Update on Susan: July 1

07.1.2009 | 8:19 am

For the past two weeks, I’ve been off work. This is made possible by a really wonderful program Jamie Lewis, CEO of where I work — Burton Group — put into place: employees have the ability to donate their vacation days to another employee. When I put out a request for donations to the company, my fellow employees responded with more days off than I could have ever expected.

Knowing that I have several weeks of time at my disposal has removed a huge mental burden.

I tell you what: Susan’s ordeal with cancer has taught me that given the opportunity, people love to do something good for other people.

And hey, if your organization in the market for in-depth, IT research and advisory services to executives and technologists, now you know that in addition to being stuffed to the gills with tech geniuses (me excluded), Burton Group is also a company with its heart in exactly the right spot. And that counts for a lot, I think.

Time Off

Anyway, after Susan’s collarbone broke, I decided I needed to take three weeks off work, just to spend time with Susan. Mostly, this was because I was panicked that this was the start of a cascade of new problems, and that I needed to take care of her and be with her before the inevitable ramping up of pain medications made it hard for her to focus on the present.

It’s been a terrific two weeks. We haven’t done anything major: just hang out, talk, watch MythBusters (our whole family’s favorite show), and take afternoon naps.

Yesterday, though, things go rotten.

Over the past couple weeks I’ve been perfecting a technique of moving Susan into a sitting position without exerting any strain on her arms at all. I do this by putting one hand under her back, another cradled under her knees, and then swiveling and lifting her in one smooth motion. As I did it yesterday, I actually felt a little rush of pride because I had handled it very fluidly; I assumed it would have made the painful transfer as comfortable as possible.

Instead, Susan started gasping and squeezed her eyes shut. She couldn’t breathe and felt like her ribs were being squeezed.

I got her oxygen machine back on and to her to let her recover before I moved her to the wheelchair. But she wasn’t recovering. She still hurt, bad.

We had to decide: was it better to just lay back down in bed, or finish the transfers out to the family room so she could be with the family? We agreed it would be better to go to bed, but that’s not what she wanted to do.

So I moved her, and she tried to act like it wasn’t that bad. But we both knew it was.

All yesterday, then, I loaded Susan up with morphine from an eyedropper. Even at four times the amount I usually give her, it wasn’t making a dent in her pain. It was, however, making her nauseous, probably because she simply could not eat.

So I sat with her and tried to distract her by reading aloud The Graveyard Book, a Neil Gaiman novel we both started a while back as an audio book, but never finished because we got too busy.

It is so frustrating / enraging to watch your wife suffer and be at a loss as to any way to help.

We always knew things would get worse. We thought that the time of relative ease and stability (I sometimes think of what an odd yardstick we’ve developed for “ease” and “stability”) would make us readier for the bad times.

But they don’t. I don’t think anything really gets you ready. I don’t think that if there were something that got you ready for this that I’d want any part of it.

Help Me Fight

People are of course always asking how they can help, and to tell the truth I often have no idea what kind of help I need. But here’s something some of you may be able to do, if you want.

As you know, one of the ways I’m coping with all this is by trying to convert it into something good: raising money to fight cancer. I’ve got ideas and plans for some really great new giveaways, but a lot of them involve travel, and that’s one nut I have not been able to crack.

So. If you have a lot of frequent flier points, or are sitting on a free flight coupon or otherwise have ways of making it possible to give someone else a round trip ticket, and you’re willing to use your power of flight for good, email me.

I’ll have more updates soon. Meanwhile, thanks for your support. I owe all of you a lot.


  1. Comment by NoTrail | 07.1.2009 | 8:26 am

    You are both in my thoughts. Let’s hope tomorrow is a better day.

  2. Comment by chtirch | 07.1.2009 | 8:57 am

    Keep on Keeping on!

  3. Comment by Gillian | 07.1.2009 | 9:04 am

    Win Susan. Win Elden.

  4. Comment by buckythedonkey | 07.1.2009 | 9:04 am

    Susan is lucky to have you, mate. It sounds like you work for a great company. Can’t help with the travel, I’m afraid.


  5. Comment by bikemike | 07.1.2009 | 9:13 am

    I ask not for a lighter burden, but for broader shoulders–jewish proverb

    always in my prayers.

    Win Susan and family.

  6. Comment by GenghisKhan | 07.1.2009 | 9:25 am

    Sorry to hear about the setback. I can only imagine, ‘cept I know I can’t really imagine.

    I’ve got no known connections in the travel industry, but maybe a smaller/friendlier airline like Southwest/Jetblue etc. would get involved–anyone connected?

  7. Comment by Clydesteve | 07.1.2009 | 9:31 am

    Susan is in my prayers.

  8. Comment by Bobby | 07.1.2009 | 9:35 am

    I’ve been following your blog for a few months now and I am truly amazed at you and Susan’s strength. Just about a year ago I lost my mother to cancer and have gone through many of the things you two are going through now. As you surely know, nothing prepares you for the rough times and tough days, but Love keeps you strong.

    I will continue to keep you guys in my prayers.

    God bless you both.


  9. Comment by Sean | 07.1.2009 | 9:37 am

    It is awesome that your company has the program, and even cooler that the people actually give up their vacation time. Susan is truly blessed by all of your co-workers….as well as you. Keep fighting the good fight Elden. Susan is undoubtedly in my prayers.

  10. Comment by GenghisKhan | 07.1.2009 | 9:42 am

    Weird, just submitted a comment, but it disappeared…

    Anywho, I just emailed Southwest Airlines (www dot southwest dot com) requesting that they contact Fatty with some good-luv travel help. If all FoFs do the same, perhaps they’ll respond–imagine receiving hundreds of emails from us here loyal fans! Do it already–it’s free for heaven’s sake!


  11. Comment by Ka_Jun | 07.1.2009 | 9:48 am

    In my thoughts and prayers.

  12. Comment by Angie G | 07.1.2009 | 10:13 am

    Each new day brings it’s own special blessings. I know sometimes those blessings are hard to find. In every moment there is every possibility. Live those moments with an unassailable sense of enjoyment. They’re yours to live, to experience, to mold, and to elevate. Even moments like yesterday.

    You and Susan have shown us all the strength, character and love that lies within you and with that the potential for us all.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you both!


    Ghengis Khan-Great idea I’ll send one in a second after I reapply my makeup which is mixing in rivers down my cheeks.

  13. Comment by Steve | 07.1.2009 | 10:26 am


    Fatty you must remember that love decides how much distress you feel when your wife is in pain.

    The more you love her, the more pain you feel.

    But also remember that the more you love the stronger you become. That the more you love her the more comfort she feels in your presence.

    It’s hard – but she has you, and you have her.

    You also have the support of friends and family that love you in turn, gain strength from that too.

    Be strong Eldon and love hard and long.

  14. Comment by Chris | 07.1.2009 | 10:26 am

    Darn. I’m sorry to read this. Chris doesn’t travel much, but I’ll make sure he reads this today in case he knows someone who might be able to help. In the meantime, we’ll continue to pray for you, Susan and the kids. Darn.

    With sincerity and hope,
    Chris [for all the Ross']

  15. Comment by Rantwick | 07.1.2009 | 10:28 am

    That sucks. I know what you mean about thinking that the better times might help one prepare for the worse ones. Unfortunately, it’s like sleep… you can’t save it up for a rainy day. Thanks, as always, for letting us into your life in this very personal way. Good vibe generator and transmitter is set to 11 and aimed your way, man.

  16. Comment by Lone Star Lifer | 07.1.2009 | 10:34 am

    Hi Fatty,
    I’ve read you for a long time but not sure I’ve ever commented. I don’t have travel help for you, but I’ve put out the word on my blog. I also pray for you and your family. I am sure your readers will come through with whatever you are needing with your new money-raising ideas. They haven’t let you down yet. Take care and I wish you and your family the best. Paula

  17. Comment by Kyle | 07.1.2009 | 10:42 am

    just a note for you amex users….you can use your membership reward points to buy miles or flight coupons…so you don’t have to fly a lot to get miles to donate.

  18. Comment by akaKathy | 07.1.2009 | 10:45 am

    Elden – All I have to offer is a huge virtual HUG and a ditto on Steve’s words above. This is from something that I sent to a friend yesterday “… you worry when anyone you care about is sick. The more intense/deep/caring the relationship the more it bothers you when they are sick.” I know it’s not much, but it’s all I have to offer.

    Susan is so lucky to have you to love and care for her.


  19. Pingback by Read “Fat Cyclist” – WIN SUSAN! « The Carbon Fibber | 07.1.2009 | 10:46 am

    [...] Fat Cyclist’s wife Susan is fighting cancer.   And the Fat Cyclist’s method of coping is, as he said, “by trying to convert it [...]

  20. Comment by Angie G | 07.1.2009 | 10:51 am

    Southwest has a blog- http://www.blogsouthwest.com/
    If we all add a little blog comment, maybe we can flex our Friends of Fatty power. :-)

  21. Comment by Linda | 07.1.2009 | 10:55 am

    I don’t have any points to donate but I have prayers aplenty for your whole family.


  22. Comment by Di | 07.1.2009 | 10:56 am

    Elden, I am truly amazed at how you meet this situation. You continue to lovingly care for your wife, something that not everyone has been able to do, and you continue to fight cancer in such a dynamic way.

  23. Comment by Rob Jones | 07.1.2009 | 11:05 am

    Dear Susan and Elden,

    You are both in my thoughts as is the rest of your family!


  24. Comment by Jamieson | 07.1.2009 | 11:10 am

    Elden – Keep on being strong for Susan and the family. This is a difficult time for you and Susan, I went through much of the same experience with my father, 7 years ago.

    Your sisters are amazing people – Jodi had a great event in NYC last night, and undeterred from the rain, it was a very nice showing of people.


  25. Comment by Annie | 07.1.2009 | 11:18 am

    We’re praying for you, Susan, and the kids.

  26. Comment by bobbieh | 07.1.2009 | 11:38 am

    Bless your wonderful company, and bless you for taking such good care of Susan. I’m sending her tons of healing thoughts, and gentle tiny hugs ~

  27. Comment by Nancy | 07.1.2009 | 11:46 am

    Nothing does prepare you, but I am so glad you took time off — so many of us are with you, wishing you strength and the courage to keep an open heart.

    . . .

    AngieG left a wonderful comment on the “In True Southwest Fashion” Blog entry over at Southwest — go ahead an add your support!

  28. Comment by Mike Roadie | 07.1.2009 | 11:58 am

    Just emailed you. It’s not much, but maybe I can help.

    Strength and love to you all………..


  29. Comment by fremont mike | 07.1.2009 | 12:03 pm

    I left a comment on their website under Angie’s comment:


    Let’s get together people!!!

    God bless you and you family Eldon!

    Angie- I’m a Fatty LAF SJ rider. I’m excited to participate. Great idea!

    MikeJ in Fremont

  30. Comment by GenghisKhan | 07.1.2009 | 12:14 pm

    I commented on the Soutwest blog, too–c’mon everyone, let’s get on it!

  31. Comment by Jaime O. | 07.1.2009 | 12:57 pm

    Grace to you all – Wish we were closer to do more practical things for you.


  32. Comment by Uphill Battle | 07.1.2009 | 12:57 pm

    Sending prayers your way.

  33. Comment by Janet | 07.1.2009 | 1:30 pm

    Many, many prayers from me… While I’m not sure what the outcome will be with the airlines, I can donate $50 towards the cause. Let me know, please ;-)

  34. Comment by Saso | 07.1.2009 | 1:44 pm

    There is an answer already from Southwest on their blog referring to their sponsorship program. However, reading their guidelines, it is not encouraging for Fatty’s cause as following is excluded: “Individuals independently raising money for the non-profit. This includes racers or bikers needing pledges or money raised for charitable organizations.”

  35. Comment by PennyPue | 07.1.2009 | 1:48 pm

    I fly so infrequently that I never sign up for points….they go unused. I’ll have to change that habit, didn’t realize that I could donate the tiny number that I do get. Cuz lots of tiny bits can really have some big results!

    Emailing and blogging to Southwest. GREAT airline, I hope they have a great response too!

    “It is so frustrating / enraging to watch your wife suffer and be at a loss as to any way to help.
    Your presence and Love is the best medicine possible. Not everyone has that quality of treatment available to them. :)

  36. Comment by rexinsea | 07.1.2009 | 1:57 pm

    Sending warm thoughts your way. Stay strong.

  37. Comment by Asthmagirl | 07.1.2009 | 2:29 pm

    Warm healing thoughts to Susan… and extra strength vibes to you, Eldon.

  38. Comment by Tez | 07.1.2009 | 2:39 pm

    HANG IN THERE YOU TWO! Prayers coming your way!


  39. Comment by Doozyanner | 07.1.2009 | 2:41 pm

    Sending thoughts of healing and peace. Win Susan

  40. Comment by nosferaustin | 07.1.2009 | 2:50 pm

    Sending thoughts your way. WIN SUSAN!

    and in case you haven’t seen it yet, apparently Lance feels the same way…


  41. Comment by tim | 07.1.2009 | 2:51 pm

    Win Susan & Fatty :)

  42. Comment by Bob | 07.1.2009 | 2:52 pm

    Tweet from @LanceArmstrong a few minutes ago:

    lancearmstrong WIN SUSAN!!! @fatcyclist

  43. Comment by Kenneth | 07.1.2009 | 3:08 pm

    I’m praying for you, Susan.

    Win big, and don’t stop trusting in God for your needs.

  44. Comment by m00se | 07.1.2009 | 3:12 pm


  45. Comment by BikecopVT | 07.1.2009 | 3:20 pm

    Win Susan!


  46. Comment by Brian Lusk | 07.1.2009 | 3:28 pm

    Hi Guys,
    I know a lot of you are posting on our blog, and we are glad to have you visit. As I mentioned in our comments, our Employees volunteer for many great causes, and I am sure that Fatty will get volunteers for his efforts. Keep in mind that from a corporate basis, we have a limited budget and are struggling to survive some of the worst financial times in history. Nevertheless, we continue with our charitable giving process, but we have to follow guidelines. As deeply as all of you feel about Fatty and his cause, there are thousands of other “Fattys” around the country with supporters who feel just as deeply about their causes as you do. I hope you can understand why we have to follow the established procedures.

  47. Comment by @PeckishCyclist | 07.1.2009 | 3:29 pm

    The “WIN Susan” love is everywhere! Training for Team Fatty at LiveStrong-SJ, Lance’s tweet… Holding good thoughts.

  48. Comment by GenghisKhan | 07.1.2009 | 3:41 pm

    @Brian–thanks for stopping buy our little community, graciously hosted by the Fat Cyclist! We’ll miss having you participate in our fundraising efforts.

    JetBlue anyone? ;o)

  49. Comment by Juls | 07.1.2009 | 3:45 pm

    Fatty – I don’t even know how to accumulate frequent flyer miles! (Which is a shame, because I fly all the time and could probably rack up a lot).

    But, my Aunt has been a flight attendtand for more than 30 years – with United. I will talk to her and see if United has any kind of program that donates miles or tickets, or anything!

    Continuing to send healing karma your way.

    WIN SUSAN!!!

  50. Comment by Don | 07.1.2009 | 3:54 pm


  51. Comment by Don | 07.1.2009 | 3:55 pm

    WIN SUSAN!!!!
    Sending Love & Prayers to all of you from Cleveland.

  52. Comment by jenjen | 07.1.2009 | 3:55 pm

    Oh Elden – I am so sorry to hear that Susan is in pain! Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help. She seemed like she was doing so well on Saturday. I would be more than happy to come down and stay with the kids or have them come stay with us here anytime.


  53. Comment by bo | 07.1.2009 | 4:41 pm

    I wish I could do something about the airfare. If somebody sets up a donations page to raise money for airfare, I’ll contribute.

    Stay strong, Fatty!
    WIN Susan!

  54. Comment by BamaJim | 07.1.2009 | 5:06 pm

    Continuing to pray for Susan and the family.

    May God bless.

  55. Comment by Jenni Laurita | 07.1.2009 | 5:25 pm

    Please encourage your airline to stand behind their community more than their policy. C’mon, whatsa coupla tickets between friends?

  56. Comment by LuckyLab | 07.1.2009 | 5:27 pm

    There’s got to be a travel agent out there with some connections… That would probably be better than going direct to the airlines, who may have a corporate culture preventing this sort of thing.

    We’re pulling for you guys. WIN SUSAN!

    BTW, the unidirectional mic on the camera in Seattle totally did not capture the volume and passion of the masses on the shout out to Susan. It made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

  57. Comment by kentucky joe | 07.1.2009 | 5:58 pm

    First, WIN Susan and what her struggle has come to represent for the FC community…the fight against cancer period.

    Next, if Lance or someone from LAF, what about Sir Richard Branson donating a flight? He is a prolific philanthropist and if he knew the story and the fundraising prowess already demonstrated here, well who has Sir Richard’s email? Next, maybe we are focused too much on flight….what about trains and automobiles….what about hitting up for a week of car/bike rack rental or train ride to whatever cycling exploit Fatty has in mind to raffle off???

    Does anyone have those type of connections and would that help with what you have in mind, FC?

  58. Comment by T-odd | 07.1.2009 | 6:32 pm

    Sorry to hear about this turn of events. Hang in there. So many people, including myself, are pulling for you and Susan.

  59. Comment by Hamish A | 07.1.2009 | 6:40 pm

    Fatty, I’m really, deeply sorry to hear about Susan and the setback. Positive thoughts and plenty of love coming your way.

    Emails sent to airline & car hire contacts. Will make a few calls tomorrow and get on a few cases. Fatty, I know you’ve got piles to deal with but if you could email me an idea of what you need it’ll give me something to approach my contacts with.

    Stay strong Susan, you’re a true inspiration. WIN!!!

  60. Comment by Claire | 07.1.2009 | 6:44 pm

    Sorry to hear that Susan is in so much pain right now. We are all thinking of her and you. WIN Susan!!

  61. Comment by Jenni Laurita | 07.1.2009 | 7:03 pm

    Heck, I’ll donate some money to buy the tickets. Where do we send a check?

  62. Comment by Anna | 07.1.2009 | 7:33 pm

    Hi Fatty,

    I stumbled across your blog through TwinSix, I loved the idea of a fat cyclist, and while I am probably not one (though there are times when we all feel like elephants up a climb, I am sure), I loved the stuff so I nought some bottles.

    At first I read your blog and found it witty and entertaining, but when I started reading posts about Susan, it changed. While still entertaining, the anguish that this disease causes and the action it is prompting you to take is simultaneously heart wrenching and inspiring.

    If there were more people in the world as pro-active about killing this disease as you are Fatty, the world would be a better place.

    Here, back in Queensland, Australia, my partner was support crew for a 1500km ride for cancer. This year they have raised over $850 000 AUD.

    Reading your struggles brings the fight back home, back to the reality of people living through this and makes me even more determined to do what I can, as a publisher earning peanuts who loves riding bikes, to help find a cure.


    (Hugs and best wishes for Susan)

    Anna B

    PS: the tour Aiden partook in has a website at http://www.tourdecure.com.au
    check it out!

  63. Comment by p.j. | 07.1.2009 | 7:49 pm

    My prayers for strength, healing, peace, and better pain-killers are with you, Elden, Susan, and your beautiful children.

    Take care, p.j.

  64. Comment by WheelDancer | 07.1.2009 | 8:25 pm

    I’m at a loss for words but what a cool company. As for Susan’s situation, I wish I could help but I do hope that you at least get some relief from writing about your journey.


  65. Comment by NooseandGoose | 07.1.2009 | 9:46 pm

    Fighting my own battles, I have nothing to give/donate but the best and that is my prayers. I am sadden for this set back. BUT always remember not winning the battle doesn’t mean you don’t win the war!

  66. Comment by Debbie | 07.1.2009 | 10:03 pm

    When my brother was struggling with liver cancer, morphine was his best friend, but I remember once he said, “I’m really glad you’re here, even if I’m not always able to talk to you.” You’re doing exactly what Susan needs right now; you’re there. Just knowing she’s not alone makes such a difference. So glad you could take the time off. Hang in there.

  67. Comment by Charisa | 07.1.2009 | 10:16 pm

    It always amazes me how sometimes the most awful and adverse situations tend to bring out the very best in people, many times people we have never met. Your courage and tenacity is huge and we are all praying for you.

  68. Comment by NW Bicyclist | 07.1.2009 | 10:31 pm

    Prayers for Susan, and also for you and the rest of the family.

    Unfortunately, I have no connections to the travel industry myself, but I know several extremely well connected people and I will gave them a ring. I can’t promise anything, and it will probably take a week or two work it out, but have faith and maybe we can make something work.

    WIN SUSAN!!!!!

  69. Comment by Garmon | 07.1.2009 | 10:49 pm

    Thanks so much for the update. I’ve been wondering how your family is doing and am humbled by your strength during this time. Hang in there, we’re praying for you. WIN SUSAN!!!

  70. Comment by Kathleen | 07.1.2009 | 11:38 pm

    I am so very very sad that Susan is in pain. Thank goodness for the progressiveness of your company – being together is the best thing. Sending good thoughts your way. WIN SUSAN!

  71. Comment by ann | 07.2.2009 | 12:02 am

    Here you have a bunch of people willing to do whatever, ANYthing to make it better, and all of us offering ultimately most effectively warm thoughts, e-hugs, and prayer. The simplicity and power of a loving community. You talk alot about climbing mountains (OK, maybe hills) – today, you are rallying a bunch of people to MOVE mountains. Humblinb indeed, the power of love.

  72. Comment by Little1 | 07.2.2009 | 12:27 am

    2:01 CAT

  73. Comment by Mark Kynaston | 07.2.2009 | 2:28 am

    Sending all best wishes from me and mine to you and yours.


  74. Comment by Lindsay | 07.2.2009 | 12:54 pm

    You are both in my prayers.

  75. Comment by Chaz | 07.2.2009 | 8:17 pm

    My very best wishes to you and all your family.

  76. Comment by Tim E | 07.2.2009 | 9:02 pm

    “It is so frustrating / enraging to watch your wife suffer and be at a loss as to any way to help.”

    Too true, but just being there can be helping more than you know.

    WIN Susan!

  77. Comment by Jeffy | 07.2.2009 | 9:06 pm

    Anyone know if we can aggregate our miles to get enough for a ticket? Or, does one person have to have a full ticket’s worth? Jeff

  78. Comment by Big Mel | 07.2.2009 | 11:04 pm

    God’s mercy, love, and grace fill your entire family.

  79. Comment by Naveed Gibran Benjamin | 07.3.2009 | 7:56 am

    Elden & Susan,
    I rode with Seattle Livestrong Team Fatty for the Livestrong Challenge. God bless you both with his peace and grace. Your courage in the face of this adversity is truly inspiring. I am saddened to hear of your current status and will keep you in my thoughts and prayers. God’s strength to you and your family.

  80. Comment by Dobovedo | 07.5.2009 | 6:55 am

    FYI: If you do watch a stage as “delayed live”, to skip the commercials, you’ll need more than 40 minutes. There are roughly 40 minutes of Cadillac ads every hour. Exaggerating, but I give a 5 hour stage at least 90 minutes and sometimes I still end up making the live “catch” before the finish.

  81. Comment by Dobovedo | 07.5.2009 | 6:55 am

    oops… somehow the previous comment went to the wrong entry.


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