The Razor Sharp Talons of Hope

* Originally published March 23, 2013


I am an English major. Not an English major guru who takes special joy in correcting other people’s grammatical foibles at Thanksgiving dinner. No, I’m just a regular guy with an English degree. Five years and over $30,000 spent at Kansas State University and I emerged with a degree in a language that was taught to me from the moment of birth.  Since the inception of my collegiate tenure I answer the question, “What does one do with a degree in English?” no less than four times per year. This is a serious question which requires the most serious of answers. An English major is good for two careers: becoming an English teacher or a 3rd World Dictator. When I graduated the career board at K-State was a little short on 3rd World Dictator postings and, being the son of two teachers and consequently spending my childhood summers painting houses, I had no desire to engage in the noble career of teaching. Naturally I embarked on a career path of blazed by countless English majors (and history majors) before me, toiling in miserable entry level positions until deciding on a career in insurance. While my chosen major did little to prepare me for life post-college, it has, to my delight, come in handy in my new role as a professional cancer fighter.  I recall taking a course on early American poets where I wrote what was, undoubtedly, a marvelous research paper on Emily Dickinson.  A poem she wrote has come to mind with frequency since my diagnosis,


Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune–without the words,
And never stops at all,


And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.


I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.


It was just over a month ago when Teri and I met with an oncologist in a tiny room, crowded with the three of us, where he explained, with stoic timbre, the results of the PET scan, according to his training. We solemnly filed out of the room and he put his hand on my shoulder and said, “I’m so sorry.” In the five weeks since that meeting Teri and I have experienced a year’s worth of emotions. Fear and peace, sorrow and joy, doubt and boldness all sweep over us like a thunderstorm thrashes its way across the plains. Though abashed by the storm, hope allows us to press on with joy.  When the oncologist gave the same look as my parents when I told them I wanted major in English but didn’t plan on teaching, we looked elsewhere for solutions to the problem that confronts us.  And hope has not disappointed.

Our hope is not founded on a wishful dream. We have discovered the tools needed to battle my cancer built into creation. Encouragement arrives daily in the form of new stories of people around the world who have overcome the very form of cancer I carry by employing the same nutritional cancer therapies we have adopted.

This hope does not, however, make us naïve.  The future is uncertain, as it is for all human kind, and we are learning to live in uncertainty. Each day carries both emotional and spiritual challenges that, at times, shake us to the core and leave us holding each other gently praying.  A passage of scripture, a lyric from a song, or a scene from a movie may trigger tears of joy or fear. Our hope, however is built on unshaken trust in God and, to borrow Dickinson’s metaphor, the bird of perched in our soul is a giant falcon with razor sharp talons and a giant hungry beak looking to devour cancer cells.



Thank you so much for sending emails, text messages, voicemails and cards.  Hearing from you is an enormous encouragement. It’s difficult for us to communicate directly with everyone who touches our lives, but let me offer this meager attempt. My sons love cookies.  They’re virtual addicts.  Yesterday my oldest woke in the morning asking to have cookies for breakfast. Naturally, we said yes. One of the recipes Teri discovered as we changed our diet is a fantastic vegan no-bake cookie, which, because of the ingredients, can also be eaten for breakfast.  If you desire, make a batch of these cookies and know, as you make them, we thankful for you.  Then send us a message letting us know whether you enjoyed them and thought of us as you ate them.


Hudson’s Awesome No-Bake Cookies

  • Mix together the following ingredients in a bowl:
    • 2 ripe mashed bananas
    • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
    • 1/4 cup raisins
    • 1.5 TBSP honey
    • 2 TBSP almond butter
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • a pinch of salt.
  • Mix well and roll into 10-12 small balls and flatten them into cookie shapes then place on a plate or cookie sheet and freeze (30 min.)
  • Enjoy!


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