I spent the morning with a wonderful family who are braving life with cancer together. The prognosis for someone diagnosed with stage four colon cancer is not good but the Keezer clan is making the most of the time they have left with their son, husband, father, father in love, brother, and grandfather.
His daughter in love was the one who contacted me and wrote: “Prior to his diagnosis, Bill was never sick a day in his life and has spent the last few years caring for his wife, who has CLL (Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia). They have spent the better part of a quarter century happily married and taking in life. Bill has 5 grandsons and to say they are his world would be an understatement.”
This was the first time someone reached out to me to photograph someone in home hospice care. When I arrived, Bill’s daughter in love said something that I will remember for a very long time. She shared that her father told her when faced with things you cannot do anything about, find the one small thing that you can do. Calling me was the one small thing she could do.
Bill was a man of few words, but did let everyone know that he was moving one time, and one time only, and said with a grin “I am only doing this once.” Even though he was not very talkative, his presence filled the entire house.
While aware of the limited time, they are making every moment count. Because of colon cancer, the Keezer family is choosing not to forget the joy amidst the sadness and grief. They are remaining present and embracing every moment whether sad, joyful, or mundane.
Carving out private family time is a priority but their home has been open to anyone who wants to spend time with Bill. His wife and mother, both taking turns as caretakers, created and declared the “You will not fall on our watch” rule. They are alternating staying up at night to make sure Bill is not alone and helping him in any way he needs.
In the time I was at the house, there were tears, laughter, humor, serious conversation, grief, and joy. The home was filled with life, despite cancer. When I left, Bill’s 14 year old grandson thanked me for coming. Of course I pulled out of the driveway teary eyed. Such a sweetheart.
Cancer is not a one man or woman show and affects families as well. I am grateful to the Keezer family for their determination, grace, and for being such an amazing example of love in action. If you are not convinced, the images speak for themselves.