Thank you for keeping up with Tony's status as he was battling cancer.

If you have questions to ask, add a comment to the blog, and I will be notified by email. Be sure to include your email in your comment so I can respond.

If you want to comment, and have trouble, you can always select Anonymous in the "Comment as" field and add your name at the end of your message.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Final Posting

Hi everybody. It is kind of hard to end this blog. It has been a part of my daily life for a long time now. It has helped preserve my family's sanity by keeping people updated from one spot, and it has been somewhat therapeutic to put things in writing that I sometimes could not say in person or on the phone.

I do have a request of you. To help make Tony's death have the most meaning possible, take the following steps that we learned from his life.
  • Put God first.
  • Give of yourself and your time to others.
  • Seek out and enjoy good music and good friends.
  • Remember that your simple everyday actions reach much farther than you know.
  • Smile.
Finally, so we can all see Tony again...make sure you are saved. Read the Bible, and study it for yourself. Challenge "what you have always heard" or "what you have been told", and make sure it really is in the Bible.

Thank you for being such good friends to Tony, to Randi, to Sherri, and to me.

God's blessings on all of you,

Neal Collins

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Thank you everyone

Thanks to those who attended the memorial/celebration services for Tony, and to those that provided memories to be shared. It is good to know that so many cared about him. Some of the memories were serious, some sweet, some funny, and some raised my curiosity...Mitch, we need some details on this 'racing' story : )

Thanks to the Mount Comfort and Anchorage congregations for supporting the two services. Thanks to Jack and to Mike for conducting the services. Thank you to all our Arkansas and Alaska friends who made this possible.

I expect to make one more final post to wrap this up. I haven't figured out what to say yet, but it just doesn't seem complete yet. Thanks for following it.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Information for Memorial

We just wanted to let everyone attending tomorrows memorial in Arkansas know that Mount Comfort Church of Christ is a little hard to find. Once you get off of 540 at the Porter Road exit, you will turn west and follow that road until you see the church building on your left. It is a ways down the road, but keep looking behind the houses on your left and you will see it through the trees.

There is a lot of construction going on on the road currently, but just follow your way through it and you will see the church on your left. For all of you with a GPS or looking on Google Maps, the address is:
3249 West Mount Comfort Road
Fayetteville, AR

Monday, August 9, 2010

Donations in lieu of flowers

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to either of the following.

Arctic Wind Flute Choir
7761 Lavs Circle
Anchorage, AK 99518

Mount Comfort Church of Christ
Campus Ministry
3249 W Mount Comfort Rd
Fayetteville, AR 72704

He traveled with the flute choir to both New Zealand and Scotland, and planned to travel on their next trip as well. The Campus Ministry is better known as Razorbacks For Christ (RFC) and he was very involved with them at college.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Memorial Gatherings

Simultaneous memorial gatherings will be held for Tony this Saturday, August the 14th. One will be at the Mount Comfort Church of Christ in Fayetteville, Arkansas at 6:00 PM Central Time, and one will be held at the Anchorage Church of Christ in Anchorage, Alaska at 3:00 PM Alaska Time. Dress is casual. It will be a time to sing songs, and to revisit happy memories of Tony.

We need your help with this. Please email your happy memories of Tony to his Mom. These will be compiled and used in the memorial at both locations. Please send these emails as soon as possible, but not later than Wednesday night so there is time to review and work with them.

People are invited to join either gathering. Tony's physical family will be at the gathering in Arkansas where all his extended family can more easily attend. We debated about having two separate gatherings (one for Alaska and one for Arkansas), but we didn't feel we could go through this twice.

Please email your happy, and even funny, memories to his Mom so they can be shared with all.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Thank you...

Thank you for all your comments here and on Facebook. We knew Tony had matured and blossomed at school, but reading everyone's comments tells us how much.

I don't know if this will help you in your grieving process or not, but I want to share something with you.

His Mom and I are doing fine with his death. Watching his abilities run downhill, knowing the almost certain end result of this kind of tumor, staying optimistic to help him stay optimistic, and watching him suffer the last few days was the hardest thing we have ever done.

He made it much easier for us when he let us know, on Tuesday, that he knew he was probably going to die, and that he was okay with it. Then we were free to talk to him about where he was going, to tell him that we were okay with it -- don't worry about us -- we are here to take care of you, etc.

In short, I ask you not to worry about us...we are probably feeling much much better than you are at this point. Think about all the good memories you have of Tony. Look up pictures of him on Facebook...I think you will find some of them even make you laugh.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

It is over...

Tony died about 3:45 PM today. We are sad he is gone, but glad his struggle and suffering are over. He appears to have gone peacefully. His sister is with her best friends in Arkansas.

We don't have any plans yet for any kind of visitation, service, etc.

Thank you for your prayers.
The only change from yesterday is that his breathing is now shallow and rapid with short periods of no breathing. He moves his left arm and leg some like he is moving in his sleep.

His Mom and I take turns sitting with him to keep him company and watch for any needs. We can still get pain medicines in him via patch or absorbed in the mouth, but his other medicines require swallowing of a liquid or pill, and he isn't capable of doing that.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

He has taken nothing to eat or drink today, and has lain on his back all day. We believe he still knows what is going on about him, but he has not responded verbally.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

He is pretty out of it today. He did eat a little breakfast which he hasn't lately. We have liquid medications now since he was having trouble with pills sometimes. He says he hurts so we have given him some extra pain medication.
We had another brief lucid conversation with him just now. He told us "nothing is going to take it away", "that's the way it is", and he indicated that he is ready to go. His words were not tinged with fear or resentment or anger...they were just a statement of fact and acceptance. He seemed worried about us (his Mom and I), but we told him not to be; and that we would be okay and follow him later. It is an enormous huge gigantic relief to know what he is thinking, and that he is okay with the way things are going. I hope he is comforted knowing we are ready too.

Earlier today, he said he was thinking about all his friends, but we couldn't understand much of what he said then. It is hard for me knowing that he knows what is going on, has something meaningful to say, but can't say it most of the time.

Thank you for your prayers. Please pray that Tony's peace will continue. Please pray for him to be healed and have his abilities restored. Please pray that God will provide us at least one more such lucid comforting moment for he and his sister to share before she leaves for school. She leaves Wednesday evening.

Monday, August 2, 2010

He just finished listening to the Truth in Love TV program, and fell sound asleep during it. We record it and play it for him as part of a home Sunday service. He felt so bad yesterday that he didn't want a service. Today, he asked if it was Sunday, and replied 'bummer' when he found out it was yesterday, so we played the show and planned a short devotional after...but he is absolutely sound asleep now.
He had a very rough night. He woke up a couple of times complaining of severe pain, but it went away after he used the commode. Pills are very hard to administer, so we are going to get liquid versions of as many of his medicines as we can.

It looks like his platelet count has not come up. He is getting new bruises too easily, and old bruises are growing instead of healing.

We think he finally understands that he won't be getting any more treatments. He asked when we were going to have his next blood test to see if he could have chemo. We told him that the doctors don't have any more treatments for him, that all we can do is pray for God to heal him, but that if he does get better, we can do some treatments. He lapsed back to sleep right after that...we only get a few seconds once or twice a day where we believe he understands us and we understand him, then he falls asleep.

On a related note, please pray for and support his sister. She will be going back to Arkansas this Wednesday to start work and to get ready for her sophomore year, and will likely be saying goodbye to her big brother for the last time. She fully comprehends what is going on. She will be traveling with her best friend to keep her company. They plan to see the sights around Fayetteville for a few days before her friend returns to Alaska.

Thanks for reading this blog, and thank you for your comments.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

He is sleeping soundly again. For a little bit today, he talked about enjoying the Arkansas band trip to Florida.
He said that his head doesn't hurt today. The pain patch can take 24 to 48 hours to take effect, and it has been that long now. He still says very little, sleeps or rests all day, and eats almost nothing. He likes to drink instant breakfasts, orange juice, lemonade, and other flavored drinks. His eyes don't always close all the way during sleep, I think they used to.

This morning, during a lucid moment, he said he hopes he gets to go back to Arkansas. In perhaps a dreaming moment, he said he was practicing flute and needed an aide to help work with his students.

He doesn't always get up to use the commode now because the effort exhausts him. He has found that in-bed methods are much less taxing. We like it too because we get more interaction with him before he drifts back to sleep.