At University Hospital Feb. 2011

At University Hospital Feb. 2011
February 11, 2011 at University of Utah Hospital

Sunday, December 9, 2012

All I want for Christmas.

This January it will be two years since we learned that Phil had cancer.  What a milestone, when you consider the prognosis in March of 2011--six months to a year.  We're so blessed that Phil has responded well to chemo.  It has bought us nearly two years.  There's something about a terminal diagnosis that makes life so much sweeter. Each day—even each minute—is a gift.  Suddenly it's simple to recognize what really matters.  

I've noticed so many changes in Phil—not just those you can see, like the suffering that has etched itself on his face, or the weight he’s lost.  It's what has changed inside.  He's more reflective, more thoughtful, more expressive, more appreciative.  He’s never been excited about Christmas decorations, but this year he can’t thank me enough for decking the halls.  One night he said, "I know why you're doing this."  And he's right.  I want everything to be so special because we don't know how many more Christmases there will be . . .

Today we visited our friends Calvin and Verdonne Blake.  I'm sure it's the last time we will see Calvin.  He was so pale and weak.  He took great effort to express how happy he was to see us.  He labored to tell Phil, "I think you're the greatest broadcaster in this century.  I love to hear you on the radio!"  What a great friend.

In 2009 Calvin was managing the Cal Black Memorial Airport at Lake Powell and feeling fantastic.  Verdonne read about free cancer screening in the local newspaper and they were both tested because both had exposure to uranium.  Verdonne worked in the office of the vanadium mill in Monticello where high grade uranium was processed, and Calvin was a "mucker" who hauled radium-bearing rock out of uranium mines in San Juan County.   

Verdonne was OK, but not Calvin.  They found themselves at Huntsman Cancer Institute where they learned that Calvin had a particularly vicious lung cancer that doubled in size every 90 days--without immediate treatment, Calvin would not live another six months.  Nearly four years later, Calvin and Verdonne are grateful for that "extra time."  

It's so hard to watch our friends in these final days together.  It's like looking into the future--our future.  All I can say is, if Phil and I are so fortunate to have such love, and even one more year together, we will feel blessed, indeed!

This will be Calvin and Verdonne's last Christmas, at least on this earth.  It would seem sad if we didn't know that a babe was born in Bethlehem who would become the Savior of the world--a Savior who would give His life for us.  Whose ultimate sacrifice and resurrection would make it possible for us to repent and live with Him again.

How grateful I am at this Christmas season for Christ and His gift of eternal life.  For the opportunity to have an eternal marriage and know that families can be together forever.  I am so thankful that we are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

In our last General Conference, President Uchtdorf said, "Let us resolve to cherish those we love by spending meaningful time with them, doing things together, and cultivating treasured memories. . . . "

"To avoid some of the deepest regrets of our life . . . 1) Resolve to spend more time with those we love, 2) Resolve to strive more earnestly to become the person God wants us to be, and 3) Resolve to find happiness, regardless of our circumstances" (Ensign, Nov. 2012, pp. 22 & 24).

I'm not waiting for January 1.  These are my New Year's Resolutions and I'm starting now!


  1. Love this. I too am grateful for the knowledge that Jesus Christ died for us, and that because of temples we can be families for eternity. My Bob has been gone for over 20 years. I still miss him, but life goes on, and I've learned to enjoy each day, knowing that our family will be together again, some day. Thanks for sharing, and for the news about Calvin Blake also. Love to you.

    1. Kay, it's women like you who help me recognize that I can do this! Thank you! Hugs!