Tag Archives: lance

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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My Brother, My Hero

Lance Perry Snyder is a gem of a brother. I’ve known that since I was a kid when my Mom and Dad put us in the same room. At night, we’d lie awake talking to one another past our bedtime. He’d ask me questions and I’d reply with big-brother answers.

Lance ParkerOnce, I made fun of him for being afraid of the dark, and pulled out the nightlight to help him overcome his fear. He got up and tried to re-attach it to the socket, only to get shocked by the electricity. As a big brother who knew better, I had him wash off the electricity in the bathroom sink.

Later, we played on the same soccer team. I don’t remember the name of the team, nor our coach, but I remember the last game we played together in Norwin, PA. Our team made it to the final. Tied 1-1 until the last minute, Lance and I combined on the game winning goal. Winning in Norwin was bigger than the Pens winning the cup.

Lance Parker

Along with Morgan, Lance and I share a love of golf. All three of us used to play on a junior tour where 15 to 18 year olds competed. One year the tournament was held at the Oakmont East golf course.

At the end of the day, I went to greet my brother who was playing along with an 18 year old, twice his size, and the expected winner of the tournament. To my surprise this guy was congratulating Lance, who had just won the tournament after sinking a ten foot putt on the final hole of the course.

Lance has an easy-going nature. I never really met someone who didn’t like Lance. Not just his peers, but guys much older than him. When Lance was in high school, some of his friends had already retired. I remember his boss at his first job out of college with Pulte Homes was a guy named Robbie, a big burly former marine. He and Lance were pals. They’d go fishing, boating. Lance has a good soul. He’s a gentleman, who loves everybody and is loved by everybody.

Sometimes, because I live far away, I lay awake at night wondering if we squeezed the lemon. It’s easy to say no when the devil of doubt crawls beneath your skin, and you start to think – not about what you did – but about all you might not do.

But as I write this blog post in the guest room of his house at 106 Virginia Ave, on a short visit home to spend time with him, I don’t doubt he’s already lived more in 30 years than many live in 60. How few even get started on the house of their dreams, let alone renovate it before age 30?

Some of you may be wondering how Lance is doing. From my point of view, he’s doing well. Although his spirits are down, he’s surrounded by his siblings, Morgan and Ashley, his wife Francine, Bob, Cherie and Kasia in spirt, by his Mom and Dad.

Yes, Lance we squeezed the lemon.

As I get ready to head back to my wife and son overseas, I have to say that Lance and Morgan are the best brothers I could ask for.

Lance, you are still teaching me the value of hard work. Morgan, you are teaching me the value of treating everyone the same, as you work for the good of all those you meet. You both have accepted me for my decisions. Thank you both. Let me close with a few words from the dedication Lance read to me on the day of my wedding in 2007:

“Parker and Kasia will unite and become one. Together, they will create opportunities for others with new beginnings and better endings. They will travel with one another, know no distance too long, no barrier or border too big… where others would see only differences, they would see love.”

Lance, I am hoping you will get better and trust you to the gracious care of your wife. But while I’m gone I want you to know that I love you.

Lance Parker

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

A Thousand Pebbles

You may know Lance, the real estate agent. But you may not know his talent for design. What follows is a little tale. Mostly about drills, hammers and picking the right color for the master bath. It’s a story about a rainbow-colored brick house on Virginia Avenue that he renovated himself, and what this unique work says about his character. Read on if you wish…

Or click here for the story in photos…

106 Virginia Ave

106 Virginia Ave

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. 

Treatment will Be Started on Monday 11/15; met with Mario Lemieux last night

Everyone,

My treatment has not been started; only my fly fishing for Steelhead, Church / Mass during the week and weekend continues, real estate work picks up in a huge way, hanging out with family and friends, and all kinds of sporting events, wine making, getting ready for Holidays, and all kinds of other things. My originial plan was to eat Thanksgiving early, fly out that night for 1.5 days of traveling to the Seychelles. Once at the Seychelles, which is off of Africa half way around the world from Pittsburgh, we would fly fishing for 7 days and travel back 1.5 days which is 8 total flights there and back. Due to the treatment I have to delay this trip although I will stay involved with my friends going; I was going to write fishing articles, update Frontiers Travel marketing / pics, and review new gear we used as well as doing research for Bonefish and Tarpon Trust. Due to the treatment, I cannot go to the Seychelles for a while, but will fly fish for Steelhead in PA, NY, and OH as well as enjoy the whole day of Thanksgiving and spending time before and after Turkeyday with family and friends.

Lastly, I will be finishing our basement in the Winter, continuing my (2) fishing books; 1 for children and 1 for adults. If anyone has questions, comments, needs me to represent them as their real estate agent, call me or text me at 412.779.7076, or email me at lancesnyder@gmail.com. Yinz can do anything here on this blog, I just do not use this as much; everyone, thank you for your thoughts, prayers, gifts, advice, encouragement, etc. I am so ready to roll, confident, I will beat this disease and start having a family as soon as I can with my wife.

My wife is the most beautiful in the world, just turned 27, the smartest, works so hard as the best Pharmacist, helps me and her family, cooks dramatically; we have been married over a year (9/19/09), celebrated our 1 year anniversary in Italy, will do our 5th year in Ireland where we got engaged in Kilarny; I took her from our hotel through the city, through a park, along a stream, and dropped off at a castle and lake by a horse drawn carriage. We hopped in a boat and the captain took us out to an island where we walked in a circle and had lunch out of a wicker basket. I dropped to one knee and asked her to marry me; it was amazing as she said yes and we celebrated.

I am sorry this is so long, I finally updated this and will post a lot of pictures to the photo gallery and read comments and stories.

Lance Snyder

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

Arming for Battle

Dear Friends and Family,

Today is the day Lance undergoes final preparations for radiation and chemotherapy, which are scheduled to begin this Monday, November 1st. As I type, Lance, Francine, Mom, and Dad are at Shadyside hospital where Lance has already had blood work and is now having an MRI. The doctors need to have an accurate, updated picture of where the treatments need to be directed. Later today he will meet with his oncologist, Dr. Frank Lieberman.

Please take a moment this morning to quiet your heart and lift up Lance in prayer. Let’s flood the gates of heaven with cries for mercy and pleas for deliverance on Lance’s behalf.

And remember…

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.
Prov 3:5-6

He holds victory in store for the upright,
he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,
for he guards the course of the just
and protects the way of his faithful ones.
Prov 2:7-8

PRAISE TO THE GREAT PHYSICIAN-THANKS TO THOSE WHO HEAL

With much love, many prayers, and an abundance of hope,
Ashley (Lance’s sister)

The Long Tail

A few years ago, my brother Lance called me to ask if I was up for an adventure.

Boat Contest Peru

Boat Contest Peru

It was a no-brainer. When your brother calls you and invites you on an adventure, you say yes. No matter what you have planned. So I said I’d meet up with him. There was only one problem. He wasn’t exactly in my neighborhood.

At the time, I was living in the smog-choked capital of Argentina, Buenos Aires. He was on the other side of South America, in Lima, Peru. To visit my brother, I’d have to go a distance of about 2,000 miles.

Still, the promise of a far-off adventure with my brother beckoned, so I took up the challenge.  Two uneasy border crossings. A long chain of mountain roads. Through a dry, dusty landscape and 48 hours of constant bumps in the company of a pair of hardy drifters who played a coarse fiddle. The trip was rough. Especially on my stomach.

Halfway there, I was lying bed-sick in a cheap hotel in Bolivia after eating bad lettuce. Worst of all, I missed the Steelers game, the day they went on to win their fifth Super Bowl. (In Peru, my brother had watched the game on a big screen TV while his host family cooked him bar-b-que.)

Lance sleeping in Peru

Lance sleeping in Peru

I made it to Lima, eventually, and found Lance sleeping in his hostel. It was about noon and I had to wake him up. The first words out of his mouth were, “Be careful out there. It’s dangerous.”

I spent 24 hours recovering from the stomach flu before he dragged me out of bed to enter a boating contest with him. That day we paddled a fat-bottomed open-hulled kayak into fifth place. Not bad, all told. Seeing the sunset along the Pacific was worth a few stomach cramps.

What’s ahead for you, brother, is a long road. Not all that different from the one you never took to see me. Think of the beginning as Lima and the end as Buenos Aires, and the mountains in between as a few obstacles. The road will climb. The terrain will be rough, especially on the stomach.

But it leads somewhere, and beckons with the promise of far-off adventure. I am ready to ride it the long tail with you. Anyone who wants to, can join us on this road. Here’s our weapons:

1. Detox (get the bad stuff out).
2. Eat well (get the good stuff in).
3. Exercise (keep your body strong).
4. Meditation and prayer, stay positive.

Parker