Dedication to Nathan

Here is my husband Nathan and our dog Bear.

My husband in my hero! I am blessed to have him in my life! My husband is a survivor and I wanted to make a special dedication page in his honor to share his story with others. Nathan is a very humble person who is more concerned about others and worries that he’s being an inconvenience or burden when he is ill. Nathan has so touched my life and I am going to help him touch yours by sharing his story!

He was experiencing pain in his testical so the Dr. thought he might have an infection and gave him a very strong antibiotic. The pain was still there so they referred him to a urologist. He had an ultrasound and it was determined that his testical needed to be removed. They also gave him a CAT scan. They found testicular cancer in his lymph nodes in his stomach. He was officially diagnosed on October 31st, 2001.

Nathan’s urologist referred him to Cancer Dr, (Dr. Craig Nichols, who is the same Dr. that treated Lance Armstrong). When he recuperated from the testicular surgery he had to start chemo-therapy. He endured three (3 week) course treatments. The first week consisted of chemo for 8 to 12 hours on Monday through Friday. The following Monday he would get a short treatment, and the following Monday another short treatment. The next week after that he would receive his second round of chemo for 8 to 12 hours Monday through Friday. This went on for 9 weeks.

Some of his side effects included loose teeth, hair loss everywhere, lines in his fingernails, loss of appetite.  Nathan’s mom took him to his treatments. He nearly died from his last treatment.  He was off from work for 4 to 5 months.  A co-worker and friend, Sunny showed her love an support by selling LIvestrong bracelets in Nathan’s honor. Another co-worker and friend Clint shaved his head in honor of Nathan, and Greg contributed $700 in the donation pot for Nathan. That’s just to name a few of the caring people who showed Nathan compassion during his time of need.


Nathan joined a gym to get fit and into shape – while doing so he was experiencing numbness in his feet and feeling fatigue when riding the bike.  He went to his cancer Dr. (Dr. Craig Nichols) and was diagnosed with Hairy Cell Leukemia in 2003. Hairy Cell Leukemia is a rare, slow-growing cancer of the blood in which your bone marrow makes too many B cell called (lymphocytes), a type of white blood cell that fights infection. These excess cells are abnormal and look hairy. As the number of leukemia cells increases, fewer healthy white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets are produced.

He went through chemo-therapy for this and he took himself to his treatments. Each time he came back to work he had to rebuild endurance to get back into the swing of things. The chemo eradicates the bone marrow. The bone marrow is what makes the blood. He received one week of treatment at 5 days of 8 hours a day chemo. The effects hit him hard, he had neutropenic fever basically it is a fever of the blood where there is no white cells to fight infection and can be life threatening. He was hospitalized for 3 weeks. He pretty much dealt with things all by himself. His son was so young at the time and too scared to go see his dad at the hospital.

In 2001 Nathan’s uncle was also diagnosed with Hairy Cell Leukemia. The doctors say it isn’t supposed to be inherited or genetic but it is sure interesting that two men in the same family end up with the same disease.


In 2005 Nathan had to have his left him replaced as his bones were destroyed from the chemo treatments. Nathan and I were room mates at the time so I was able to help him through his recovery process. Nathan’s mom, his son and Nathan’s sister and I waited in the waiting room during his surgery.

In 2008 Nathan’s Hairy Cell Leukemia came back out of remission. He saw Dr. Bernstein at Providence Hospital as Dr. Nichols was away at the time. This was my first experience being with someone who has cancer. With the type of treatment he had he ended up having to stay in the hospital for a month. I was working and spending my off time at the hospital and trying to provide some kind of meals for Jeremy (his son) at hom. I was a basket case because I was worried sick about Nathan and didn’t really know what to expect and understand yet how his cancer worked and affected him. I was sitting in his hospital room balling my eyes out when he was sleeping.

When he was in the hospital, he would have grand mal like symptoms as his whole body would shake violently, they would have to give him a drug called deloted ( not sure of spelling) but I was crying because I could do nothing to help him. You feel totally helpless because of your inability to do anything. The nurses were wonderful and supportive and gave Nathan wonderful care and helped me be stronger and explained everything and what to be expecting.


In 2009 Nathan and I got married on July 18th. I married my best friend and the love of my life! He helped me plan the perfect wedding. We got married on the Crystal Dolphin (part of the Spirit of Portland) line and we honeymooned in Seattle and Mt. Ranier.


In early 2010 Nathan’s Leukemia relapsed again. He was referred to a Hairy Cell Leukemia Specialist (Dr. Stacy Lewis) at St. Vincent’s Hospital. He had treatment every 2 weeks for three months. He’d get chemo and then antibodies. He had a bad reaction and ended up staying overnight in the hospital. They started treatment and he was getting another reaction so they stopped treatment and sent him home and continued the next day. They had to go slow so his body would adapt.

I was a much stronger person this time as I am beginning to understand what he is going through and I am willing to step up to the plate and be strong for him and help him in any way I can possibly be there for him! I inwardly cry quietly when I am by myself as I don’t want him to see me sad – I don’t bottle it up inside but I try to shield him from it as he needs my strength!

It is so very amazing to me that when he is ill he is more concerned about me or others around him, he apologizes to nurses or doctors if he thinks he is being a burden! That man has so much courage!

He deserves to be high on a pedistal! He won’t put himself there so I am here to do just that! This story is to honor him!! From watching him I have learned to not be afraid to take charge of what goes on with your health care. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and don’t be afraid to refuse something if you don’t want it or can’t handle it. They wanted to put him in the tube for and MRI and he is extremely claustrophobic and refused it.  Be courageious!

I love Nathan dearly and will continue to fight the cancer right by his side. Unfortunately he will have to endure it the rest of his life as there is no cure.

He has bad days of pain, depression, bad days of wondering why. He keeps doing the very best he can to fight all of that and he will never, ever have to go through it alone!

This is my special dedication to a very special man!

22 Responses to Dedication to Nathan

  1. Doug Tilson says:

    Wow Lisa. That was very touching, and I’m holding back the tears right now. I have prayed for Nathan from time to time, but I did not have a clue what all took place over time. Nathan has always been on the top of my list, as a special guy I would like to get to know better.
    Thanks for sharing this testimony. You both hold a special place in my heart.

    Doug Tilson

  2. terrie thompson says:

    Lisa..that was so beautiful! I am balling my eyes out here as well…I can relate more than you think..I met Nathan about 7 years ago and was so impressed with him and how sweet he was. I began working with Dr.King and Cathi in May 2004, and they immediately made me their family! When I met Nathan Ruff, he made me feel just as important, so I see where you are coming from! He is a very special MAN! I have had some deep emotional struggles as well and healthwise too. I LOVE life, but I also do not always get it..I know that makes no sense to you..but I will GET IT one day i hope and pray..But i did wanna praise you on that awesome tribute to your love of your life! And I am so happy for you two, to have found one another!

  3. EMS says:


    How touching this story about Nathan is. And how tender the love you have for this good man. Thank you for sharing and expressing such a personal story that no doubt will touch and help all who read it, whether they have cancer or not. Like Doug, I did not know the full story of Nathan’s health struggles, and am in awe of the way he is fighting them, now with you by his side.

    You are BOTH amazing people!


  4. pattie says:

    Lisa..the first time I met you, you reminded me of an angel. Your smile and your gentleness really suprised me..especially where we met each other. I was are an angel but not just any are Nathan’s for now and always. The Great Spirit always gives us what we need..and he gave you to Nathan and gave Nathan to you. Amazing isn’t it? You two are in my heart, prayers and thoughts all the time..especially when I see my favorite bear every night. He makes me smile and all the worries just melt two have made my life richer for knowing you and I can never thank you enough. Love you both and Nathan owes you a HUG and KISS from sure your collect will you?? Cya soon my friend 🙂

  5. creative pixie says:

    Hi. I know sort of what you’re going through as my husband was diagnosed with testicular cancer (at the age of 30) in May 2011, after an operation and 3 cycles of chemo he got the all clear in December 2011. It’s hard to see a loved one undergo so much pain and suffering but as the other half you always feel like you must be strong for the husband and that in turn can cause ill health.
    Your crochet blanket is beautiful, I had never thought to make something that has so much meaning to you both. I wish you all the best in the future – whatever it holds.

  6. Not sure how to respond except to say I shall hold you all in my heart.

  7. Shirley Panit says:

    What a touching tribute Lisa – I knew part of his story but you’ve filled in a lot. I’m so very glad to hear that he is “The Love of Your Life” That is something I always wanted for you. Your a beautiful person…I don’t know which birthday you will be celebrating this Friday, but hope it’a a Very Happy One!

  8. What a very inspiring story. I wish you both many healthy, happy years together.

  9. Jennyjo Lipson says:

    Upon reading your dedication to Nathan, I have the deepest respect and admiration for you my dear cousin. it appears you have an amazing relationship with your husband, something so many marriages do not have. “The proof is in the pudding.” Over the years, thru my own catastrophic life changing events I learned that we all adapt to survive, given the “will” is there. Nathan drew strength from the bond you share. I believe that your presence had much to do with the “will” part. Throughout his cancer treatments, you gave of yourself unconditionally to support and comfort and encourage, out of love and concern for his wellness. HOW BRAVE SELFLESS AND DEVOTED IS THAT? I want to credit you and the acts of valor through his illness and recovery into remission ( ? ) I pray. God bless you both, Nathan, you are one hell of a man and a fine example of turning your will over to the care of God! All I can say is…You must have had your eye on the prize ( LISA ) the whole time! WHAT EVER IT TAKES TO GET TO THE OTHER SIDE, RIGHT NATHAN? ;D Lisa, you inspire me with your strength and courage. stand by your man!!

  10. Susan Nallia Barnes says:

    Lisa, what an inspiration you and Nathan both are. What a wonderful and heartfelt dedication. He is so fortunate to have you in his life as well as you are fortunate to have him. I know that Nathan’s story will be an encouragement to so many no matter what their particular challenge may be. It certainly has encouraged me. It helps me to realize that no matter what might be going on in my life there is always someone who is going through something much more challenging than I am and I should be more appreciative of what I have. Thank you so much for sharing. I will keep both of you in my prayers.

    • blondie63 says:

      Thank you so much! After seeing myself what he goes through I also realize my pains are nothing in comparison! I’m so much more appreciative too! God Bless you!

  11. Linda Harrington Mulqueeny says:

    I just saw this and read it and I never realized my Cousin went through so much, He is a Special Man to endure all this, I hope to see him someday again as I haven’t seen him for many years, Love to you all and give my Cousin a Big Hug from me please.

    • blondie63 says:

      Thank you! I told hi. For you!! We shall maybe have to plan a trip to see you, I would love to meet you!! Nathan’s cancer so far is in remission which we are elated about! He has a very good dr. Hugz

  12. John says:

    A very touching story. God bless you both. Stay strong sir!

  13. Janette says:

    This is such a touching tribute Lisa, Nathan is lucky to have you fighting by his side.

    • blondie63 says:

      Thank you sweetie! Sometimes it’s hard to be strong, I will cry when by myself so he doesn’t see that! Then I be strong for him! His Uncle had the same rare Leukemia so we believe it runs in the family.

  14. Mike says:

    Nathan is one tough man and my respect for you both is enormous.

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