Dying and Entering Hospice!

As many of you have already heard through the grapevine*, but starting Friday I am officially on hospice care. When many of you read this you may start crying because you’re fully aware of what this means. For many there’s (like myself about a year ago) a vast misunderstanding of the implications of this statement. Ideas of old people dying in hospital beds comes to mind in a hokey type of way–in a manner that feels very foreign to anything that I could even possibly be experiencing. While this may be true in some certain circumstances, what this looks like for my family we anticipate being very different.

So what in the world is happening to Ryan Woods?

Well the reality is that this is the next stage toward death. Like I’ve said since day one (there are probably fifteen things I could say right here huh?): I won’t believe that healing is out of the question until I’m in the grave (or inside an urn, as my case would be) for at least three or four days. Hospice pretty much means that there’s nothing the oncology world can offer me with regard to treatment. They’ve tried everything they can try, given me every drug they can conceivably give, jabbed me with every needle they can jab me with, and have now turned me over to hospice in hopes that they can create as peaceful and comforting an environment as possible for my last days. And that’s where hospice comes into play, that’s where they belong, that’s where they enter on stage right. And so I find myself filled with such a strange set of emotions: on the one hand I carry extreme anticipation looking forward to hospice coming more and more into play in our home and life. This anticipation and excitement, for those of you who are unaware, is because hospice is known for its seriously incredible care and compassion, their single purpose is to bring relief from pain, and to bring comfort to both my wife and I. The downside (obviously!!!) is that you have to be dying to be on hospice! There’s really only one qualification…absolutely one qualification: you’ve gotta be dyin’! Doesn’t get much more simple than that and it absolutely doesn’t get more shitty.**

So Where Does This Leave Us?

It leaves us with adjusting to this new and somewhat final phase in this story. With finding a new normal without chemo treatments and with in-home care. With new realities as we watch my body slowly change and deteriorate. Even though we have been anticipating this coming for a while now, stepping into this new reality is very surreal and has been a roller coaster of feelings ranging from relief to heartbreak. Many of you all are probably asking “what can we do? How can we help?” and the genuine answer at this point is probably–right now? We have absolutely no clue. When we know you’ll know.

In the end we are not in despair whatsoever. Rather we feel very much at peace dealing with reality as it is unfolding around us. God has been faithful thus far in telling a story and we believe that he will continue to do so. Thanks for being a part of it!


*  We seriously apologize to those close friends and family who deserved to know this precious information first hand prior to “the grapevine”. Sometimes accidents happen, especially in the social media world that we live in,

** I’m sorry, but “foul” language at this point and in this context is very very appropriate (in my opinion) and is the right word to use. I apologize to those who find this offensive and I think you’d be surprised by the verbiage that you use that I find horribly offensive. (please know that I’m not being argumentative or sarcastic here. I am being incredibly and completely serious)

***  I have to clarify that by “better” I very specifically mean that it’s more feel-goodish because I truly believe that you cannot do better than the Compass Oncology Clinic in Vancouver, Washington. I truly believe that you cannot do better than to have Doctor Kathryn Kolibaba look over your cancer/sick needs all along the way. I honestly and truly believe you can do absolutely no better than what we have received.

53 thoughts on “Dying and Entering Hospice!

  1. Praying, praying, praying for comfort and peace for you and all your family Ryan. However, I'm still also praying for God to tell a story of physical healing in your life. Thank you Ryan for your openness during this last year and a half, you have influenced so many.

  2. Your candidness and honesty is refreshing, given that many people approach death in a different manner. I've heard that hospice is such a blessing, but yes, it's "shitty" that you have to be dying to get that blessing.

    The word needs more people like you and your beautiful wife!

  3. I haven't seen you in person since this all started. Been praying for you ever since, Ryan (and your whole family). Now praying for you all the best hospice care ever, your comfort, all the blessings your family can squeeze in, and a swift jump into the place you were made for with your Savior when the time comes. YOU WILL BE HEALED. You will always be a blessing.

  4. Ryan, Jess, Jones and India….Thank you for your stories, for your sharing and open ways of being, for teaching me about compassion and community and for allowing me to understand this world in ways I had not thought of. I love all of you very much.

  5. You and my mother have the same doc. Kolibaba is a true cancer crusader, and her Dracula hair style is to be reckoned with! My mother spent months making her (Baba) a quilt..all the while, puking, and generally being cancer riddled. Ryan, you are truly one of my life's favorites. I am only sorry I didn't cross paths with you a million cups of coffee ago. I myself have always feared death..which I am sure at times is part of your equation (?), and yet listening to you, helps me "conceptualize" death in some remotely comforting way at this point. It's people like you and my mother..you dears in the face of death, who shed some real light on living. From the very depth of my soul, I love you.

  6. Thank you for opening your world to us. You have helped shape my changing world view. Your story has made me chalenge what walk with christ should look like.

  7. Praying Praying! I only met you a few times! You and your family really put a smile on my face every time I have seen u. You have change the view of the world of different many ways!

  8. I don't know you except through your "musings". You touch my heart with your courage and desire to share with others. Thank you for deepening my human experience. Praying for you and your family…….

  9. Thank you for letting us into your life. You have taught us, made us laugh, made us cry and made this world a much better place by being in it and allowing us into your story. Praying still for your healing, health and comfort.

  10. Amazingly enough, I hear a lot of peace in your words. And I pray the Spirit continues to nurture and comfort you and your family. I am glad to hear that you feel the care you received was the best it could have been. I will continue to pray for a miracle – whether it be a miraculous healing or a miraculous story for the glory of God.
    May we all be inspired to live out our lives for Christ as you have done. I wish I could be closer to you all, hard to be so far away. Thank you for keeping us all up-to-date. Blessings and prayers.

  11. Your courage and insight to your situation is amzing to me! We pray that Hospice care will be a real comfort to your entire family.Our thoughts and prayers are for you and with you.

  12. My prayer for you is to be able to leave this earth without any more pain & suffering. You have made such a difference in my life, that I now look at my Christanity with a new set of eyes. I don't look down on those who aren't Christians or that don't use the same language I do. But instead because of you I have compassion for them. It's a compassion I wouldn't have had if it wasn't for you. I'm sure you have touched others the way you did me.
    I have prayed a lot of prayers for you,but none as fervently as I am now.
    May God bless & keep you.

  13. Ryan,
    I have read all of your posts. As you know, we've never had a big mutual admiration club going on b/t our families. Yet, I find myself being very impressed with you as a person and a believer. It's changed the way I've thought of you. The process of healing and looking towards the future has never been more sure. For you and me. I can say nothing other than I've turned into an admirer of your honesty and forthrightness in all of this. Some days that I've read your posts has caused me to cry in sympathy and compassion for you/family. Other days have made me laugh. Still other times have caused me to sit back and ponder what you were really saying and finding myself in complete awe of your ability to say things so precisely and with such insight into human beings. You have fought the good fight. I know you believe in the life to come and one thing is for certain: it will only get better for you from that point. I hurt for the family you leave behind and the friends you've made and influenced to this point. You have my word that if I hear about your family needing some help, I will do what I can for them. Thank you for allowing me to read your posts and share a little of this journey you've endured. I'm lousy at to what to say at this point. So I'll end this by saying: Say hello to God for me. Let Him know that I am trying. Peace and Honor to you. Joy is coming your way. Cory C.

  14. I was young when my dad qualified for hospice. I will never, ever forget our home aid, Brenda. She was amazing and cared for my dad, as well as our whole family. I struggle when I read your posts because it brings back so many painful last memories of when my dad passed. But, if it is any comfort to you…I will never forget the faith I saw in my mom and dad as they went through a similar journey. His courage and belief in God, in the hardest of times, helped shape me into the woman of God I am. I miss my dad and sometimes memories of him seam like shadows. But in the things that matter, I knew my dad believed in God, trusted in God, loved others, shared his life and love and laughter with the community he lived in. I will not stop praying for God's power to be shown through your total healing. But should you go home, I know the Lord will protect your memory and your family. Your legacy is one of faith and laughter and honesty and will not be forgotten. Bless, bless, bless you and your family.

  15. Ryan and precious family…Your story has deeply touched me. You have moved me to a more honest prayer life, have helped me face places I didn't trust God in going before and I love you for that. God working in and through you have moved,and are still moving, masses of people towards Him. Thank you for your honesty, your love and for being brave enough to share this very personal walk with us. I'm still praying for that last minute miracle. Our time here is sooo breif. I can't wait to meet you all on the other side in person some day. My father went home too early from cancer. I hate it. Cancer sucks. But God is so much bigger than any cancer. God bless you and your precious family.

  16. Oh, Ryan, Jessica, Jones and India….my heart aches for all of you right now! As you said, seems like it's hard to find something we can do to help you and that's where faith comes in! We are all praying for you and all of your family! I can imagine, since I'm a Mom, just how hard this is on your's and Jess' parents too! Losing a child would be the hardest thing to ever have to face, and I'm sure the reality of it is coming into to view! I will continue to pray for what a call the "Ryan" miracle, sometimes it doesn't always come into to play in our time, but as long as you are on this earth, God is listening to our prayers for you! My wish for you is Hospice does bring you relief from pain and a calmness over you! I remember when my Mom was under Hospice care and I truly believe those who choose to work in Hospice care of others are "angels" here on earth! Take care Ryan and thank you SO much for continuing to share your story….I have shared it with many and you have touched peoples lives way beyond you circle of friends! Continue to keep your faith strong! Love and hugs….

  17. I can't possibly count how many times I have thought of both of you since we met this summer. I have such a place in my heart for your family even though I only knew you for one week end. If you had that big of an impact on me, I can't imagine what it must be like to live in your neighborhood or go to your church, etc… You are moving through each of these stages with such grace and are grabbing the joy in places where it must be hard to find any. This is what I consider true living to be. Thank you for sharing your lives with all of us so openly. I don't know when I will see either of you again…but I KNOW that I will and rejoicing in that truth will have to be enough for now. May God continue to give you joy.

  18. Ryan,
    I continue to be in awe of your writings, your candidness, spirit and honesty. It is sad on the one hand but, knowing that your will be in the presence of Jesus is something ALL of us long for and that gives some relief to give you to him though it is FAR sooner than you should go……… Thank you again for sharing this journey with us. Some of us have not met you in person and wish that we could but, in your writings we have become your family and love you immensely. May God continue to hold you close to him through all of this and your precious family. We continue to pray daily for you!!!
    Our Love,
    Alexa and Matt

  19. You are an incredible man! It's no wonder God wants you back.. just know that in your amazing love and honor for God your family has reached in TEXAS too. My family is praying very hard for you all and while we pray we know without any hesitation that you and your beautiful family trust God's plan even though it really is "crappy"! God bless you and the one's by your side!

  20. I love you, man. Helplessness is one of the most challenging things I've ever experienced: it is frightening and disorienting, but I also find rest here because I cannot do anything anyway. Praying.

  21. Just watched your YouTube video and linked to your blog to see what was what. I then read that you are entering the next stage in your journey to your forever home. I wish you and your family blessings and peace as you take these next steps. I lost my beloved to cancer a little over a year ago. He, like you, saw his cancer through "rose-colored glasses" and was unafraid of dying. During this journey, we received amazing, unexpected gifts: gifts of love and friendship, gifts of understanding, gifts of memory, gifts of unbelievable truths revealed through our children. I know Jesus will reveal special gifts to you and yours, as well. What a solace, what a blessing they are!

    Christ provides powerful medicine and will be the balm you need, when you need it. Of that, I have no doubt. Our family will keep you all in our thoughts and prayers.

  22. I struggle with grief after losing my father one day before my daughter's 1st birthday. Now, I fear my own mortality and continuously clamor for something to give me hope, ease, a reminder to live life fully for me and for her. You've done just that. Your family will carry your memory, your children will grieve and miss you in their own way throughout their lives, and the openness that you share with them now will only prove to be something that they will appreciate as they grow. If you can show them that you're there, they will appreciate that too.

    From a girl with her own struggles, thanks for sharing your beauty with the world. I sincerely wish all of you the best and as much ease into this transition that there is.

  23. I haven't met you in person, Ryan, but feel like I know you from your blog……I admire your courage and open comments about your journey, your family and all that has been involved with this experience. I have been involved with Hospice through others, one being my 40 year old son-in-law who had colon cancer with horrific pain. Hospice was right there to keep him comfortable and as you said support his wife, son and other family members. They were a great solace and they did an outstanding job with it all. My heart goes out to all of you……my husband was killed in an accident at 35 years and we had 4 children between 12 and 2 years of age. It was a most difficult time but we came through it with much help from God, our family and special friends. The experience greatly increased my faith in God and we know that God will bless, love, and comfort you and your dear family today, and in the future like he has up until now. Special Hugs for all of you!

  24. Ryan, you have been such a gift to your wife and your children…you have made that gift a lasting one through your 'getting ready to leave' that they will accept your transition and be able to remember you all the days of their lives. The memory books you made for your children will bless them and comfort them long after you have gone to be with Jesus. You have touched more lives than you can imagine – all over the country and the world! Bless you! With love stretching to you and your family from Northern Minnesota!

  25. Your cousin Rebecca Wer has been sharing your story and I have been following along. You are such a beautiful person with a beautiful family. I am so sorry you are going through this at such a very young age but you have touched so many lives in the process and your family will forever be grateful for you and your love. I am praying for peace for you and your family and, of course, healing. You have touched me deeply and I admire your courage to share your story with everyone because you have made each person who has read any of your blog postings a better person. Hugs to you & your family.

  26. Love to you from a family on O'ahu who is friends with Ciara & Jeremy Graham. GOD SPEED. LOVE HEALS. LOVE IS REAL NOT FADE AWAY. FOREVER YOUNG.

  27. Ryan,
    Your Aunt Candy is a precious friend of mine. From the first time she shared your situation with me, Daddy has put a burden on my heart to pray for you, Jess, and the kids. Then she showed us (our house church) a video of you and Jess on some stage sharing your testimony and then with a face to put with a name, my prayers turned from "please heal Candy's nephew, Ryan" to cries going out to Father on your behalf, begging for your healing and for Him to be glorified through that. This continues to be my prayer. I just watched the pancake something, You Tube piece about living and dying well and I was just undone by your attitude! I am writing this to you to say that even though I don't know you, you have inspired me to live life fully alive in the few things that I have seen and heard about you. You look a whole lot like Jesus and there's no doubt that He is being glorified through your life and will be glorified through your death, whether that is soon or later. Like you, I will continue to pray that it is later and won't stop praying that until at least 4 days in the urn :) You rock, Ryan Woods! I praise God for people like you who help put life in perspective for people like me and cause me to want to live better. Bless you always! Much love and gratitude…
    Kari Harris, Temple, Tx

  28. Thank you for your message, I am praying for you and your family across the country. I am also praying that I follow your example and serve my family and community and live a beautiful story worthy of the gifts That God's given me. I cant thank you enough for touching my heart.
    Prayers prayers prayers! Amy, Boiling Springs S.C.

  29. Prayers to you and your family. For your strength in sharing your story even in your darkest hour. You are an amazing Man,Husband,Father, and Son. God Bless you.

  30. Praying for you and your family. My husband and I have been talking about how God makes all things new. We really believe that when you die He will restore everything. I feel like that is such a peaceful thought. God will restore all the hurt and pain that you have been through. Thanks for sharing your story with us. We are praying for you and your family right now.

  31. Dearest Ryan,
    We have never met but by now you know my boyfriend Justin Baldoni very well :) I have been very fortunate to be a witness of his journey with you and the Soul Pancake episode ever since it's beginning. I even remember when he had the idea to create the show and how incredibly clear he was about his decision to go forward with it. Then he met you, and it was obvious why it had to be done. I can't even begin to tell you how much your story has affected our families and all our friends. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for being so raw and honest in your sharing of your story, and for showing us that love, family and joy are all invincible. We pray for you and your beautiful family often and are forever grateful for the inspiration and depth you all have brought to our lives. Sending you much love from us in Los Angeles, from family and friends in Sweden and from family and friends in Italy.

  32. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 2 Corinthians 13:14
    ({Paul's final words to his beloved church there in the thick of the crazy and hurting Grecian world!) We love you. Thank you for showing us a bit more what God looks like when he's allowed to transform lives.

  33. Ryan,
    I was your PT while you were in rehab. I haven't checked your blog in a while and this was definitely not the happy ending of your story that I anticipated. However, you have become so much brave and have taught many others. I had another patient who was 15 that had the exact same diagnosis (in his spinal cord too!). He passed a couple of years ago, but I have stayed in touch with his family. I have shared your recent video with his mom and she was so excited to someone with a similar story. You are both wise beyond your years with great life lessons to share with others. I wish you and your family peace and healing.
    -Cara Cram

  34. Ryan,
    My mother had the same kind of cancer (in her brain), which unfortunately took her life when I was 12. I saw your video and have to say it is so wonderful to see how frank and upbeat you are being about the possibility of death, and that you are being pro active in planning for your children to have a way of continuing their connection with you that I can say through experience that they will ALWAYS crave. And yes, the people of hospice are such beautiful compassionate souls, I hope they will be a great comfort to you and your family. Much love to you and prayers for healing (even though I'm not the praying type!), Nicole

  35. Ryan,
    You don't know me, but I work with a couple of your close friends. I have been following your story, reading your blog, and praying for you and your family. Your courage, perspective, and attitude have inspired me and my family in lasting ways. We will continue to pray for your comfort and healing through this difficult time. Thank you so much for sharing your story!

  36. Am thinking of you and your family Ryan. Thankyou for sharing your journey – my father in law has just gone to hospice with gbm iv. God speed.

    Claire, UK

  37. Don't forget that every one of us is going to the exact same place as it looks like you are headed. We are all with you, on the exact same journey. You aren't leaving us behind. We will all catch up. We, every living being, is in this together.

  38. I have only known you threw Facebook and your blog. Your faith has been so incredibly inspiring and refreshing. I wish I had been able to meet you in person…your words will live on forever in my thoughts. your family will forever be in my prayers.

  39. We don't know each other but we share a struggle with cancer. I just want to thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for being REAL! It is necessary. Your story is necessary. I have no doubt your children will learn from the wisdom you have shared. I pray for you and your family, friend.

  40. When I went through cancer surgery and chemo in 2003-2004, there was no Facebook. It was an isolating and very humbling experience, and one that coupled humility with a world that stayed away. With less than a 15% survival statistic staring me in the face, I somehow made it through, and now count every day as a gift. Many of the friends I met along the way are now gone, but they weren't scared. As you said, it is just part of the process.

    Though we have never met, I wanted to thank you for sharing so many words that will help others who are beginning this isolating journey. Not everyone has the presence of mind to share their story publicly, or in a way that can truly help others. But you have, and in the process, have touched many others far beyond the confines of your own circle of friends and relatives. And that is a wonderful thing.

    I wish I could have met you. I wish you a safe journey.

  41. New to your blog and I am sorry I didn't find it sooner. You are a wonderful writer and I look forward to reading your blog before the big C word.

    Big hugs to you and your family. Hospice are wonderful people – it's a scary word, but they are amazing. Having experienced their support when my dad was sick, I don't know how we would have done it without them. They truly are "hospitality". Your family will be taken care of – five years later I still hear from our team.

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