As many of you know, Melissa tried a gauntlet of both conventional and alternative approaches, treatments, and methodologies to fight cancer and live well over a half-score and three years past her first diagnosis. There were many approaches she did not try, but she was probably familiar with many of them anyways. She was a research guru and she never hesitated to share with anyone who was seeking information. Not sure if you noticed, but I said information, not answers. Having the “answer” is just way too simplistic to most any situation, least of all trying to survive any stage of cancer, especially Stage IV cancer. There is a lot of comfort that can be provided to one individual’s insanity of fighting cancer by looking at the success of another individual’s given treatment modality. But, Melissa would be the first to tell you, and she mentioned it in her blogs, that there is no such thing as a “magic bullet” (reference “And the beat goes on…” posted 16 Jun 12). What works for one person may not work for another, that’s why individual choice is so important. However, I’m also not saying, never look at the statistics or to testimonials of a given modality, just always try to apply your own individual filter to the specific situation and data.

So, why this theoretical BS from someone who has never walked in Stage IV shoes. What do I really know, just being a passenger on Melissa’s journey? Well, I just have to share our experience with one of the last modalities that Melissa tried. If you are more conventionally minded, then please excuse my rant, but when you don’t have too many choices left and you are growing weaker, often the best treatment choice seems to be one that won’t fill your body with toxic chemicals; one such modality is energy work. Now, if you really contemplate our human existence, aren’t we all, made up of various types of energy? According to Einstein, human beings are made up of multi-dimensional energy fields. And, if you understand science, energy can not be created or destroyed, right, only transformed. If you know Melissa’s story, then you know she used many energy healers since she metastasized in 2007. Various types, and one, Kurt Peterson, may have saved her life many years ago. If you’ve been following Melissa’s blog long, then you also learned that energy healers ARE NOT all created equal. One such bad experience and many dollars spent was with one named Karen Korona (if interested you can read of specifics in a previous blog). But, let’s discuss more recent events. So, Melissa had her third appointment set up with Kris Kraft, but to make a long story short, he did not make it in time. When you are really sick, and there aren’t many options, there is a tendency to put your hopes in treatments which may be your miracle. Looking back now, leading up to this unkept appointment, several stand out moments happened, and I’d like to share them so that all your brains can be exercised. In the months prior to Melissa seeing Kris, there were occasional communications by phone and email. During these correspondences, Kris would consistently reassure Melissa, in essence, that she was doing better. For example, he told her of his dreams: basically Melissa was on a porch in a summer dress, rocking in a chair. Heck, even after Melissa was treated the second time by Kris, he kept reassuring her everything was “on track” and she’d be fine (reference “I’ve been slacking,” posted 19 Jul 12). So, as these conversations proceeded both Melissa and I got a huge deja vu feeling of Karen Korona’s antics. And a very ironic and sad part of the situation, Kris was not a Karen Korona fan and actually insisted that Karen and Melissa part ways before he would even consider treating Melissa the first time around. Even though our feeling of unease persisted and grew greater–remember how patients put their hopes on things sometimes they shouldn’t in wait of a miracle–so the appointment with Kris stayed in our calendar. Also, keep in mind, that alternative treatments typically are fairly expensive, just like conventional ones, but the big difference, if you have insurance, typically conventional treatments are covered and paid for by insurance, whereas, alternative ones are not.

Sorry, my attempts to make this long story short are failing, so I’ll try and wrap up. As, Melissa continued to decline (blind, organ failure, enormous pain, growing brain hematoma and tumor, exploding systemic cancer process throughout her body, and hospice called), I contacted Kris, before he departed the East coast, and told him not to come, basically to save him a trip. At the time, trying to keep Melissa comfortable was my only concern, and repayment of funds to treat Melissa was nowhere in my scope of reason. However, Kris decides to come anyways since he has “non-refundable hotel reservations.” He also says that his guider, “Power,” is telling him to come. Well, needless to say, both Power and Kris had it all wrong and Melissa passed before he and Power arrived. And, to top it off, Kris comes to our house later, after Melissa died, to say hello. I mean, he was hired to treat Melissa, not to come by for an hour and have me tell him stories of Melissa’s death. So, after waiting a week or so after Melissa died, I noticed that Kris had not issued a refund for services to Melissa not rendered. Finally, I asked Kris, and Kris responded that his website clearly states that refunds can only be given if he is contacted within 10 days of the original appointment and that I contacted him only 8 days prior to Melissa’s appointment. So, I tried to reason with Kris, but his perspective is the only one he and Power wants to see. Well, he still has not done the honorable thing and reimbursed what Melissa paid him for. So, I just have to say, from my experience, not all energy healers are the same, so be careful out there. And, don’t get me wrong, I think energy healing can do a lot of good. In fact, I believe, Jesus was the greatest energy healer who ever walked on our planet. And, aren’t we mostly energy anyways? When I was resting, mostly sleeping, right by Melissa’s side in our bed while holding her hand, at about 15 minutes after midnight on February 16, Melissa stopped breathing here on Earth. At that exact moment, I felt a huge surge of energy go through my body which must have been that exact instance when Melissa’s energy, spirit, or whatever you want to call it, left her body and was saying her final goodbye to me on this Earth and transformed to heavenly spaces.

Melissa post on 9 April 12 in “Into the Desert”:
“If His Word is true, and if He doesn’t lie, and if He truly does love me, how the hell did this happen??? And even worse, if the healing promises are a lie, then what else of mine is a lie? I mean, either it is all true, or it ain’t.”

Most of you should know that Melissa struggled with various stages of cancer for a very long time. Back in 1999, when we arrived in Colorado for the first time, we attended a wonderful church, and one of the messages that we learned from the pastor was healing was for everyone. Every word the pastor spoke was backed up by lots of scriptures, so how could this message be wrong? Melissa’s health roller coaster, with the constant up and down struggles, really were difficult for us both. Spiraling close to death a few times, but pulling up just in time; however, she never got back everything she lost in the process each time. All the while, we stood on God’s promises and that Melissa would be made whole again. There really aren’t too many people who not only knew this message better than Melissa, but actually had to walk and live in it every moment of every day. Standing on scripture verses, nailing them on her heart, and trying so hard to be an “instrument rated” Christian, but the weather was awful much of the time and it was hard to stay strong. Heck, one of the last things Melissa had left, since virtually everything else she loved was ripped away piece by piece, was her communication capabilities. And, you know what, in some cosmic form of cruelty, that last thread of humanity she had was taken away bit by bit by the ever growing brain hematoma and blood sucking tumor in her brain until she could no longer speak. Do you have any idea how many people she offered and sent copies of our church’s healing series of sermons to? I’m sure there were hundreds she offered it to and many took her up on it (around the globe). She was so strong, but she grew just so weak, and worst of all, she started to lose her faith since if healing isn’t true, then what else isn’t true in the Bible? Really, rocked her world especially as she knew the ground was coming again and she would not be able to pull up this time. No one really knew how sick she was, except me and her. Melissa wore her game face, pretty much every where she traveled, be it at the oncologist office or online; that’s just what warriors do. Everyone was saying, oh Melissa, it is just one more time, you’ll pull up. Well, there were many dark alone days and she was so afraid of the end. Of her doubt. What was really coming? Heck, the whole progression really rocked both of our belief and faith mechanisms. She would say, God, either “kill me or heal me” because this in between crap and being teased by good health for a minute or two has become unbearable. TIll nearly the end, till nearly her last breath, she held on to that fear. I’m pretty sure it was a few hours before she died when I talked with her brother, Brooks, and through that conversation I had a realization. Something that I knew, hanging just below the surface, but finally it pop its head out of the water. Melissa had her vision of what her miracle should be, and you know Melissa, she knew what she wanted and nothing else would do. She wanted her life back; she wanted everything back that she had lost piece by piece stripped by this fricking monster called cancer. She wanted to be whole again, devoid of cancer fear, and just be able to live–she was only 54-years old. This new realization was something that we both already knew, but it did not fit into our vision of the “miracle” which Melissa should receive. Melissa used to say, I’m a walking miracle. Ding, Ding, Ding. That was the answer, and we both knew it. She was a zero%er and lasted way longer than any doctor or really anyone would think she should have. She had so many people she helped around the globe on various web platforms, and even though I reminded her of that many times, she did not or would not see it. She was an inspiration to so many who are fighting this cancer monster everyday. For example, when we went to the clinics in Georgia, about a year ago, the other patients there would say, you’ve been fighting and dealing with cancer for that long. You are my inspiration to go forward. I could give you more examples of people online and what they thought of Melissa, but you get my point. So, after that breakthrough for me: Melissa did get a miracle, it just was not the specific one she wanted; one day, when my times comes, I’ll get to find out the specifics of why God chose His version of a miracle and not ours. So, a little while later, a few hours before she passed, I told Melissa of my breakthrough. Of course, she could not talk, but her breathing did seem to immediately ease just a little.

Melissa posted in “Into the Desert” on April 9, 2012: “So then, it was only a skip away to wonder if I’m really saved and going to heaven?”
After calling Hospice Sunday morning pretty early in the day to get Melissa admitted, a Hospice nurse finally hooked Melissa up to IV pain medication about 8 p.m. that night. Since Melissa had not slept much in two weeks, due to lots of pain, she fell asleep pretty quickly. The nurse thought the IV dosage rate was fine and she left less than an hour later. As was typical, unusual things tended to happen in the early hours of the day. Early that morning, around, 1 a.m., Melissa awoke and needed to go to the bathroom. Of course, she wanted to go under her own control and at her own pace. But keep in mind, her IV medication was being administered through her port by a mechanical pump. So, thankfully, I had put the pump and the IV med bag into a soft briefcase in anticipation of such an event. Also, keep in mind that our bedroom was pretty dark (I had a light in the hallway on and one in our walk-in closet) since direct light hurt Melissa’s eyes–she was pretty much blind at this point in time. So, as Melissa pulled herself out of bed, I grabbed the soft sided briefcase and tried to make sure Melissa did not fall as she made her way to the bathroom. I could just picture her frail frame tripping and hitting her head. So, as we made our way to the bathroom, Melissa suddenly stopped and wanted to go to the closet. I tried to convince her that the bathroom was in the other direction and tried to guide her correctly and finally did although Melissa wasn’t at all happy. Awhile later, Melissa had to get up and go again, so I quickly played her shadow. This time, as we neared the bathroom, she locked her arms on the doorframe and insisted that we go the other way to the closet. Again, I tried to urge her to the bathroom, but this time she was both physically and vocally insistent. This time I had to pick her up to guide her to the bathroom, but she kicked and physically insisted that I was incorrect. Again, awhile later, Melissa needed to get up, but this time she wanted to go down the hall. Again, I had to guide her in what I thought was the right direction. As we neared the bathroom this time, a light bulb, so to speak, came on for me: Melissa was so upset with me because she was physically trying to go to the light. And she got pretty upset when I prevented her progress.
I soon, turned off the hall light and the light in the closet and left the light on in the bathroom. And, guess what, we never had that problem again. There are quite a few more examples and I’ll try to paint a better picture in the future, but it is amazing to me, how when our Earthly senses start to diminish, heavenly or let’s just say spiritual senses start to increase. So, did Melissa know where she was going at this point? I tend to think that she already had one foot in the door to heavenly spaces.
Heaven light
So, in my last post, I said I was doing o.k. But, I’ll have to admit, that the “snapshot” of reality changes far too frequently to say anything for certain anymore. Melissa used the word “journey” in her writing to describe what she had been through and was going through, as many people do, and it is very appropriate language. For me now, looking back and looking forward, I too, am trying to find my way. At first, I thought writing about these more recent Melissa events would be easy, perhaps even healing, but was I wrong–again what seemed black and white is certainly a greater shade of grey. I thought that things would be more downhill now, but again was I wrong. I’d say my path, so far, has had many dimensions, light and dark spots, and many hills, valleys, even at times, deep crevices to climb out of.
 
I thank you all for your many suggestions concerning what perspective I should write some of these more recent stories from; all very insightful, but may have complicated my decision-making more than I expected. So, I sat spinning my cognitive and emotional wheels for days, digging myself deeper and deeper into a pit trying to decide which path should I take, when it occurred to me: go to the source. So, even though, I was present for all of Melissa’s past stories, I decided to read them all again. Sure, I’d read them all before and maybe provided my 2 cents to some of them along the way, but all the images just came back so strong–it was at times vividly torment-filled and dark, but at the same time refreshing, nourishing and light-filled. So, excuse my psycho babble, but I think that was just the nudge I needed….so with that, please raise the curtain.
Tzu's Journey

This is John, Melissa’s husband, and I apologize to you for not writing sooner. I think, at the moment, I’m o.k., so I’ll start to tell you some more stories of Melissa. Well, my first step should be an obituary, right, since an obituary, as defined by Merriam-Webster as, “a notice of a person’s death usually with a short biographical account.” On this forum, Erika took care of the first part of that definition very soon after Melissa’s passing. However, the second part of the definition put me in a bit of a quagmire for quite a while. If you knew Melissa either in person or online, you know there is nothing “short” about Melissa’s accomplishments or impact on other people’s lives. So, there will be no obituary since her life was a very colorful, long journey and if you really want to try and get to know her, then take the time to read through her stories posted on this website or countless blog entries or replies to blog inquiries. Reading several paragraphs about Melissa’s life is not only inadequate but really an insult to her ever so impactful life. Her brother Lee, wrote a very beautiful story a little while before Melissa passed and I read it to her. We both balled and I had to pause and catch my breath so many times while reading it to her that she started to get frustrated with me. I even read Melissa the majority of the comments to Lee’s post, and one stands out in my head. The comment was such, to Melissa,  that sounded like she had already died. So, Melissa being Melissa, had me post back “I’m not dead yet,” or something close to that. Those were her words and how she lived life. So you can start with Lee’s story and work your way back, if you haven’t already done so. Sorry, I’m not trying to piss anybody off or put obituary writers out of business, it is just the way it has to be. In the near future, I’ll be posting more stories about Melissa, maybe not just her last few weeks, but other memories of her, too.

I do need your feedback though, and although I’m not running a democracy–so majority may not win–but all input will be heart-fully considered. Some of the stories of Melissa’s passing could be somewhat disturbing and graphic, but I am more than willing to put on filters where appropriate or, in other words, turn down the rating. I have two opinions so far and they represent the two extremes, polar opposites. One side is to tell every graphic detail of Melissa’s death and suffering (i.e. like Farrah Fawcett in her final production said to keep filming, don’t stop even while I’m puking, or a fairly recent photo display of a photographer’s Stage IV wife and very candid and graphic pictures were included—so graphic that the photos were taken down). The other extreme represents a more serene approach and it does resonate with me, too. Any cancer patient, especially Stage IV cancer patients, do NOT need to hear these painful details. They are living with their own fears, pain, suffering, doubt, and countless other things a person without such diagnosis cannot fully comprehend and they should only hear and only need to hear hope and inspiration. Melissa knew that, and that’s why she did not write much here during her final few months. In her perspective, there was not much inspirational and hopeful things to write about. And, I want you to know, that she applied that filter to virtually every word she published. So, maybe the answer is somewhere in the middle, but I just want to hear from you if you have an opinion. If you do not, no biggie. Which ever way the pendulum falls, I want these stories to be real for you, but most importantly, be the real Melissa.

As you all know, Melissa courageously battled cancer for 14 years. On this site, she shared her thoughts, hopes and fears through her journey. After being diagnosed with a brain tumor and large brain bleed on Tuesday, January 29th, Melissa began to lose her sight and ability to articulate through speech. On Saturday, the 9th, John put in a request to put her on hospice. The nurses told us she would not live more than 5 days. Never being one to fit into the life expectations of doctors or diagnoses, Melissa proved them wrong by hanging in for 5 days and 15 minutes. Surrounded by friends and family and tended to by her adoring husband, Melissa passed away at 12:15 a.m. on Saturday, February 16th. Though we are all grieving the loss of such a magnificent woman, we are all relieved to know her suffering in this world has ended.

She is survived by her wonderful husband, John, and her daughter, Erika. We’re certain her four papillons (Tazzie, Bubbles, Sprite and Shasta) can still sense her. We’re incredibly grateful for the love and support provided by the family that’s able to be here with John (Melissa’s brother, Brooks, and his wife, Leslie, as well as John’s sister, Kathy), as well as the prayers and thoughts from those who are unable to be physically present. To all of you, thank you so much for your love and encouragement – it means more to us than we can say.

The Pikes Peak Hospice & Palliative Care staff who helped Melissa find her way into her new life was nothing short of amazing. The nurses helped each of us understand what to expect and how we could best help her. Their support and kindness will not be forgotten. They are a non-profit organization who always helps people in need, whether payment can be provided or not. As a result, they are typically at a $100,000 loss per year and rely heavily on the kindness and generosity of others. Per John’s request, in lieu of flowers, if you feel moved to contribute a gift to the family, please make a donation in Melissa’s name to this organization. You can donate under the name Melissa Lee Patton Buhmeyer by clicking here.

Immediate family will have an intimate remembrance dinner in Melissa’s honor on the evening of Monday, February 18th. We would love it if you would each take a moment to share, in the comments section below, your memories of Melissa – how you will remember her, what she may have taught you, or how her stories have impacted you. Because so much of her life was consumed by disease, those of us left behind would love to see her through your eyes, to hear the stories we might not know, and see how she lives on through your memories.

Howdy yall.  My name is Lee Patton.  I am one of the three brothers of Melissa, who is unable to write for herself at the moment.  Yep, three brothers, just one girl in our family, that girl grew up tough and I must confess that I was playfully one of her torments!  She is my little sister, and God I loved her then and I love her now.  For those who have followed her blog I’d like to thank you, a painful read.  I have learned that wearing flannel shirts with a few rolls on the sleeves are good for more than wiping my mouth and nose, they can absorb voluminous amounts of tears. Thank yall for sticking with her.

All of us wind up in a place not so different than her, but inevitably, everybody must make this same passage.  Everyone can learn a lot from what she has learned, what she has endured, what she has tried that worked, what didn’t and more importantly what a spirit is like when it is fighting.  I know this…I have learned a lot.  Painful, but it is learning, and as we all know, the lessons never stop.  Not as long as we are housed in these mammal brains and bodies.  Someone once said (close anyway) that “We must tell our minds and our heart, everyday, that our body and our soul are not connected.”  I believe it.  I practice it.  Just passin through ahorseback.

So yea Melissa grew up in a difficult family, dressed up like a little princess and treated like one by our Mother, disdained at times by her Father and all that girl wanted to do was learn how to be in the woods, catch crawfish in the cricks, climb trees, hunt, fish, fight like her brothers and being born into this odd role of a precious, princess…she found a way out through of all things, horses.  There she found green fields, the honest respect only a strong, living sentient being can give, and freedom.  What she didn’t find in those hills and fields or fresh grass was the fight part of her which her brothers portrayed (I am purty much the black sheep of the family and she was drawn to me, and I to her, we had some Hellraisin good times she aint told yall bout!)  She found her fights just around the next bend in the trail, and right soon.  University trained in the arts…an actor, a singer, a dancer, journalist, and a beautiful girl became…a soldier.  She lived and struggled through a sacred male stronghold, the military, and that before everything was politically correct, and did bootcamp as a marine at Parris Island.  She moved through several branches, mostly as a single Mom, finally winding up with a rank and a duty that is so vital but so unnerving that I am unable to write of those things in a public forum.

She earned her respect from men (and the father that failed to give it to her) and more importantly…she did it fighting.  She not only earned it, she learned it.  And what the Hell, being born a princess, naturally she married a prince.  A prince of a man, her husband John.  Were it not for his steady hand, absolute devotion, love and quiet patience she would not have survived to fight yet again.  Having folks like yall that follow her blog (It’s no happy place most times, who thinks ” Oh think I’ll go read about suffering since I’m in a good mood”)  so yea…like her husband John, yall are all heroes in my heart, be you helpers, readers, friends, newly diagnosed and wondering which path to take in this mindless maze, or contributors.  Likely I will never know any of you, but if I did I’d bear hug the breath out of ya.  A mix of much appreciation and gratitude.

Well that brings me to explain why I am here, explaining her latest fight.  Melissa (I’ve called her Lizzard since she was a kid so I figure I’ll just go on and do it here too) obviously has cancer pretty much everywhere, but after all these years, the numbers and timing seemed right for a shot at chemo again, her oncologist agreed,  She was careful (Having spent 40 years in the medical field I can tell you, she knows more than most oncologists, other types of practitioners,  and the holistic world as well) so she wasn’t sure about chemo (again) but ya know, it was an open window.  She went for it, the idea I mean.  I swear I think she could hear the hoofbeats, smell that fresh grass, feel her horse not moving beneath her, but moving with her.  That’s the way she rides.  But nobody was talking about brain cancer.  Nobody figured on a cancerous lesion on her brain.  One that would start to bleed.  One offering hematomas… and the horrors that walk with them kind of folks.  That is where she is now.  Emergency room admission to a community hospital.  Many options are being considered, and certainly she is on “clot buster” meds and pain relief…but it is a scary place.  Know what she wants to do?  You guessed it.  Fight.

I am going to leave the medical info to her husband John or better yet to Lizzard when she is able.  I want yall to know…there just is no quit in that bitch I swearit, I wish her some peace and acceptance but who would take that bet?  That soul wants to fight.  Not if, but when all of us face down passing when it is coming, it will be useful to know all of what she has taught us.  Especially if you want to survive for awhile longer.

I thought that you should get the “fight” nature of Lizzard, but I hope that you get it for yourselves.  It will serve you well, later on.  I wish yall well.