Sites Help Patients and Families Stay Connected

During her illness, a website helped the late Susan Butcher keep friends up to date on her leukemia condition.

She was a four-time champion in the Iditarod dog-sled race and lived in Seattle with her husband, David Monson. He filled out a simple online form to set up an interactive Web page so his wife could keep friends and family updated on her condition and treatment.

The, is one of many that have started to help people with serious illnesses and their families stay connected, says writer Deborah Franklin.

Susan died Aug. 5th from cancer and complications of a bone marrow transplant but before she passed away, she and David posted over 100 entries on their Web diary.

“For me it was therapeutic just to write it all down,” said David in a recent interview.

The sites are free to patients and visitors and private donations or foundation grants and hospital pick up the tab of the cost. The email addresses of patients and visitors are never compromised according to the Web companies and hospital staff can’t look at a site unless the patient invites them.

“Some sites come with bells and whistles,” said Franklin.

The Friday before Labor Day weekend my friend Bob Honeycutt, 75, an Alzheimer’s patient, hit his head and went into a coma. His funeral was a few days later. I had known Bob for nine years and he was always making me laugh at birthday parties. He and his wife Linda were always instrumental in making things come together at fundraisers or parties we had. A former painter, he was a dog lover and good friend to many people and he will be missed.

Yesterday I attended the funeral of another mutual friend, Gene Reynolds, 56, who lost his seven-month battle with pancreatic cancer. He worked for the railroad for 26 years and was president of the union for 15 of those years. He was a dad, grandpa, and wrote and sang music. He loved long walks, helping others, negotiating with union activities, and made us all laugh with his stories. I knew him since about 1997 and he was always an inspiration, collecting coats every winter for the homeless, doing service work with others, helping people as much as he could, and even spending time with the Indians in another state to add to his spirituality.

Born in Kerrville, TX he passed away Sept. 23rd. He was a Vietnam veteran, having served in the army from 1968-1972 and was a locomotive engineer for the local railroad in Fort Worth, TX beginning in 1979. His funeral was standing room only practically and the service was beautiful, fitting for such a great guy.

On the back of his funeral program read an inspirational quote I once read a long time ago:

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, ‘Wow! What a ride!'”

Below the inscription was a gorgeous copy of a painting of a locomotive train, the end of a moving dedication to such a generous, creative, compassionate man.

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