Editors Note: The Daily Journal had done this story last week to be used as this weekend's feature and to run in print today. Then we received word Sunday that the subject of this story, Greg Treaster, passed away Saturday at around 10:30 p.m. Although he wasn't able to take the final trip back to Utah and Colorado that he'd hoped, he without a doubt touched the lives of those who knew and loved him. It's because of his lasting impact on those around him that we've chosen to go ahead and share his story.
A Park Hills man with terminal cancer has been granted a wish by the Dream Foundation that will allow him and his wife to make a trip out West, so he can say a final goodbye to family and friends.
Greg Treaster, 38, said he “came down with symptoms” in the middle of 2015, but moved back home because he felt he could get better treatment in Missouri.
“When I got here, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon rectal cancer and it had spread already to my lungs and liver,” he said. "Since then it’s been in my bones and my prostate. I’ve been taking chemo for two-and-a-half years. I’m not taking anymore obviously, I’m on hospice.
“I joined the Kindred Hospice once the doctors basically said there was nothing else they could do. Kindred has been just flawless in everything — the execution of getting all the medication I need, requests, whatever. They’ve been a really big help in just keeping me comfortable — and help out my wife, Alecia, and mom.
"Everybody’s bent over backwards to make sure that my comfort is number one. I don’t feel like a number. You feel like you’re the only person in the organization. Like I told people, I didn’t join hospice to die — I joined hospice to live. That’s kinda where I’m at right now. I’m just going to enjoy every day that I can.”
Treaster had shared his dream of making one last trip to Utah and Colorado but was unaware that his wish had already been granted by the Dream Foundation. The Kindred Hospice team had been contacted by the foundation with the good news earlier in the week and so, they showed up Sept. 7 at the door of the couple’s apartment with helium-filled balloons and other goodies to tell Treaster his dream was going to become a reality.
Although seriously ill, Treaster is a gregarious man with a positive attitude and a great sense of humor. He invited the group to come in and have a seat, at which time he was handed a letter and asked to read it aloud.
“Dear Greg, on behalf of all of us at the Dream Foundation — the only national dream-granting organization for terminally ill adults and their families — want you to know that we are honored to fulfill your dream to visit your loved ones in Utah and Colorado.
“We hope this dream gives you the opportunity to find inspiration, comfort and closure while making special memories with your loved ones, and most of all have fun. Your dream will join more than 30,000 others that we have had the privilege to serve over the past two decades.”
Treaster looked at the people surrounding his living room recliner and said, “Thank you all very much. I appreciate all the hard work you all have done. Wow! This is pretty cool how it all worked out.”
Treaster was handed a Dream Foundation cap, but he quipped that his head was so “huge” it might not fit. He was then handed luggage tags and asked what he and his wife were going to do on the trip.
“We’re going to see family and see the mountains again because when I lived in Colorado and Utah I loved the mountains. We’ll stop by and see some old friends from back in the day and just enjoy, relax a little bit and make the most of the trip.
“We don’t have any hardcore plans. It’s just kinda going to be what happens, happens! I’m glad all this worked out. This is great.”
Senior Hospice Specialist Tricia Curtis said, “This is something we love to do too and a part that nobody sees a lot of.
Treaster replied, “Well, you guys do so much good for us. I mean, just whatever I need, you make it happen. Donna has been exceptional in getting me everything I need.”
Along with the tickets, Treaster received $200 in travel money and was given a card and gift from the Kindred Hospice team.
The card read, “At this very moment we are hoping you can feel the caring that is in so many hearts right now. We’re wishing that you know how special you truly are. Greg, you’ve taught us in such a short time that it’s not all about the years in your life, but how much life is in your years. We’re praying that you have a blessed trip.”
Asked what the news of being granted his dream meant to him, Treaster said, “This is just great! It’s beyond exciting. I get to go out West and see everybody again on [Dream Foundation’s] dime. It will be a time to celebrate and have a little fun. I’m real thankful for everything and feel really blessed by it — very, very blessed for all that these ladies and gentlemen have done. This just reflects the constant care they show.
“It’s a one-time thing per se, but at the same time this shows how focused they are on the client. You know, they don’t just focus on keeping you pain free. They focus on every aspect of your life — not just one aspect, the entire part of it.
“They’ve been real good about keeping us comfortable and keeping us informed too. They’ve been great about letting us know what’s going on with this and that — and if I have any questions about medications, they’ve been great answering them. If I need something, they’ll continue just like that.”
Treaster’s wife, who is originally from Utah, is excited to go back West for a visit too but admits that dealing with her husband’s illness hasn’t been easy.
“I think I’ve been handling it very well,” Alecia said. “I’m very supportive.”
Treaster said, “She is very supportive. Everything that I need, she’s been very supportive in everything we’ve done. She’s been right there with me the whole time. She could have stayed out there. She could have said, ‘You know what? My family’s all out here, my career’s out here — I’ll just stay out here.’ I would have been fine with that, but she dropped everything, gave up everything and she’s gone with me everywhere I’ve needed to go.”
Team member Kelly Farkis said, “I can give an observation. It’s really neat to see the love between the two of them as far as, whatever Greg decides, Alecia is right behind him. It’s just, ‘Whatever you think.’ I’m sure it’s hard supporting a family member coming onto hospice, but she’s right there behind him and rooting him on every step of the way.
"We do this day in and day out and we walk into so many different scenarios and this is one of those ones that you go into it to be a blessing to other people and they end up blessing you more. This is the best part of our job.”