Fear and Loathing of Pancreatic Cancer



My surgery is coming up fast and this will be the last Interesting Stuff for awhile. Like last week, it is shorter than usual - I've been kind of busy.

On one item, you don't need to rely on me while I'm absent. You can always see the main essay from John Oliver's HBO show, Last Week Tonight, on the program's YouTube page which is here.

Click the header “Video” to get the page that lists videos with the most recent first. The Sunday night video is posted there by early Monday morning.


My friend Kirsten Jacobs sent this along. I love it – such a funny, terrific idea. As the website tells it, the sayings on each cake are copied word for word from an internet comment or social media post. Here are a couple of examples:



Read more here and order your own Troll Cake here.


Once again, the week in politics has been taken up with something other than Oliver's most recent topic. That's a problem in timing - his HBO show, Last Week Tonight, is broadcast on Sunday night so it is a whole week until I post it here.

Even if it seems old, you should watch this one anyway. As the YouTube page says: “In the wake of a divisive election, the UK will begin the process of leaving the European Union. John Oliver and an intergalactic space lord propose a plan.”

Do stick around for the end...


Last week, Henry sent a get well poem for me. Now, this week, he is celebrating 80 years (!) since, as a boy, he arrived in the U.S. from Nazi Germany. The title is Remembering.

Eighty years ago this month,
my parents and two minor sons,
after their way of life was banned,
managed to escape from Nazi-land,

and, with tumultuous emotion,
traversed the Atlantic Ocean,
and, in a rendezvous they'd planned,
landed in the promised land.

Here we began our lives anew,
and as our English speaking grew,
learned how to relate
and appreciate
the transformation we had come through.

I know how fortunate I have been
to have come to and be living in
this land of opportunity
and a be part of this community
together with my next of kin.

Let me give thanks to all of you
whose helpfulness has seen me through
these 80 years in the USA.
I'm glad I came and I think I'll stay.


...“against trump fellators fanboys grunting maga mouthbreathers” goes on for 25 individual tweets. The conservative Daily Beast columnist's rant is not to be missed. Here's your start:


That's just the beginning. The rest is here and it is a magnificent catharsis.


In recent months, I've gotten to know a relatively new elder blogger, Barry Dym, via email. He writes on a wide variety of topics but keeps a special section titled, Letters on Aging which are good solid essays and strong thinking.

Here is part of a recent example about the “freshness” that aging brings:

”In a previous essay, I wrote young people seek independence. For older people, freedom comes almost unbidden when the ties that bind us to activities, relationships, and communities take flight.

“Let me begin by counting some of the ways, small and large, that that freedom comes to our doorsteps. There is the freshness of each, unscheduled day.

“I can ask: What shall I do? What do I want to do? At last, the weather plays a role as it hasn’t since childhood. If it’s sunny, I’ll take that walk. If rainy, I may read more, or call a friend. Or a friend might call me, and I can usually respond positively. Spontaneity is my friend again.

Barry's bio is here where you can also read his other blog posts – on aging and other subjects.


I'm fairly certain I've posted this in the past but you'll understand why it hits home hard at this moment in my life. It's an advert for organ donation and it is lovely.

* * *

Interesting Stuff is a weekly listing of short takes and links to web items that have caught my attention; some related to aging and some not, some useful and others just for fun.

You are all encouraged to submit items for inclusion. Just click “Contact” at the top of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I won't have time to acknowledge receipt and there is no guarantee of publication. But when I do include them, you will be credited and I will link to your blog IF you include the name of the blog and its URL.


I've been thinking of you often. Would you share the time of your surgery on Tuesday? I'd like to dedicate my morning meditation to your well-being and healing. Maybe someone else has already mentioned this, but if we, your readers could take a few moments on Tuesday to send healing thoughts, prayers, etc., they may well create a lot of positive energy for you. Sending you deep breaths and positive thoughts.

I don't know the actual time of the surgery. I've been told to arrive at the hospital at 6:30AM and from conversations with staff this past week, I have sort of gleaned that it will begin within a couple of hours. It will last, according to the surgeon, about eight hours.

Thinking of you Ronni. I also fear and feel angry at the unfairness and brutality of this illness. I fear for myself and my future too. You might not love the job, but you are breaking ground for us all with your wit and honesty and sharing. Sending you love and hugs and will do it especially on Tuesday. You are a very great lady, and woman, and human being. Love, Sali

For sharing the loveliest lovely advert for organ donation, thank you. And for sharing you, thank you, too.

And thank you, Marsha, for asking Ronni, "Would you share the time of your surgery on Tuesday? I'd like to dedicate my morning meditation to your well-being and healing."

After years' not finding time to visit each other, Sali and I plan to meet and hold you together in our love, and I will press her for fun stories of those Village Days (DAZE?) with you, Dylan, and other assorted men and adventures of shared youth! xx

What else to say that hasn't already been said beautifully by Tamar, Sali and Marshain, so I will just wish you a decent, ordinary-as-possible Saturday, a Sunday with the treat of Peter's and Norma's selections, a Monday that proves to be better than the-day-before usually is and a very successful Tuesday, cradled in the knowledge of all the love and good wishes flowing your way from all sorts of places. Thank you, Ronni.

So many thoughts and good wishes going with you on this journey, Ronni. If more of us were closer and could do more, we would. But there will be people in the hospital who can take care of you in ways other than just medically, too. I've rarely been a hospital patient, but each time I have there has been someone who has offered me shoulder and back massages. Maybe there are ones who do feet these days, too. Hospitals have become aware of the need for the human touch in other than clinical ways, and I hope that you are able to take advantage of some of these. Let them pamper you, as well as treat you, as often as possible. When you leave and are back home, you will forget all the intrusive medical stuff, in time, but you will remember the gentle, caring gestures; may there be many. You will be in my thoughts all day on the 20th and I will be waiting eagerly, along with so many others, to hear the good news of your successful surgery. Sending this along with a big virtual hug.

Well surely someone has to let the hospital staff know they have a celebrity in their midst! Someone there must be aware of your awesome blog & contribution to us elders!!!!!
And I finally had "the cry" after watching the organ donor video! Love the dog. And also what the others have said so well...........good energy coming on Tuesday, next. Dee:)

Many blessings being sent your way~

I'm dreadfully sorry this diagnosis has happened to you. I have had a few medical issues myself and can relate to the paralyzing fear that seems to grip you from your head to your stomach to your toes. Its all consuming. You feel like your holding your breath.

When you recently posted about "bucket lists" my initial thought was one more ordinary day...running to the store...throwing in a load of laundry...talking to a friend...walking my dog...reading...whatever mundane things the day was going to offer WITHOUT knowing or having the bad and scary news tormenting my brain. I say that because I do have generally led a pretty blessed life with a career I loved, a long marriage, hobbies, travel, and even a second opportunity for connection and love. But still....

Thank you for your raw and generous honesty in sharing feelings so openly and courageously. You made me laugh out loud when you made the comment in shock and exasperation "for the rest of my life". How poignantly true. The rest of our life gets a little bit shorter every day - no matter what our current health situation.
I like many others here will be thinking about you on Tuesday. Sorry for the long post.
Before I forget I wanted to mention as many other did not to fear some medications. I resist taking anything that I don't have to.

After my husband died my doctor insisted I try a little Xanex. I was losing weight, experiencing anxiety in a way I never had before, & couldn't sleep.
I took the smallest dose possible and it was a wonder drug for just taking off the edge. I felt completely in control just not quite as panicked. I took it every other night for about 3 or 4 weeks and then sorta of forgot to take it and that was that.

All the best to you through this difficult experience. Fondly,

Ill be praying for you, Ronnie.

You are in my thoughts, Ronni. So sorry you are having to deal with this! You will especially be in my thoughts on Tuesday; your surgery is written on my calendar. Is there someone who could post a note on TGB to let us know that you are safely through your surgery? May the 'rest of your life' be long and healthy!

That organ donor ad was really emotional and I need more kleenex.

Ronni, on the 20th, I will park at the pier, stare at the lake, roll down my car windows and dedicate some Motown to you.

Via some badass Angels:

"Just My Imagination" (Temptations)

"Ain't no Mountain High Enough" (Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell)

"For Once in my Life" (Stevie Wonder)

I will be watching the clock and waiting for news.

Dear Ronni, even though I've followed your blog only since your diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, I find myself thinking of you each day. I'm 81 and had a serious operation in March and have gone through a rainbow of emotions. So I find myself in admiration of your ability to articulate what you are feeling and to embrace what life is offering you now. Peace now and in the future, pressed down and overflowing.

Ronni, you have a powerful wave of hive mentality sending you its strength, love, and hope, pretty much from here on out. We will all think of you on Tuesday, of course. And will look forward to your getting back to the blog!

Hugs and very best industrial-strength healing beams from me!

Dear Ronni

Thank you for sharing your very personal and difficult journey. You have been in my thoughts each day since your "diagnosis" message. I have loved reading the posts from other readers from "holding you in the light" to "industrial strength healing beams."
I hold you in my heart.

Just discovered your blog today as I sit here at 1:20 PM still in my nightgown, trying to figure out how to manage my retirement, when I came across your blog and laughed out loud. You are my first blogger I've subscribed to, and I believe I've found a winner. Thank you. Sending you sincere heartfelt wishes for a positive outcome. I will be thinking of you.

I also will be keeping you in my thoughts on Tuesday.

I have a favor to ask/ suggestion. How about posting on Monday an short blog for the purpose of letting your friends use it to stay connected with each other. We have no way other than these comments to communicate our feelings and thoughts to each other during this time. I have come to enjoy the comments on your postings and feel like the group has started tobecome friends due to your influence.


Ronni, As a long-time reader and rare commenter, I'm sure I speak for hundreds if not thousands who love timegoesby and wish you well on your complex medical journey.

Quite recently, a friend (male 79) had a whipple procedure to totally remove a tumor in his bile duct at edge of pancreas. What a complex procedure! Yet a month later, he drove to meet me for coffee and, except for weight loss (most before the diagnosis), he was in amazingly good shape and has become more active every day since.

I wish the same for you.

Hi Ronnie
Thank you for sharing. You help us all feel more alive and more honest.
I will be thinking of you.

Hey, Ronni, it's me, EmmaJay with the only selfish post you're gonna read out of the hundreds of wishes and prayers coming your way. I don't pray and I don't meditate, so here's what I'll say: You HAVE to come back from a successful surgery. Nothing else is allowed so no excuses, please. Where else are your followers going to vent about that asshole in the White House? How will we find out what is going on with Social Security and/or Medicare? Where are we going to compare notes on the best way to cope with urinary incontinence? What about OUR health--have you given any thought to that? What other blog will care about what we eat or what we can do about old age weight gain? Are we supposed to just worry about the state of the nation in some sort of solitary funk? No and no and no, my friend. You are what has stood between us and the forlorn isolation of growing old. We need you. You must be there. So don't even consider any other outcome. We will expect you back at the helm as time goes by---for us and for you.


Thank you for sharing your life and insights with us and for your your honesty about how scary this is. I will be thinking about you on Tuesday and hoping for all good things. Sending you a virtual hug!

Love to you, Ronni. Will be thinking of you all Tuesday along with all others, adding my ray to the beam of strong intent. To paraphrase James Taylor, hold her up, hold her up, never do let her fall.

Dear Ronni,
You will be in all of our hearts on Tuesday - imagine we are all surrounding you in a massive group hug sending love and healing thoughts to you. May all the forces be with you!

As usual read all the comments, had to laugh at EmmaJay's insisting you think of us, your readers, and get well, then tears, at James Taylors lyrics, "hold her up, hold her up, never do let her fall".

I wonder how you feel about your father since it is Father's Day today. I was lucky to get to know mine as he died at 94 of congestive heart failure...when I was growing up he was a workaholic and I left home at 17 to attend college and 18 to get married so didn't really get to know him until he was in his mid 80's. He was gentle and kind.

I will hold you in the light on Tuesday. Loving thoughts to you.

You'll probably be fine or worse for wear, but just in case please make sure I'm in your Will and you leave me your innate intellect, moral compass, grammar skills, and half your fanbase so I can increase mine a thousandfold.

What fun! A troll cake. And they send them to the whitehouse.
Will be thinking healing thoughts for you. Best of luck tomorrow.

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