GUEST COLUMN • Life Throws You A Grenade, Amazing People Jump On It

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There are many beautiful days that you will hopefully never forget in your lifetime.   Maybe it was your first true love or the day you got married.  Maybe it was the birth of your children or your grandchildren.  Maybe it was your 35th wedding anniversary or all of the above and everything in between.  At least I know it is for me. 

Then, unfortunately, there are things that we may never want to remember.  One of those days for us was Thursday, July 15, 2021.

Jeff had been having some discomfort in his upper left shoulder, but on this day it was so bad that he had to be driven to the emergency room by Phil Wentzel (thank you again, Phil) from work.  I met him at the ER at Hillsboro Area Hospital (they are an amazing staff of heros).  After blood tests, EKG and x-ray, it was determined that he needed a CT scan, as there was something questionable on the x-ray.  The doctor came back and stated that they wanted to send him to St. John’s in Springfield as they found something questionable on the scan.  “What was on the scan?” we asked.  There appears to be some nodules and a tumor, but we need more information.  I felt the blood go completely out of my body.  “Wait, what?  What do you mean tumor?”

They (the awesome ambulatory staff) took Jeff by ambulance to St. John’s Hospital in Springfield. By the time I arrived at St. John’s, our family was already there and more coming in behind me.  He was taken to the eighth floor, oncology (again another amazing staff of heros).   Soon another CT was ordered and we all were waiting to hear from the doctors.  They came in after the second scan and stated that he would need a biopsy to confirm it was cancer.

We stayed in the hospital for a couple days, at which time they were able to get most of his pain under control and sent him home.  We did the waiting game for the results of the biopsy.  They came back on the following Wednesday and we were told that it was cancer.  Not sure how to explain those emotions so I’m not going to try. 

We were told he needed a PET scan to see where the cancer had spread and to know what stage.  We were then given an oncologist, Dr. Nayani, who is an amazing doctor, her assistant Jamie Williams, M.A. (an absolute angel) along with a staff of awesome nurses and attendants that have been an absolute blessing to us both.  Dr. Nayani explained to us, in detail, that we were looking at tumors in the lungs and possibly cancer in the lymph nodes and bones.  This is why he had a fracture in his upper left shoulder that initially sent him to the ER.  Once the PET scan was done it would show where all the cancers were and what stage.  She also ordered an MRI on the brain, to see if there were any tumors there.

Unfortunately, the MRI came back positive with a small tumor.  We were then set up with an appointment to see the radiation oncologist Dr. Mahmood, (another amazing doctor and awesome staff) to get radiation going on his brain.

On Aug. 5 we got the results of his PET scan.  I received a phone call early in the morning that it was Stage 4 lung cancer and that it had also spread to his lymph nodes, adrenal gland, stomach, liver and his bones.  Devastated? Yes, to say the least.  Unfortunately, I know a lot of you know that feeling.

You know what, though? As hard of a struggle as this may be, from finding out, to understanding all the cancers, the stage, the medications, the treatments, the reason why–which no one can explain–to researching how else we can help combat this, understanding food consumption and controlling sugars, trying to help get through depressions, blood workup, weekly appointments, necessary daily routines, etc., the most beautiful and amazing things have happened.

God, family, friends and community.  We have been beyond blessed from the outreach of prayers, love and support, it has been so unbelievable. 

Jeff and I would like to personally thank everyone, but it is so hard to thank an entire community for their selfless acts of love, but we will try.

First and foremost, our family who are our foundation, our rocks, our everything.  As you all may very well know we love you “to infinity and beyond.”  To our close beautiful friends, we love you beyond words, you are always there and for that, sorry but we will always be in your lives, you can’t get rid of us.

There have been cards sent to us almost every day, some we know really well, and others just because they understand and care.  Thank you to the Orpheum Theater in Hillsboro for the showing of Mary Poppins and SRT (Summer Repertory Theatre-Diane Hardy).  Thank you to Melody and her son Shaw Riggs of Hillsboro and Angela and her daughter Analise Best of Staunton, for thinking of this beautiful gift for Jeff and giving us another memory.  Thank you to Chris Boston and Megan Gad for their contribution of popcorn and drinks during the showing of Mary Poppins. To James Hertel for his beautiful letter and help from the Roy L. Hertel Foundation for Better Communities. To the beautiful and caring Laura Fleming and Leah Lang for the Team Lutzy T-shirts and bracelets that were made in support of Jeff.  To the amazing and unbelievable people Melissa Rice, Melody Riggs, Deklan Riggs, Meagan Jorn, Angela Best and Analise Best who had put on a bake sale at Dollar General for Jeff and gave their love and time.  To Dollar General in Hillsboro, thank you to our awesome daughter Sara Lutz and Dollar General in Schram City, thank you to Wendy Gregg for allowing them to put on the bake sale at your stores.  To all of you that donated baked goods, over five tables worth–are you kidding me how sweet and awesome are you all?  To those of you who bought all of the amazing baked goods, fundraisers like these don’t work without all of the caring and support you give.  To Chris Bates for making some awesome looking baseball shirts for Team Lutzy. To Zion Lutheran’s Vacation Bible School kids and parents, you are all God’s little angels.  To the Montgomery County Cancer Society for everything you do, you are a blessing to our community.  To Chick-fil-A who helps people in times of need for fundraisers like the one that Roger Jennings put on by the entire management and staff, for Jeff.  There are no words for what you did. 

So many people to thank.  Like, whoever typed up the flyers and distributed.  Whoever put it in the paper each time, and those who put it on Facebook and those who liked it and shared it.  To all of you that put in your orders, to the ones that took the orders and those who got up early in the morning to run to get the food.  To everyone who packaged up the food and those who made deliveries. And to all of you that sold them out of food. 

You are all amazing, selfless, beautiful people and to say thank you, just isn’t enough. It is very hard for us to accept all these acts of love, kindness, generosity and heartfelt words that come to us every day.  It is overwhelming and you will all always mean so much to us. You have no idea how hard it is to find any words or deeds to show you the meaning of what you have all done. 

As much as we were and are devastated by the news he was given, we are also reminded every single day that life, this life that we are given, is not a guarantee, but a blessing for however long we have it because of the people that are in it.  We love you all because of your prayers, your love, your caring, your kindness. And for a lot of you, all the memories we have shared throughout the years.  Again, thank you and God bless you all.

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