Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Love and Peace

Happy holidays everyone. I can tell you that despite the extreme loss our families and friends have experienced this year by the loss of our angel, Rach, we are keeping the faith. While we will all be sad because she isn't with us for this, our first Christmas since she went to be with God, we continue to be picked up by the love surrounding us. I started my holiday leave, which doubles as pre-deployment leave (I go on deployment early next month) last Friday. Let me tell you all how that has gone, and hopefully catch you up since my last post.

In August, I transferred from Ohio, where the Navy was stationing me during my Humanitarian Reassignment due to Rachel's illness and passing, to Mayport, Florida (near Jacksonville). I can't lie to you, it was quite difficult. Making the trip knowing I was going back to an apartment that she never truly got the chance to live in; an abode that contained 99% of the last 7 years of my life with her. Memories (good and sad), realizing I would be going back to work without her support, knowing that I would be alone in my apartment without her companionship; these were all things on my mind as I traveled down. I'm not going to lie; it was daunting. I started to try and date someone; which I thought was going to be okay. I found out that I was not ready in many ways than one. I started to experience some health issues due to depression and anxiety. These issues were made worse by my ship's visit to Norfolk, VA (where Rach and I spent the first half our lives together and actually where we got married - click this link for that story). Things got so bad for me emotionally I had to get my medications adjusted. I was taking 50 mg of Zoloft daily and 1 mg of Xanax as needed. The docs upped my Zoloft to 100 mg daily and changed my Xanax to 1 mg of Ativan as needed. Both changes started to help me feel normal and I am glad to say that I feel so much better emotionally. Things in Jacksonville are going much better.

During my visit to Norfolk, I stopped by the USS Wisconsin to reflect and reminisce about one of the best times of my life. As much pain as I may have experienced being there; the memories of great times there warmed me up a bit. Still, I was a bit upset. I decided one night to go out and stay at a hotel in downtown Norfolk. While staying there I decided to go shopping at the McArthur Center Mall in downtown. I went to the Barnes & Noble bookstore in there and while holding back tears, bought a book written by the "medium" made famous by the NBC TV show "Medium", Allison DuBois. The book was called "We Are Their Heaven". I spent the entire night at the hotel reading this book and bawling my eyes out over some of the stories people which Allison shared in this book. I used to be quite cynical, until Rachel's passing. Reading this book really interested me in this woman; so much, in fact, that I felt compelled to go see a seminar of her's down in Orlando. It was really beautiful and I made a few good friends there. I'm actually getting a personal reading via phone from her and I'm excited to hear what she has to say.

I started my leave last Friday, and it has truly been a treat. Spending some quality time with my Dad, my Grandparents, and multitudes of family and friends was just what the doctor ordered. I bought my father a laptop and finally got him into the 21st century! It made me feel good to do that for him. I found Rachel's last painting at the apartment, I matted and framed it, and gave it to them for Christmas. I spent some time with Rachel's nieces, who are little angels in their own right. I went to a Cleveland Cavaliers game; and the ticket I bought were in the 1st row behind the basket; and I had a blast! While I was able to spend time with a good number of my family and friends, there were still many who I was unable to visit or meet up with, and I miss and love you all whether or not I was able to see you.

Another thing I have been inspired to do by Rachel and by the support structure I have been surrounded with, thanks to my 3F's (Faith, Family, and Friends), is getting involved with my Catholic and Christian vocation. While on deployment, I will be the ship's Catholic Lay Leader, and will be doing a witness for my hometown Parish, St. Patrick's, for their Men's Renewal. I would love to be able to do so in person, but I will be overseas during the Renewal, so I am going to video it and send it to the team for the event. I hope that I can use my experiences from my life, and especially from this last year, to continue to inspire more people.

As we get closer to this holiday, do something for me; for yourself; for your loved ones. Show them your love any way you can. Tell them, hold them, give in their name, donate your time and talents with them and for them. If you are holding a grudge, contact the person and forgive them. Pray for your enemies. Pray for peace. Pray for love. Pray for each other. I love you all and may your holidays be filled with much love and peace.

Here is video I thought I would share with you all. Some good advice is in it. Enjoy and God Bless.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

LIVESTRONG Action Dedication to Rachel

The Livestrong wristbandImage via Wikipedia


I just dedicated a page to my late spouse Rachel Beasley-Possert at LIVESTRONG Action.

This page is a part of the world's largest dedication book that LIVESTRONG Action will use to pressure world leaders to do more to fight cancer. Can you add your name to my dedication page? It'll only take a second, and you can help me reach my target of 25 dedications. Please click here, it only takes a second:


Right now, Lance Armstrong is dedicating his ride in the Tour de France to the fight against cancer. And after the race, he'll send this dedication book with your signature to world leaders and pressure them to make cancer a priority in their own countries. It's our best chance to push for better treatment, more funding for cancer research and access to care for everyone around the world.

But if people like us don't stand up, these leaders won't pay attention.

Will you check out my dedication page? Rachel Beasley-Possert inspired me to take action - hopefully they'll inspire you to do the same:


You all have been amazing. Keep up the fantastic support and know my love and prayers are with all of you no matter where you are or what you are doing! God Bless!!!!

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Inspiration. It's All Around Us.

Yeah. That's right. Why haven't I been blogging more often? Is it because I am limiting myself to the more short-attention span focused mini-blogging sites like Facebook and Twitter? Well, not exactly. Yes, I have been all over them; posting many different things, good, bad, indifferent. What's the common bond between all the things I have been up to everywhere but here lately?


Let's see. It has been a at least a couple of months since I have posted on here. That doesn't mean I haven't wanted to. I just didn't have the inspiration to actually write an entire entry. The things I have been through in the past few months have all together been some of the most refreshing, spiritual, fulfilling, meaningful, and most of all needed things I've experienced in years. You all know what happened five months ago. You all have seen the transformation in my tone, my personality, and my faith. What could possibly be so inspirational that it takes a human being and changes them so drastically (in a good way)?

As I have wrote in the blog before, the support of literally thousands of people is one of the things that never ceases to amaze me. Now that I have run the gamut of pain, anguish, sadness, etc., and seen how everyone was there for me, I now have seen how everyone responds to those who have gone through what I have. It's like a waterfall. Water keeps falling over the edge, because of gravity, yet it is beautiful. People, without thinking, jump into the act of supporting, consoling, loving someone who needs it. The numero uno most important thing I think God has blessed us with as humans is LOVE. When we start losing our faith, what should we do? How can we get it back? When we are surrounded by hate, death, sin, illness, etc., how can we have faith?

Have you looked in the eyes of your loved one(s) lately? Your children, your husband or wife, your parents, your siblings, your friends? When is the last time you heard the words "I Love You", coming out of their mouth or yours? Have you experienced unconditional love? I have. I don't always need to hear it to know it is there. It's nice, of course, to hear the words, but they are only words. Think about when you were sad for whatever reason, and someone said, "Hey, you okay? You want to talk about it"? Think about the last time you were upset; a funeral, the ending of a relationship, a big move to another city, a lost job...did you have someone offer to help? Did anyone come and hug you or try to make you feel better with a joke or a nice comment? My friends, all of the above is love. We may not be thinking we are giving love to others by doing those simple things, but we are. We inspire each other so much without even knowing it. Isn't that beautiful?

I had a few talks with some good friends on faith. I have also been deep in discussion with a few friends on how to work through problems in your relationships. I always striven for my marriage to Rachel to be inspirational to others. I wanted people to look at how our relationship was and to try and emulate it. Well, of course, that is something now that can only be done by people reading about how we were; of course the folks who have known us throughout or lives and relationship can use their memories of our marriage for guidance. I learned some important things in life through my time on Earth with Rach. I learned that while walking forward you should never turn your back and look behind you, and you should never try and sprint ahead too far into the future. Live in the present and pace yourself. Don't try to hurry through the bad times by looking at the end of them; focus on making the bad times good. Time goes fast when we are having fun because we are not focusing on the end of them. Don't keep score. Don't count how many bad things you have done or what your partner has done. Wipe the board clean every day. God has done that for us. Watch this video on having regrets:

I know sometimes life can be hard. I of all people know that. But, we have so much around us to lean on. We have so much around us to inspire us. We have so many around to be there for us. Use each other when you need to. I'm here for every last one of you. I pray I can inspire each of you like you inspire me.
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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

If It's Hip, It's Here: The Naked Truth About Marc Jacobs' Skin Cancer Awareness Campaign: Who Posed Nude, Where Can You Buy The Shirts & Who Benefits

If It's Hip, It's Here: The Naked Truth About Marc Jacobs' Skin Cancer Awareness Campaign: Who Posed Nude, Where Can You Buy The Shirts & Who Benefits

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Updates and Relay Info

I know it has been a few weeks since I have posted (again), and I can tell you that I needed all three weeks to get to where I am now...

A few weeks ago, I was in a bad way. I was anxious all the time. I had Premature Ventricular Contractions (PVC's), which like I said before is just a fancy name for a heart skipping a beat. I felt fatigued, I felt depressed, I felt like I was deteriorating from the inside out. I can't explain how bad I felt inside. I knew I needed to get away. I needed a trip, a vacation; just some time away from everything. Time by myself to reflect on the recent and even not so recent past. Time to spend with friends. Time to spend with family. Time to feel loved. Time to love. Time to cry. Time to console those who are crying. Time to enjoy beautiful weather. Time to golf!

I decided I would go down to Florida for a couple of weeks. I drove down, by myself. Lots of folks offered to be my co-pilot, including my own mom and dad. I knew that God was going to be the only one I wanted as my co-pilot on this trip. No offense to my parents, who I know worry about me daily, but I had a lot to talk to God about; I had lots of questions, lots of confessions, lots of crying to do with Him. I stopped just outside of Charlotte, NC, in a town named Matthews. It's just off I-485 about 15 min. from I-77. Matthews is home to an angel of a friend of mine, Pami, who I needed to visit. It was only a few hours of a visit; she needed to wake up early and I needed to drive again in the morning, so a wonderful talk was cut short. Even though it was cut short, it was needed and worth the time spent. She gave me some very nice gifts upon leaving...one being an audiobook called "The Shack", by W. Paul Young. I went to sleep smiling...

Now normally, I am not big into audiobooks. Heck, the last two times I listened to them, I fell asleep during the first couple of chapters of each! But looking at the subtitle of "The Shack", I saw that it said "Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity". Something about those four words grabbed a hold of me and compelled me to pop it into the cd changer to listen on the drive down to Jacksonville. The book started out kind of dry. I fought through the first chapter or so to really grip what was happening...then...BAM! Wow. It had grabbed me by the short hairs and I was hooked. I identified with the main character, Mack, almost instantly. I put myself in place as I listened to the book play on. I identified with the tragedy of losing someone I loved with all of my heart. I identified with his relationship with God and the premonitions he had. I identified with his anger, his sadness, his DESPAIR...and I cried...sometimes uncontrollably, through my drive to Jacksonville. This book was so powerful to me, I listened to all seven CDs in a row. I got to Jacksonville in my apartment complex a few sentences into the seventh CD. I stayed in my car for an extra hour to finish it. I cannot tell you how moving this book was for me. It was a life changing book, and I am not exaggerating in the least. I recommend it to all of you and I have already bought copies for family and friends, and will buy more to give as the days go on.

So, I sit in my car. Scared. Timid. Nervous. I knew I had to face the sorrow waiting for me, I just didn't know if I could. Part of me just wantd to skip out and continue driving down to my mom's house. But as I sit there, crying, I knew I had to go in. As if the Holy Spirit compelled her, my friend Alyce sent me a text message saying, "Are U ok? Need to talk"? YES! I called her and told her what I was feeling. She told me, calmly and in a relaxing tone, "You go in there when you feel right. You go in there when you feel like you can do it. It doesn't matter if you sit in that care for 15 more minutes or two more hours, just take your time". Wow. I am blessed. You'll hear me say that a few more times in this entry...a half hour later, I work up the courage to go in. I start off in CSI mode; making sure that all items are where they belong and nothing is missing. All seems to be good. Then it hits me. Pictures, memories, overwhelming sadness. I sob uncontrollably. Again, as if compelled, another friend of mine, Sarah, an Ombudsman for my last ship and a wife of a sailor and friend of mine from that ship, text messages me saying "You don't need to be alone, come over and talk". At this point I knew she was right. I went over and spent a few hours talking and crying with her. It was needed. I head back to the apartment, feeling better about things. I stop at Arby's, which at 11:00 PM was still open! Woo-hoo! I watch The Late Show with David Letterman and crawl into bed around midnight. Then BAM! It hits me again. Not having Rach in bed with me is too much to handle. It is the first time I have slept in our bed since she's been gone. I cry to the point I have no tears left. I hold and try to smell her pillow and have trouble breathing; you know how them sobs are? Like the ones when you're a child and you smack your head and you hold your breath and your lips turn purple before you let 'er rip. I cried myself to sleep...not knowing what was in my future. If I would have died in my sleep that night it would have been fine by me.

The next day I drove down to my mom's house. I spent some good times with her and Wade, my step-father. We have a good dinner and I go to a golf show with him...I saw some really cool things there and realized how much I need to work on in my golf game. I suck!!! Good thing is Wade is a golf pro and good teacher. I hope to learn quite a bit from him in the future. I go and visit my friend Christina, who lives in Melbourne, FL. We have a great time; one of the coolest things we do is go to a pottery place where you paint your own item and they cook and cure it for you. We made things for each other. Afterwards we enjoy some good conversation and I got the physical touch and emotional support I needed. She has a great way of relaxing me...and making me feel cared for. After a few days with her, I go to my sister, Devine's house. We have a great time; in the next few days, we go to the Florida Aquarium down in Tampa; we go eat some good food, and have some good conversations. We played MarioKart Wii online against my other brothers and their families. Me and Adam go golfing; he is pissed about shooting a 77, I am lucky to break 110. I got to cook for them at Nate's house; homeade burgers and BBQ chicken. We had a blast. I played another round with mom, Rick (my step-grandpa), and Nate; I did better, and shot 100, a good 100! We celebrated Nate's birthday, and I spent some quality time with my grandparents and of course, my darling nephew, Drew. I realized almost all anxiety and the PVCs were gone. Non-existent. I felt great. I visited Chris again, had a good time again, then went to my apartment to grab some items to give to Rachel's family. I got on the road again...

Another stop in Matthews. Another too short of a stop and too little time spent with Pami. I gave her a few books...and we had another great talk and a hug that was sincere and much needed by the both of us. The next day, while driving home, Chris called me. She said she could tell I was feeling different, and not in a good way. She was right. Going back to Ohio was depressing. It was upsetting because I knew I would be faced with Rachel's death again, head on. I know I have to be here; for my own support and for the support of Rachel's and my family and friends. However, being around where she died and being around all of the memories takes a toll on me. Two months out I realize that my journey is still very early in it's timeline. A lot of people think I should be better, or less depressed. I have better days. But all I can say is it is like a roller coaster sometimes.

I go to the Catholic Renewal at St. Patrick's in Hubbard. It is the most powerful and meaningful two days of my life. I find out about love, forgiveness, honesty, faith, and realize that I am not alone in my suffering and that there are so many people with me in love and faith. It was so powerful, when they asked me to say a reflection at the end of the weekend after the closing mass, this is what I said:
"...if the Lord is with me who can be against me...Romans 8:31...I have been going through a Renewal of my faith since January 15th, 2009. I came into this weekend with an open mind and a bruised but open heart. I have heard many amazing stories of faith; faith that has waned, faith that has returned; faith that has carried people through hard times every bit as difficult as mine. We all have something in common during this renewal. We have all been through hard times, We have all either ignored, forgot about, or haven't accepted Him in our lives. In that same breath, we also have found God, realized and remembered his presence, and have accepted him in our lives. Many people have complimented me on my strength and faith and the inspiration they have received form me. You may have noticed that as I bear the weight of the cross of pain that i have been carrying, you do not see a strain on my face. We show the strain of carrying and bearing the weight of our crosses when we carry them alone. My family and friends, I do not bear the weight of my cross alone. All of you here with me (and God) have helped me bear the weight of my cross. When you have the support I have had and still have, the weight of the cross is easy to bear. That is why you see no strain on my face. As many of you have heard in one of Fr. Tim's homilies, one of Rachel's surgeons, Dr. Walt Lee, told us: 'Those who make it through the hard times and in essence 'bear the weight of the cross' do it by relying on the three Fs: Faith, Family, and Friends. This weekend during Renewal, I have seeked the Lord, and I have found Him. I have found Him in each and every one of you: my Faith, my Family, and my Friends. I thank you for inspiring me and helping me bear the weight of the cross, and renewing my faith in God. Your Brother in Christ, Rich Possert Jr."

My journey is far from over. These last few weeks have been the most healing of my life. They happened when I needed them the most. When I felt I had nothing to live for, no purpose, these three weeks showed me that I have a purpose, a reason to live. Along them lines, if you have made it this far, I am going to give you a link to a Relay for Life that is being done in (Youngstown) Liberty, Ohio on May 15th, 2009. Our team name is Team Rachel. I ask that you visit our team page and donate to our cause in her name, by going to my page, linked below. If not, please offer us your prayers and even coming to celebrate this with us if you are in the area. For more info, contact me and I will give you what you need. Just about all of the info is on the team's page; which is linked below. Thanks for helping in any way you can; and thank you for helping me bear the weight of my cross. God bless every last one of you.

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Friday, February 27, 2009

It's Been a While...

I know it has been quite a while since I have posted...while I will not pass on all 0f my "excuses" for not writing, I can tell you all that I have had some interesting things happen physically in the past few weeks.

On Super Bowl Sunday, I had a major anxiety attack. I seriously thought I was dying of a heart attack. I had a few smaller ones throughout that day. I went to the doctors the next day and was prescribed Xanax and Zoloft. I'm also seeing a psychologist as well (on my own accord). I have had these things called PVCs (Premature Ventricular Contractions) where my heart skips a beat as well. I have had to wear a monitor for 24 hours this past week to make sure that they are related to stress and anxiety and not some other more serious physical problem.

I find that now, six weeks after Rachel's passing, I have been riding on a roller coaster of emotions. Sadness (of course); anger, guilt, lonesomeness, helplessness, and many others. I have tried moving on sometimes I think too fast. I am a very inquisitive and analytical person. I blame that one my almost 15 years in the Navy. While Rachel was sick I made sure I knew the defination and cause and effect of every single symptom and or diagnosis that the doctors or nurses gave to me. I now have continued to do that on myself; I knew what the PVCs were before I went to the doctor's office and had him tell me from looking at an EKG. The unfortunate thing here is my analytical ways have just been another way of inflating the internal balloon that is my anxiety level. I was not letting myself grieve. I was not letting myself release the emotions pent up inside of me; instead I was putting up a facade of I'm doing okay, everything is fine, etc. Well, the balloon burst.

For the last couple of weeks especially, I kept telling myself that I seriously needed a woman, friend or not, to do nothing but hold me all night. Someone to comfort me and plutonicly satisfy an urge I have come to know is called "skin hunger". Well after talking to more than a few women and realizing where I am at in my grieving process, I understand completely that this is my longing for Rachel to be here with me and my need for her to hold me (and the associated sadness in knowing that she cannot physically be here to do that). Among all of her beautiful ways; the smile, the sense of humor, the vivality; she had an amazing way of bringing us comfort by how she held us. Anyone who receieved a hug from Rach felt something from it. I don't just mean physically either. It was a hug, a hold, that went straight to your heart and soul. It was a way for her to give you something that she could not give to you verbally or visually. It was a way for you to enjoy her spiritual gift she was giving to you. Near the end of my eulogy for Rach at her funeral mass, one of the things I said was for every person (mind you the number of people there was approaching 1,000) to turn to each other and hug each other and tell them you loved them. This was something that only came to me as I knelt beside her body for the last time before they closed the casket. It was her way of channeling through me one last hug and I love you to each and every person there. She knew that out of the thousand people at her funeral mass, only a handful actually were able to get that from her before she passed; I felt like she succeded in ensuring everyone knew it was her; I watched in melancholy happiness as the entire church attendance gave each other what she wanted them to have.

I am not going to lecture or even post anything about melanoma in this entry. This entry is more related to love and love lost. Read how I am feeling. Read how you would feel. Take that emotion and use it to be a better husband, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, son, daughter, brother, sister, cousin, or friend. Don't take love and emotions and feelings for granted. Don't be afraid to show your feelings, and when someone shows you theirs, take them and let them touch your heart and soul like Rachel was able to touch ours.

For those of you who need that someone; that friend, that someone to show you what I am describing, contact me. Part of my life's goals are not only to pass on education and awareness of Rachel's illness, but to pass on the love and joy she always brought to everyone she came into contact with. May God bless you all...and I know it may be off of the subject of this post in general, but please say some prayers for my friend Linda Ramirez, who is suffering from stage IV melanoma like Rachel did. Pray for all cancer patients. Pray for all widows and widowers, no matter what age they may be. Pray for your families and friends. Pray for thanks for what we have in our lives.
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Thursday, February 5, 2009

Lack of Knowledge (Why?)

What causes melanoma? Do you know?

I have heard many answers to these couple of questions. "Melanoma is caused by an unsanitary/dirty tanning bed, right"? "It's from them people that spend too much time in the sun" is another gem. Oh, I've also heard, "Oh you know if you go to those tanning salons and not lay out in the sun you protect your skin so when you do go out into the sun your skin is already used to it and you won't get burnt". Nice.

When is the last time you actually went to a dermatologist? Why?

Even more good ones from those questions. "My family doctor doesn't ever tell me I need to do it". "I'm only 29; only teenagers with acne and old people with moles need to go there". "Don't those guy do face lifts and nose jobs"? (I actually heard that at a mall while talking to a young girl at the food court; you could obviously tell she went tanning regularly).

Normally these would be funny. You would see stuff like that on Jay Leno's "Jay-Walking" segment on the Tonight Show.

These are in all reality NOT funny. These ignorant answers are a sign that not enough is being put out to the younger adults and children (most of whom are women) about the dangers of tanning beds and lack of knowledge of skin care (not just putting your Bath & Body Works Lotion on your legs silly).

Why is it that melanoma is the fastest growing cancer among women under the age of 30 IN AMERICA? Not only are we ignorant of the causes of melanoma and the ways of preventing it, but, we also have no idea how to ensure that we aren't "infected" or "inflicted" or whatever you want to call it.

Do you know what the ABCDE's of melanoma are? More than likely you don't (click on the link and it will take you to the Skin Cancer Foundation Website's explanation). They're not something you see on a carton or pack. They're not something you see in the places you go to tan. I have never seen anything on TV or heard anything on the radio concerning them. Again, this is the NUMBER ONE/NUMERO UNO growing CANCER in WOMEN under the age of 30 in the entire USA! Ya think we would hear something...so, before I move on to some juicer stuff, here are the ABCDE's in order:

A - Asymmetrical. Is the mole asymmetrical, meaning perfectly round, or is one side small and the other oblong? In other words, if ya took a pen and drew a line in the middle, would each side look alike? If they don't, GET IT CHECKED OUT ASAP by a Dermatologist!

B- Border. Does the mole have irregular borders? Does it have smooth edges or is it ragged around the outside? If the borders are uneven, it is a good sign to go the the Dermatologist NOW!

C - Color. Has the mole changed colors lately? Is it multicolored? Has it turned blue or black, or is it two shades of brown? If so, you know what to do. DERMATOLOGIST!

D - Diameter. How big is the mole. Is it the size of a pinhead? Is it bigger, like let's say the size of a pencil eraser in circumference? Granted, some melanomas may be smaller when they are first developed, and even some larger, non-melanomic moles may be bigger; but if if the mole is bigger than that pencil eraser tip, and especially if it has some of the other characteristics mentioned in the ABCDE's, I would call my family doc and schedule an appointment with the Derm dude like right now.

E - Evolving. This is a not too much heard of and honestly a newer addition to the group of letters of warning of the beast we call melanoma. If the mole changes; any of the A's, B's, C's, or D's...it is time to be worried. Normally a mole that is a source of melanoma with change (or evolve) in color. It may itch. It may grow in elevation. It may itch. It may bleed. If any of these things happen, get it checked out, please?

Now, I want to share with you another point of view I have been shown by a special friend over these last few weeks. It revolves around something I hear quite often. I assume it is something people say because they are a little uncomfortable around a widow/widower, or they just don't know what to say. What can I say, talking to a widow can be weird to some folks. They will say: "Oh, honey/sweetie/kiddo/Ricky, etc., Everything will be okay. It will be okay. You will be okay. Just give it time". Well, ya know, this good friend of mine who lives near Charlotte, NC, who lost her husband at a young age said it best: "You know what? It will never be okay. Ever. It's not okay that someone we loved with all of our heart is gone from our life this early. It never will be okay. It will just always be different". When you think about those few sentences, most folks would be thinking that they come off as cynical or pessimistic. But think about it. Are you happy Rach is gone? Is it "okay" to you that she is not here with us anymore? Most if not all of you probably answered "no." So, is it different now that she isn't here? Has life changed? You're damn right it is and has. So, it isn't OKAY. It is DIFFERENT. Thank you, Pami.

This long road I have been traveling lately has brought me into contact with some very special people, not just in my family and circle of friends, but also a large group of folks who have gone through what I have; losing a spouse at a young age. I have found a bulletin board by way of a suggestion from a friend through Facebook (thanks, Anna!) called www.ywbb.org. What an awesome group of supporters. This bulletin board is made up of all kinds of people like me. I have been saying consistently that the reason I am able to deal with this entire situation is because of the support I am getting. I am getting support from folks in person and online, and you all kick some serious butt.

Keep reading; next time I will try and pop some more vids and maybe a few songs in here, mixed of course with some scary tanning/melanoma stuff too! God bless you all!

(By the way, please all of you pray for Linda Ramirez and her family. Please click on her name to read her blog. I see her story as something very similar to what Rach went through. This is such a bad disease and it truly takes some very special people away from us. Many of you offered your prayers to Rach while she was very sick, and I ask you to do the same for Linda and her beautiful family. Thanks again for your prayers and support.)

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Good People, Hard Times

If you look at Rachel's life, most of you would come up with a thought such as "Why does such bad things happen to good people like her"? If you look at Rachel's family, our marriage, and her friends, you could apply that question to each.

As you have heard me in these past few months; melanoma is a very difficult illness to endure and to die from. It is usually long lasting, it is relatively unpredictable, it's symptoms are quite painful, and it creates a lifestyle so stressful to a family and especially an individual that you could not possibly wish it onto your worst enemy with a clear conscience. Yet, Rachel and our family suffered through it. She went through the constant pain and uncertainty. We went through the hell of seeing her in pain without being able to ease it for her, like a parent, husband, or sibling wants to be able to do. She suffered and died. We suffered and are permanently scarred by the images of her suffering and death.

You would think we would all be inconsolable and depressed and all kinds of other bad ways due to the trauma of losing such a special woman; a daughter, wife, sister, aunt, and cousin. But we're not. I hear constantly how strong we are. How strong I am. "How do you do it"?, I am commonly asked.

Earlier in this blog, near the beginning, while discussing her surgery to discover the metastatic mass in her neck that started all of the recent illness, I mentioned the "3 F's": Faith, Family, and Friends. Imagine that almost a year later, and even after Rachel's passing, those "3 F's" still play a vital role in our cooperative strength.

I have always been a faithful person. I may have grown away from my Catholic roots as I grew older, but in this part of my life, being a young widower, my faith has never been stronger. I have seen numerous signs that tell me Rachel is still around me. My faith has brought me strength and peace in a time where most would think I was "let down" by God. I was enlightened by Sr. Vittoria of the Oblates in Youngstown, OH, who told me, "Jesus suffered and died very painfully, so that we may live. Rachel, in the ways of Jesus, did the same; she suffered and died so that others may live". It makes sense. By my passing on Rachel's story, I have received multiple letters, emails, messages, etc., telling me that a person has stopped tanning or has cracked down on their kids' tanning or has started making regular appointments with their dermatologist. She has started saving lives already; and with you and me passing the word of her story and what it means to everyone, along with applying her life's lessons to our own lives, she will save countless more.

I have been truly blessed with both my own family and Rachel's family. They have truly been a rock for me to fall back on during this ordeal. We had family come from all corners of the globe, literally. They have comforted me, they have supported me, and they have inspired me. I knew that when me and Rachel started dating back in 2001, I was not only falling in love with her but her family as well. We have cried together, we have laughed together, and together we have endured the bad and enjoyed the good of Rachel's life and death. The love given and received from family is something I hold closely to my heart; I know without it I would truly not be the man I am today, and since Rachels death, I would not be able to move on the way I am.

Friends, ah friends. Friends of mine, friends of Rachel's, friends of my family, friends of Rachel's family. Friends that I have made through all of my networking revolving around telling Rachel's story. Friends coming out of the woodwork who I haven't tlked to or seen in years. Friends that have given support from cards, letters, food, money, etc. I am truly overwhelmed by how many friends we have and how generous every one of them has been to help us through this. There are angels out there that have made this so much easier to deal with. They have taken our minds off of things, they have cried with us, they have filled our bellies! They have said masses for us, they have made donations in Rachel's name, and I could go on for hours. As I have said before, we are forever in debt to the kindness that has been bestowed on us; all I can say is that it will be reciprocated. I will do everything I can to be there for anyone I know.

Speaking of beaing there for someone...and I hate to close a post on such a sour and possibly sad note, but, I just found out this morning that someone who I have never met, but whose life I have followed for a few months and whose story is very similar to Rachel's is slowly succumbing to the same disease that took her life. Her name is Linda Ramirez. Her blog is: http://lindaramirez.blogspot.com/. Please take the time to pray for her and her family. I know, and most of you know, the pain they are going through. Never forget how melanoma has impacted your life and especially the lives of Rachel's and Linda's and their families' lives.
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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Melanoma News, Videos, and Links, etc.

I have found so much information in the last few years that helped me do what I could for Rachel. There are many websites and blogs that provide information, statistics, news, and support regarding melanoma. I will be from time to time doing what I can to share some of these with you. I will offer a bunch of links at the bottom of the post for you to check out...

One of the most interesting and similar cases of melanoma I have found is the story of Claire Oliver, a young woman who was diagnosed with melanoma at the age of 22 and died at the age of 27. Like Rachel, she tanned when she was younger. Like Rachel, she was a very beautiful young woman. Like Rachel she died five years after her initial diagnosis. Below is a short video that could have been shot from Rachel's hospital room or our living room at home. I can't lie to you, it is sad, and is bound to arise emotions in you. It is not long; maybe thirty seconds long or so. But it is powerful. I originally saw this in a post on Miss Melanoma's blog, which itself is one of my favorite resources. Check it out:

I know that has to scare some of you, and it should. No tan is worth dying so young.
Here are a few links for you to learn about melanoma and I will post more as I find them:

Melanoma Patients' Information Page (MPIP)
Melanoma Research Foundation
Melanoma International Foundation (MIF)
Rachel's Memorial on the MIF website (Thanks Lisa!)
National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention

This is just a short list of links; do a Google search on Melanoma or Melanoma Statistics and you will find literally thousands of pages.

One thing I do have to say in closing is a warm and heart-felt thank you to all of Rachel's caretakers at UPMC (Hillman Cancer Center and Shadyside), including her oncology team; Dr. Tarhini, Dr. Appleman, Jan, and Pam, Chuck and the nurses of CTRC; also the fine nurses over at 5-Pav; the Lindas, the Lauras, Faith, and of course Diana. Rachel's mom and I made a trip down there today to tell them how thankful we were for the treatment, the care, the work, the love, and the compassion all of you showed Rachel. You all truly became family to us.

I will be posting more in the near future talking about home health care, Hospice, and the amazing folks that work for those companies. They are people who are not normally thought of until it is too late. Hospice to many means a death sentence; it is not. But they are such a special group of indiviuals that make the job of family caretakers so much more managable. God bless you Linda(s) from UPMC Jefferson, Pam, Sabrina, Danielle, and all of the fine folks at Southern Care.

I will also be posting a few tidbits about lymphedema, a very much unknown condition often brought on by cancer treatments and surgeries. There are very special people like those at TuDor Physical Therapy that assist those that are aflicted with lymphedema.

Keep checking this blog for more stories, memories, education, warnings, and other things I think Rachel would want me to get out to all of you. Lately, my friends and family are trying to get our story put out on a nation and even international forum, like talk shows and news shows. Please, pass the word of our story and her struggle. The more people we can save through Rachel's life and death, the better!
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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Tribute is in the Numbers

As I said before in my last entry, the support for Rach, her family, and I has been overwhelmingly amazing. Just to show you some of the numbers of people who have paid their respects to her, this is what I've been told so far:

- Over 2,000 hits on her obituary online at www.stewart-kyle.com
- Over 750 attendees at her calling hours (and many people had to wither leave due to the cold weather)
- Over 750 attendees at her funeral at St. Patrick's Catholic church in Hubbard, OH.
- Friends and family arrived from either right next door or from thousands of miles away.

These are just a few of the numerical tidbits that give me strength each day.

I want to tell you that I believe that Rachel should have a legacy, due to the amazing young woman she was. It was easy for her to impact many of us, whether we knew her or not. Now it is our turn to get the word out to the world as best we can. I need each of you to be an advocate for melanoma research and education. I went into a tanning salon today in Boardman, Ohio, just to see if there were any types of warnings about the dangers of the UVB rays that are emitted by the tanning beds. I looked for signs and for words in the enrollment packages. There was nothing. Sure, there were warnings about overexposure leading to burns, but nothing about how those UVB rays burn deeper due to their wavelength or that the overuse of tanning beds may lead to melanoma.

I think the world has to learn about her fight. The world needs to understand the dangers of tanning and how they can avoid melanoma even if they do go tanning. I would love to get a worldwide forum, like the Oprah Show or Good Morning America to tell her story and those stories of all of the victims (and survivors) or the horrible disease that is known as melanoma. Continue passing on information to your friends and families regarding these threats. I will be posting some links and videos in a few days showing other peoples' struggles as well as educational and informative sites.

Rachel impacted everyone she ever met. Let us ensure she has a much farther reaching impact. God Bless; make sure you are looking over each others' skin!

I Love you Rachel!

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Saturday, January 17, 2009


I have always said how amazing a person Rachel was. It is something that I brag about to everyone I talk to. As many of you have said in comments to this blog, emails to us, comments or messages on myspace or facebook, entries in her obituary on www.stewart-kyle.com, in flower arrangements and cards, etc., etc.; her smile, laugh, and attitude in life were all contagious to everyone who came into contact with her.

It touches my heart to hear from so many people whose lives she touched. I feel every tear that each and every one of you have shed for her and our behalf. As much as I know all of your prayers are going out to us - I want to let you know that every prayer is reciprocated right back on to you from us. We have been, are currently, and always will be truly blessed to have been in every one of your lives no matter what context it may have been through.

This blog has been a way for me to do many things; I have told our story, I have shared our troubles, and I have got many things off of my chest. I will continue to post entries to this blog; stories of our lives, our loves, and our memories will provide me with years of writing.

I can't thank all of you enough for your condolences and for your love for my "Muffin". May God bless each and every one of you; Rachel is with us now and forevermore in our hearts and memories (and knowing her she is probably making fun of all of us who have cried on her behalf!)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Final Chapter

Family and friends and those who we may not know; it is with deep pain and profound sadness that I pass on to all of you that our Rachie has left us to be with God in Heaven.

She passed away early this morning at 3:45 am, with her family all present; we all were able to tell her goodbye and give her our love before she left. She squeezed my hand and looked right at me prior to passing; I knew she was saying goodbye.

For all of you who may be crying and reading this entry through tears, remember, she was in a lot of pain and discomfort due to the melanoma tumors and lymphedema. The treatment she was undergoing caused her a great deal of pain as well. Her passing has relieved her of all of that pain and discomfort. There is no more suffering for her to go through.

Through this past year, and through all of her 31 years, we met some amazing people. I think Rachel had a way of bringing out the amazing in everyone she met, even in some people she never met. She touched people all around the world; saved marriages, saved lives, and made an impression that everyone who knew her will remember her by.

To all of you who we were close to; her family, her girls, (her boys), her work-mates both at The Lube and in Japan, I offer my condolences and my assurance that she is so much better now. She loved you all more than you'll ever know; and even though she is not with us on Earth anymore, she is and will be in our hearts forever.

I want you all to take what has happened to her and use it for some lessons in life (not just to cut down or stop the tanning and checking out the skin for moles):

- Don't ever go to bed angry at someone, especially someone you love.
- Don't hold any grudges against anyone, no matter how bad they have hurt you.
- Don't waste time not telling those close to you how you feel. Say I love you as often as you can.
- Do have compassion for those not only who need it, but for everyone you meet.
- Do smile and laugh as much as possible.
- Do pass on your knowledge on to those who you work with. Being a mentor is something that can be one of the most rewarding jobs you do.

There are a thousand more of these I have been taught by my late wife. The gift of 7 years of being together is the best thing I have ever received in my lifetime. I am sure all of you who knew her in the last 31 years are thinking the same thing.

May God give you all his blessings and give you peace in this time of mourning.

Rest in Peace my Muffin, my Angel, my Sweet Girl.

Rachel Suzanne (Beasley) Possert
October 26, 1977 - January 15, 2009

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

It's Getting Harder, for All of Us

In the past week things have changed with Rach. Things that are worrying me. She has acquired a chest cold from someone and is having some trouble breathing from it. That cough and wheezing associated with it are making her nervous and in turn me as well. She has lost all of the strength in her legs to be able to hold up her frame to move even short distances; she fell when we were trying to move her from her laz-e-boy to her wheelchair yesterday, and luckily I was holding her and was strong enough to let her down softy so she didn't hurt anything. She is losing the ability to control her urination and bowels, and that presents her with not only a physical uncomfortableness that we must constantly help her with by changing undergarments and cleaning her (which requires her to stand up which as I said earlier is becoming increasingly difficult), but with an embarrassing emotional uncomfortableness that is the result of knowing that she messed herself.

We have initiated working with Hospice. We are working with Southern Care, who employs some amazing folks who have made this emotional transition in our lives a little more bearable. She'll have a nurse dedicated to her care (medications and medical care), a social worker available to answer questions for her and us and provide emotional support, a personal care assistant who will come and do things to make her comfortable, a companion to keep her company if and when all of us in the household have to leave to take care of things outside of the home, and a chaplain who can provide us with spiritual support during this difficult time.

As time goes on, it appears that this beast is having its way with my girl. Watching her go through this is harder and more painful than anything I have ever experienced before. I'm not sure how much longer she will be able to fight this, as weak and exhausted as she is. I cry even more now than I ever have, sometimes uncontrollably, especially at night. The thoughts and stresses and regrets that come along with seeing someone you love going through something like this are unexplainable.

I look into the future (even though I shouldn't) and see a lot of confusion and emptiness if she is not with me. Right now I need all of your prayers for her strength as well as mine and her family's; I need your prayers for her comfort and ability to relax and feel better no matter how that will happen; I need your prayers that no matter what God has in store for us we are able to deal with it. I keep telling myself that in the Lord's prayer, we are told: "Thy will be done". I keep reminding myself of that fact. I have no control here, and I know that is the case. All I can do is be here for her and do the best I can to keep her comfortable.

  • For those of you who feel the need to go to the tanning salon, especially now during the winter since you can't "lay out" in order to get a tan, please consider getting a much safer spray-on tan or go buy some tanning cream or spray your friends or significant other can apply to you to give you that tan. Think of how much safer it is, please!
  • I can't stress enough to each and every one of you how important it is to check yourself and have your friends or partners check your body and skin for moles that appear discolored or misshapen. Many of you have been taught to check your breasts or testicles for lumps or abnormalities in order to fend off cancer in them. Well, your skin needs to be checked just as robustly as anything else. You can get melanoma in the weirdest places, like in the creases of your labia, or in the crack of your butt, or in an armpit, or even under hair follicles on your head.
Bottom line, don't let yourself be affected by melanoma the way we have. Head it off before it gets a chance to mess up your life and the lives of your loved ones.

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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Why Are There So Many Damn Complications?

The hardest part of her melanoma isn't the cancer itself, it's the complications associated with it. She has been through so much in the last 10 months. Side effect, complication, infection, whatever you could imagine, has affected her.

First it was the vomiting and chills. The pain was next and still prevails even though she is on a fairly high level of constant morphine (She uses a PCA pump to administer her morphine at a level of 6.5 mg per hour with a bolus of 7 mg 4 times and hour). The interferon made her lose some considerable weight, about 50-60 lbs worth. You could see it in her face, in her neck, and especially, in my opinion, in her shoulders. Pictures of her from back in April and now are of a totally different woman. The lymphadema caused by the trauma to her lymphatic system (removal of some nodes and large tumors in others) have caused her to suffer from extreme lymphedema of the trunk and legs, to the tune of a 100 lbs weight gain. She is unrecognizable from the chest up due to loss of weight, and unrecognizable from the chest down due to the accumulation of fluid weight. As if it wasn't enough for her to be in pain from the tumors in her abdomen, the lymphedema has caused an incredible amount of uncomfortableness to her; the tightness of her skin and pressure on her organs is unbearable sometimes. She came down with C-Diff while admitted, which is a bacterial infection caused by too many anti-biotics killing the good bacteria in her GI tract; it results in severe diarrhea and cramping. She had dermititis on her legs from the weeping of the lymph fluid through her overtightened skin; it was itchy and painful. She has had three menstrual periods in the last month, whereas she did not have a period for eight months due to the VEGF-Trap clinical trial. It was spotty at first, took a couple day break, then came back heavy as hell, and then went away for a few days, and came back again, heavy as hell. The period(s) have caused pain in her back and lower abdomen on top of the pain from the tumors and lymphedema. The lymphedema makes the period worse pain-wise for her because of the internal swelling that keeps the discharge built up deep inside until it is released in a bathroom break. Sounds fun, huh?

Speaking of...does any of this sounds fun to you? Could you imagine seeing a loved one go through this, even if it is only one or two of those symptoms? And you still go tanning? God bless you. Please be smart and search the body (naked body) of your partner, kids, and parents if they are under your care. Melanoma doesn't care how young or old you are, what type of skin you have, what background you come from, or what color your hair is. I don't wish this amount of pain and suffering on anyone I may dislike; it is truly a living hell sometimes, seeing someone you love go through what Rach is going through right now.

I ask you all to continue your prayers for her. She needs them now more than ever. Thanks for those of you who read our story and may God bless you.
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Friday, January 2, 2009

The Last Month (In Our Hell)

Rachel finished her 4 weeks of high dose interferon treatment on Friday, December 5th. The pain and nausea she had from the treatments seemed to be the only thing we couldn't handle. No matter what prescribed pain meds (Oxycodone, Oxycontin, etc.) and anti-nausea meds (Zofran, Kytril, etc.) we used, we could not get those two extreme side effects under control. She was nauseated for almost 3 1/2 weeks straight, which kept her from eating well. You could say she was on the verge of being malnourished. Her caloric intake was more than likely down to 200-300 a day, a fraction of what was normal for her. The pain and nausea came to an excrutiating head on the morning oUPMC ShadysideImage via Wikipediaf December 8th. I called Dr. Tarhini's P.A., Jan, and told her what we had been experiencing and how we couldn't do anything for her, and she recommended we admit Rach. I totally agreed and brought her into UPMC that afternoon.

For the next week, the doctors at UPMC, made of of specialists in Internal Medicine, Oncology, G.I., and Cardiology all have their attention on Rach. They change meds and doses until they can find what works to ease her pain and nausea. They finally find that a PCA pump that doses her with a constant morphone drip and gives her the opportunity to dose herself with a bolus of morphine every 15 minutes does the trick on the pain (forthe most part). This brings her down from a pain level of 10 out of 10 to maybe a 5 out of 10. Through our 2.5 week stay, the drugs used to try and quell her nausea spells don't ever seem to work. Miraculously, in the last couple of days, the nausea seemed to disappear without any certain medical reason, at least not from any certain medicine. Unfortunately, due to the malnutrition she had and the fact that the hospital pumped her full of fluids, she developed a very serious case of lymphadema. Her weight increased by almost 75%, and she is now quite distended and uncomfortable in her lower abdomen and legs. They have her taking TPN (Total Parenteral Nutrition) to try and build her portien stores back up so she can try and kick the lymphadema.

Rachel was thankfully discharged on Christmas Eve. Upon returning home, we met with the nurse who taught me how to use the portable pumps that she uses to receive her morphine and TPN that keep her pain level manageable and provide her with nutrition, respectively. I have to prepare her PICC lines for infusion, I have to prepare the pump and IV bags, and I connect everything as needed. Along with the infusions, due to her weight increase due to the lymphadema, she is unable to make it to the restroom by herself, and needs someone to help her clean up afterward. I do all of this for her; I have to stay up during the night as she goes to the bathroom quite often at night. Neither one of us is able to get much sleep at all; sometimes we will go 3 nights on less than 4 hours total sleep. It's really quite miserable.

The lymphadema recently has been joined by a case of the weezies. It usually happens when she gets into "sleepy" mode when her breathing changes from awake mode to a deeper asleep mode. It makes me nervous. Is it just a cold? Is the lymphadema moving to her lungs? Are there any of the dreaded mets there? I hate this damn disease and everything associated with it.

As you can see from my list of symptoms she is going through hell right now. I continue to ask God why can't he have mercy on her and ease up a bit? Why all the damn symptoms and why are they all so extreme? I get so enraged at the pain and suffering she has to go through; I am most frustrated because their is little if anything I can do to alieviate them. My hell is watching her go through this. Mix that with my lack of sleep and constantly coming down with bugs (colds and flus, etc.) and I am in a hurt locker.

Like I said in my last post, is it worth it? Being a little darker or having some color to your skin might be nice to you, but are you ready to deal with the consequences? Is your family? Financially can you afford the costs of the medical care required? We have easily racked up over a quarter of a million dollars in medical bills that thankfully so far have been picked up by the military's health insurance, TRICARE. Think about this next time you lay on the side of the pool with Crisco rubbed on your back or when you go to the local tanning salon.
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