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Bill Thompson

$72,775 of $80,000 goal

Raised by 733 people in 6 months
Created December 24, 2018
Bill Thompson III, Editor/Publisher of Bird Watcher’s Digest, is a beloved figure in the birding world; a devoted father to Phoebe, 22, and Liam, 19; a writer of both words and songs; a gifted musician and endlessly creative thinker.  He lives large and goes hard. After suffering severe stomach pain since mid-October, Bill was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer on December 16, 2018. As of Christmas, he’s not a candidate for surgery; the cancer has spread in his lower abdomen; and he is set to start chemotherapy soon. The life force in this one is strong, and he’s only 56 and otherwise healthy, so now we fight. Of course, we hope for remission; we hope for anything for this man we love so fiercely.

To be honest, entering a diagnosis like this is like being sucked down a terrifying whirlpool. What we don’t know is everything. We do know that it’s going to be expensive. We have insurance, but we don’t know how good it is. We may seek second opinions from specialists elsewhere. So for all the people who’ve written, “If there’s anything I can do to help, just let me know!” we have set up this page.

We appreciate your support more than we can express. To all Bill’s beloved friends and colleagues, thank you from our hearts.
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It's hard to believe it's been a month since we posted an update. The time is so precious now, and it is flying so fast through our fingers. We've had some amazing and precious visits from friends; this whole time is a blur, punctuated with sweet moments. The rolling birthday music party we threw for Bill on the weekend of March 3 will go down in history as "The best musical day of my life!" And it was. Oh, how we love our musician friends, how lucky we are to share that bond. Phoebe arrives home on doctor's orders this week; Liam is already here, on spring break. We thank you for making it possible to get our girl home again so soon after her last visit. She was just here at Christmas, and making the 20-hour journey again takes guts, tremendous strength and fierce love. Those, she has in abundance. We all do.

Besides the freely expressed love of our friends and family, perhaps the brightest spot has been a little Mountain Cur named Curtis Loew, whom Julie adopted at a shelter in Columbus on February 19. He fits into this funny, loving family so beautifully it's as if he's always been ours. He came from a hard life: lame, sick and full of ticks, to the lap of luxury, and boy does he know it. The only complaint about Curtis I've heard is how hard his tail thwacks Bill's side as this sleek brindle bedwarmer expresses his joy at seeing the people he loves. Liam and I agreed today that nothing else could have brought such joy to these difficult days as our Treeing Tennessee Brindle (or Tennessee SackWhacker as Bill calls him).

Bill continues to record podcasts for "This Birding Life" in our basement studio, and he and Julie are at work recording her latest work, "Saving Jemima: Life and Love With a Hard-luck Jay," as an audio book for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. It's a rare privilege to work together.

Bill decided to suspend chemo treatments after four hard-hitting sessions proved only marginally effective. In-home hospice is doing a good job of managing Bill's pain and informing us how things might roll out. Wendy is a lion-hearted rock of knowledge, 24-hour care and love. The rest of us help out where we can. And then there is you, and we are so grateful for your outpouring of love and support. Thank you.
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Bill's just completed his third round of chemotherapy, and we're getting wary of crowds and public places for their high germ potential, especially now, in late winter. He turned to me in the ER observation room on Dec. 17 and said, "Aw rats. I'm missing my Angieplasty." That's what he calls his haircuts from our fabulous stylist, Angie of Bella Via Salon in Marietta. We'll do almost anything to avoid missing an Angieplasty! Needless to say, by now, his hair was getting wild; he looked like a dissolute professor. Angie offered to drive out after work to give him a good cut (we're 18 miles from town). What a ray of sunshine Angie is, and what a good feeling for Bill to get all cleaned up again. It's the little things that end up counting, when your world has shrunk down to just a couple of rooms. It was a beautiful day here today, and for the first time it was warm enough for him to take a chair out into the meadow. He sat for about an hour, watching birds and thinking, staring into a clear blue sky. He also Skyped himself in for a Bird Watcher's Digest staff meeting this morning. Big day! Your help makes good things, little and big, possible. Thank you so much.--JZ
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It's a peaceful day, sitting with Bill at Strecker Cancer Center, watching big snowflakes float down. You have to ramp down, because you're here for at least 7 hours while the drip goes in. This is his second chemotherapy session, and we're hoping that the good results we saw from #1--a reduction of pain and fluid accumulation--will continue. His oncologist, Dr. Siva, told us this morning that after four treatments, they'll do another CT scan, to see what's going on inside. We're braced for the side effects. It should be easier this time, since we've learned to manage them better with experience.

Just another thank you from our hearts for making the financial side of this journey less frightening, in a very real way. Your generosity helps us have a can-do attitude about the myriad obstacles, big and small, that rise up every day. And having that attitude about the monetary costs goes a long way toward having a more hopeful outlook toward the future. So thank you, dear friends. --JZ, for BT3
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Hello everyone! Bill's first round of chemo has had visible and tangible results. He's in much less pain; the abdominal swelling is down, and he's starting to take an interest in lots of things he couldn't do before. We are very thankful for that, and for your swift help. We're overwhelmed by it, in fact. I wanted to share a bit of the good your dollars are doing for Bill.
Every single day is unpredictable. You never know what's going to come up, healthwise, moneywise, logistically or emotionally, so rolling with it is the only way to go. It's going to sound weird, but the very first thing I had to get done was to fix our driveway, which had been neglected for far too long. Months of rain had turned it into a muddy morass of potholes. Which was an annoyance when everyone was fine, and debilitating when Bill suddenly wasn't. Each pothole was a sharp jolt of agony, and that was simply unacceptable.
So our wonderful managing editor, Dawn, and her sweetheart Tim used their pickup to make four round trips from Marietta (36 miles!), hauling large river stone from a pile in the Bird Watcher's Digest parking lot. Dawn, Tim, Liam and his friend Gabe shoveled all day long, filling the potholes with big rock.
Two days later, Matt the Gravel Guy arrived with a pole saw and a huge load of crushed limestone. He literally sawed our Russian prune hedge in half (Good riddance!) and cut a zillion pine limbs that overhung the drive. Then it was up to me, Phoebe and Liam to move all the cut limbs and brush to piles in the woods while Matt fetched a second load of stone. It was an exhausting day, but well worth it. We glide in and out with nary a bump, and it doesn't hurt any more. I've put in a couple photos to show just one of dozens of loads of brush we hauled away, and me with our gargantuan brushpile.
Please know that we couldn't have done this without your help. In this big way, and in so many little ones, the funds you are providing are helping give us some peace of mind in a time when that is in very short supply. So thank you, from our hearts.
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A CaringBridge campaign

$72,775 of $80,000 goal

Raised by 733 people in 6 months
Created December 24, 2018
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