Can't Argue with Progress

I'm spending a lot of time looking out at the back yard. The leaves are changing and the view is spectacular.

Things are sort of normal, and sort of not.

We're having a new roof put on, so those idyllic views of the foliage are mixed with pounding, scraping, hammering, and more pounding. It's a lot like living in a drum, but all the drummers are playing at different tempos.

It's strange to know that others will have to blow the leaves this year. Normally, that's one of my jobs.

Thanksgiving is coming in a few weeks. We're making plans, but I wonder what kind of shape I'll be in. Will I be able to sit at the table for a whole dinner?

By then, the drains will have been removed from my back. Can't wait for that. The percussion symphony will have ended, and the roof will be done. Most of the leaves I'm looking at now will have fallen.

All in all, things will be moving forward.

And who can argue with progress?



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Dear Leroy,
You have been through the wringer, my friend, but I hear so much strength in your words. This is when all of us want to do so much more than write to you.
We are all here for you, because you have given so much to all of us.
With love and gratitude,

Sent by Mary Sullivan | 7:45 AM | 11-6-2007


Reading your article today reminds me that, before the ultimate loss that we will remain blissfully unaware of when it occurs, there are thousands, maybe millions of comparatively little losses that we grieve. Whether it's loss of a loved one or loss of a capability, it seems we still go through denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance.

It seems the key is to remember that we share your experiences of loss, we mourn them, and we finally accept them. After the moment of acceptance, we can see progress. We can see that we have grown as people, and though others may judge us by our limitations, we judge ourselves by our strength of resolve, our ability to grieve and accept yet another loss, and our progress as human beings, and, as you say, who can argue with progress?

Sent by Leonard | 7:53 AM | 11-6-2007

Things seem to move so slowly while we wait impatiently to heal. Days go by when nothing seems to happen. We adapt to the pain and discomforts and inconveniences. This becomes our new normal.

Then, one day, we realize, "I haven't thought of my back (in your case) for a couple of hours! That's when we know that something good has happened. That day will come for you, Leroy. The date will be a surprise.

Hang in there. Watching the leaves fall is a good way to spend time. Getting a new roof is a good way to prepare for the Winter and the future. Letting someone else clean up the yard this year is just the way that it is.

Sent by Marilyn | 8:04 AM | 11-6-2007

Leroy, one thing I know for sure - you will be one happy puppy when the drains are gone. In my case, I felt less fragile (and consequently much stronger) after my drains were removed - maybe losing the drains will help you feel more back to "normal" too. Little by little, life will begin to assume a more familar shape - I'm sure of it.

Sent by Gretchen Hoag | 8:09 AM | 11-6-2007

Mornin' Leroy ~ What a lovely mental picture you paint of the view from your window! Autumn is a beautiful month and I am so happy that you are here with us to still appreciate the colors and changes.
It is a shame that they picked this time to re-roof your home. Couldn't it have been done while you were in the hospital? OH well, don't want you getting wet on top of all your other problems. You have enough drains and want NO MORE!
Have you ever tried painting? Oh, how I wish that this stroke hadn't curtailed my sight making it difficult to paint as before. Cancer never dampened my creativity but one, lousy, little, blood clot did! Tain't fair!
Enjoy the view Leroy - Spring and re-birth are not far behind.

Sent by J C R | 8:45 AM | 11-6-2007


As always, thanks for taking the time to keep us updated on your progress. Your 'voice' sounds stronger everyday...

Forget about blowing the leaves this year, just enjoy them falling...

Hi to Laurie...

Sent by Faun | 9:03 AM | 11-6-2007

Dear Leroy,

You sound good today, and I am glad. God Bless you today, and always.

Sent by Connie E. | 9:35 AM | 11-6-2007

What a change in tone...I can tell everyday for you is changing - just like the leaves.
I love how you don't try to hang on but, just like the leaves let things fall where they must.

Sent by Carolyn | 9:36 AM | 11-6-2007

Dear Leroy, Glad to hear in your words that your spirits are up and you are enjoying the falling leaves. I woke up this moring feeling crappy but as soon as I got my coffee and sat ouside on my lanai my spirits rose. The sandhill cranes were yelling for their food and it felt good to be needed for something.You will definitely feel much better when drains are removed as I know this from experience. So lets all look for one positive in our day and then we can go on. Blessing to everyone.

Sent by Vicki (FL) | 9:39 AM | 11-6-2007

Good Morning Leroy,
It is good to hear you looking forward to drains coming out and Thanksgiving Dinner. That is just what the doctor ordered.....NO MORE DRAINS AND A BIG THANKSGIVING DINNER.....smometimes this is just the medicine one needs to feel better....:) Have a great day.

Sent by Teresa in WV | 9:41 AM | 11-6-2007

Man oh sure are giving it all you got. I know many don't like the war analogy but I think you are one tough soldier.

Keep doin' what you are doin'.

Biggest hugs,


Sent by Lori Levin | 9:45 AM | 11-6-2007

Leroy and Laurie,

It is a beautiful autumn, isn't it.

I got some tremendous news yesterday -- another clean MRI. Since I finished chemo mid-August, I've been getting stronger and stronger every day. Progress is slow and sometimes maddening, but I'm relaying my story to, hopefully, cheer you on to greater victories. It can be done.

I spoke with a woman yesterday -- it was the 10th anniversary of her husband's death from a brain tumor. I told her I used to have a brain tumor. She said, shocked and unbelieving, "USED TO??? There was NOTHING to treat my husband ten years ago! We tried to get him into a clinical trial. We even tried to get him accepted into a program in Germany. But ultimately a brain tumor back then was a death sentence."

See how far we've come? Utterly amazing.

So look forward to Thanksgiving. I know that this year I have so incredibly much to be thankful for -- especially for my neuro-oncologist who was willing to try something new and different that he believed would work. You will pull through all this dreadful stuff, Leroy. And you'll have a weather-tight roof, to boot.

Sent by jordis | 9:49 AM | 11-6-2007

It's important to be strong but sometimes you just have to let God carry you.

Sent by Jo | 10:02 AM | 11-6-2007

Up north, relatively speaking, in Alberta there is a light dusting of snow on the ground and the big elm trees are stark in the low morning light. It???s a clich?? to say that there is a lot to learn from the changing of the seasons, yet the beauty of the light in winter can make even the deepest cold bearable. Wishing you all peace and light.

Sent by Jen | 10:45 AM | 11-6-2007

Leroy, You've picked two wonderful words to blog about in the last two days - patience and progress. They describe how, I think, most of us manage to focus on moving forward. In the midst of this, some encouraging news from Jordis, Nancy K. Clark, Terry and others. It may be pouring rain outside my windows; but the sun shines on us here.

Sent by Sheara | 10:46 AM | 11-6-2007

It's good to hear that you are progressing. I too, had to learn patience. I prayed every night for patience, strength and courage but most of all for peace of mind and happiness. Make a list of all the things you are thankful for, it helps to keep one positive. I am making one for Thanksgiving Day. I no longer can sit down and eat a huge dinner at one time, but I can eat whatever I want all day long, so I'll drag it out. One of my things on my thank you list is you.

Sent by Ruth White | 11:05 AM | 11-6-2007

Sounds like this will be a very special Thanksgiving. Not having to deal with blowing leaves is not too bad a thing either. Rest up and get well!

Sent by Jen | 11:18 AM | 11-6-2007

Leroy~ I distinctly remember after my surgery saying to my husband, "I wish I could fast forward a week of time." I knew that a week later I would feel better. Being home does help alot, even if there is annoying noises. But sometimes those noises can distract us from ourselves and thats good. Take care and enjoy the view!

Sent by DiAnn | 11:21 AM | 11-6-2007

The tone of your words sounds so much more optimistic...I feel encouraged by them.
They reminded me of a farm stand sign(some years ago when I was newly diagnosed) at the end of the fall season that read "See you in March" and how I had tearfully said "Yes!" out loud to the sign. And I remember how happy I was when the sign read "Opening soon" the following spring. That sign gave me something to look forward to over the winter.
So keep looking forward to the changing seasons. Leaves, snow, spring rains, and then the daffodils.
As the lyrics of an old Neil Young song go, "I want to see you dance again." And you will.

Sent by Joan F | 11:28 AM | 11-6-2007

Leroy, I am so glad that you are able to see the beautiful leaves. You do sound a little stronger with every day. There was so much truth in Leonard's comments. Keep takeing things one day at a time and soon you will be much stronger before you even know it.

Keep looking forward to a Happy Thanksgiving for you and Laurie. You both have much to be thankfull for as so many of us do.

Sent by dorothy in oregon | 11:29 AM | 11-6-2007

What a strange juxtaposition: the extreme beauty in the back yard and the syncopated rhythms on your roof. Maybe its time to invest in some of those noise-cancelling headphones? And the idea of you and Laurie planning Thanksgiving makes me feel such sharp gratitude. Indeed, every day we set our own thanksgiving table in our hearts. And yours is among the bright lights at my daily celebration!

Sent by Sarah | 11:35 AM | 11-6-2007

I had just finished 5 weeks of radiation, upper chest and throat, on November 25th. So that Thanksgiving was rough. But I was still with my family. Of course there was the crying that I had made it to that Thanksgiving, and it took more energy then I had ever thought to eat a meal. But I was still with my family. I couldn't really eat, thankfully there was lasagna and mashed potatoes. But I was still with my family. That is the most important part of that day. You will be with your family and friends. You thought last year was going to be your last, and your still here. Yes this Thanksgiving will not be a "typical" Thanksgiving, by you will still be there. You can clean the yard next year. You can carve the turkey next year. You can sit at the table with the grownups all night long next year. This year, spend as much time as you can, eat what you can, and enjoy what you have. Be thankful your still here, I know I am and we all are.

Sent by Brit | 11:38 AM | 11-6-2007

Dear Leroy,

I can sense in your tone that you are starting to feel better and I am so happy for you. I hope that each day brings you more strength and comfort.

Be well my friend. Prayers to you and Laurie.

Sent by sasha | 11:43 AM | 11-6-2007

If i try real hard to read BETWEEN the lines i detect improvment in Leroys attitude. Keep up the fighe for all of us. We need to hear fron fighters like you!!!

Sent by Ed Graf | 11:57 AM | 11-6-2007

You sound upbeat today. I check this site every work day just to see how you are doing. My husband was a Landscaper, fancy title for gardner, for over fifty years. Now that he will be 94 this month and has Parkinson's we have a paid gardener. I called him the gardener's gardener. My husband does manage to sweep up leaves. Interesting story: Reagan was not able to do much more than remove leaves from his pool. When he completed this project he would go inside and his secret service would dump more leaves in the pool in order to give him something to do. You brought this story to mind when you mentioned leaves. The leaves will continue to fall and you will continue to improve.

Sent by Barb | 11:58 AM | 11-6-2007

Drains. Ouch ouch ouch. I hate them. May they be gone soon. Along with everyone else, I'm praying for you.

Sent by Gyla | 12:01 PM | 11-6-2007

This time last year my husband had radical prostatectomy ..... prostate cancer at the young age 43. Blowing leaves is his job but it was a sight that he will never forget - me (a wife that likes to sit and watch) with the yard blower, a rake and bags tackling leaves all day long. And I did it! Now that it has been 1 year - he is asking each day when will that sight happen again! So may you gain strength in whoever decides to blow your leaves is doing it because they care but also hopes that they will never have to do it again!
Athens, GA

Sent by Susan | 12:17 PM | 11-6-2007

You sound so much happier today! I am glad. There is something really cozy about fall. I too have been feeling better and optimistic. Good for you, Leroy!

Sent by Becky | 12:21 PM | 11-6-2007

Leroy, this autumn just seems never ending ... mostly great weather, colorful leaves, and nature slowly changing her mantle. Take it all in and savor it. Like a Thanksgiving feast!

Sent by Pat Z | 12:55 PM | 11-6-2007

I've been thinking over the past few days about your comments and wish for patience. I'm thinking that being impatient is not such a bad gift either -- it tends to be what moves us forward. Patience sometimes keeps us in place, keeps us from making progress.

I guess it's the same as in all things -- finding the balance between the two.

Sent by Jane | 1:01 PM | 11-6-2007

I am glad you sound good today, I am sure you will be feeling better by Thanksgiving but I am not so sure about the roof done, sorry!(you always have to multiply what they say it is going to cost and when is going to be done by, at least, 1.4
All the best for you & Laurie

Sent by Angela | 1:02 PM | 11-6-2007

Do you have a website where you post pictures? I'd love to see the view you are seeing while looking out into your backyard. To see the beautiful colors you describe of the leaves changing. Photography is a love of mine. I have always said I'd take classes in it when I retired. Perhaps I should do that now. We tend to keep putting off things when we're well and busy, busy, busy. I always collected quilting magazines thinking I'd be referring to them when I retired. Ha! Well, I happen to be taking chemo now that is in pill form, at least for another month I think, so I made myself take out my sewing machine. I find I can still sew with that but handwork is nearly impossible (due to neuropathy). I am seeing a baby quilt coming together and it reminds me of the satisfaction I have always loved at putting something together, creating art. You do that with your writing. So, Leroy, grab a camera and start taking pictures. We'd all love to see through your eyes. I'm reminded of a time years ago when my niece used to call me up and say, "Auntie, can you meet me? I'm feeling DIS-gusted!". As you can see I capitalized the DIS part because that was the way she pronounced the word at those particular times. I get the feeling you are feeling DIS-gusted. It's a good thing you can't actually "feel" the hugs people out in cyberland are sending you. That'd probably hurt! Ha! Have a good day Leroy. I try to remind myself on bad days that if I woke up breathing, it's a good day. If that doesn't work, I think of all those little children in the children's hospitals going through all this stuff and tell myself, If they can do it, I can too!. Later.......

Sent by LindaW | 1:30 PM | 11-6-2007

Reading your words has just put a wonderful warm feeling inside me.
I will look at the leaves that have changed color today and think of you.
Sending love for continued courage and strength...
You truly are a beneficial presence.

Sent by Susan | 2:42 PM | 11-6-2007

Leroy, Fall is such a wonderful time of year, and you should be out shopping for your Fall Wardrobe. Talking about drains and drums, it should be clothes you are talking about. Whatever amount of time you can sit with family and friends and have dinner is a gift. Enjoy it all!! Stay Tough, Stan

Sent by Stan Wozniak | 4:08 PM | 11-6-2007

Dear Leroy,
I recently stumbled upon your blog. I wanted to write to tell you how much your story touched me. The day I stumbled upon your blog, I went to its beginning and read your journey from start to finish. It was touching and awe-inspiring and quite emotional to read about your trials and ups-and-downs. Thank you for your candor - and for making something that is hard to understand, the day-to-day experience of cancer, more understandable for those looking in - it has been a pleasure getting to know you through your disease and here's to getting to know you even better as you beat it. Best wishes and thoughts to you. Hang in there - my mom likes to quote Nemo when things are bad, "just keep swimming" - apologies if that sounds contrite... And know that you have touched and are in our hearts.

Sent by Jane | 4:26 PM | 11-6-2007

Got a call this AM to let me know my niece died today. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer 4 years ago. She had a whipple procedure & was clean for 4 years, but then it came back & didn't stop until it won. My husband was diagnosed 21 months ago with lung cancer, had surgery to remove the entire lung & chemo & has been clean since. I can't help but wonder when it will return. That is the hardest part, the worry that you cannot let your loved one see in your eyes. When will the boys in the basement come up with the cure? So many people hurt everyday from this terrible disease, I am getting impatient with those boys. God Bless you Kim. I know you fought a good fight & now it is time for you to rest. Kathy

Sent by Kathy | 4:53 PM | 11-6-2007

Dear Leroy, Thanks for continuing to share your thoughts. Today I received the results of my latest cat scan. Unfourtunatly its my cancer thats progressing. New chemo, new clinical trial drug, same fear. I'm going to wait till after thansgiving to start the next cycle. In the meantime I'll try to get as many of the the leaves picked up as pain allows. The fight continues.

Sent by Ron | 5:01 PM | 11-6-2007

You are sounding stronger each day....Its funny, my fiance and I were just discussing Turkey dinner as well. My kids will be here to join us and he is hoping he can eat by mouth and not tube! Each day is better than the one before and we are forever greatful. Enjoy the just keeps getting better!

Sent by Laurie Hirth | 5:27 PM | 11-6-2007

Wonder why it is Leroy, and I am sure you have noted it, that when You post an upbeat message, like this morning, there are less replys. When you let us know how badly you are feeling, then the messages go into the hundreds.
I, like the "upbeat you" and am so happy to hear that you are looking at the Fall leaves falling once again. Keep it up!

Sent by J C R | 5:32 PM | 11-6-2007

I feel so bad for "Kathy" who got the word this morning that her Niece had just died. Hopefully her husband will continue to rally. Yes Kathy, I too, wish those "boys in the basement" would get busy and do what they are supposed to be good at - fighting cancer and looking for a cure. Stop counting the money and please count the people who have been suffering and looking up to you!
Keep the faith Kathy!

Sent by J C R | 7:35 PM | 11-6-2007

Leroy, you are sounding better and better my bro. You're downright philosophical now. I know its just a matter of a few days and you will be back to your fierce self. You will be stuffing yourself at the Thanksgiving table like the rest of us very soon. Prayin' for you everyday bro.

Sent by Jane M. | 7:55 PM | 11-6-2007

This will be our first Thanksgiving without Burge. Having very mixed emotions. It's hard doing "his" jobs, but I can't wish him back as he was in so much pain. He felt bad about not being able to do things, take me places, etc. It was OK with me then and still is.

Today I had lunch with a friend whoes husband showed up unexpectedly. I remember the happy feelings I had when Burge would do the same. I hope my friends keep having lunch every chance they get, and I hope you, Leroy, have a chance to sit through the entire Thanksgiving dinner. It will mean as much to your loved ones as to you.

Glad you are progressing.


Sent by Nikki | 8:12 PM | 11-6-2007

Leroy, you continue to be an inspiration to all of us. I have felt your pain and have prayed for you daily. I don' write often, but I read your Blog every day. I have lost close family to cancer and appreciate my health. This has been a seige for you and I have deep compassion for you and Laurie. I appreciate your blog when you are in so much pain and feeling so ill. I am deeply touched by some of the blogs written in. They are priceless. As everyone said today, you are more upbeat and hopefully you will be feeling stronger soon. You have a way with words and have helped so many people. When you do feel better and you will, please plan a special trip. I just came back from Arizona/Utah, Canyonlands. It was awesome. I turned 70 this year. My parents died in their early sixties and I appreciate each day. I have young grandchildren that I spend many days with and I so love those days. I will continue to pray for you and your improving health. Carol

Sent by Carol O'Shea Haber | 8:34 PM | 11-6-2007

I am glad to hear that you are at home and thinking about the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. My Dad's battle with cancer 6 years ago escalated during this time of year and I remember him saying the same thing about the leaves being "his job." I remember telling him one afternoon that there couldn't possibly be any more leaves in the town he lived in because I had just spent the afternoon raking them all up! That Thanksgiving was his last one and what I wouldn't give sometimes to have just one more Thanksgiving holiday with him. So, enjoy your Thanksgiving in whatever way that the day unfolds and please tell us your impressions of it afterwards. Thanks for your blog Leroy and I wish you only the best each day of your journey.

Sent by Cindy Crow | 9:23 PM | 11-6-2007

Once upon a time, a farmer went to see the village wise man to ask for help. He and his wife had noisy children and the farmer could never rest. The wise man told him to bring the all the chickens and roosters on the farm into the house. The farmer didn't understand but did as he was told. The chickens and roosters cackled and crowed and his house was worse than ever. The wise man told him to bring the goats and pigs in. This just made things worse. Every time he complained to the wise man, he was told to bring in more animals. Finally, the farmer could bear no more - all the crowing and oinking and mooing was driving him insane. The wise man told him to take out the pigs and cows and goats and chickens...all the animals out. The farmer did as he was told. His house was quiet and peaceful with only the soft sounds of children at play. Thanks to the wise man, his house was now a happy home.
Yep. Everything's relative. I hope Thanksgiving feels like that for you.

Sent by Laura | 9:55 PM | 11-6-2007

Good Evening Leroy, So glad to read you leaf-report. The trees have been putting on a show in the northwest but the show is winding down. I'm glad you still have some colorful displays to look at and enjoy. Let somebody else blow the leaves anyway! We are finally hiring-out, paying somebody to do the rake work after we've done the enjoying. Now that's progress! Your friends in Spokane, Sally and Tom

Sent by Sally & Tom | 1:04 AM | 11-7-2007

Ron, I am so sorry for the bad news. Stay tuned in with us. Get outside as you can and enjoy the fall. We will all remember you in our prayers as we do Leroy and all the others that are fighting this battle.

Sent by dorothy in oregon | 3:15 AM | 11-7-2007

I read these words of yours today and I thought of how you have given so many . that strength, that courage. And I want to thank you...again.

I need help right now, serious help. And, without asking, I already feel the cushion of all of your good wishes ... and your strength.

It's an amazing feeling, unlike anything else in the world.

I feel that, and I feel fortunate.

Sent by Tara | 4:30 AM | 11-7-2007

Leroy - so glad to hear that things are progressing. I hate being the helpless one also. Here's to your continued recovery and enjoy skipping the yard work this year.

Sent by Jill | 7:37 AM | 11-7-2007


Something happened and my post yesterday didn't get through. I want to be counted among those who are rooting for you - on a daily basis if I can manage it.

Autumn has always been bittersweet for me - the beginning of letting go of the year that has just passed, as well as another year of life. Bittersweet is exquisite and beautiful as well as sad.

You are a sensitive man and I know you sometimes feel some of that. I can picture you (I imagine lots of windows) looking at the beautiful leaves dropping from the trees and relaxing in that gentle moment.

Sent by Diana Kitch | 9:52 AM | 11-7-2007


NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from