She was the one that made sure I ate well and went to bed on time. Because of her, I got through the weekend in one piece. She is a dear, dear friend and someone who is always there for me. 

Silver Bella. To me it is all about friends, finding your Art Sisters.