Tag Archives: francine

And we will see you again

PART 2, Morgan’s eulogy

There’s a hole in the world now… There’s nobody who saw just what he saw, knows what he knew, remembers what he remembered, loves what he loved… Questions I have can never now get answers. The world is emptier.
-Lament For a Son, Nicholas Wolterstorff

My friend John, recalls in his book Desire, “’Simone Weil once said, there are only two things that pierce the human heart; beauty and affliction. Moments we wish would last forever and moments we wish had never begun.”

And Norman Maclean, the author of A River Runs Through It, and Lance’s favorite author, once said, “Agony and hilarity are necessary for salvation.”

Lance was the hilarity in my life. His humor was the healing balm to my intensity. He made me laugh until it hurt. And he was the fuel behind many moments of beauty that we longed to last forever.

The last of those “forever moments” before cancer was an adventure in a rented boat in the landscape of our greatest childhood memories. We were at a family reunion two summers ago at Chautauqua Lake; the geography of our childhood adventures. We found ourselves out on the lake trying to beat a storm to safety. We were full throttle as we drove into the setting sun punching out of the storm. The rental boat had no running lights and we took a gamble to try to make it back to the marina instead of tucking into a random dock for the night. We found ourselves the only boat out on water like glass, as we pushed through the storm and cut through the endless sky. I remember only longing for one thing – that the boat dock would never come. We laughed together. All was well. It was a moment we wish would last forever.

But it didn’t. Quickly after Lance had a seizure, he was diagnosed with brain cancer and went into surgery.

The doctor met with us during surgery and said the unthinkable.

“Statistically Lance has less than a year to live.”
“He may not be able to ever speak again when he comes out of surgery.”
“And he may not know who you are.”

And so began our battle. Eighteen months and one day.

Lance lived and fought with courage, heroism, humor, and perseverance.

And we fought alongside of him.

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In the end, I’m learning that we don’t always get to choose our stories. But we do get to choose the men or the women we want to be in them. We get to choose to love. We get to participate in the Greatest Story of all times – a story where Love wins. Mom. Dad. You loved so well. I’m so sorry. No parent should ever have to bury their child.

A mentor once told my wife Cherie and I, in every season someone will be the face of God to you. Look for Him.

It’s always a risk to mention names as I’m sure to forget. But I can’t help but to
mention a few.

Rusty, George. You were his fishing partners. You were the face of God to Lance.

Jimmy Kap, Mike, Ricky, Carson. You stood by his side and helped him turn his house into a home. You helped him finish his dream and one of his last great gifts for his beloved Francine, when he couldn’t do it himself. You were the face of God.

Cathy, Janet, Lynda. You took a huge risk. When he was compromised after his surgery, you fought for his dignity and allowed him to thrive, doing what he loved, as a real estate agent, to his last days. You were the face of God.

Jesse. You are a faithful friend. You kept showing up. And showing up. And showing up. You were the face of God.

Sheila, from Catholic Hospice. In the final days, you were the grandmother that every one of our hearts needed. You walked us through a seemingly un-navigable path. You were the face of God.

And there were so many others.

But, above all others, Francine, you were the face of God to our Lance –

Scripture says, “Greater love has no one than this. That they would lay their life down for a friend.” He was your best friend.

We were your witnesses. A thousand times a thousand. You laid your life down
Francine. You loved the man that came out of that surgery as much as the one that went in.

To his very last breath…

None of us really know what we are signing up for when we make those vows:

For better and for worse.
In sickness and in health.

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Francine, you fulfilled your vows like Michelangelo carving the Pieta.

A 28-year-old woman should never have to bear this much pain, sorrow. You did it sister. You did it with dignity, heroism, levity, grace… love beyond measure… and you never once even looked frumpy!

You have become a legend in our hearts. We “see you” Francine.

The last conversation we had with Lance that he was able to initiate, His words to us were, “If I die, Francine.”

In the end, all he talked about was you.

Francine. You have my word. You have the word of our family. You are loved. You are chosen. You are taken care of.

Above all else, Lance was a fisherman. He found something on the water that he found nowhere else in life. Some beauty, fellowship, adventure…. something that only now does he fully know was God himself. He experienced Psalm 23 out there on wild rivers and on ocean flats… “You lead me beside still waters and restore my soul.” His next great trip was to be Seychelles – arguably the most exotic place in the world to fly-fish. It’s a country that consists of 115 islands and host over 1000 species of fish, some of which can be found in only a few places in the world. It was the trip of a lifetime. His plans were dashed, as it was to happen shortly after he was diagnosed and he was unable to travel. We were able to reschedule seventeen months later. We did everything in our power to make it happen. He refused to buy travel insurance as it way his was to fight against the cancer. In the end the cancer
seem to have won.

One of the hardest moments of this journey was when I was filled with anticipation to present him with a brand new Sage rod and reel for his trip. On that particular day, I was holding the rod and reel when I approached him from behind. He was laying on the couch, and he was clutching his motionless right hand with his left, as though it was a foreign object. Never before that moment did it dawn on me that his tumor was on his left side, and that he would lose function on his right. In that moment I knew he would never fish again.

As I prayed for Lance, day after day, month after month, I was drawn back again and again to Revelation 22. In that, John tries as best he can to capture in word pictures the awesomeness of heaven as God allowed him to see it in a vision so that we could have hope and a glimpse of where our story was headed… One of the last conversations I had with Lance… we talked about the Big Waters… the River that’s talked about in Revelation. The River from which all other rivers flow.

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Revelation says that this majestic and wild river, sparkling like crystal, literally flows out of God Himself and it’s waters bring life. It was then that I realized all along in Lance’s heart, he thought he was preparing to fish the greatest waters this world has to offer. But little did he know that God was preparing his heart for even greater waters…

I never thought he’d beat us there, that he would be there so soon..

But leave it to Lance… I can’t wait to hear his stories of the fish that he caught… and even more to have him guide each of us on those waters, to show us the secret cut banks or where the fish are holding in deep runs… he’ll laugh as we hook into fish that make the most beautiful fish in all of creation look like a carp. I’m sure it will be one of his ways to say “thank you” and “welcome home” to each of us.

As I meditated I sensed that Revelation offers us a promise. A lifeline to hold on to as our hearts float on a raging sea…the promise is that one day, that all things will be made well (Rev. 21:5).

All things lost will be restored…Restored…

There will be no more tears… he will turn our mourning into laughing, into joy…

That Heaven is real. Death is a lie.

My favorite author on Heaven, C.S. Lewis, writes on the Great Crossing Over this way, in The Chronicles of Narnia

“Things began to happen that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them… death in this world was merely the beginning of their story. All their life and adventures in this world had only been the cover and the title page. Now at last they were beginning chapter one of the of the Great Story which no one on earth has read. Which goes on forever in which every chapter is better than the one before.”

Yet, still I find something deep inside of me demanding to know why? Why us? Why Francine? Why Lance? Why this?

I am beginning to learn as a mentor has shared, experience often does not furnish its own interpretation. While the questions seem reasonable, I’m learning, peace will never come through answers.

Rather I find myself at a crossroads. To choose between God and understanding. I know I can’t have both.

The night he crossed over, we found our entire family back together around his bed. Lance had now been motionless and totally unresponsive for almost three days.

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Bedside, we laughed and cried as we recounted again the love story of Lance and Francine.

And then came one of the most extraordinary moments of my life… better said, the most supernatural…

Lance’s head began to turn. We all watched, gaze fixed, and in awe. He opened his eyes, he looked at his beloved Francine, he turned fully back toward us, and then we listened as his spirit left his body and went home…

We all served witness…

In an odd and holy sort of paradox, we didn’t get the miracle we wanted but instead, Lance became our miracle…

We were all caught up into a Larger Story. A story of life versus death. A story of heroism, sacrifice, courage. A story of a thousand acts of love.

A story that united us in love.

In closing, I’d like to offer one final thought…

I find in Scripture God often urges people to make memorials so their hearts will remember what He did.

Two nights ago I found myself alone in the evening stillness in a field, asking
God, “How can we make a memorial in our hearts to honor what Lance was in our lives?”

He took me back to Psalm 23, Lance’s Psalm; “He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul…”

What I sensed from God was this; “I will lead each of you beside quiet waters. When you find yourself there, invite me to do what I love to do most, restore your soul…”

I invite you to pray with me…

God

My heart is broken.

We give our broken hearts to you.
We give you our sorrow, our anger, our tears, our unanswered questions.
We stand at an intersection. The story is messy but the choice is clear.
We can have understanding, or we can have You, but we can’t have both.
We confess, we choose you, as we have no where else to turn.

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You alone can heal. We ask for you to heal our broken hearts.

Come God.

Come into every ache and longing, every empty place in our lives, left by Lance, that you alone can fill.

Lead us all as you led Lance, beside still waters, and restore our souls.

Lance Perry Snyder
Brother ~ Husband ~ Son ~ Friend ~ Fisherman

We love you. We bless you. We release you to the Life that is Truly Life.

And we will see you again.

But not yet, not yet.

Amen.

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Lance’s treatment plan will be re-evaluated

Hey everyone, Lance’s brother Parker writing here.

Lance went in for an MRI the other day. The test was to see what effect, if any, the chemotherapy and radiation have had over the last three months.

My brother is part of a double-blind study (in which neither the doctors nor the patients know who gets what) to test the effects of Avastin, a drug which targets the blood supply feeding the tumor.

Well, the results of the MRI are in. They have determined that there has not been the level of impact they hoped from efforts thus far and will evaluate his treatment plan and make new recommendations this week.

What everyone would like to know – me included – is will Lance get better? When will he be back to his old self? Smiling, blue-eyed, Lance.

I am just like you! I created this blog for the purpose of documenting his recovery. I was committed to put prayer first and to hope until the end, and even further, because that’s what we’re taught to do, and what human bonds shared in flesh compel us to do.

But that goddamn cancer. I’ll be the one to speak from my heart, today. It’s tough to say if Lance will get better. My Dad, my Mom, my brothers (especially Lance), my sister, friends, close family, we’re all optimistic, as our nature instructs. Francine especially. She is the strongest of any of us. That girl, God bless her, will love and support and fight until the end. I only write what I write because that’s what Lance would do for me if he were in my shoes.

The cancer Lance has is progressive. It effects the centers of memory and speech. It hits his balance, nerves. It has the egregious character of rendering the brain, that fragile mass of flesh, progessively less capable of understanding what’s happening to it. And it advances, not linearly, like a golf cart, but quicker and quicker, like a plane at takeoff.

I know you have your hope on the line for him. I do too. Today, I hope the doctors and nurses un-blind the experiment to find out if he has been receiving the Avastin, and if not, that they would give it to him promptly.

Lance is with us today. We spoke to one another for an hour on the phone. He was bright and alert. He is bright and alert.

If you are a friend, and you are wondering, do I stop by or not? Stop by. Do it now, because life has a way of slipping, and regret is a bitter pill to swallow.

My sister Ashley is more eloquent, my brother Morgan more sincere. I am pragmatic, spare. This is what I would have done for me, were I the one.

I love you Lance. I am sorry to write about you, and not to you. You are very much at the center of my heart.

Parker

Lance’s Halfway through Radiation

Hi Everyone.

Starting tomorrow Lance is starting his fourth week of radiation. He has a total of 6 weeks of radiation and has already gone through 3. He is tolerating his chemo pills extremely well and is breezing through radiation.  He has had few side effects from both but did start losing his hair where the radiation is targeted. Lance is completely ok with it and I gave him his first hair trim tonight in order to even it out. Overall, doing great. Spirits are high and Lance is still doing real estate. Hopefully, with the holidays we will slow down and enjoy more of the holiday season.

I am still overwelmed with the love and support that keeps pouring in for both Lance and I.  Saying thank you seems like not enough but again THANK YOU . We still need the prayers because we are dealing with something very aggressive and ugly but I have faith that we can get through this difficult time with everyone’s love and faith.

God Bless

Francine

So far, so good!

Dear Family, Friends, and Supporters all over the world! 

Wow–it’s overwhelming to hear how many people are following Lance’s story and supporting him.  There are literally people all over the United States and in countries all over the world praying for Lance.  On behalf of Lance and Francine and both the Snyder and Costa families, I very sincerely and deeply THANK YOU!!!!! 

I know several people have said to me this week, “I heard Lance began treatment on Monday.  How’s it going?”  I realized there hasn’t been an update since.  So, I decided to jump online and bring you up to date.  

Praise God–Lance is doing wonderfully, both emotionally and physically!  So far he has he not had any adverse effects from the chemo or radiation.  Actually, there has already been an improvement!  The terrible pain he’s had in the left side of his face has finally has started to subside!    

One of my dad’s friends wished Lance a “strong start and a triumphant finish.”  What a beautiful sentiment and picture of hope and victory…A strong start he has had indeed!  Lance has been a champ.  We are so proud of him! 

Again, on behalf of Lance and Francine and both of our families, I wish you and yours a very blessed Thanksgiving.

With much love and deep gratitude for each and every one of you,               Lance’s sister, ashley ♥

Today is a gift.  That’s why we call it the present. 

Lance’s Treatment Delayed

Hi Everyone,

Lance’s treatment is currently being delayed due to his enrollment in some clinical trials and to make sure that his wound has healed properly. We are meeting with the oncologist tomorrow to iron out all of the details and to get a treatment plan ready. Once we have the start of his new treatment start date, I will post again.

Thank you all so much for keeping Lance and our families in your prayers and for the kind words of encouragment as we begin our fight. We have a long journey ahead of us but your prayers and words have sustained us through this time and we are deeply grateful and appreciative.

Sincerely,

Francine

Delicious Detox

Both Francine and I (Lance’s sister-in-law) are Kitchen Fairies. We very much enjoy cooking, and the Snyder family seems to enjoy our cooking as well.

Well, one day last September Francine and I sat in her living room browsing through her cookbooks. I said to her, “Hey Francine, maybe we could put together a family cookbook of our best recipes?”

“Actually, I just started a book of recipes for Lance. He is so particular that I need to collect recipes for foods he enjoys eating,” Fancine said.

“That’s great, so I can add my collection, take some photos and our project is ready!”

I remember that conversation well — that was the recent morning Francine and Lance left for Italy.

Since then, Francine and I got caught up in other issues. We postponed the project because “there is always tomorrow” or maybe because it wasn’t all that much of a challenge. One thing is for sure. Things have changed since that September morning: there are no more urgent issues than Lance’s health, tomorrow may not always come, and the challenge is there…

Kasia and Francine cooking

Francine cooking with Kasia her sister-in-law during summer 2010

So here’s our challenge: Delicious Detox.

Today we start a collection of healthy anticancer recipes on Lance’s blog. Given that foods which display strong anticancer action are for example turnips, leeks, garlic, onions, beets or cabbage…

We may have to ask you to give us the benefit of the doubt when your first try our recipes. I have been brought up in a culinary tradition (Polish) which incorporates a lot of those ingredients everyday. So I can assure you veggies such as turnips are hugely underestimated for their taste, looks and nutritional value. I will share some amazing recipes for those…as well as leeks…and buckwheat…

Francine will add her own wonderful anticancer foods to kill for (such as the homemade tomato sauce). We also invite you to share your “delicious detox” recipes. Please, please join in! Here’s how:

1. Simply post the recipe in the reply box. I will add it to the list.
2. Or email recipe and/or photo to kasiasnyder at gmail dot com.

Delicious Detox Ingredient List
Click this link for preferable and discouraged (to be avoided or used sparingly) ingredients. The only absolute no no’s are white sugar and white flour.

So are you up for the challenge with us? Francine will stamp some of our recipes “Lance’s favourite.” These recipes will have satisfied his choosy palette.

So – aprons on! Back to the fifties!

With love,

Kasia

Below is a list of preferred ingredients:

1. Fish (trout, halibut, salmon, sardines, herring)
2. shrimp, shellfish
3. Organic meat and poultry (but only small amounts)
4. Organic diary (butter, cheese, milk, yoghurt)
5. Olive oil – cold pressed, canola oil, flaxseed oil
6. Multigrain bread, sourdough bread (but only the one on natural s ourdough starter)
7. whole wheat pasta (or white pasta al dente – not overcooked)
8. quinoa
9. Indian spices, especially turmeric mixed with black pepper
10 .mint
11. thyme
12. rosemary
13. garlic
14. lentils
15. beans
16. tofu and soy products
17. ginger
18. cabbage (all sorts)
19. broccoli
20. cauliflower
21. spinach
22. organic lettuce
23. green beans
24. organic cucumbers
25. tomatoes
26. onions
27. leeks
28. shallots
29. chives
30. parsley
31. turnips
32. beets
33. carrots
34. apples, pears
35. organic berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries)
36. organic pumpkin
37. flaxseed
38. dark chocolate
39. organic orange and lemon peel
40. lemons and oranges and grapefruit
41. organic grapes
42. fruits and veggies generally

Discouraged Ingredients (use sparingly)

1. Pork
2. Large fish (shark, haddock)
3. margarines
4. sunflower oil
5. non organic eggs and milk
6. honey and brown sugar
7. all processed foods – those that can sit on the store shelves for months

Our first formal event!

Hi Everyone,

Lance and I went Monday evening to the Consol Energy Center for the Howard Hanna Champion’s Club. It was such a nice event held at the Lexus Club. Lance looked so handsome in his suit and tie and it was great to get a tour of the new Consol Energy Center while no one was there. Lance and I had a great time and enjoyed the company of so many of his fellow workers and friends. Below is our picture taken at the event.

Love,

Francine

Brother Lance

On Friday, October 8th my brother Lance walked with his wife Francine to the emergency room at UPMC St. Margaret’s hospital.

Lance had a headache and some numbness in the right side of his body. For the past several weeks, he had been experiencing these symptoms.

The emergency room doctor did a CAT scan and found a tumor in his brain, on the rear-left temporal lobe, about the size of a golf ball.

Immediately, Lance was taken in an ambulance to UPMC Shadyside. Several days later, on Tuesday Oct 12th, he went into major surgery to take out the tumor. The doctors removed a great deal of it, but discovered it was malignant.

Lance will need to fight it in the weeks ahead with a course of treatment that will be prescribed to him by his oncologist.

My brother is a tough, well-loved young man. He is also gracious and friendly to his colleages and friends. There are many people who have been sending e-cards, or dropping by food at the house. Howard Hannah and Giant Eagle, my brother and Francine’s employers, have been very helpful. Friends of my Parents. Pastors and Priests. Nurses and Doctors.

If you would like to reach out, feel free to leave a comment anywhere on this website. Francine will relate your get well messages to Lance.

I am confident of one thing. My brother Lance is surrounded by love — he is in the hands of a caring, loving wife. He is the apple in the eye of my parents. He is the baby of the family, the well-regarded youngest, who will always be — no matter what — charmed and touched with luck.

Parker