Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Some of the most common questions over the past three months have been:
  • Can we do anything for you?  
  • Can we bring anything?  
  • Billy, is there anything you'd like for us to get for you?
In the face of such aggressive, powerful cancer, I think we feel powerless.  We want to do something!

Billy seldom asks for anything.  He likes to do things for others.  I think he has a hard time asking for himself.  The answers to those most common questions have been:
  • I don't think so.
  • I don't think we need anything.
  • I can't think of anything.
It's hard to hear that there's nothing we can do.

So we've been paying attention, trying to notice the unspoken needs and wants.

The visits from family and friends have been incredible.  I often ask Billy about his high and his low for the day--and most of his highs have been visits from family and friends.

Sometime in October, I asked Billy if there was anyone else he wanted to see.  The answer didn't surprise me at all.  He named three men, three of this best friends.  But getting those friends here has been somewhere near impossible.  Two are currently deployed.  The other (Jason) was stationed in Hawaii; he had just arrived there in September, and couldn't take any leave time.

So we were stuck.

Billy has a group of seven men--I think of them as the Magnificent Seven--who he holds close to his heart.  Four of them have come to visit--from places as far away as Kuwait and Germany.  The last three have have been unable to come.

However, things changed about a week ago.  Jason (stationed in Hawaii) was coming to TX to visit his family for Christmas.  A plane ticket to D.C. to visit Billy seemed impossible, so he was planning to drive--sometime just after Christmas--to see Billy.

I got to work.  I contacted an organization in Indiana.  The connection was somewhat random.  (Billy has an army buddy (Steven) who is dating a woman (Lauren) who has a friend (Billie) who knows the man who works for this organization.)  The organization grants wishes for soldiers.  Until now, when they've asked if there are any wishes they can grant, I haven't had an answer.  But with Jason on leave from the army, maybe we could do something!


So I called the organization, and the woman with whom I spoke was so moved by the story, she personally took on the case.  (From what I understand, wishes are usually assigned to aides, and it can take a while to get everything approved.  However, with the nature of Billy's case, and with Christmas approaching fast, she took it on to make sure the wish would be granted.)  Within 36 hours of my wish submission, the organization (Wish For Our Heroes) had purchased a plane ticket for Jason to come visit Billy.

Once the ticket was booked, I couldn't wait for Jason to arrive!  Once he finally got here, I met him in the lobby of hospital, and we walked up to Billy's room.  I had Jason wait in the hall, and I went to introduce Billy's "Christmas gift."

"Okay, Billy," I said.  "I have your Christmas gift in the hallway.  It's a bit too big to wrap, though.  I hope you don't mind."

"Aright," he said, a bit puzzled.  I could tell by the look on his face that he knew something was up.  I went to get Jason.

He walked into the room, a big grin on his face.  "Hey, Will!" he said.

Billy's face lit up!  "I knew it was someone," he said.

"Did you know it was Jason?"  I wanted to know.

"No," he said.  "I knew it was someone, but I never expected it would be Jason."

Success!  I love surprising Billy!  It's tough to do (though tons of us want to be able to do it, because he's such an amazing brother, son, and friend).

Jason has been here the past few days, and he'll be here a few more, thanks to Wish For Our Heroes.  It was one of the best Christmas gifts we could have given Billy.  It has also been an amazing gift to our family.  Jason has a great sense of humor, and he has brought a lot of laughter and fun to all of us.  We are so glad to have him here!

Working on Adrienne's puzzle...(clockwise, from bottom left)... Jason, Bobby, Danny, Sarah (Jason's girlfriend and a new friend of ours), and Jill (our mom). [Many thanks Adrienne! It's a tough puzzle!]

Family and friends came in over the weekend to be with Billy... Back, from left: Bobby, Jason, Chris, Danny, Dustin. Front, from left:  Blair, Jill (Mom), Sarah, Michelle. Our dad (Ken) arrived late Sunday night and is not in the picture.

So, How is Billy?
There was some urgency to the "wish request" for Jason to visit Billy.  I am sad to say that Billy's condition has worsened significantly, and we're not sure how much longer we'll have him around.  I wanted to Jason to be able to see Billy, and I wasn't sure if after Christmas would be too late.  Jason got to see Billy on Saturday.  There has been a significant decline since then.

Billy's liver is starting to fail as his pain level continues to rise.  His dose of dilaudid keeps increasing.  There's not much else the medical team can do, other than try to make him as comfortable as possible.

We're working on one more wish for Billy.  He never said it out loud, but everyone who has seen Billy and Buddy together know that Buddy is very special to him.

Billy and Buddy

So we're working with Sam (Buddy's current caretaker and a new found friend) and Wish For Our Heroes to get Buddy to D.C. to see Billy.  We've been working on it since last week, and the details are falling into place.  My mom and I shared the plan with Billy this morning, and he grinned.  It would be a very special Christmas present, so lease pray that everything would work out!

We have a few more prayer requests for now:
  • Pain Management.  There's a tricky balance between management of pain and excessive sleepiness.  Billy's pain has jumped up a lot (even in the past few hours), and the doctors are trying to do what is best.
  • Selling Billy's Jeep.  He had planned to sell it while he was in Miami (on leave from the army, between his departure from Ft. Rucker and his arrival in Hawaii).  We've posted the Jeep at cars.com. Please pray that the Jeep would sell (and feel free to spread the word!)
  • Care for Billy.  Please pray that we would know what Billy needs, even when he doesn't or can't tell us what that is.
  • Christmas.  It could be tough.  Pray for grace and peace in our family, and creativity as we try to celebrate this year.  

Thanks so much for everything.  We could not do this without all of you!


  1. My heart aches for you, may you have a peacful and COMFORTABLE Christmas together, and that includes Buddy.

  2. My prayers for Billy and an ease to his pain. I wish I had some better words. I am at a loss. My gratitude to Billy for his service to our country.

  3. I will pray ceaselessly for Buddy to arrive soonest. That is one fantastic photo. They are beautiful together. You can tell that Buddy loves his Billy.

    I am praying for peace for your family. You are a remarkable example to all of us. Thank you.

  4. I am so very sorry Michelle. We are praying for all of you, but especially for Buddy to be able to get there.

  5. I wanted to comment on this but can't see through the tears....but I will ask did you guys get the new picture of my grandson with the new patch on
    My prayers are with you always
    Merry Christmas

  6. Ros...yes, I did see that picture. I'm spending most of my time at the hospital these days, and we can't access facebook on the hospital network, so I hadn't responded. But yes, we did get it. Thanks for posting it!

  7. Will be thinking and praying for you all during the holiday...my internet connection will be sporadic. Will most definitely pray for the dog to visit.

  8. I just got my patch in the mail a few days ago, and I love it!

    I am praying for a Christmas full of family, friends, and serenity.

    May you all be blessed.

  9. I am praying for both comfort and joy for you and your family this Christmas. Comfort for the difficult days and joy in knowing your Savior and that He will bring peace (no matter the outcome). Thank you for your continuous updates Michelle. I truly appreciate your honesty and your willingness to share. I pray you are blessed beyond measure - with a special miracle of Buddy being there!

  10. Sincere and heartfelt prayers for Buddy's quick arrival and a joyful reunion for the two friends.

  11. I am praying for comfort and joy for you and your family this Christmas (and always). Comfort for the difficult moments and joy in knowing your Savior and knowing that He alone brings true Peace. Thank you Michelle for opening yourself up to all of us, for your honesty and willingness to share what has to be one of the most painful things to walk through. I am praying for Buddy's miracle and that it would bring such joy to Will. Merry Christmas to all of you.

  12. McCotter Family, I am proud to say that Jason is my younger brother and I am glad he has been able to bring laughter to all of you during this time. I have been constantly praying and thinking about your family since the first time I heard of Will's diagnoses. I will continue to pray for miracles. Have a Merry Christmas!

  13. Michelle, each night Josiah prays for Billy to have strength and that God would be with him and protect him anywhere he goes.

  14. Michelle
    I am posting Billy's story on The Patriot groups I belong to. Last Friday we went on a Hayride with one of the groups and TJ wore his uniform and several asked what the patch was all about.

  15. I just came across Billy's story because of a friend's post, and wished to say that I am adding my prayers to the many other prayers being offered up.

  16. My heart is just breaking, Michelle. I just lost my father to cancer last week. It was such a painful journey and we had so many of the same questions.

    I wish you strength and peace.


  17. Michelle thank you for all of your posts. Billy - thank you for your service. My heart is breaking for all of you. I am praying for all of you and for the strength to get through the coming weeks. I also wish for you to all enjoy as much family time as possible and success getting Buddy there in time.

  18. (((Billy and family))) I am so sorry things are getting worse for him. Best wishes. Mindy

  19. We are praying for all of you and amazed at the strength and grace you share in the midst of it all - especially Billy.
    Psalm 23:4
    Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

  20. Michelle,

    Glad to see your latest post. I was getting worried about Billy. I stumbled across your blog after researching stomach cancer after my sister was diagnosed in October. From reading your posts it sounds all to familiar.

    After an attempt to be at home the pain became to much to handle so she is back in the hospital trying to get s handle on te pain management.

    While it's very sad ( she is 39 and has 3 kids) we ar amazed at the small miracles we have experienced thru this.

    While we pray for her healing we are thankful for every day we have with her.

    We will also pray for Billy and your family as well. Be encouraged and know you are not alone.

    God bless and Merry Christmas.

  21. Continued prayers for Billy & your family! I hope everything works out for Buddy to come and visit Billy!! What a special bond there is between a dog and owner. I know this will boost his spirits for sure! God has a special plan and he never stops working! Keep trusting him even through the storms!

  22. Praying for Buddy to reach his own favorite hero, and for the joy and Peace that is Christmas to be among you with overwhelming Presence at this time--Janey+ (Case's mom.)

  23. Praying for you guys! Let us know if there is anything we can do for you from Colorado.

  24. We are praying for all of you that you may enjoy Christmas together, and for one of God's miracles. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart...."

  25. I honestly don't remember how I found my way to this blog in September, but possibly through a prayer request on another blog. I check frequently and was so saddened to read the Billy's not doing well. Your family is amazing and Billy has people across the globe praying for him. I pray that the love your family has for each other and the love your family has experienced these past few months will carry you through this difficult time and this holiday season. Sending big hugs to you all - especially Billy - and lots of prayers.

  26. I love all of you so much that there are no words. Even while I'm here with my own family and so thankful for that, I'm missing you guys so incredibly much and wishing that I could be there with all of you too. Billy has always been one of my best friends and has always meant so much to me, and you guys have all become a second family - all the brothers and sisters I never had! Please know that my heart is with all of you all the time and I'm there in spirit. Love you guys so much and thinking of you constantly. -Kels

  27. Michelle,
    Thank you, for having the strength to keep us all posted throughout this tough time. Strength is an apparent characteristic of your family. One of my favorite verses from one of my favorite worship songs is:

    "Lover of My Soul, This is what I've learned:
    To try is to fail, To trust is to heal,
    and in YOU I have overcome these fears,
    these trials, these dark long miles!
    Your strength is made perfect in my weakness."

    This song helped me through a really hard couple of months. My prayer for you, Billy, Daniel (I'm a friend from LIFE), and the rest of your family is that in this season you allow Him to be made strong in and through you.

    BTW Buddy is BEAUTIFUL!!!


  28. Continued prayers for Billy. Thought about all of you on Christmas. Glad his friend was able to visit. What a great gift and what an amazing sister and family he has. Blessings to all of you.

  29. Blessings Michelle and thank you for sharing this and Billy! I hope that Buddy was able to get there. Sounds like Billy was waiting for Jason and delighted in the thought of being able to see Buddy. I pray that the Holy Spirit comforts and embraces you and gives you the peace and grace you asked for... and Billy, thank you for your service and example! You're "Flying High..." now and no longer need to fight. May God embrace you all and give you His rest and strength for the days ahead. May you be lifted up and supported by many. Give Buddy a hug...it'll help. My heart aches so I can't even imagine... please take care and know you are in my heart and prayers.


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