The Worst News

Back in December of 2018, I shared my brothers soft tissue sarcoma diagnosis and his impending surgery. I have not shared anything else about him since then. Subconsciously I may have been waiting to share some good news. And for my brother, over the last 18 months, there really hasn’t been any good news.

Roger and Hope, Southampton, NY

His surgery in January 2019 was successful, they saved his leg, he did physical therapy, he was recovering. And then he had his first post-operative scan in April. And it was the worst news. Correction, it felt like the worst news at the time. His cancer had metastasized to his lungs. He had been told early in his diagnosis that if this were to happen it would certainly be fatal. So, this was terrible news. He had not yet fully recovered from the very complex surgery on his leg and now he was facing more. No time to relish a few good months. Back at the fight, the struggle, the doctors, the chemotherapy, the tests, the drives to New York, and yes, another surgery, actually two.

One successful lung surgery, more healing, no chemo while healing, more scans. Second surgery scheduled, feeling a little hopeful, until the post-op call – there were too many tumors to be able to successfully operate. Hearing this, it’s the worst news ever. How can it keep being the worst news ever?

More chemo. He adjusts his goals, but does hold on to some hope. Some immunotherapy treatment. But more unexpected visits to the hospital. Strange occurrences, things that should not happen (“We’ve never seen that before.”), and not in a good way.

And then what surely must be the worst news ever, the worst. There are no more treatments. There are only an unknown number of weeks to live. There is a range, but it is not a very wide range. Not nearly wide enough, not even for his shrinking goals and hopes.

But, my brother is not his cancer. My brother is a giant of a man, in stature and in heart – loved by multitudes, adored by many.

He loves to make people laugh, dare I say he lives to make people laugh. He is not a jokester – he is witty and funny. But mostly, he is kind.

His sisters can be cranky, outraged and at our worst maybe, even spiteful (not that we would ever act upon it, but oh, we will talk about it). And my brother, he listens. And he always, ALWAYS, gives the positive spin, sees the bright side, the kinder, gentler way. We will not be the same without him.

I can’t bear the thought of him not being here. I already feel lost. Everything feels useless, unimportant.

And I know, all too well, the worst news is yet to come.

One of Roger’s oldest friends, Joe Garbus, has organized a Go Fund Me to support Roger’s young family.

Avery’s 5th birthday party – Grace, Roger, Avery , and Hope

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I never thought I’d be writing a blog, and certainly not one that is all about me, and yet, here I am. For me life has always been interesting, not mundane, not always exciting per se, but hardly ever the norm. When I say “It’s always something…” I don’t hear it as my life is a mess, it;s always something. It’s more of life is challenging and evolving and messy and inspiring and wondrous, it’s always something. I grew up in suburbia, buy my grandfather was the head of the Communist Party in the U.S. I was raised keeping that a secret, so that was something. I am tall, always have been, really tall (6’1″), I was taller than every human being in my elementary school when I was in 6th grade, that is still something. My parents divorced in my teens. I got a full basketball scholarship to Duke University. I married my high school basketball coach, 18 years my senior. I raised a stepson. I had two amazing kids of my own. We had a multicultural household, secular christian (I guess that’s what I would call it, you know Santa and the Easter Bunny) and Judaism, I used to say if it was a holiday – we celebrated it! We were uber involved in our community, mostly through youth athletics, coaching, managing and spectating. Our kids grew up, I started a photography business on the side (I hope to share some photos here) and we planned to travel a bit together, went to Portugal for our 25th anniversary and then my husband was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer, initially they gave him 5 years, but he only survived for a little over two. I was going to say lived, but really, it was more like surviving. That, indeed, was something. I became a widow at 49. It was the worst thing that ever happened to me. But, then it was something in another way. I relearned who I was. You don’t realize how much of you becomes a combination of you and another person in a relationship. And not in a bad way, it is essential, and you don’t lose yourself, you just evolve. And I found myself suddenly alone, and learning about myself and who I had become over the years, what was just me, and what was part of who we were together. Which in retrospect, was probably hardest on those around me who had gotten used to the old me, or never even knew the original me. A year later I found love again. Sold my home of 31 years and moved closer to work. I became more fit, ate more healthfully and was amazed that I could be happy, truly happy, in the wake, no not wake, but the shadow of such profound grief. And that is truly something, something amazing and unexpected. And then, through some routine blood work in April 2014, and a visit to a hematologist and bone marrow biopsy in May, I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. And so, yes, for me right now it’s multiple myeloma, but that is not all, there are still highs and joys, and the mundane and the rest, but something like cancer does cast a pretty long shadow.

23 thoughts on “The Worst News”

    1. Roger I love you. Heather I love you. Words fail me. And yes, Roger you are the kindest and funniest. No one can make Heather laugh like you.


  1. Just read this. I’m SO sorry. Sending you thoughts and prayers.



    From: It’s Always Something
    Reply-To: It’s Always Something
    Date: Friday, July 10, 2020 at 8:45 AM
    To: bcc
    Subject: [New post] The Worst News

    Heather posted: ” Back in December of 2018, I shared my brothers soft tissue sarcoma diagnosis and his impending surgery. I have not shared anything else about him since then. Subconsciously I may have been waiting to share some good news. And for my brother, over the las”


  2. Sending all the love. Had all the tears in my eyes reading this and smiling at the gorgeous photos. May your writing and photography be your healing as you work through more of the worst news ever. It always serves you well. (((Hugs)))


  3. My friendship with Roger goes back to 10th grade. He always made me laugh and made me feel good. We were young, wild and free….. just like the lyrics to “our” song, Magic Power by Triumph. I loved listening to Rog play with his band Destiny throughout high school. I remember going for crazy car rides in his old beat up blue station wagon, especially on rollercoaster road. So many mornings, he would swing by my house and drive me to school. Once (or maybe a few more times than that… but who’s counting) we would play hooky. We drove all the way to NYC just to eat McDonald’s at Times Square! We were in English, Art and French class together, among others. I remember accidentally stabbing Rog in the hand with an exacto knife in French class. We used to sit one behind the other and rub each other’s shoulders in English class and drive Kitty Little, our freaky English teacher, crazy!!
    And some years later, Roger came to visit me in France. We went “cave hopping” and tasted as many Beaujolais wines as we could. Every time I return to Connecticut, I enjoy meeting up with Roger, Hope, Grace and Avery.
    I could go on and on….. Needless to say, I love Roger from the bottom of my heart! I am heartbroken that he will soon be taken away from me, from his wonderful girls, his adorable wife, his family, friends and colleagues.
    Praying for a miracle!!! Sending positive vibes and support to the entire Conway family. Roger, your comforting smile, your formidable wit, your warm heart and your fantastic bear hugs will always be in my heart! I LOVE YOU! JE T’AIME!


      1. Heather ,
        What a beautiful testimony. I grew up with your brother ( and I suppose you although my memory escapes me, blame it on the age) and have known him for the better part of 45 years. I can attest to the fact that there is no finer a human being. I for one find myself blessed to just share the same universe with him and am ever so grateful to have reconnected over the past few years. I send you and the entire family my love, prayers and hope.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Tears down my face at the thought of a world without Rog. We met in High school and though he was a year ahead of me we were in the same circle of asshole buddies. I can’t say we kept in touch much beyond Facebook and a reunion glimpse but I always look forward to “seeing “ him on FB, sharing dialogue laughs memes and music. His heart is even bigger than his giant stature. I pray for his peace and comfort and for the family at this time. I’m so terribly saddened that he’s losing such a hard fought was. Love to you Roger ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh Heather, I am SO sorry to hear the awful news. Roger has such a big positive place in life!!! Enjoy every minute …. life is so fragile. Sending love and hugs ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  5. As I am reading this now, these words have knocked me off my chair. Roger, we went to high school together, and although I’ve not returned to CT in many, many years, have alway enjoyed reconnecting on Facebook – especially most recently supporting each other during the past 3 years of political banter. I don’t think you can leave me by myself on this one…. Although I may come across aloof at times, that is more perception than reality, should you or your family need anything – I am here! In the meantime, you and your family are in my heart, thoughts and prayers… Sending love…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh Heather so so sorry! I will put Roger on my church prayer list! Will be thinking of you and your family. Carol


  7. I have known Roger since 10th grade and we have reconnected via Facebook in the last few years and shared a lot of laughs. It breaks my heart that such a good soul has had to suffer so much. I wish you and your entire family peace and solace.


  8. Heather I have known your family since I was 5 years old on growing up together in the neighborhood. I remember when Roger was a baby .
    My heart is heavy and my prayers are with your Family at this sad time.
    Laurie xo

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thinking of you all! While you all endure such pain, you also exude amazing love and grace. Stay strong and know so many of us are praying for you all and sending love and prayers! God Bless!
    Love and Prayers,
    Laura D-R


  10. This was so beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing with us all. Roger really was a great friend to all, and no doubt that we all hope a pray for some sort of a miracle to the darkest hour. There’s a bit of emptiness welling up inside at the inevitable reality. God bless you for your beautiful memories.

    Liked by 1 person

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