The Last Breath



Last couple of days we've been camped out at my parents' house.  People are sleeping on couches or on the floor wherever they can.  My brother Tim (pictured above) has not left the house since he arrived; he wants to stay close to our mom.  His wife Kelly and two boys are flying out tonight which will be good. 

Yesterday I was pretty discouraged.  I managed to go for a run around 10:00 pm for an hour and when I got back I felt normal for the first time all day.  Unfortunately, everyone was asleep. 

It's hard to be here, but its also hard to be away.  We're all just waiting and there's not much we can do at this stage.  Nurses from the hospice are here around the clock and that's been much appreciated.  They are doing the best they can to keep my mother comfortable.  But she's not responding much anymore.  I think she can still hear us and once in a while she will say something, but mostly she is resting. 

Her breathing has become a noisy death rattle  due to retained secretions in the upper respitory area.  Her breathing is also irregular with deep breaths with long pauses, known as Cheyne-Stokes respiration.  I think she is close to the end.


Pam Doig

Dear Zack

I have contined to check your weblog once or twice each day even though each posting brings tears to my eyes. Your mom is truly unsurpassed in her courage, grace and strength in attitude. There are so many parallels with my own mom in age, appearance, Irish and course of disease/treatment. Your website is a gift to everyone. Thank you so much for providing links to the end of life articles. It is nice to have them all in one place so that I can share them with my dad when my mom reaches the end of her life. I continue to pray for you and your mom and the rest of your family. What a wonderful family you are.

Pam Doig


I wrote to you from Louisiana a few days ago. Your mom and your family are heavy in my heart. Although I do not know you, I find myself praying for you all constantly. My friend's mom, Mrs. Chris, is not doing so well either. They are just trying to keep her comfortable with pain relievers. I just wanted to let you all know that you are all in my thoughts and prayers. Bless you always!

Zack Urlocker

Thanks everyone for the recent comments. I know that there are many folks outside our family and friends who read this blog and I hope that it can be helpful. I wish I'd known earlier all that I now know about Ovarian Cancer, chemotherapy, hospices and palliative care.

Writing the blog is a good outlet for me and I'm happy that others get some benefit from it.


Dear Zack and family -
I'm praying that Mary goes peacefully into the arms of the angels that will soon deliver her to heaven and make her whole again. This website is such a testament of your love and devotion to your Mom. I'm praying for all of you as well during this most difficult time.

Judy Cavanaugh

I wanted to drop a note to tell all of you that I have been thinking of each of you.
My heart goes out to Mary and all of you.
Please give Mary and Bob a hug for me.

Much Love, Judy Cavanaugh, Toronto



We've said our farewells,
made amends, explained old actions.
Rehashed old times -
laughing at glory moments
and lamenting
the wasted opportunities.

We've reaffirmed our love -
soothing feelings
and tucking endearments
into heart pockets -
Wrapping each other
in affirmation and encouragement
for the long journey ahead

on separate paths
we'll no longer travel together.

Oh, that you might carry me
like a little secret
known only by you -
A sterling talisman
against all
who might harm you.

Remember, a part of me
will always
love you.
Unwrap, beloved,
my last soul-gift:
The eternal memory....

Not sure who wrote this,I thought it was poignant and heartfelt.
Waiting,watching,and praying for you and your family.
Be strong...


Taylor Redmond

Dear Aunt Mary,

I'm sitting here with my mom reading the messages on the site as I have done many times before. I wish that there was no such thing as cancer. I hate to see what cancer has done to people that we love. Me, my mom, and all the others are praying for you and thinking of you when we go to church. I pray that you will find peace and that you will soon be with Nanny, and that the pain will finally end and that you will soon be in Gods hands.
I'm thinking of you Uncle Bob and our thoughts and prayers are with you all during this very difficult time.

Angels east,angels west we all pray for you to do your best. Do your duty, do your deeds and help everyone with they're needs.

Especially Aunt Mary and the rest of her family.

Love Taylor XOXO

Mary Jo and Jim

Bob and Family
Jim and I send our sincere sympathy to you and your family. I have so enjoyed the blog that Zack has written everyday to keep us all updated on Mary and just what she and the family went through throughout her bout with this horrible disease. I feel so honored that I knew Mary. I know she is now at peace and with God. She had so many friends and she will be missed by all.
Mary Jo and Jim Carney


All my thoughts goes with you all. Courage to you all.

Laura R.

I was only one of the many people that was blessed enough to have been placed in Marys' path to assist with caring for all of her needs, and I am truly gratefull for her endurance and her glowing light and humor. I learned of her vibrant and energetic ways that she approached her life and death, and was certainly an amazing experience. Thankyou to Mary, her husband Bob, and to her wonderful grown children that all share her light if life and laughter! With Love, A friend and sister in Christ, Laura


I stumbled upon this site tonight, as I sit here next to my dying father. I listen to his gurgled, labored breathing and just wish it would end. He has suffered enough, but doesn't seem to be able to let go. He, sadly yet hopefully, won't make it through tonight. I wanted you to know that reading your story has helped me cope as I keep watch.

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