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Friday, August 24, 2018

Letter: Thank You to This Fort Thomas Community

By Mary Lou Keller 

I am (in spite of being married to a retired English teacher) not so good with words.

I often feel at a loss as to how to best express my feelings. This was especially true when Chuck was diagnosed with lymphoma this past January. One of the scariest and most hated words in the English language, the one that no one wants to hear, was the dreaded word we heard as explanation for Chuck's worsening symptoms. Cancer.

We were both devastated.

After multiple tests and his diagnosis, Chuck was very forthcoming about the journey he was about to embark upon. I, on the other hand, shut down. I closed myself off. I had no words to express my feelings. My fear. So many people emailed and sent me text messages offering help. They asked if I needed an ear or shoulder to cry on. My response was 'thank you, but really, I am fine'. And the truth is, I was fine. But I was also not fine if that makes sense.

I was paralyzed with fear at times. I did not keep a journal. I was unsure how to write about my feelings, let alone talk about them. I shut down, and shut people out. I just went about life like usual. I coped. I did my best to care for Chuck and myself. I came to work every day, even on his first day of chemo. That day was hard for both of us. Of course, in true Chuck Keller fashion, he came through that first round like a champ.

Each treatment was different, some harder on him than others, and the effects of the drugs injected became more evident as we went along. No matter how he felt, he stayed positive. He felt pretty good. And here’s the point to my writing this: the outpouring of love and support from hundreds of people overwhelmed us.

We are so grateful.

Emails, texts, cards and gifts, they came nearly every day along with meals and offers of food from so many people. It was just overwhelming in the best way possible. It bolstered us on hard days and both of us were overcome with emotion at the enormity of it all. So much love from our community.

Chuck wrote thank you notes to nearly everyone and though I was equally grateful, I remained rather silent. Looking back, I think I must have seemed indifferent or unappreciative, but that could not be farther from the truth. Like Chuck, I was completely overwhelmed by the outpouring of support, but I dealt best with everything by maintaining normalcy and keeping with my routine. Holding on to what was familiar in my daily life, helped keep me stabilized while the love gave us the strength to keep moving forward.

Now that the dust has settled, I wanted to take a moment to say that I am so incredibly grateful for this town, our community and our friends. The generous and kind people who are part of our lives have shown so often what makes this town of Fort Thomas a wonderful place to live.

Chuck and I are no exception to the rule either. When others in our town have endured heartbreak, devastating illnesses or inimaginable tragedies, this community has stepped up to help in whatever way was needed. In a world filled with so much fear and anger, we often feel hopeless, but this community gives us hope in its generosity and love.

This is what makes Fort Thomas such an amazing community. I am eternally grateful for each and every one of you. Chuck and I are so fortunate to live where we live. I truly love and appreciate each of you with all of my heart.

Thank you,

Mary Lou

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