Holding Space

With Shelly Vaughn


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Dr. Rehmus

There aren’t enough “thank yous” in the universe for this woman. She’s my oncologist- Dr. Rehmus- the person who saved my life. This post is to acknowledge and celebrate her!

I don’t think I’ll ever forget the day in 2017 when I met her. I had just learned of my diagnosis around lunch time and had an afternoon appointment with my surgeon (someday I’ll see if he’ll let me take a selfie with him, too!) It was the end of day on a Friday and I’m sure she would have been on her way out the door if not for me. Thankfully she said she would take my appointment at the last minute.

As Rob, Trisha and I walked into the room with the round conversation table, I couldn’t stop thinking about how nauseous I was and unsure if eating something would make it better or worse. Dr. Rehmus walked in with her medical student and introduced herself. I vividly remember that the first thing she did was sit next to me and turn her chair so that we were knee-to-knee. I don’t know the exact words she said but the sentiments were acknowledging that this was a hard afternoon and an immediate concern for taking care of myself- starting with getting me crackers and ending with a prescription for Ativan and instructions to pick up a bottle of wine on the way home (don’t judge if you haven’t been in that position before. 😆)

She saw me that day with all of the fear in my eyes that I couldn’t hide. She knew how much to explain and when to stop because it was mental overload. She had been here thousands of times with other patients, yet still managed to make me feel like I was her only (and most important) one. She did this throughout my entire care with the perfect combination of intelligence, reason, compassion, encouragement, and humor that is necessary for this kind of work.

I have always had confidence in her as she provided reassurance in her responses to my gazillion questions. She is the epitome of amazing medical care. Although I obviously wish I didn’t need an oncologist, I’m thankful she’s the one!

Now, after years and years of treating thousands and thousands of patients, she gets to retire! I’m so excited for her. Yes, she diagnosed me with “oncologist withdrawal syndrome” (her made-up term for what I’m going through), but I don’t know how to feel knowing that I might never see her again!!

So I will celebrate her here and introduce her to all of you and pretend like she’s a part of this group. Because I wouldn’t be here to keep writing and sharing thoughts if not for her. Not sure how a woman like that stays so humble, but I want to be like that when I grow up. 😉


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So much food… so much love

We have had many local friends show love to us by providing meals and gift cards. (Someday I will eventually get caught up on “thank you” cards for all of you.) The time and money that we saved is immeasurable. There were many days that I felt too sick or tired to even think of food for the family. And there were other days that I felt pretty good, but because meals were coming I could spend time enjoying other things (like time relaxing or going somewhere as a family) instead of worrying about what to make for dinner that night. We will forever be grateful for everyone’s help with this. Our dear friend Jeanine Muller organized the “Meal Train” and kept it going for us when we needed it. This Tuesday’s meal from Jen Wedo included a beautiful bouquet of roses to mark the end of treatment. And tonight’s meal (the last on the schedule probably until reconstruction in the summer) was brought by Katie Ruhl and was surprisingly celebratory! Thank you to Katie for recognizing that this was worth celebrating- with sparkling grape juice to toast with the girls, a full spread of snacks and dinner, and delicious food to eat together as a family. We feel very blessed to have been shown love and fed by everyone so well over the last 10 months- our bellys and hearts are full. 

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Lake Tahoe

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We have seen love from so many people in so many ways over these last few months and this week was no exception. Rob and I were blessed to be able to go to Lake Tahoe for a few days- just the two of us. The timing worked out so we could squeeze it in before my surgery. We had such a fun, peaceful time together. Tahoe is SO beautiful! I’ve been wanting to go there for years and I can’t believe it really happened! We went kayaking, hiking, on a dinner cruise, up a huge gondola, and to the beach. Rob got some beautiful pictures, of course. I’m so thankful that I felt well enough (most of the time) to do what we wanted to do. And forever grateful to Kim Geibig Amigh for opening her home to us during this time in our lives.
(This picture is from the gorgeous sunset we saw during our dinner cruise!! )