Goodbye, Walter: The Inspiring Story of a Terminal Cancer Patient

Overview

In February of 1997, RuthAnn Hogue, a new and competitive journalist for the Arizona Daily News-Sun, volunteered for an assignment that no one else wanted — to write an article about hospice care and interview terminal cancer patient Walter Schifter. "The words on the page [of his letter to the Sun] echoed in my heart as I slowly walked back to my desk," she remembers. "My heart beat a bit more quickly as I re-created in the theater of my mind what might have been the events of ...

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Goodbye, Walter: The Inspiring Story of a Terminal Cancer Patient

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Overview

In February of 1997, RuthAnn Hogue, a new and competitive journalist for the Arizona Daily News-Sun, volunteered for an assignment that no one else wanted — to write an article about hospice care and interview terminal cancer patient Walter Schifter. "The words on the page [of his letter to the Sun] echoed in my heart as I slowly walked back to my desk," she remembers. "My heart beat a bit more quickly as I re-created in the theater of my mind what might have been the events of the past few days…."

Hogue's journey with Walter opened her eyes to the life-altering affects of cancer and the spiritually exalting strength of love. "Six months ago I was in such pain that if I had known the exact combination of pills to take to successfully end my life, I would have gladly taken them," Walter had written. "I called [Hospice Family Care] instead … it was time to show my gratitude for how much my life has changed since then."

Written in her own words, Goodbye, Walter: The Inspiring Story of a Terminal Cancer Patient documents Hogue's interviews with Walter and Hospice Family Care, and the changes in her own relationships during that time. She celebrates Walter's zest for life, the love and care he received, and the spiritual awakening she experienced. The memory of Walter's dignity and the strength Hogue earned through her experience with Walter supported her during a time of crisis in her own life — and they can strengthen you, too.

"Death doesn't work on our timetables," Hogue teaches us. "It comes when either God appoints it or when man causes it to happen before its time. Either way, only God holds the keys of life and death and can lock or unlock those doors, and receive His beloved children back into His fatherly arms."

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Goodbye, Walter is a story about living as much as it is a chronicle of one brave man's march toward death. Author RuthAnn Hogue turns journalism into a powerful story of friendship and self-discovery. In taking us along on this intimate and personal journey, she reminds us—and herself—of the great gifts of love and of faith and of how the two are eternally entwined. Somehow, by celebrating life, she makes facing death a little less frightening for us all.

Phil Alvidrez

Former executive news director for KTVK Channel 3 (Phoenix, AZ) and Co-Owner MagicDust Television

Federation of Press Women Communications - Staff Writer
Second Place, 2006 National Federation of Press Women Communications Contest
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780972807128
  • Publisher: WindRiver Publishing
  • Publication date: 9/15/2005
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

RuthAnn Hogue is an associate faculty member of Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Telecommunications and Journalism. She previously taught journalism and writing courses for the University of Arizona and occasionally teaches workshops on time management. She holds a current Arizona teaching certificate and has taught journalism and English at Phoenix-area high schools.

Hogue has captured numerous awards for her work as a journalist, including many first-place prizes. In 1997, the Arizona Newspapers Association honored the Daily News-Sun with a first-place award in its class for Journalistic Achievement for "The Journey Home: Diary of a terminal cancer patient." Hogue was so touched by the experiences she shared with Walter and Lillian Schifter while reporting the series that she felt compelled to convert it into a book.

The result, Good-bye Walter: The Inspiring Story of a Terminal Cancer Patient, was published in September 2005. In November 2005, Barnes & Noble Booksellers recognized the title as Book of the Month for its Phoenix and Tucson-area stores. It went on to earn additional accolades as the first-place recipient for nonfiction books, memoir, in Arizona Press Women's 2006 Communications Contest. Goodbye, Walter advanced to earn second-place in national competition with the National Federation of Press Women. Hogue accepted the award in Denver in September 2006.

Hogue, born in 1962, is the mother of five children. . . She enrolled in college in 1993 and graduated in August 1997 from Arizona State University with a bachelor's degree in Print Journalism and a minor in Political Science. She received several prestigious scholarships while attending ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Telecommunication and Journalism, including two from the William Randolph Hearst Foundation.

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Read an Excerpt

Walter Schifter was a successful entrepreneur who had lived a full life, and had moved from Evansville, Indiana, to Sun City West, Arizona, to enjoy a comfortable retirement.

Then came the bad news: He was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Treatments, however, proved successful and drove the disease into remission. Nevertheless, in 1996, thirteen years after the original diagnosis, the cancer returned. Slowly, it crept through his body. A metastasis lodged in his knee. Treatments to his knee left nearby bones so brittle that they broke, and left the tissue charred.

The disease sapped his strength and drained his appetite. The pain was consuming. Once a proud protector and provider for his family, he now had to rely on a wheelchair powered by his wife for his very mobility. He felt helpless, useless, profoundly depressed. When he asked his physician for a stronger pain medication, the physician refused.

For a time, the solution that seemed to make the most sense for Walter was suicide. There was a loaded handgun in the bedroom cabinet—it would have been so easy. . . .

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Table of Contents

iii Foreword

1 Chapter 1 The Letter

17 Chapter 2 The Meeting

33 Chapter 3 Taking Care of Business

43 Chapter 4 Spirituality Comes to Life

53 Chapter 5 Few Regrets

65 Chapter 6 The Checklist

71 Chapter 7 Frost in the Spring

83 Chapter 8 Borrowed Time

91 Chapter 9 Where You Go "to Die"

103 Chapter 10 Slipping Away

111 Chapter 11 Between Two Worlds

119 Chapter 12 A Second Chance

127 Chapter 13 Clashing Faith

137 Chapter 14 Saying "Goodbye"

145 Chapter 15 Looking Back

155 Epilogue: Part One

169 Epilogue: Part Two

181 Appendix - Where to Turn for Help

185 About the Author

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