Wednesday, December 26, 2012

My Last Days: Meet Ann, Soul Pancake Production

Sometimes, when you least expect it, life shows you that you have just bowled a strike.

 

I have posted over 500 blog posts here, and I don't think in all those words I've captured my feelings as accurately as the Soul Pancake crew did in this ten minute video. These are talented people who managed to understand my essence as a mother what a wonderful family I have.

I hope you enjoy watching it as much as we have.

The video speaks for itself and is so beautiful that there isn't much left to say.

 Below I listed all the folks involved and I thank them all, but especially Justin, who led the way, Ahmed, who chatted with this old lady during boring moments, Emily who is as sweet as she is beautiful, and Jordan, who recorded me peeing and never said a word.

Every single one of the people involved in this filming were so kind and gentle with my family that I cannot begin to express my gratitude. Let me just say that I will never forget you and neither will my family. What was supposed to be just a fun, silly thing to do that might be a good blog post turned into something truly special and unforgettable. My family, long after I'm gone, will be able to watch this video and remember the good times we shared and how much we love each other, and that is a true gift.

It's hard to take yourself out of the picture, but I think the video shows that love happens, sadness happens but life will go on. We are but a brief moment in time - all of us.

If you are so moved, feel free to comment here, but please, also take the time to go to YouTube and see the other videos in the series and leave a comment for the people doing thoughtful shows like this. I enjoy watching cute cats online as much as the next person, but people who create the kind of thing that Soul Pancake does, with as much talent as they do, are worthy of being told they are adding to the world..

Thank you:
Director/Producer: Justin Baldoni
Executive Producer: Golriz Gundry
Producer: Ahmed Kolacek
Editor/Associate Producer: Kevin Filippini
Associate Producer: Fouad Elgohari
Production Coordinator: Emily Foxler
DP: Sam Rosenthal
Sound Recordist: Jordon Justice
Music: Jamey Heath Colorist: Bruce Goodman / Hot Pixel Post
Mixed by: Lisa Fowle / Dragonfly Sound Special
Thanks: Sunset Edit

60 comments:

  1. I'm speechless...what a moving and beautiful video!

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  2. Fabulous video. Your a lucky lady to have such a loving family.

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  3. Wow - what a wonderful and touching video! You are one beautiful lady with a great family - thanks for sharing with all of us. I have been following your blog for awhile now and it as great to hear your voice and "meet" your wonderful family.. Prayers that you have many, many, many more years with them.....drying my tears now....you usually only make me cry with your funny comments!

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  4. thanks for sharing your family and their thoughts with us. we are all so very lucky to be part of this adventure with you.

    happy happy holidays

    nicola from calgary

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  5. Ann I've been looking forward to this coming since you introduced us to the first video by Soul Pancake. I just watched this, and it was just so incredibly moving. You have such amazing love from your family. I've been reading your blog since my own diagnosis two years ago, before your Stage IV status and I've laughed and cried at many posts, but this was the most beautiful so far. xx

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    1. The Soul Pancake folks are remarkably talented. I was impressed what they did and I was there while filming. They really did a beautiful job. Their whole YouTube channel is worth tuning into - not all of it is about folks with terminal illnesses but all of it is thought-provoking.

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  6. Having saw the first 2 "Last Days" videos, I was prepared to tear up, but what really came through this video:
    1. This woman is freaking beautiful. A photograph doesn't do her justice.
    2. How very much her family loves her. Her youngest son did me in when he said that he was hoping that his mom will be at his graduation and later on, that he'll always remember her (note to him: You've got your mama's smile. You'll remember). I lost it then and ran for the tissues.
    A beautiful video befitting a gorgeous lady. Ann and her family rock!

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    1. Thank you. The beautiful thing is funny as I have always thought of myself as, um, less than beautiful. My husband has always been generous in the compliments though.

      I hope they do remember me. One of the reasons I agreed to do this was to have a professionally done film. As the mom, I am the one always taking the videos and there is very little of me in family films. Now they have this - it's such a gift.

      It made me cry too.

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  7. Just beautiful. Simply beautiful.

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  8. What a powerful video. Ann, you are the epitome of grace in the face of this terrible disease, and you have an incredibly beautiful family. One of the messages that came through to me is that human beings are so fragile, yet remarkably resilient...but the most clear message in that video is that you live a life full of love. How lucky you all are to experience such a beautiful gift.

    This was wonderful, Ann. Thank you for sharing it with us. :)

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  9. Such a treasure to be able to "meet" you all, and hear your voices. Thank you for sharing; you have a beautiful family, inside and out.

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  10. Ann,
    Beautifully done. You are eloquent but honest about your experience with stage IV cancer.

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  11. Beautiful. All around: You, your family, your outlook, this video. All beautiful.

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  12. Poignant and riveting. Your family appears to be truly, deeply happy--no matter what the future probably holds. Your own graceful, humorous approach is a legacy of joy.

    Blessings. Thanks for sharing your life.

    And really...has anyone ever told you what beautiful teeth you have?

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    1. :) My teeth are a bit hard to miss, eh? I did have braces, I promise! They just didn't take. :)

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  13. What a beautiful tribute to ... life! To the love and life you have with your family. Really moving video. It made me cry, but in a good way. I finished treatment for b.c. just under 2 yrs ago, so my heart and prayers are with you. Here's to attending your son's graduation!

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    1. I'll drink to that! A glass of water, of course. :)

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  14. Beautiful and amazing. It was a great pleasure to watch you and see the love in your family. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. They did a good job, didn't they?

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  16. Such a moving and thoughtful video - a real slice of the life you are living. Your grace and love and wonderful family shine through the screen like sparkling stars..
    You show what it is like to LIVE with a terminal disease. Bless you, beautiful Anne.

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    1. What a nice thing to say. Thank you!

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  17. Just checking in , Ann . You are an inspiration! Love to you, as always. Your friend, Kathy Carlson

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    1. Kathy, great to hear from you. Will never forget your kindness. Hope things are going well at your new school. *hugs*

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  18. Hi, Ann...TheDivineMrsM here. Just finished watching your video. It moved me to tears. You look great, and wow, what beautiful boys you have, and such a loving husband as well. It is easy to see that you and your sons express your love for each other through actions, as well as simply a "knowing". I understand that depth of the relationship as I share the same type of bond with my only child, my son, a junior in college. Think of you often and always send my best to you.

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    1. Hey there, I'm happy to see you, you Divine thing you! I'm glad you liked the video and yeah, my family is beautiful, I can't deny it.

      I will be very, very sad when my youngest goes off to college but also happy as that is what I'm hanging around for. I hope your son is close enough to visit you regularly. Stay in touch!

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  19. Thanks for sharing yourself and your beautiful family with all of us...I love this video.

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  20. Ann, I just watched your truly moving video and what a beautiful legacy you have made.

    I don't know if you would remember me but I was in the same graduating class at St. Francis High School as you! We even worked at WOOLCO together. Do you remember I was not cut out for the cosmetics department at all! You and Dave from sporting goods (I don't know why I would remember this-over 30 years ago!) would try to make me laugh when I had to announce a blue light special about lipstick. But we made the experiences fun when all of us (Linda V. MaryJo) were there.

    I have been following your blog- You writing is impactful! Although I do not have cancer, I supported my best friend through her stage 2 endometrial cancer-going with her to all of her chemo treatments-talking about life, researching cancer, living each day to the fullest. She has since then passed her five-year survival mark!

    Ann-I am impressed by your strength throughout this experience, your open communication, your humor and your family's support.
    If you remember me I would be happy to regularly chat with you!
    I too have a family- two grown sons and a daughter who is a junior in college.
    Until next time.
    Cathy (Santos) Cepress

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    1. Cathy Santos! Yes, I definitely do remember you! To be perfectly honest, I have very few memories of my high school years - I had a difficult home life and not much support, but those days at Woolco I remember fondly. I even think I wrote a story on this blog about when I had to decorate Christmas stockings there in a little booth - do you remember that? And I definitely remember trying to mess you up when you had to make announcements. :) I remember Dave too, who I think I may have had a little crush on, even that he got transferred to the records department. The popular song that year was "September" and music was not piped in, it was played from that one department, do you recall? That song still takes me back to those days. I think you and I once crammed into my little car going out for pizza or something. I am sure there is more to that story that will come back to me. :) It is so nice to hear from you and that you are doing well. Would love to hear about your life over the years. Email me at butdoctorihatepink at gmail.com and I'll get back to you.

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  21. I just found your blog through the award you are nominated for and watched this video. I was treated at Sierra Hematology & Oncology too, small world! You have a great attitude and a beautiful family, thank you for sharing with us.

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    1. Kayla, how long ago? I wonder if we ever saw each other? Aren't they the nicest people? I couldn't be happier with the care I get there. I really like each and every one of those people. They do amazing work.

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  22. What a blow-me-away beautiful video, Ann. No mom could watch this and think anything else.

    Only I wonder why you call it "My last days"? Could it be something like "Nearing the end but not there"? Maybe its last "years"?? Hope you see your son graduate college and who knows, maybe the grand babies. :)

    Oh, and this is random, but the inside of your house looks so comfy and warm.

    Rachel

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    1. Rachel, it is a series done by Soul Pancake, a production company owned by Oprah's network, OWN, and the guy who is responsible is Rainn Wilson from The Office. The series is called "My Last Days" because they are doing these shows about people who are expected to die from their disease.

      They've done 2 others, I'm #3. The first family had a young man who did die of his cancer shortly after it aired. The 2nd one is also a young man, only 21, who has a form of bone cancer that is not being treated. Then me, not a young person. I wasn't sure a middle-aged lady would be relatable to the YouTube generation, but people were very nice. :) I highly recommend you go to YouTube and Soul Pancake's page and watch them all and then poke around and see what else they are doing. They are trying to tackle life's "big questions" which is something different, and how does one live knowing their life is very short was one of the questions. They are all short but all are great. The first family is really heart-wrenching because the kids were so young, but the people who watched the series donated a ton of money for the wife and kids because they had financial difficulties, being so young. Really wonderful to see how strangers came through.

      I fit because most people with liver mets have about a 3 year lifespan and I'm 20 months in, but of course, that doesn't mean I can't respond to treatment and more time. I'm hoping for it but am not counting on anything. I learned my lesson after the resection failed so fast. So far, no chemo seems to be working for me and surgery didn't work so we'll see. TDM1 is next on my list if I can manage to get it.

      As for my home, thank you. It is an older, small house and normally full of muddy dog prints. :) They really made it look cleaner than it is, I'm not quite sure how. Funny, the windows looked pretty dirty when they interviewed me but they weren't - it was the age. They were original to the house - built in 1947. They need to be replaced - they are single pane. That was a big worry for me when I said yes to a camera crew coming in, because I can't really clean much anymore. When they showed my son getting out of bed, they only showed him from the top - if they had panned down they would have seen piles and piles of clothes and junk on the floor. :) I do appreciate them being thoughtful that way, they were amazing people. They knew the mess and pile-ups in certain rooms bothered me.

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  23. Ann, thanks so much for sharing your video, your thoughts and your family. You are truly blessed to have so much love surrounding you. I wish for you many more years of love and health. Vicki Tashman

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  24. Hi Ann--the one word that kept coming to mind as I watched your video was "beautiful", encompassing the fear, love, sadness and mystery of it all. Thanks for allowing this video to be made and to Soul Pancake for leading me here.
    Wishing you and your family strength and joy. Kathy

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  25. I waited until today to watch this, since I expected to need tissues. I was right, but so glad that you shared this video. I began reading your blog three years ago when I was diagnosed (stage 1). Your humor and writing are part of my daily reading. You have a special family. Wishing you a New Year filled with warmth, love, and many happy moments.

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    1. Thank you. I guess I better get back to writing something. I kind of want to leave this video on the front page forever! :)

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  26. I have been looking forward to watching this, It is lovely to really "see" you and your family. You made me cry of course, you often do- though usually its from laughter! Well done on taking part in this, I think these videos will help a lot of people gain understanding. xx

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  27. Hi Ann,

    I'm not sure why I'm writing this. I just wanted to reach out. Let you know that there's one more person you don't even know that supports you spiritually.

    I'm really glad I took the time to watch this. For a long time, I have admired you from afar on TCF. I have mostly lurked for the past 11 years. I didn't know your name was Ann. We may have interacted a bit, most likely on a "Lost" thread. I haven't been as active until lately, so I didn't know about the cancer.

    I now wish I had taken the time to get to know you better. The film shows you as I thought you would be. Strong. Brave. Kind. Blithe.

    I lost a friend to pancreatic cancer 12 years ago. She fought it for 3.5 years after a 5 month diagnosis. You remind me of her. Her kids were the same age as my kids which was really why we became friends.

    I am a big fan of the group Squeeze. I don't know if you are familiar with them but whenever I hear their song "Some Fantastic Place" I think of her. It is a beautiful song about the songwriters' friend whom they lost to cancer.

    This is a strange comment for me but I just wanted to say, "Hey" and "keep fighting." I'm glad my friend did and I'm sure your family is glad you are.

    Welcome to a new year!


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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words. I do appreciate them, more than you know. While my family is the reason I live, the support I get from people like you really keeps me going.

      I am very sorry for the loss of your friend. I'm glad she got all that extra time - I hope I do too. But I am enjoying the days I have.

      I will check out the group and song. No, I never have heard of them!

      Heppy new year to you - and everybody.

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  28. Happy new year. I want to be strong like you Ann tell me what to do please. I have an aneurysm and a long list of other medical problems 7 yr old daugther no cannot die yet but every day when I wake up I help my little one get ready for school who wiil if I die tonight or tomorrow? I ADMIRE YOU. WISH to SEE A LOT OF YOUR VIDEOS AND LEARN FROM YOU.

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    1. I'm very sorry to hear about your aneurysm. Living with uncertainty is very difficult. It must be extremely scary for you.

      I am not strong, just accepting. You can be that way too.

      I will tell you what I tell everybody, and that is to do your very best to enjoy each moment you are given. Don't let the fear take over your days.

      I think for you, because of the suddenness of what could happen to you, preparation is important. By that I mean insurance, paperwork, retirement, whatever it may be. Make sure that all of that will be in order in case that aneurysm breaks. I know that I feel more serene knowing my family isn't going to have to struggle to put things together after my death. I have all passwords, all my important medical records, all of my insurance information in one special place in my house. Maybe I'll do a blog post on things to do.

      Another thing I would do would be to make sure that everybody knows what to do in case of a problem. Even your child, as difficult as that conversation may be. If she knows what could happen and it's told in a confident, age-appropriate way, I think it is information she can handle, and if the worst happens, giving her a plan to follow will help her and ease your mind. I would explain to them and family and friends what would happen and what to do. Depending on where your aneurysm is, of course, it may not be helpful to YOU for people to have an action plan, but it will be helpful to anybody around you.

      After all of that is taken care of, you might feel better knowing you have done the best you can to help the people you love.

      Then, once all the details are done - I think you should live like you don't have this illness.

      I do my best to do that, although because mine causes pain it is impossible not to think about. But I don't worry about the future and what I can't control. Like I tell all women with early stage cancer - yes, it can come back metastatic. But, it also may not.

      Wouldn't it be a waste of your life to become so afraid of the aneurysm bursting that you live a fearful life, and when you are 90 years old you know it never has?

      You have a beautiful live, with a daughter you love, and hopefully others in your family who are there for you. Plan for the worst, and appreciate the best.

      Hugs and love. Ann

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    2. Hi Ann thank you for your reply you are so kind in taking the time to write in a special way to share with me so much. To teach me to make me feel alive . Because I stoped living my heart beats my blood still warm feeds my body but the person outside is waiting sad depressed with nothing good to share but my sufering my pains and a bomb inside me growing getting ready to kill me. I see you in that video and think how can she look so strong so happy like living a normal life? You are great you are my hero I will read your rply over an over again until I learn to apreciate what I have even my suffering. I dont want to be a robot anymore i need to get out in a wheel chair? With a cane? A walker? But i will try to get on my feet again thank you Ann thank you . I have arthitis and my hands hurt to write but I will tell you about my condition write yousoon praying for you. You wiill be my inspiration.

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    3. Sweetie, have you talked to your doctor about this? Sounds to me like you are depressed, and maybe medication is necessary to help you see a way to an enjoyable life again. There is no defeat in taking medicine if you need it. If you ever want to email me, feel free. My addy is butdoctorihatepink AT gmail.com. You know to change the words at to the @ symbol.

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  29. This was an awesome video- really well done. You summed it up when you said "i dont want cancer to affect my family until it has to" Really that is the goal that us stage 4 moms need to adopt!
    Thank you for sharing this video!!!

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  30. This video was great, and it was neat to see you along with your family. You all looked great. Glad you were able to share your very important message this way.

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  31. Hi Ann. Long time lurker. That was lovely. Thank you for sharing.

    Kate

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  32. Hi Ann, Relatively new lurker but I wanted to say thank you so much for blogging and sharing your experiences and this video. You are clearly much loved by many, many people.

    Mel (NZ)

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    1. Thank you for coming out of lurkdom. :) NZ was on my list of places I would have loved to see. You are lucky (in my book) to be there. Thanks for the very kind words.

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  33. Hi Ann. I am new to your blog but feel like we have so much in common. I am only in my late 30's but have lost every female on my fathers side to breast cancer, as well as an uncle on my mothers side to brain cancer. I realize my likelihood of getting breast cancer is very significant and began testing for it a few years back. I live with the fear though of knowing its unlikely I will make it to be an "old" woman. I only hope and pray as the years go on more discovery is made into it and how to "cure" it. I have felt ever since I was a teen that I will not make it past my 50's, a horrible thing to say but it's been with me my whole life.

    I wish you and your boys nothing but the best! You are an amazing and brave woman. Your video is making me rethink how I life right now. "what if" I do get cancer at a young age? I hate to look back thinking how much time I wasted on small things rather then just enjoying what I have in the present.

    I live locally as well, been in this area since 1994 when I relocated here from Sonoma County.

    God Bless You!

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    1. Hey to a neighbor! I am really sorry that you have had such a close-up and personal experience with cancer. It is natural for you to think you could be next. Have you had the BRCA testing?

      I hope you are able to change your thinking about how long you will live. Changing your attitude takes practice, especially with a life-long and well-founded fear, but you can use positive affirmations every time you start to think you are going to die early.

      You can also find lots of stories about women who have had high risk for cancer but who have never developed it. There are many stories out there of women who have had every family member get cancer - but they didn't. Print those stories and keep them close and read them each time you start to feel frightened. You have as much chance as being one of the ones who lives as not, so why not concentrate on the other end of the spectrum?

      In any case, you are being responsible. You are being monitored and have doctors taking care of you. Minimize external risk factors (drinking, weight, etc) and eat mostly healthy and then you have done everything you can. Beyond that, you are out of control and what is going to happen will happen. So like you said, you are wasting your time worrying.

      You have a beautiful life to life. Live it. What will happen will happen and it is almost all out of your control. What you CAN control is how you experience it. *hugs*

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  34. Dear Ann, I've read your posts on the BCO board and I faithfully follow your blog. This video is amazing, and although I already knew this before, you are a beautiful person inside and out. I know that I am better equipped to handle *anything* that life will throw my way having you as an example of strength, humor and candor. I've always lived in the present, but you reinforce what is important and to be treasured in this life. I am listening!

    You've touched the lives of so many, more than you'll know. Thank you for sharing your most intimate thoughts about your journey.

    Praying that your PET goes well!

    Carpediem 1965
    Seize the day...Yesterday is gone, tomorrow is unknown, today is all we have.

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    1. Thank you so much for the wonderful words of kindness. I truly appreciate them.

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  35. I can't reply to everybody (some issue with my computer!) but I do want to say a heartfelt thank you to everybody who has responded. My family is wonderful and I'm glad to show them off. I appreciate each and every one of you who has reached out.

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  36. Absolutely Beautiful! I have no health problems at this time (but as one afflicted with hypochondria and always waiting for some major illness in the back of my mind) you are teaching me to appreciate, enjoy, and really live my life - now and in the future - whatever that might be.

    It was a joy to see you and your beautiful family.

    Vicki

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  37. Beautiful. Everything in that video is wonderful but the disease. Your family lives a quality life every day, while other families get years without much quality at all. I hope you make it for many milestones, more than you can imagine.

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