Pancreatic Cancer Advocacy Days in D.C. June 17-18th, 2013




[nggallery id=9]


Dianne Cancer Free!

Dear Barb’s Army,
Just a quick update on Barb’s sister Dianne, who was diagnosed with breast cancer last month. Dianne had a double mastectomy. The left breast had cancer but the sentinal node is CLEAR. The right breast had pre-cancer, so it was a good decision to take that out as well. Dianne will NOT need chemotherapy or radiation as the cancer was caught VERY early. Dianne was able to have the drains removed after 8 days post op. She continues to rest, but she has more freedom of movement without the drains. Thank you for the prayers!
On another note, Sacramento had its first ever Purple Stride event. There were over 300 people on a cold day walking in Elk Grove Park. Barbstrong had 15 walkers and raised $800 for pancreatic cancer research. I was so proud to be a part of such a wonderful event in my own backyard! A big thank you to my wonderful friends and family who came out to support Barb’s memory. The favorite sign we made said,”Cancer Sucks!” WE WILL FIND A CURE!
Love to all, MK

Barb’s sister Dianne has Breast Cancer

Dear Family and Friends of Barb,

I wanted everyone who was so supportive of Barb to pray for her sister Dianne (Doc). She was diagnosed on Monday, September 26th with breast cancer. The doctor thinks they caught it early, so that is very good news. Scott Metcalf has set up a website to go to for information on Dianne…..just like we did for Barb. I will do the postings when there is news to tell. The site is It is up and running and Dave has done a wonderful first post with a complete update. Thank you for the prayers for Dianne, her husband Dave, and their 3 girls.

There is a part of me that can’t believe we are doing this again, but we are a strong family and will be there to support Dianne! Now we will all wear purple AND pink!

God Bless and Love to All, MK

To My Family & Friends

I have never posted anything on the website. I’ve thought about trying to do so on numerous occasions but finding the word to express my feelings has been difficult.

I miss my wife. We faced many challenges in our years together, especially toward the end, but we had a great life. We were blessed with two beautiful boys who kept us on our toes and a love that sustained us over the years. We always had the support of our loved ones who stood by us and supported us. It has been a year and I know some of you are thinking about Barb and what a wonderful person she was. This day isn’t any different for the boys and I. EVERYDAY we wake up and face the reality that Barb is gone. We get ourselves together and do our best to live the day well, as Barb would want for us.

I know some of you are thinking about Barb and what a wonderful person she was. This day isn’t any different for the boys and I. Everyday we wake up and face the reality that Barb is gone. We get ourselves together and do our best to live the day well, as Barb would want for us.

If I could ask one thing of you today, when you think of Barb, please celebrate her life by sharing a happy, even fun moment together. Talk and laugh. Barb loved to TALK and laugh and she would appreciate the shared laughter of her loved ones as they exchange stories of the great times. We’ll grieve because we love her and miss her, but don’t forget to celebrate her life.

I’d like to especially thank those who have helped us to continue on in our daily lives. Matt and Jimmy are always busy swimming, golfing and growing up and I don’t know what we’d do without the efforts of those who lend us a hand on a daily basis, helping us get where we need to be and make sure we have ourselves put together. I’d also like to take the chance to thank everyone, especially those who offered daily support to us through the final days of Barb’s life. We will continue to work together. Matt, Jimmy and I carry with us your ongoing words of encouragement, kindness and love, as well as the blessed memory of Barb, in our hearts.

Finally, I thank Barb for having been a part of my life. I love you and will miss you always.


Matt and Jimmy California Visit

Dear Family and Friends,
Matt and Jimmy came out to California for much of June and July.
Matt began his journey at Camp Kesem, UC Davis. This is a camp for children ages 8-16 who have lost a parent to cancer, or have a parent undergoing cancer treatment. The camp is on the coast between Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz and it is FREE for all children. The counselor/camper ratio is one counselor for every 2 campers! Matt had a great time and plans to come back to Camp Kesem UC Davis next year. After camp, Matt went to Newport Beach to be with the Boylan family. Matt went to the beaches with his cousins, fishing, and ultimately down to San Diego for his cousin Andrew’s wedding. After the wedding, Matt went to Bakersfield for two days to visit some family and friends, and then went back south to La Canada to visit Aunt Katie and her family. He got sunburned at Manhattan beach and will NEVER forget to put on sunscreen again! He enjoyed going to Universal Studios, especially the parachute tube! He left La Canada and returned to Bakersfield to go with the Finch family (Aunt Joan and Jeff and children) to Shaver Lake for the 4th of July weekend. Matt absolutely loved fishing with his Uncle Jeff and cousin Julianne and caught many trout at Shaver. He learned how to completely gut, scale and cook a fish. He is sure turning into an outdoorsman! After Shaver, Grandma Haller took Matt up to the Link house…that’s me and Ken and Jarrett. Matt became Jarrett’s younger brother and the two were inseparable. We did a water slide park, jelly belly factory, Giants game, and Matt learned FIFA soccer on a PS3! He is determined to play and defeat Jarrett when they meet again! After a week with us, Matt headed over to his Uncle Dan’s for a short visit with his family in Alamo. After two days in Alamo, Matt went to his Aunt Dianne’s house in Half Moon Bay. He spent time with his cousins for two more days with a highlight being a trip to Great America! Except for our house that doesn’t have a dog any longer, Matt enjoyed meeting all the family dogs! (Our dog Foxy died after 15 years with us.) Phoebe dog was probably the funniest as she ate some of Matt’s jelly bellies! Matt traveled back to Iowa on his own, changing planes in Denver! He is a well traveled teenager, as he just turned 13 on July 20th! On to Jimmy…….
Jimmy arrived with Matt in Sacramento, but he went to Camp Kesem at Stanford for two reasons: First, Stanford had more teenagers going to camp (40) and second, Jimmy wants to look at Stanford for college since they have a terrific computer science engineering department. Jimmy is quieter about Camp Kesem than Matt, but he is facebooking with the counselors, so I take that as a good thing! He also said he enjoyed their 3 day backpacking trip. After Camp Kesem, Jimmy went down to Newport Beach with his Boylan family and did the beach stuff with his cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. He then went to Andrew’s wedding on the campus of University of San Diego, but he didn’t have much time to tour that campus. Since Jimmy is a Rising Junior, he is starting to look at colleges. After Newport and San Diego, Jimmy came up to Katie’s house in La Canada. Katie and I took him on tours of Cal Tech and USC. Jimmy liked Cal Tech, but feels it is too small and he wants the entire college feel. Katie and I were very impressed with the tour and the quality of students. The professor/student ratio is 1 prof for every 3 students. Sheesh, what great professor time each student gets! The next day we started off our drive to USC with fight music blaring from the USC band. Katie and Jimmy both had on USC hats! I tried to wear Duke, but that got nixed! USC has a new admissions building that was amazing. The talk was extremely informative and then we went on our 2 hour tour of the campus. When we went to Cal Tech Jimmy walked with us or behind us. When we went to USC, Jimmy led! He was so excited and Katie was so happy that he truly bonded with her alma mater! Anyway, I know both Barb and Kevin were smiling that day as I had found a dime and a penny touching in Katie’s car when we left for that visit! Jimmy will continue to look at other colleges, but I felt USC was on the top of his list at this point. Jimmy wanted to get back to Iowa to start practicing his golf for his high school team, so he left from Southern California when Matt headed up to Bakersfield to go to Shaver Lake.
Jason spent the week with the boys in Newport Beach and San Diego, so that was a nice break from work for him.
That is the latest update. I do want to let everyone know that Dianne and I went to Pancreatic Cancer Advocacy Days in Washington, DC in June for 5 days. We lobbied on the HILL for the Pancreatic Cancer Research and Education Act. We wore purple all the time and it was an incredible experience for both of us. We were surrounded by over 500 people advocating for pancreatic cancer research money. WE both plan to go back next year and do it again until this disease receives more money for research and they find a way to slow it down…..or maybe find a CURE! It was great to meet some of the Iowa pancreatic cancer advocates! I believe one of the advocates name was Megan, but she is six years old from Des Moines area and she got up and spoke to our entire group. Not a dry eye in the place when she showed us her picture of her dad parachuting and how she wants to find a cure for pancreatic cancer so no other child has to grow up without a dad dying from this horrible disease! What a trooper she was!
That’s it from here. God Bless, Love, MK
PS Sacramento is having our FIRST Purple Stride Walk this year, and I have a team named BARBSTRONG! Barb will always live on in our hearts!

MK”s Iowa Visit

Dear Barb’s Army,
I arrived in Iowa last Friday, April 8th and was picked up by Jason’s Mom Joyce at the airport. We had a nice chat on the way to Ames. In the time I have been here I have spent time with the boys freeing Jason to start planting. Yeah! I have reconnected with numerous friends of Barb and Jason. I have cried everyday and it is healthy for me to do so. When I first got here I kept expecting Barb to come walking through the door from Mayo or a Cabi show. I asked Matt if he felt that way, and he said in the beginning he did, but not anymore. There have been a few changes to the house, but not many and I continue to feel Barb’s presence in every room. Here is an update on Jimmy, Matt and Jason from my eyes and ears:
Jimmy: He has worked hard to bring his grades back up to straight A’s. He has two AP classes this year (AP US History and AP Biology). Those tests are coming up in early May. He is signing up for classes for next year and will take 3 AP classes along with some other tough courses offered at Ames High School. He continues to play golf each day after school if the weather allows. He is starting to look at colleges and is considering computer science engineering as his major. He was most impressed with MIT as we searched on the internet. He is coming to California in the summer and will be seeing USD, USC, UCLA, CalTech, Stanford, CAL CSUBakersfied, and anything else that pops up from now until then. He enjoys doing puzzles if I take them out of the cupboard! He is extremely helpful around the house with doing odd jobs for me. He traded cars and drove the huge suburban so I could drive the smaller lexus SUV. He is in an air soft gun club at Iowa state and has events in Iowa monthly. It was a joy to spend time with him!
Matt: He is doing well in school, however, he is working on more effort in his English class. He just tells me he doesn’t like to read and do much writing. Yet, when he puts out the effort he does and EXCELLENT job. We read most nights a Rick Riordan book and I will have to pick it up in California as I am hooked! Matt continues to swim 5 days a week. He does not have another meet until June. Each day after school Matt has about 3-4 buddies come over for some basketball in the yard. He seems to get most of his homework done in study hall, so then he has more time to be with his friends until we leave for swimming. He doesn’t like most vegetables, so I tried various ways of cooking them to his liking! I even bought V8 fruit juice as it has vegetables in it, too. He has a big glass each morning with breakfast. Matt had a sleep over HERE on Friday night with 3 friends. They were all well behaved and watched a movie, played pool, played a video game and were asleep by about 1pm. They got up at 9am and ate, played basketball and headed to the campus for VISHA…..a fun day at the university with a parade and events. I watch Matt be so social and organize events and I SEE Barb!
Jason: He has hardly been home as it is the SUPER BOWL of farming and those seeds need to get in the ground. He said they had planted over 600 acres already, so that is fabulous. Jason has thanked me numerous times for coming out and helping as that frees him up to make his living. He checks in via text and calling, so I always know what is going on.
I want to thank all of you who have come by to walk and talk and laugh and cry. I miss my sister and you keep her memory alive for me as she loved Iowa and the people she met here so much. The house is certainly quieter without her and that was hard for me until all of you started showing up! I will be back during harvest at some point to spell my Mom. Helen will be here May 1st to help out until all of planting is over.
Barb lives on in all of you! Save your dimes and know that she is watching over all of us! I wore one of her coats the other day when it dropped 40 degrees overnight and there were two dimes in the pocket! I think she might want me to keep that coat! HA! God Bless and keep the faith. Till we meet again, Barb, I love you! MK

6 Months

Dear Barb’s Army,
Well, not sure if anyone checks the site anymore, but on March 9th it was Barb’s 6 month anniversary in heaven. I was having a funky day when I realized it was March 9th. I called my Mom (Helen) and we had a good talk and cry. Barb continues to be in our thoughts and prayers. I have asked Barb a few times to welcome others who have died from my church into heaven. I figure by now she is on God’s welcoming committee in heaven!
I am heading back to Iowa on April 8th for 10 days to be with Jason and the boys. I hope many of you will stop by and say hello. I have missed all my Iowa friendships!
Dianne and I are going to Washington DC in June for the Pancreatic Cancer Advocacy Days. We will meet with Congress people and push for more research funding for pancreatic cancer. Tough sell in these debt laden times, but Doc and I are determined.
Jimmy, Matt and Jason are doing fairly well. Matt has had a little break from swimming and Jimmy can’t golf yet, but soon the weather should be better for that. Jimmy receives the Sacrament of Confirmation in May and Helen(Mom) and Dianne will be there for that. I talk with Jason a couple times a month and he says it is still surreal, but he and the boys are “hanging in there.” I know what he means because about a month ago I had a big party to go to and I picked up the phone to call Barb to see what I should wear. Then, I stopped myself when I started to dial. I miss my sister and sometimes it really hurts in the core of my being. I know she is at peace. I know she isn’t suffering. Yet, that selfish part of me wants her back to laugh with and share kid stories with. It is all part of the grieving process I know! I am so thankful for loving family and friends and my FAITH. Miss you Barb. Love, MK