Thursday, December 17, 2009

December 18, 1999

It's hard to believe it would have been ten years since that wonderful day. I miss Nate more and more with each passing hour.

Morgan and Landon are doing so great. They are what keeps me going.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas. Don't take for granted those closest to you.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Nate's Obituary

Nathaniel R. “NateTrask, 33 of Dearborn, died at home Sunday, August 30, 2009 after a courageous fight with melanoma cancer. He was born to Robert and Margaret Trask on February 22, 1976 in Newburyport, MA. On Dec. 18, 1999, Nate married Deborah R. Cremer in Willow Creek Church, Barrington, IL.

Nate attended the McCook, Nebraska schools, and graduated from McCook High School in 1994 where he lettered in basketball and helped lead his team to the Nebraska State Basketball Tournament two consecutive years. Nate received his BS degree from Wheaton College, a degree in mechanical engineering from Illinois Instutute of Technology, and a Master's from University of Michigan. He worked as a research engineer for Ford Motor Co. for nearly 10 years. While there, Nate and his fellow engineers were recognized for receiving several patents in advanced engine technologies.

Nate was a passionate member of the Genesis Church in Royal Oak. He was a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity. As a member of the DCSCC and AROC car clubs, he enjoyed racing his 1994 Mazda Miata in autocross races and was a top performer in his class. Along with some of his fellow engineers, Nate was the drummer in the “Inline5” band. He played recreational softball and participated in several area triathlons and road races.

Most of all, he loved being with his wife, Deb, and their two children, Morgan and Landon. As a family, they enjoyed playing video games, reading stories, singing songs, and drawing pictures. He was a generous, kind, and caring person. In the midst of his illness, Nate shared his faith through his blog, “Nate’s Road to Recovery.”

Nate is survived by his wife, Deborah Trask; his two children, Morgan and Landon Trask; his parents, The Rev. Robert and Margaret Trask of Fort Gratiot, MI; his grandmother, Hazel Trask of Annapolis, MD; his grandparents, Charles and Margaret Schoenherr of Wheaton, IL; his siblings, Margaret “Meg” Trask of Chicago, IL, Charles (Melissa) Trask of Charlotte, NC, Emily Trask of Fort Gratiot, and Stephen Trask of Wheaton, IL; his father-in-law, Cal Cremer of Muskegon, MI; his mother-in-law, Marge (Jim) Bogdalek of Naperville, IL; and two brothers-in-law, John (Sally) and Ben (Nancy) Cremer. He was preceded in death by his grandfather, Robert P. Trask Jr. of

Visitation will be on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2009 from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and on Friday from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. in L.J. Griffin Funeral Home, 7707 Middlebelt Rd., Westland, MI. The funeral service will be at 11:00 a.m. Saturday in Christ Episcopal Church, 120 N. Military, Dearborn preceded by one hour of visitation. Burial will follow in Parkview Cemetery in Livonia.

Contributions may be made in Nate’s memory to Genesis Church or Melanoma Research Foundation. To send condolences, please visit

Monday, August 31, 2009


This afternoon arrangements were made for Nate's visitation and funeral service. The visitation will take place at L.J Griffin Funeral Home in Westland, 7707 Middlebelt Rd. (at Ann Arbor Trail)
Thursday 6-9 p.m.
Friday 2-5 p.m. and 7-9 p.m.
Saturday 11 a.m.
The funeral service will be at Christ Episcopal Church in Dearborn, 120 N. Military (at Cherry Hill). There will be one hour of visitation from 10-11 a.m. with the service starting at 11 a.m.

Flowers may be sent to the funeral home. Memorial gifts can be made to Genesis Church, 309 N. Main St., Royal Oak, MI 48067 or Melanoma Research Foundation.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Nate is at Peace

Sunday evening at 9:45, God called one of his precious children Nathaniel Robert Trask.

By God's grace Nate did not feel any pain the last few days and peacefully returned to his Creator.

Nate was, and will continue to be, an inspiration to more people than he ever knew on earth. Touching the lives of family, friends, communities, children, and strangers, he showed us what true faith looks like. No matter the circumstance God is with us and loves us.

Nate will be greatly missed, but his spirit, courage, faith, laughter, joy, wisdom, and love will remain with us forever.

Thank you to all who have lifted Nate and this family in prayer.

Charley and Bob Trask

Monday, August 24, 2009

August Update

In the past few weeks Nate's physical condition has degenerated since the last blog. Due to tumor growth in his abdomen area, an activity like sitting is very difficult. While standing and walking are no longer possible. It is most comfortable now to lay on his back. At this point all focus is on comfort.

Hospice has become more involved in the process to provide medication before the symptoms develop. All nurses continue to work together and demonstrate great compassion by ensuring Nate there is a comfort for any discomfort. Nate has surely won the hearts of his nurses by his good spirits and sense of humor regardless of his circumstance.

Nate's doctors have also been very proactive with medication, giving Nate a variety of options. Today the nurses started a IV line in Nate's arm so Deb can push two different types of pain medication to provide additional pain relief and help with sleeping.

Nate and Deb have had a real sense of peace in this stage of their journey, and are totally relying on the grace of God to get them through each day.

Charley Trask

Monday, July 27, 2009


It has been quite some time since I last updated my blog. Time seems to move quickly even when you are restricted by a terminal illness in what you can do and where you can go.

Shortly after Father's day, I was admitted back to Karmanos with severe abdominal pain and nausea which mysteriously resolved itself after a couple days in the hospital. After I returned home, my pain control doctor finally found the right combination of pain medication for handling my abdomen pain, which was a great relief. Although my level of pain had decreased, I was having a more difficult time with mobility and sitting/standing. Trips to the clinic were becoming more difficult each time, draining my energy for up to 24 hours afterward.

I met with my clinical trial oncologist to discuss options for future treatment and we were informed that, due to my reduced physical capabilities, I would not be eligible for additional phase I treatment at this time. Deb and I had anticipated this beforehand and had agreed that it was time for me think more about handling the side effects of my cancer rather than treating it systemically. As you can imagine, this was not a decision that we took lightly, but we came to the conclusion that hospice care made the most sense for me.

I didn't know much about hospice before a representative from a local provider met with Deb and me in my home. Hospice essentially takes over my medical care (with a few rare exceptions). I have a doctor, physicians assistant, nurse, and social worker assigned to me. Thus far they have been very responsive to my medical and other needs. Fortunately I was able to keep my wonderful pain team from Karmanos who has been so proactive in addressing my pain. Hospice has provided me medical equipment such as an adjustable hospital bed and wheelchair that make life more comfortable for me.

I haven't had a re-occurrence of the headaches that led to my brain surgery a couple months ago. Hospice has proactively put me back on steroids (which I was on during my stay in Karmanos before and after surgery) to reduce the chance that the headaches will return. I haven't had a MRI since my surgery, so we don't know if the tumor above my left eye has increased in size. We had originally planned to do radiation on this site, but since I have gone on hospice this is no longer in the plan. In doesn't really matter since radiation will not treat my disease systemically. One of the positive effects of the steroids has been an increase in my appetite. This has been nice, especially after dealing with the recent bouts of nausea.

Deb and the kids are handling this whole situation so well; they amaze me every day. Morgan and Landon obviously don't understand my illness but, like so many of you out there, they pray for "daddy to get better." Deb and I are so thankful for all of the cards, letters, emails, etc. that have been such an encouragement to both of us. We are thankful for each and every day we have together.

God Bless,

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day

It has been a few weeks since I returned home from the hospital and it feels like I may be slowly improving. Unfortunately I had caught another viral infection (most likely in the hospital) that caused fevers and resulted in liver and chest pain for about a 8 day period. Once the fever subsided the pain became more manageable. The epidural isn't providing the relief that I had hoped for. Although the pain near my sternum is now controlled, I have pain along my spine that makes walking more than a few minutes incredible hard. My doctors are adjusting my epidural medication and dosage to give me more relief. Please pray that they will find a combination for me that is effective. Thankfully my headaches have subsided and I haven't noticed any pressure above my left eye (where my other brain tumor is located). The next MRI is scheduled after the July 4th holiday.

I've had a great Father's Day and hope all the other dads out there had the same. Deb and the kids surprised me with a 14 week old kitten who spent most of the day cuddling with me on the couch.

My mom gave me the same cane that Dr. House uses on the popular Fox show, to make walking (in style!) a bit easier.

It was also great to have my brothers here on Father's Day. Deb and I had a number of house projects that needed to be done and they graciously offered to do them for us.

Thankful for every day,

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Up and Down Week

After returning home on Saturday I felt comfortable until the early morning on Monday. I then experienced a multiple day fever (with flu like symptoms) that was eerily similar to one I had after my first pain blocker surgery a few months previous. Fortunately most of the swelling from my brain surgery had subsided by Tuesday night so my headaches where mostly gone. The fever broke by Wednesday, but by late evening I started getting a sharp pain in my abdomen, just to left of the sternum. By Thursday noontime I could no longer control this pain with my medication so I had to be re-admitted to Karmanos for another pain block procedure called a tunnel epidural.

Aside from the nerve block surgeries I've had up to now, most of my home pain control has been through oral medication and pain "patches" that stick to my skin. These are effective for most forms of pain but deliver the medication to my entire body, instead of just the areas where I need it. At the hospital they usually administer my pain medication through an IV, which quickly delivers it through the whole body via my bloodstream. An issue arises when you need a lot of pain relief in one part of your body the oral and IV methods deliver too much pain medication to your brain, which can make you loopy/sleep or even nauseous.

The tunneled epidural procedure places a semi-permanent catheter tube directly in the spinal cord fluid near the center of pain. Pain medication is administered through the catheter and only affects the spinal nerves to about 4 inches from the entry point. The procedure went flawless on Friday morning and had given me immediate relief after waking from surgery. I stayed Friday night at Karmanos just to make sure that things were okay before I returned home. Everything seems to be fine with my abdomen pain control and headaches so it looks like I'll be heading back home as soon as I get my "at-home" epidural pump (connects to the catheter tube to administer the pain medication). I've been told that this should reduce or completely eliminate the oral/patch pain medication I've been taking up to now, which will be great.

I've become cautiously optimistic when returning home from the hospital; you can imagine my disappointment having to return this week after going through the whole neurosurgery experience just days previous. Please pray that the tunneled epidural stays effective as I return home and that there are no complications (i.e. headaches/swelling/tumor regrowth) during the recovery from brain surgery.


Sunday, May 31, 2009

Back at Home

I was discharged from Karmanos yesterday at 2pm and am now resting/recovering in the comfort of our home. Thankfully I was able to get some good sleep last night and I've had a great appetite. Deb, my brothers Chuck and Steve, my sister Meg, and I enjoyed Chinese take-out from a favorite restaurant of mine. I don't think I could have handled any more hospital food trays.

The twins greeted me with hugs and kisses when we pulled into the driveway, which was just amazing. Landon held my hand while walking me up to the front door. They both thought that my head dressing was hilarious (think massive white turban). I showed them the stitches on my head and Landon exclaimed "why does your head look like a baseball?" Funny, but true (I'll put some photos up later). I have swelling around the incision site which should go away within a week. The stitches will come out on June 9th.

The follow up MRI showed the surgery site to been clean of cancer. My surgeon couldn't see any evidence of disease in the scans. There is a small spot above my left eye (<0.5cm) that the radiation team will look at but it will not require a surgical procedure. It would be a few weeks before any radiation treatment occurs (if it is necessary at all).

I feel blessed that the surgery went well and the recovery has been better than I expected. Hopefully this will give me relief over the next weeks/months to enjoy life as full as I can.

Thanks again to everyone for your love and support.


Saturday, May 30, 2009

When you hear of someone having brain surgery you would think because of the seriousness of it, recovery would take a long time, but we are finding that is not the case. Nate was in the ICU for the first night after the surgery and woke up hungry and wanting to watch SportsCenter. By 4 in the afternoon he was transferred back to Karmanos and we were told we would most likely be sent home in the next 24 hours! We were shocked to hear this and excited at the same time. A doctor just came in and took off Nate's head bandage, which revealed a scar starting at the front of his ear, goes up the side of his head, then curves back down forming a question mark shape. Nate is feeling well and hopes to return home today. Thank you for your continued prayers and words of encouragement.