Monday, October 5, 2009

Closing One Book...

...and opening the next.

It's hard to believe everything is done. A week ago he was upstairs and we were up to our ears in medicines and nurses and log books and hopes and prayers and dreams and today the house lies wrapped in the uneasy silence of work that has suddenly ground to a halt.

The wake and funeral were wonderful send-offs to him. Alphagraphics, in Red Bank, did a lovely job printing cards upon which we had written the following:

Arty’s Legacy

We in the Oberle family have been comforted, encouraged and humbled by the prayers, love, well wishes and ultimately condolences we received during Art’s illness. As he grew weaker, we began reading the letters, cards, e-mails and posts Art received aloud to him. As we did so, we glimpsed a world of people whose lives he touched and changed, invariably for the better, without ever letting us know what he had done. A gentle leader, an enthusiastic teacher and an irrepressible optimist, Art always had time to lend a hand to someone in need before moving quietly on with his day. He preferred not to talk about those he helped and how he helped them and he never wanted recognition for his actions; accolades made him uncomfortable. He gave of his time, skills, knowledge and contacts freely and expected nothing in return. He gave because it was the right thing to do.

You’ve come here today to honor and remember a truly good man. As you leave, please help us carry his legacy forward by committing a single, unheralded act of kindness. Help someone for the sake of being helpful and then tell no-one what you’ve done, but in your heart say, “That was for you, Arty, because that’s what you would have done.”

Dom and Sharon worked extra hard to make sure everything was beautiful for the cards and also for the funeral programs. Then they brought the programs to the church and served as Eucharistic ministers at the mass. We are so grateful to them and to all the other people who stepped in to help us limp through laying Dad to rest.

There were people who sent food (thank goodness because we certainly weren't grocery shopping).

There were people who sent flowers (thank goodness because half the time we weren't showering).

There were people who ran errands and held babies and provided strong shoulders upon which to fall in tears. All will be thanked individually, but all must be acknowledged here and now - thank you thank you thank you.

Sadly, Dad's grandchildren are too young to get the full benefit of having him for a grandfather. Kurt, Chris and I can tell them he was an amazing man until we are blue in the face, but there are stories that we don't know, or that are not nearly as good second-hand (or third-hand) as they are when told by the person who lived them. In order to preserve as much of Dad's colorful personality and history as possible, we have created an e-mail address in his memory. It is:

If you have a story (or several stories) or a recollection about Dad, or if you're willing to share with his grandchildren what he meant to you, please e-mail We are collecting the e-mails and putting them into a book, along with the cards and letters and other well wishes that he received during his illness. On behalf of the children, I'd like to thank you for taking the time to give them a glimpse of what a fun, warm, caring, funny guy he really was.

I'll close this portion of the blog out with the prayer Christian chose for the prayer cards at the funeral home. I feel like Dad would have approved of it:

When I Must Leave You

When I must leave you for a little while
Please do not grieve and shed wild tears
And hug your sorrow to you through the years
But start out bravely with a gallant smile;
And for my sake and in my name
Live on and do all things the same.
Feed not your loneliness on empty days,
But fill each waking hour in useful ways,
Reach out your hand in comfort and in cheer
And I in turn will comfort you and hold you near;
And never, never be afraid to die
For I am waiting for you in the Sky!

I am not certain of the fate of the blog. Perhaps it will retire; maybe it will continue on under a new name - a place to remember Arty along with I will post when I have a better idea of what is to come. For now, I am going to sign off, power down and take a few moments to rest and remember that incredible man I was lucky enough to call "Dad".



Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Dad's Obituary

85 Riverside Avenue
Red Bank, New Jersey 07701

Obituary of Dr. Arthur J. Oberle, D.D.S.

Dr. Arthur J. Oberle, D.D.S., of Colts Neck, passed away at home on Wednesday, September 30, 2009 from complications related to pancreatic cancer. He was 70 years old. Dr. Oberle worked as a dentist at his office in Red Bank for 27 years, and also as an associate with Dr. Victor Buccellato, in Freehold.

He is predeceased by his parents; Arthur O. Oberle and Margaret (Polhemus) Oberle, his stepfather; Everett Polhemus, and sister; Peggy Ann Hyland.

He is survived by his wife of 45 years; Lee (Scuderi) Oberle, two sons; Kurt Arthur Oberle and his wife Keri of Charleston, SC and Christian Arthur Oberle and his wife Jane de Bretteville Blair of New York, NY, his daughter; Constance Oberle Geoghan and her husband Daniel F.X. Geoghan of New York, NY, his sister; Rosemary Lamurey of Brick, NJ, and three grandchildren; Anna Lee and Katherine Geoghan and Jacob Oscar Oberle.

Dr. Oberle was born and raised in Tottenville, New York. He graduated from Wagner College and, after a period working as an electrical engineer, attended the New York University College of Dentistry. He graduated in 1969 and practiced on Staten Island before moving to New Jersey in 1972. He was an avid sportsman who had a particular affinity for piloting private aircraft, sailing traditional and ice sailboats, skiing, traveling and most water sports. Dr. Oberle was a member of the New Jersey Dental Society, the American Academy of Implant Dentistry, the New Jersey Aero Club (past president), the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, the Lake Morey Protective Association (member, Board of Directors), the North Shrewsbury Ice Boat and Yacht Club and the Monmouth Boat Club. He was a communicant of St. Mary’s RC Church in Colts Neck and of St. James RC Church in Red Bank and he was a Eucharistic minister at St. Anthony’s RC Church in Red Bank. He served our country as a member of the U.S. Marine Corps (Active Duty and Reserve).

Visitation will be held on Friday, October 2, 2009 from 2-4 & 7-9 pm at the John E. Day Funeral Home, 85 Riverside Avenue, Red Bank, NJ. A Mass will be celebrated at 9:00 am on Saturday, October 3, 2009 at St. Mary’s RC Church in Colts Neck. Interment is private. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to the Pancreas Cancer Research and Development Fund, Fund No. 205568, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, 1275 York Avenue, New York, NY 10021. Letters of condolence can be e-mailed to the funeral home’s website

Just the Facts, Ma'am

The wake will be held on Friday, October 2, 2009 at the John E. Day Funeral Home in Red Bank, NJ. There will be an afternoon and an evening viewing. The contact information for the funeral home is:

John E. Day Funeral Home
85 Riverside Ave
Red Bank, NJ 07701-1007
(732) 747-0332

The funeral will be held at 9:00 AM on Saturday, October 3, 2009 at St. Mary's Church in Colts Neck, NJ. St. Mary's Church is located at the corner of Route 34 and Phalanx Road. Directions to St. Mary's Church are set forth below:

Directions to St. Mary’s Church – Colts Neck, New Jersey

Garden State Parkway from the North:

Take the New Jersey Garden State Parkway south to Exit 109. As you pass through the tollbooth, take a right turn onto Newman Springs Road. The sign will indicate Lincroft.

After about a mile you will come to a traffic light. The

Lincroft Inn is on your right and gas stations on your left. Go through that light staying in the left lane.

In about 100 feet you will come to another traffic light. Make a left turn onto Phalanx Road and travel approximately 3.5 miles to entrance. St. Mary’s is on the right just before the traffic light at Route 34.

Garden State Parkway from the South:

Take the Garden State Parkway to Exit 109 and follow the sign for Lincroft which will be on your left. (If you head toward Red Bank you are going in the wrong direction. Follow the directions as above.

New Jersey Turnpike from the North:

Take Exit 11 onto the Garden State Parkway. Proceed to Exit 109 and follow directions as above (G.S.P. from North),

New Jersey Turnpike from the South:

Take Exit 7A to Route 195 East. Proceed approximately 30 minutes to Exit 35B for Highway 34 North. Take Hwy. 34 North 10 miles on divided highway following Matawan and Colts Neck signs until you come to Colts Neck. St. Mary’s will be on your right at corner of Hwy. 34 and Phalanx Road.

Route 18:

Take Exit 19 indicating Route 34 North. At second light make a right. St. Mary’s is on the corner of Hwy. 34 and Phalanx Road.

The Final Flight

It's hard to believe I'm writing this, but it's over. Dad passed away this morning. Today is the anniversary of the day his mother passed away, and somehow it makes sense that he chose to go with her on this day. I will miss him terribly, but I take comfort in the knowledge that he is finally at rest.

I will post information relating to services as soon as I have it. For right now, please let me thank you all once again for your love and your prayers and your support. We could not have made this journey without each and every one of you.



Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Two Weeks Later

Wow - I can't believe it's been two weeks.

Dad was released to hospice care a week ago this past Friday. We've all been sticking by the house as much as possible since then, trying to be some help to Mom and to him. The neighbors have been amazing - the food - the cards - the *food*! I don't know what we would have eaten without the generosity and culinary skills of our friends.

Dad isn't able to take visitors. He is very weak, but still trying to rally. It's hard to see him so sick.

We continue praying for our miracle, but hope is coming in shorter and shorter supply as we stare defiantly in the face of what may prove to be a grim reality.

I would like my next post to be about the amazing turn-around he pulled off - about how he cheated this disease of its victim and banished it forever. I believe in the power of positive thinking, so I am going to draft it now. That way when it's time to publish it, I won't have to step away from our celebratory party to write it up.



Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Greeting from Sloan-Kettering... Again.

So here we are. The cancer is causing a blockage in his small intestine. He's going to have surgery today to install a drain in his stomach so that food doesn't have to try to pass through the cancer-laden area. We're targeting a release on Friday or Saturday and anxious to get him out of here. No offense to the folks at MSKCC, but we don't want to stay here one minute longer than is absolutely necessary.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Of Course...'s a blockage. He has a partial blockage in his stomach. He also has an elevated white blood cell count, very high potassium and terrible dehydration. He has taken 3 bags of saline this afternoon and is showing no signs of slowing down.

Not sure what, if anything, can be done for the blockage, but at least he's being made comfortable. He, Mom and Kurt have been in the ER since this morning - they're just moving him into a room now. It's nearly 11:00 PM. Mom and Kurt said the ER at Sloan is teeming with people. The rooms are full. The halls are full. The waiting room is full. It's just cancer cancer everywhere.

What a flippin' mess.

Back Where We Started

Dad has developed some sort of an infection or another blockage. He is back in the ER at Sloan and going in for another CAT scan. He's had so many CAT scans, I half expect him to open his mouth and meow.

We're trying to marshall our forces for the next round of chemo, but our forces have yet to heed the call. Our troops are AWOL. Dad has lost a tremendous amount of weight; he's past my pre-pregnancy weight and pushing toward my wedding day weight. Those were the days when I was known as Connie-Please-Have-A-Sandwich or Bride-Of-Skeletor. Yikes.

But he's trying. He's trying to eat. He's trying to drink. He's trying to move around, but it's so damned hard. Everything is getting so damned hard for him. It's frustrating.

It's INFURIATING!!! I want this disease to go away! I saw an article on "60 Minutes" about a guy who invented inhalable chocolate and I wanted to scream at the television, "Clearly you are a bright man! Go use your talent to cure cancer! Stop f^*#ing around with inhalable chocolate!"

But, of course, that doesn't help.

And at least, with inhalable chocolate coming to the market, cancer patients who can't eat can still get a taste of something sweet.

Or so the inventor claims.


Monday, September 7, 2009

Skinny but Upright

He's home. He's skinny, but he's still standing.

All I can say is this - August '09 - what a s*!t show. Let's not do that again.

To those of you who have visited him at home since he returned on Saturday, thank you. He has enjoyed the company. To those of you who have sent flowers and food and cards, thank you again. They are all lovely and so very appreciated. Our visitors have been calling in advance and keeping their time with him short, as he tires quickly right now, but it is so good for him to have people with whom to speak about things other than how he feels, what he ate and how has he slept. A few of his pilot friends have called and I must say, he looks quite vibrant when he hears they are on the telephone.

We will be back at Dr. O'Reilly's office on Friday and the plan is to get Dad back on his chemo as soon as he is strong enough to handle it. I have high hopes, as does he, that he will be strong enough very soon. In the meantime, please continue to keep us in your thoughts and prayers. Yesterday was our 11 month anniversary - 11 months since he was diagnosed. He has been so strong and fought with such bravery - so much of his strength comes from the friends and family whose love feeds his will and fires his spirit. Thank you thank you thank you for loving him so much.



Friday, September 4, 2009

One Step Forward...

He's in...

he's out...

he's in again.

This is the Sloan-Kettering version of the Hokey Pokey.

Dad has had 3 surgeries in the past week (apologies for falling behind - things started moving too fast). He was released from the hospital the day before yesterday, but re-admitted last night.

He has an incision in his belly where the doctors looked at his colon.

He has a port for his IV, so they can stop shredding his veins with all his drips and treatments.

He has a drain in his tummy to vent fluid that has been pooling there.

He looks like one of my old rag dollies that has been torn and sewn and torn and sewn again... but only if he lifts up his shirt. The rest of him looks fine. A bit on the thin side (amazing how fast the weight drops off when you don't eat for two weeks), but otherwise fine.

Tentatively, the doctors are talking about releasing him tomorrow, but he's going to have to eat some solid food first. Actually, before he eats the solid food, he needs to take some liquids. I'm going to try to visit him this afternoon, if he's feeling up to visitors. I'll send him best wishes from the Blog.

Happy Labor Day to you all - may it be safe and healthy and lots of fun. I'm hoping Dad will be home and healthy enough to enjoy part, if not all of it.



Friday, August 28, 2009

Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad!

Today is Mom and Dad's 45th wedding anniversary. I wish they were together on some awesome vacation instead of doing the Sloan-Kettering Shuffle, but Dad is getting great care where he is so I'm not going to complain.

Although somebody apparently decided to see what would happen if they clamped off his NG tube - kind of like the way Kurt, Chris and I used to say things like, "I wonder what would happen if I lit this cherry bomb and dropped it into the toilet...." - and... well... in both instances the result was a great big mess.

But overall, Dad is doing pretty well. He is stepping down from his pain meds ("I want to see how bad I really feel," says he) and pushing himself to spend more time out of bed than in it. He's pretty far from cartwheels in the halls and cannonballs into the pool, but I think that will come in good time.

In the meanwhile, I thought I'd post a picture I took of him and the girls at the end of July, just so you all can see how great he looks.

Yes - I'm showing off. It's my blog, so I'm allowed!

Here he is!

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Dad was so much better today! He actually said, despite the discomfort of the incision, he feels "600% better" than he felt yesterday.

He spent the bulk of the day out of his hospital bed, sitting in a chair. He read the paper. He talked on the phone with friends. He lectured me on kids and work and priorities and the real estate market. He was happy and then grumpy and then happy again.

In the afternoon, he grabbed his IV pole and went back to walking. He did seven laps, which I think might have been too much (I don't want him to over exert himself) but when I started fussing and had a nurse take his temperature, he told me to go home.

And he said it with such an air of "don't mess with me, young lady," that I'm now on the bus on my way back to my family.

I'm completely nerve-wracked to be leaving him and Mom in the city tonight, but I'm also pretty confident that he is on the mend and in very good hands. He's not up to visitors, but the e-mails and phone calls and text messages have been wonderful for his spirits and for Mom's spirits too.

Thank you all!



And he's up again.

The surgeon was able to bypass the blockage. Hooray!

The blockage itself was caused by the cancer, which I think we all knew on some level or another, but the important thing is that it's no longer causing him pain. Despite major abdominal surgery, he's already been up and out of bed and walked a bit around the hospital floor.

The surgeon who operated on Dad - Dr. G. - and his team came in this morning to explain to Dad what was done yesterday.

"Okay," Dad said when they finished. "Can I get my IV port before I leave?"

I wish you all could have seen the look on Dr. G's face. It could roughly be translated into, "I'm sorry - you want WHAT? More surgery?"

"Well," Dad explained, because this was all completely reasonable to him, "yesterday, I came as close to surgery as you can come without actually getting surgery. Rather than having to go home and then come back later for the port, why can't we just knock it out while I'm here? Otherwise it's a real pain in the neck."

The team gave a collective blink. I don't think they're used to having a patient who is so fresh out of the OR request a second session with the scalpel.

Then they mobilized. All at once.



"Of course!"

"That can be done!"

"We'll order it today so you're on the schedule for early next week!"

Dr. G. nodded thoughtfully. "Assuming you recover well and have no signs of a secondary infection, I see no reason we cannot insert your port before you leave."

The lawyer in me was pleased to see the reasoned thinking.

The daughter in me was pleased to see Dad getting what he wants.

Both sides of me will be happiest when he is back where he belongs - swimming in the pool, fixing teeth (I have a busted tooth, so I need him back chairside pronto!) and driving around in the early morning, making certain the world is where he left it the night before.



Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Update Again

Well. After 8 days of "wait and see," of "one more test," of "what about...," they doctors decided to give him the port for his IV so he doesn't have to deal with IV needles pricking the hell out of his arms. So they came for him at 10:45 this morning, packed him up and took him to the OR for his port. We expected him to be gone for around two hours, and sure enough, he came back two hours later.

Without the port.

Apparently, he waited for his turn in the OR, got prepped and got into the room and under the lights when the call came in: "WAIT!!!"

The surgical team, the medical team and the oncology team finally reached agreement.

And the heavens parted and the angels sang and there was great rejoicing for lo! There was to be surgery and it was to be on the bowel to remove the obstruction.

And suddenly, after 8 days of things moving at hospital speed (which makes glaciers look speedy in their progress), things started moving at autobahn speed. Doctors were bumping into each other in the doorway to the room. Consents were signed. Pulses were taken, questions asked, markers plucked from pockets and applied to the skin and then WOOSH! We were taken to the pre-op room and then VOOM! He was taken to the OR.

Which is where he is now.

And so... we wait.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Further Update

He is sleeping now, which is good because he got very little rest last night and earlier today. It's also a great sign that he is able to get comfortable enough to sleep - that was most assuredly not the case last night.

The obstruction does not appear to have orginated with the lesion in the jejunum. It is housed in the small bowel (as opposed to him having a little obstruction of the large bowel, which is what my prior post could have been interpreted as saying). The medical team is hopeful that with lots of IV fluids and a bit of walking around, they will be able to get the blockage to clear without surgical intervention.

Their inclination at this point is to get him better and then do surgery to insert a port in his chest for his IV chemo. We've known that the port was coming; Dad's veins are getting a bit scarred up from all the chemo and it is becoming increasingly difficult and painful to get the lines inserted.

Mom just called - he is up, so I'm going in to see him.

More as and when.



Quick Update

This will be a quick update - Dad's scans showed that the cancer has grown tolerant of his chemo and spread to his abdomen. Dr. O'Reilly changed his chemo protocols and he had one treatment. He is supposed to have a second round of chemo tomorrow, but he's not doing very well right now so we're not sure if that will happen. Currently, he is admitted at Sloan-Kettering with a small bowel obstruction. Tests are being run (and he's hardly studied at all!) and determinations are being made and I'll update again when I have more information.



Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Itsy Bitsy Spider...

...was way more dangerous than she was letting on. Seriously, folks. Don't let her fool you with that whole "up the water spout" trick. She's not going up the water spout. She's going up the leg of your trousers and she's packing some venom. If you see the Itsy Bitsy Spider, make like Miss Muffet, get off your tuffet and get the hell outta there.

By now, you all think I'm boozing at the computer terminal. I'm not. Really. But I am quite serious about the spiders. Dad was bitten by a spider just before the July 4th holiday (one more reason to live in the city - the spiders don't bite. They carry guns and knives and run in gangs, but they don't bite). The little spider bite left him with an infection and a rash that ran all the way up his leg. One round of antibiotics didn't cure him, so now he's having a second round. The leg looks better, which means he no longer looks like he's propped up on the trunk of a California Redwood, but the ankle puffs up like a water balloon by the end of the day.

We visited him and Mom this past weekend, in part to say "hi" and in part because they took Anna Lee last Tuesday and we figured we should get her back before she got too used to the good life with Grandma Lee Lee and Grandpa Doc.

"That leg looks like hell, Dad," I said.

"It's really much better," he replied as he hobbled after the three-year-old. "It's almost normal."

"I think you should get it looked at, Dad."

"It's fine," he said over his shoulder, clearly getting annoyed with me. Then he limped out to the pool to give Anna Lee a swimming lesson.

Mom clucked disapprovingly at his back.

"He isn't wearing sunscreen," she said.

I didn't respond. If she thought I was going to cross him over suncreen, she was out of her mind. I had bigger fish to fry - there is a huge mud wasp nest in the bush next to the grill and I was afraid Dad was going to get himself stung to pieces trying to get rid of it.

"Don't try to take it down," Dan and I cautioned them. "Get somebody else to do it. Somebody with experience. Somebody with tools. Somebody with a hazmat suit."

Do you think they listened? Naaaahhhhh. Last I heard, Mom was trying to frighten the wasps into giving up their home by throwing beer at them. I believe they responded by sending an emissary to request chips and dip.

So we finished our visit, came back to the city and got the phone call that one of our other relatives is in the hospital with... guess what... an infected spider bite. So I renew my word of caution to you all - watch out for the spiders! I've spent a decade mocking Dan for his arachnophobia. Perhaps his fear is well placed.

Mom and Dad are in the city for another round of scans today. Dad is literally having the scan as I type this. Mom called to say that they took him in and to ask if I thought we would have the results any sooner than next week (answer: nope). As always, I will post as soon as I have information to share. In the mean time, keep thinking good thoughts and I'll do the same.

And watch out for the spiders.



Saturday, June 27, 2009

Ya Win Some, Ya Lose Some

Updating from Mom and Dad's house, which feels slightly strange because they're not here. They're partying somewhere in upstate New York (no dancing on the tables, Dad); I'm in Jersey eating their food, drinking their wine and giving the dogs and Anna Lee a chance to run amok in the back yard. Don't worry Mom - I'm wiping everybody's feet before they come into the house.

For those of you who are wondering:

YES, the alarm did go off.

NO, I didn't set it off. Honest. There was a thunder storm. And a power failure. It really wasn't me.

But I was mightily confused when I called Mom from the driveway to confirm the code that I can never remember because it's not my ATM code, social security number or high school locker combination and she said, "You already set the alarm off."

"From the driveway?"

She insisted I'd done it. I swore up and down I didn't. Dad was the one who thought to ask about the thunder storm and the power failure. Otherwise I fear I'd still be standing in the driveway, protesting my innocence to a mother who has heard me protest my innocence too many times before.

So they're on the road again, but this time Dad isn't feeling too well. He took a bit of a dive just after my last update, so Dr. O'Reilly took him off part of his chemo cocktail for a bit. We knew that at some point, the toxins would build up until we would need to start editing his treatment protocol, and I guess we've reached that point. It's not unexpected, but it's sort of a bummer nonetheless. I hope he bounces back qiuckly, because we need to keep his chemo regime consistent in order to stay ahead of the cancer.

Of course, if you ask him, he says he feels okay. That's in part because he's just not a complainer, and also because compared to when he feels totally terrible, he really *does* feel okay.

But I want him to feel better than okay.

I want him to feel good.

That's not too much to ask, right?

I didn't think so.

The doctor also started him on tincture of opium to control his symptoms and help him feel better.

"Aren't you supposed to smoke that?" Mom asked, probably imagining that Dad was going to break out a hookah and turn into the Caterpillar from "Alice in Wonderland".

The answer is no - you don't. It's not opium, and it's stripped of most of its narcotic attributes, so it's not a fun drug. But it's side effects are drowsiness and dizziness, so Dad took it and promptly handed the car keys to Mom.

Smart man. He may have lived through a time when drinking and driving was more of a sport than a crime, but these days, he knows when to say when.

So that's the update for now.

More as and when, and until then, keep on keepin' on.



Saturday, June 13, 2009

Welcoming Summer With Open Arms... And a Little Bit of Disco

And so, here we are, nine months later. Does it feel like nine months to you? I think it feels like nine minutes and ninety years.

How is Dad?

He's doing well. Really well. Almost embarrassingly well.

"I thought your dad was sick," people hiss in my ear at parties. I watch Dad boogie past, doing his super special Lindy-Mashed Potato-Saturday Night Fever- Hand Jive and shrug. "That's what they keep telling him. He just won't play the part."

He went to Vermont and helped set the buoys in Lake Morey ("I drove the boat," he proudly declared.).

He went back to help rip the roof off the porch ("and nobody got hurt!" he proudly declared).

He rocked it out so hard at a recent wedding, my sources tell me he giggled himself to sleep and then had the Grand High Master of all Hangovers the next day.

Well Done, Dad.

He had a bad bout of pain in April, which gave us all a bit of a fright. A series of emergency scans revealed...a kidney stone. We all hooted and hollered and cheered for the kidney stone while Dad piped up from the corner, "excuse me, but it still HURTS! ".

We were sort of heartless and told him to tough it out, and he did, which was quite decent of him.

Of course, it's not all posies and parties - this is life in the world of cancer and chemo, after all.

He has days when he is wiped out.

He has days when he feels really crappy.

He has days when he gets really frustrated that basic activities - things we all take for granted, like being able to go out to dinner - sometimes seem out of reach.

But his moods are a bit like a superball - they drop and then bounce back up and he's off and running once again.

His next round of scans is scheduled for July. We expect (nay - demand!) another set of positive results, and that he will spend a good chunk of the summer teaching the grand kids to swim in the lake and the pool (if it ever stops raining and gets warm).

We are, as always, astonished and humbled by the continued outpouring of support we have received. The prayers and good wishes of our friends and family help give Dad the strength to get up every day and say, "No way, cancer. You won't get me today. I will fight. I will survive." (I feel a disco ball and a Gloria Gaynor song coming on. Let's go, people. You know the words. Let your inner 1970's Disco Diva run free, strap on your roller skates with your Adidas knee socks and sing along!)

"Oh no not I!
I will survive!
Oh, as long as I know how to love, I know I'll stay alive!
I've got all my life to live,
I've got all my love to give,
and I'll survive... I will survive!
Hey hey!"

< and we're off, discoing into the summer sunset >



Thursday, April 2, 2009

Holy Moly!

All I can say is "WOW". Dad finally got around to asking for the results of his blood marker tests. We were all so jazzed with the results of the scans, we forgot to follow up on the markers. So on Tuesday, sort of conversationally, Dad asked the nurse to check on the results. The number nearly knocked him out of his chair.

In October, he was at 470. As a refresher, a normal, cancer-free result is 0 - 40. So 470 was not a good number.

In December, he was down around 190. We were very happy to see such a drop.

At the start of March? 95. I'll say it again. NINETY FIVE.

No wonder the doctor was so happy. That's an *incredible* result!

As you can imagine, we are all thrilled. Dad was so happy, he finished his chemo and then he, Mom and a friend of theirs went out for a burger. Who finishes chemo and then grabs a burger?

My Dad.

He swears he's doing so well because of all the support, prayers and love he's received from all of his friends. We're all in this together, and we're winning!




Sunday, March 8, 2009

Survey Says...

It's a WIN!!! Another HUGE win, actually. The results of the scans were "excellent," in the words of Dr. O'Reilly (who is rarely so effusive). We figured Dad was doing well, but the results were even better than we expected. All of the tumors shrunk - the ones on the liver and the big one in the intestine too. Hooray!

I wasn't able to be at the hospital this time, but Dad called with the results as soon as he and Mom and Christian finished meeting with Dr. O'Reilly. Then Mom called to tell me the results while Dad called Kurt to share the results with him. Then Mom called Kurt for the same reason. Then Kurt called me to ask if it was normal for our parents to be standing side by side making the same phone calls to the same people at the same time. A fair question, but given the nature of the news, I don't care if they call me fifty times!

I haven't been able to get the results of the blood tests, but I imagine the markers dropped off significantly as well. I'll post an update as soon as I'm able to track down my parents, who I am pretty sure have been out celebrating since they got the news yesterday.

Thanks to everyone who reads along and comments or just sends a note of good wishes to Mom and Dad. All the wonderful wishes and prayers and good thoughts are working!



Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Scan Day!

So I must admit to being remiss in updating the blog. Today Dad is having his second round of scans, having completed his second bout of chemo last week. I think we're all a little nervous, but without reason. He's feeling well, he's looking great and his outlook is superb. It helps, of course, that we have a new member of Team Oberle helping to cheer him on:

Meet Katherine Anne Margaret Geoghan:

Katherine is very excited about joining the fight. I know she looks a little complacent now but trust me - she really gets her spit-fire on at around two in the morning. I think she'll be a powerful addition to the team.

The scan went uneventfully and Mom and Dad went from the hospital to visit Katherine and me. From there, they headed for home and now the tough part begins... waiting. Didn't Tom Petty write a song about this? Yeah - the waiting really is the hardest part. But wait we will, until Friday, when we expect to hear great things yet again.

Please keep us in your thoughts and send positive vibes our way!



Friday, February 6, 2009

"On the road, again. Just can't wait to get on the road again."

It's the theme song to Dad's life. He and Mom have always been drivers, as likely to dash to Vermont for the day (5 hours driving) as they are to dash to Lincroft (5 minutes driving). When I was a kid, I didn't think there was anything extraordinary about loading into the car every weekend to log several hundred miles for two days of skiing. Six weeks in a van, driving around the country, was just another Oberle (or Griswold) vacation. Now that I am a parent, I recognize the trips for what they were - Herculean efforts made by my parents, with Dad at the wheel and Mom forever riding shotgun but never getting full control of the radio, to score family time. That, or acts of sheer lunacy. I prefer the former classification to the later.

Dad's and Mom's ramblin' ways hit a snag when Dad got sick. It was tough to work up the stamina for 6 hours of driving, let alone any sort of recreational activity, when he hadn't eaten a proper meal in 3 months.

But no more.

The foot is back on the gas pedal and even though he sometimes relinquishes the steering wheel (but never control) to Mom, I feel pretty confident saying he's back to his old ways.

He went to Vermont to take some turns with an old friend from the Ski Club (apparently it was quite cold, but he pressed on). He and one of my uncles took a bus trip to ski in New York (apparently it was pea soup fog and pissing down rain, but he pressed on). He made plans to take my daughter skiing in Connecticut, but when the forecast called for sub-zero temperatures before the wind-chill, he wised up and turned south.

Way south.

Tuesday I met him and Mom and Christian at Sloan for his IV chemo. I like having the chance to spend some time with him and Mom when they're in the city for his treatments, but I had special motivation to see them this week. They were planning to finish his IV, go home, load the car (an energy-efficient Hybrid, I am proud to report) and leave before sunrise Wednesday for a road-trip down the East Coast to Charleston and from Charleston to Miami.

Yes - Dad and Mom are driving to Florida. I could be mistaken, but I think I was in grammar school the last time they drove to Florida. I also think there was a reason we didn't do it again - it's a really long drive.

So I met them at the hospital to spend some time and to say "bon voyage." Dad looks fantastic. His weigh-in showed that he and I are still going pound-for-pound. No, I still won't tell you how many pounds we're currently packing, but it's awesome for him and worthy of a few post-baby visits to the personal trainer for me.

He still isn't having terrible side effects from the chemo, which is great. Curiously, he gets associative nausea when he enters the IV treatment area, but I am trying to figure out a way to make that stop. The continuing nature of the treatments - meaning that they are going to be doing chemo for two weeks out of every three for the foreseeable future - is always a little tough to embrace, but we all know that the chemo is treating him far better than the cancer did, so we grin and bear it, re-fill the prescriptions and plug in to the drip once again.

Dad took his IV and, when it was done, grabbed his coat and hat and with a "C'mon, I'll give you a lift home," was out the door in a shot. Mom and I were scrambling in his wake. They drove me across town and deposited me at my building. Then, with a kiss on the cheek and a "see you later!" they were gone, bouncing off through the snow, on their way to Jersey and from there to warmer climes.

I was left standing on the side of 73rd street, scratching my head and wondering precisely what super-strong stuff was forged into their souls when they were created. I just don't know any other people like them. I wish I could say I weather adversity as well and as gracefully as they do, but I know I don't.

I'm just a big old baby.

Who was more than a little bit jealous on Wednesday morning, when I awoke to find the temperature in New York barely out of the single digits and Mom and Dad were already nosing their way into Baltimore.

I checked in with them a few times during the day - greetings from Virginia - we're in North Carolina - hi, we're in Charleston. I know Dad gave Mom at least one opportunity to use the bathroom during the trip (once we get going, Oberles do not stop) because they had to re-fuel the hybrid once en route, but beyond that, they seem to have put the pedal down and gone.

Just like they would have done 20 years ago - except our old Chevy van would have needed many more fuel stops.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Happy New Year from The Blog!

Sorry for the false post earlier - that's what I get for trying to type and watch the Golden Globes at the same time. You didn't really think I had nothing to say but "happy new year," did you? Not a chance!

And now, back to our regularly scheduled post...

The holidays have always been a whirlwind, and in some ways this year was as every other. We put our feet into the blocks on Halloween and sprang into the late autumn powered by fun-sized Snickers bars pinched from our kids' trick-or-treat bags. Down came the pumpkins and up went the pilgrims and before we knew it, we had polished off the pecan pie and raced off to the mall in search of the most perfect present ever... preferably at 50% off.

The holiday season felt short and rushed and harried but this year it also felt precious and warm and unique. Maybe that's one of the backwards gifts that a chronic and frightening condition like cancer can give to a family. Unlike in years past, we didn't try to see too many people or do too much. The three Oberle kids came home with their spouses and families and we stayed put. Kurt and Keri (and Oscar and their impressively intelligent/vindictive dog Ashton) drove from Charleston to New Jersey and back again twice in the span of four weeks. They took a week off for each visit, so there was ample time to spend with Mom and Dad and Nanny. Christian and Jane made it to Colts Neck for both Thanksgiving and Christmas and they stayed over each time. Christian works so much, the holidays are often practically a drive-by, so the extra time with him was particularly special. As for me - well - I've always felt like Dan and I spend the better part of the Christmas holiday in the car, racing from one place to another. This year we landed at Mom and Dad's house on Christmas Eve and stayed until December 26. The little kids had a blast and it was fun to swap gifts, but the best part of the holiday (in my never-humble opinion) came when the dishes had been cleared and my family gathered in the kitchen, picking over leftovers and memories with equal relish. The stories flowed with abandon and I can't remember the last time I laughed so hard with people I love so much. By the time I went to bed, my face and my sides were sore. I know it was difficult for our spouses to spend the entire holiday away from their extended families, but in doing so they gave us the best Christmas I can remember and for that, I am and will remain eternally grateful.

So how was Dad through the holiday? Amazing. I was afraid that going out with the family for Christmas Eve would wipe him out too much to enjoy Christmas Day. I needn't have worried. He looked great. He felt great. He ate and laughed and had a blast. He had a ton of visitors over the holidays - Mom made more than one wise crack about a star hanging over the house and frankincense and myrrh being left on the front steps - and I know he really enjoyed all the company.

The new year has settled in and Dad is in his second set of this new round of chemo. He's still tolerating the treatments well (and he still has his hair) and is even gaining weight. I met him and Mom for an appointment at Sloan-Kettering last week, and when we got into the examining room, he weighed himself. He slid the weights to the right and to the right and to the right again and then shook his head and said, "that can't be right. The scale must be broken."

I think the same thing every time I get on the scale these days.

"How much does it say?" I asked him.

He gave the number and then said, "that would be a gain of more than 20 pounds."

"Well it just so happens," I said, "that I weighed that exact amount at the obstetrician yesterday, so step aside, Old Man, and give Fatty a shot at the scale."

Dad raised one slightly thin eyebrow and stepped aside. I heaved my impressively pregnant self onto the scale and mentally dared the weights to challenge me. The bar tipped up... then down... then balanced. The scale was accurate. Dad has gained more than 20 pounds!

Yes - he is six inches taller than me and we weigh the same amount.

N0 - I will not tell you what that amount is.

But I am sooooooo going on a diet once this baby is born.

Dr. O'Reilly was very pleased with how well Dad looks and feels. He did get a hernia in December (which he and a buddy of his put back (however one does that) on their own), so she set him up with an appointment to see a surgeon later this month. That appointment will probably be informative rather than pre-operative, since the hernia hasn't re-emerged or popped out again or done whatever it is that hernias do when they're not behaving. She supported his plans to go skiing later this month; she agreed that horseback riding should probably stay off the agenda for the immediate future. She renewed his prescriptions, patted him on the head (figuratively) and sent us on our way with instructions to keep on doing what we're doing.

It all, it was a satisfying visit, a pleasant end to a difficult year and an auspicious start to the new one. We know the economy is in the tank, but we've been taught over the past few months that the economy is a very small part of a very large picture. We're looking forward to an amazing 2009 and we hope everyone reading this blog has a new year that is wonderful and blessed and filled with love.