A Fatherless Daughter: April 30th, 2019

My father, Roger Kramer passed away from lung cancer on June 2nd, 2019 after his 129 day battle. His cancer progressed quickly after his diagnosis on January 24th 2019. The cancer spread to his C2, eating away at the bone and fracturing his neck. After finishing chemotherapy and radiation, a PET scan t revealed the cancer had spread throughout his body. I was honored to care for him in his final days and he passed away 4 days later. We not only lost a father but Craig and I lost a dear friend and community member. A Fatherless Daughter is a blog series that highlights his last few weeks and the struggles we have had to overcome as a family as my dad’s cancer battle came to an end.

April 30th, 2019

I thought I would update everyone while dad is getting his feeding tube placed.

I’m up here in Lacrosse here today with Mom, Dad, Gannon and Buck. Kelli is watching the childcare kids today back home.

The shirt orders have been placed. 30+ kids shirts and 160+ adult shirts. We are organizing a pick up time at the Waucoma Fire Station for everyone to come and pick up their shirts this weekend. If you don’t feel comfortable paying online, that’s totally fine. You can pay when you pick up the shirt! I’ll work on shipping them this weekend as well.

Dad’s cancer has been moved from curable to treatable. That was our “big news” we found out yesterday. Which sucks. When we found out the cancer spread to C2 we kind of thought that would be the case.

Dad is getting radiation on his neck now – that is moving his radiation end date from May 8th to May 10th. We are all planning to go to Lacrosse with dad for his last day. If you’d like to come let us know!

Dad has STOPPED chemotherapy for the time being because it isn’t treating the cancer in his neck. It will need to be adjusted and restarted at a later time.

Dad had a rough night with pain. Lots of pain.

I’ve included pictures of dad’s neck CT to help explain what is going on. You can see the bone has a black center in it – the cancer has essentially eaten the inside of the bone making it very fragile – it should be dense but it is black in the imaging – hollow. Dad’s neck is fractured in more than one place which you can also see on the scan. The hope is this will heal after the cancer has been “zapped” out of it.

Dad will be up here at least a few more days. Surgery is not a good option at this time so he will remain in the neck brace for awhile. We need to get his pain under control before he can come home and he needs to be able to get up and moving around easier. Right now dad is on a continuous infusion and a PCA pump with a button he pushes to get more meds.

My mom has literally thousands of people around the country who read her blog every day and have for years. They have all asked how they can help and if they can donate. People have offered to set up GoFund me accounts. Mom and Dad are very uncomfortable with that but Kelli stuck a PayPal donation button on today’s blog post. We’ve tossed around the idea of hosting a benefit as well but again Mom and Dad are very hesitant. So many people want to help and if we can think of what we need, we will let you know. There’s just not much to do right now.

My brother in law is working on coordinating a shower to be installed in my parents main floor bathroom – this was always the intention but Dad will have trouble with stairs for awhile when he is in his neck brace so it is getting installed this week instead which will be awesome.

That’s all I know for now. Despite this all, Dad is in good spirits. We are all doing okay – as well as can be expected. He looks forward to visitors who have been in and out yesterday and today. Dad will have trouble getting out and about with his neck brace on when he gets home so we would love visitors when we get discharged!

A Fatherless Daughter: April 29th, 2019

My father, Roger Kramer passed away from lung cancer on June 2nd, 2019 after his 129 day battle. His cancer progressed quickly after his diagnosis on January 24th 2019. The cancer spread to his C2, eating away at the bone and fracturing his neck. After finishing chemotherapy and radiation, a PET scan t revealed the cancer had spread throughout his body. I was honored to care for him in his final days and he passed away 4 days later. We not only lost a father but Craig and I lost a dear friend and community member. A Fatherless Daughter is a blog series that highlights his last few weeks and the struggles we have had to overcome as a family as my dad’s cancer battle came to an end.

April 29th, 2019

More bad news on the home front…

About 30 seconds after I posted last nights update on my Dad (literally, 30 seconds) we took dad’s brace off of his neck so he could scratch his beard. He went to lean back in the recliner and my dad broke his neck.

We didn’t know that at that second obviously- he said he needed to go in the ER and something was very wrong. He was in 10/10 pain the entire way. I sat in the back seat trying to keep his neck still on the way. The narcotics in the ER were hardly touching his pain.

So the bone that broke is again that C2 vertebrae where the cancer is eating the bone. Imagine a doughnut – the hole in the doughnut keeps getting larger from the cancer eating the bone making it so weak which is why his neck broke so easily.

Dad was taken by ambulance to Lacrosse so he will be up there for the next few days at least. A neuro surgeon will now be added to the team who will be reviewing his case today at the “cancer meeting” they have on Mondays.

In a normal person, they would likely have surgery and be placed in a halo but with the cancer component we just don’t know what’s going on yet.

Here’s my mom’s blog post on today’s events: https://www.joscountryjunction.com/from-bad-to-worse/


That was possibly the worst day. I’ll never forget that groan that he let out when he moved just so slightly. It wasn’t like he was trying to get up, he just honestly reached forward and then just groaned. Then he said, “I don’t know how you guys are going to get me in the truck.” We didn’t know what he meant. He meant to get to the ER even though they had just come home from there.

I held traction on his neck, Craig and mom held his hands to guide him. It was terrifying. Carver watched the whole thing. I sat in the back seat of the truck literally holding his neck in place for the longest 35 minute drive of our lives. Every bump, every curve – my arms ached by the time we pulled into town.

I said something on the way there that we were all thinking: “Do you think you broke it Dad?”

“Something isn’t right.”

I called ahead to the ER. We brought him in through the ambulance bay. My coworkers met us outside with a stretcher. Mom and I were relieved to have some help. He was so so uncomfortable. I was that annoying family member that kept asking for narcotics for him.

In hindsight, we should have called an ambulance.

This is one of the most traumatic experiences in Dad’s cancer journey for me and mom. We talk about it often.

Check back tomorrow for a continuation of the Fatherless Daughter series.

A Fatherless Daughter: April 28th, 2019

My father, Roger Kramer passed away from lung cancer on June 2nd, 2019 after his 129 day battle. His cancer progressed quickly after his diagnosis on January 24th 2019. The cancer spread to his C2, eating away at the bone and fracturing his neck. After finishing chemotherapy and radiation, a PET scan t revealed the cancer had spread throughout his body. I was honored to care for him in his final days and he passed away 4 days later. We not only lost a father but Craig and I lost a dear friend and community member. A Fatherless Daughter is a blog series that highlights his last few weeks and the struggles we have had to overcome as a family as my dad’s cancer battle came to an end.

April 28th, 2019 – 17:29

Well guys, there is no sugar coating this post so I’ll jump right in. Dad’s cancer has spread.

Dad had a PET scan back in February. It showed the cancer was ONLY in the right lung and the lymph node in his chest closest to the tumor. PET scans are not good at detecting brain cancer or metastasis to the brain because the brain is always active or lit up on a PET scan. So when dad was diagnosed in February he had an MRI of his brain as well to confirm the cancer was not in his brain. It was not in his brain.

Dad has been having really bad headaches lately. They seem to be progressing. Dad’s headaches got significantly better on Tuesdays and Wednesday’s when he was on big doses of steroids after his Monday dose of chemo. This concerned his doctors because brain tumors are typically responsive to steroids. Therefore they ordered the MRI of his brain which confirmed, again, that there was no cancer in his brain which was a relief.

When I took him garage sale-ing on Thursday he was in a lot of pain by the end of the day and could hardly move his neck. Friday was even worse.

Yesterday I got a call from my mom. She said dad was in the shower and really screwed up his neck. Dad explained that it felt like his head was going to fall off. I had never heard anyone describe a headache like that.
About 2 hours later I got another call from mom. Dad needed to go to the ER. His pain was too much.

My amazing co-workers in the ER at WMC took amazing care of him, got his pain under control for the most part and Dad was ordered a CT of the neck.
Dad’s cancer has spread to C2. This is the second vertebrae of his neck. The cancer is destroying this bone causing all of this pain and headaches. The PET scan didn’t pick it up because it was too close to the brain, the brain MRI didn’t pick it up because it was too far from the brain. The C2 allows dad’s head to turn side to side or pivot. No wonder he said he felt like his head was going to fall off.

Dad’s current chemo and radiation treatment does not treat this cancer. We *think* we have been told that he will go through radiation again to treat this but we aren’t sure.

Dad was in enough pain again today mom took him back to Lacrosse this morning. They put dad in a new neck collar to help with stability and pain relief which dad says he thinks is helping. They will need to do an MRI of the neck this week. That’s all we really know right now. We don’t have a plan or even really an official diagnosis but they were so happy with their ER visit today – they said everyone took such awesome care of them!
We do know that any time cancer spreads it isn’t good. We do know that the chemo and radiation he is on won’t treat this.

Dad is in a lot of pain. Dad still can’t eat or drink anything without first numbing his esophagus and then he can only drink milk shakes. Dad lost 7 lbs between Monday and Friday last week. There has been talk about placing a feeding tube but we don’t know that for sure either. He probably won’t be able to eat regularly again until June at the earliest even though his last radiation treatment is May 8th.

That’s about all we know. If we know more I’ll post again.


I absolutely love this photo of my dad from my wedding. He was halfway through his speech when it was taken. I am literally sick to my stomach when I remember that we never got a recording of his speech. It makes me physically ill to think about. We had a friend with a video camera that night who was supposed to be taping. The camera had died over the supper hour and he was charging it and missed his speech.

This post is hard to read. I wrote it while sitting on my parents couch across from my Dad who was minutes away from breaking his neck.

My mom called me from the ER to tell me so I could call the other kids. I could tell she was trying not to cry. It was a short and sweet phone conversation. I was totally shocked.

I hung up with my mom and burst into tears. I can still remember every bit of that moment. I looked at Craig and said “My Dad is going to die.” I can remember what I was wearing, I can remember pulling myself together, I can remember each conversation with my siblings telling them that the cancer had spread. It was late, we were all already in bed. It was a hard conversation. We all cried together.

Tune in tomorrow for another post from A Fatherless Daughter.

A Walk to Remember #2

I just love walking with my mom. So do Carver and Gannon. We ended up walking for almost 1.5 hours the other day by the time we wandered on our usual route, met a few friends on the way, roamed through the cemetery and parted ways, we were all walked out.

We ran into a few of our favorite babysitters as they were on their walk too! We ran into our neighbors walking their dogs. Everyone was out and about town, it was a beautiful day 70 degrees in Waucoma.

Carver LOVES stopping to see the “waterfall” or the dam in Waucoma. You can see it really well right now because it isn’t overgrown yet.

We stopped and saw a pile of wood waiting to be cut into firewood. Carver and Gannon are all about learning new things as we go on our walk.

Karl met up with us on his way home from work – he brought me a PRESENT! I was so excited! He brought me a honey crisp cider from a local brewery (it may already be gone 2 days later). He then joined us on our walk.

We made our way to the cemetery to see dad’s new flower arrangement we ordered. We hadn’t seen it yet, our florist had delivered it earlier that week. I think she did a wonderful job.

We meandered throughout the cemetery and worked on our spelling and letters with uncle Karl and Carver. Is it strange to take your three year old on cemetery tours? I don’t think so. Not when he went with us to pick out mom and dad’s plot. Not when he’s there every week to visit Papa Moo’s rock. I wonder when he will understand that is where he is buried.

Karl and Carver found a toad on our way out.

Here’s our walking crew! Carver INSISTED on wearing his helmet despite the fact he was not riding his bike. He is all about having something to wear or carry whether it is tools or a helmet or a hat or glasses.

Carver and Karl and Betsy had to run ahead and try to hide from us…

Peekaboo!

and finally we had to stop and read the Waucoma Historical Society sign just like we always do. Carver doesn’t like the letters because they are “pointy.”

We just LOVE having uncle Karl around. We are so so thankful he found a job in NEIA and will be around for a long time. Carver loves him, he’s just the best uncle ever. He is so patient and so great with kids. We really are so so lucky to have him so close.

Every time Craig and I contemplate moving these are the moments I would hate to miss out on: the simple every day interactions that we cherish so much. We’ve really learned to lean on each other during these tough times and I can’t imagine how I would occupy my time without them.

We love to go on walks, you can read more about the walks we go on here:

and you can catch up on the last few blog posts here:

The next three days are from my blog series A Fatherless daughter but we will resume normal postings after that! I’ve got plenty to write about!

Farm Fun!

We had a few adventures today but it is late and I don’t have time to compile them all into one blog post.

Today we GOT OUT OF THE HOUSE! Thank goodness! We ended up trekking over to my sister Kelli’s house and bringing her food and visiting her cows of course!

Gannon has never seen a cow but you couldn’t tell by the way he wasn’t afraid of them AT ALL. He even let one LICK HIM! He reached out and was petting the cows, he was so cute with them.

Gannon is quiet but he certainly isn’t afraid of much of anything! He will blow bubbles in the bath tub, stick his head under the faucet while the bathtub is filling, lay on his tummy in the tub, crawls up the slide before he can even walk! This proved true again when we visited the cows.

We were on a walk the other day. A young boy was riding in the tractor with his dad when they passed us on the road. We waved and Carver sighed as they pulled out of sight. “I wish I could be so lucky to ride in a tractor with my daddy.”

This afternoon he said it again: “Mom I wish I was lucky enough to ride with daddy in the tractor.”

While this seems like a simple request, Craig isn’t always in the best field or the best location for a tag along. Today he wasn’t in a tractor hardly at all, he was running around “putting out fires” which is a lot of fixing and moving machinery and keeping everyone else moving and going.

After we got home from our adventure (read more about that later in the week) about 7:45 rolled around and I was going to start getting the boys ready for bed when I got a call from Craig inviting us to the farm! He just had a few things to wrap up and “could use Carver’s help.”

We hadn’t seen Craig since last Sunday when he got to come home “early” at 6:30 pm. We’ve seen him before he leaves on the morning and Carver went down and ate supper with him at 10 pm the other night. We MISS him but it is so cool to see him totally in his element, totally in love with what he’s doing. He just lights up when he’s doing what he loves and his enthusiasm is contagious. We had so much fun visiting him.

Gannon was getting cold and Carver was having too much fun. I ended up taking Gannon home and getting him a bath while Carver got “so lucky” to stay with Daddy at the farm to keep on fixing.

Carver made Craig’s boss a birthday card (happy birthday Tom!) so we dropped that off at the farm office. Carver just adores everything on “Tom’s farm” including Craig’s coworkers. Carver got to chat with Jerry and scoop up feed. Craig says he was in heaven.

I’m typing this at about 9:30 pm and no sign of the boys yet. I promised Craig I would stay up and eat supper with him so I figured I would squeeze in a blog post.

Not much on tomorrows agenda: finish up laundry, some meal prepping, picking up sticks in the yard, going on a walk with mom, and maybe we will get to ride in the tractor with Craig if we are “lucky” 😉

What is on your agenda for Sunday?

Scorched Earth

“Like after a prairie fire…It seems like the end of the world. The earth is all scorched and black and everything green is gone. But after the burning, the soil is richer, and new things can grow. Sometimes you need to scorch everything to the ground, and start over. People are like that, too, you know. They start over. They find a way.” – Little Fires Everywhere

I scorched my earth.

Maybe you don’t know this, but about two months ago, I was struggling.

It was like I woke up in a life I didn’t recognize. I didn’t know how I got here. For a minute, it seemed nothing was familiar. Nothing felt like it was my choice. I felt like my life wasn’t mine.

While these feelings were temporary, it made me question everything. Was I happy? Why wasn’t I happy? What does happy look like for me? Do I like nursing? Do I want to still be a nurse? Did I chose the right career? Where do I feel joy? Does everyone feel this lost?

I’m going to call this my quarter life crisis.

“Like after a prairie fire…It seems like the end of the world. The earth is all scorched and black and everything green is gone.

On the phone to my mom, in between sobs after a lengthy intense therapy session, I exclaimed, “I don’t want to be living this life by this time next year.” While that sounds dark, it doesn’t mean any more than what I said. This is not what I choose anymore.

  • I do not choose working 60 hour work weeks.
  • I do not choose that my children are being raised by someone other than me because of my career choices
  • I do not choose to wallow in a toxic environment.
  • I do not choose to maintain fake and toxic relationships.
  • I do not choose to value money over time.
  • I do not choose to let other people’s opinions effect my life choices.
  • I choose to be a problem solver.
  • I choose to look for the solution.
  • I choose joy.
  • I choose progress.
  • I choose love for myself
  • I choose whatever the hell I want.

I scorched my earth and I promised myself: My life won’t look like this a year from now in the best way possible.

After the burning, the soil is richer, and new things can grow.

People treat you exactly how you allow them to.

I won’t grow in toxic soil.

And I can’t grow in a weed patch.

And I’ve got to water myself instead of waiting for the clouds.

New things can grow. What an affirmation. If I ever got a tattoo that’s what it would say: New things can grow.

People are like that, too, you know. They start over. They find a way.”

I can grow. I will grow. Cheers to starting over. Cheers to scorched earth.