Tonight we were having dinner and Katie called me a liar. I asked who did I lie to, she said her, Madison and I lied to Gabby and told her she was going to get better. I couldn’t say anything. I got in my car with the dog and drove around crying, trying to make sense of it all.


I started out saying Believe. At first it was to believe she would get better then it took on a new meaning. A meaning of purity, innocence, courage, strength, pure kindness and beauty. The word was what Gabby was… At times my belief would waiver, but I would always wrestle it back. When Gabby showed improvement and started moving more on her own we were all overjoyed, it was working I thought, she’s the one that can beat this. I was telling them all the truth.


The last few weeks of her life as I watched her health spiral down I still had hope, belief it was just an issue with the shunt and it could be fixed. The whole time I kept telling her she was getting better, getting sick was just the yuckies coming out; the hair loss was just the Yuckies losing. I sang to her nightly and would always ask like I ask all my girls: who’s beautiful? Who’s super smart? Who can be anything she wants to be? At the end Gabby couldn’t answer me anymore.


One day as I gave her a glass of milk I watched it pour right back out of her mouth. It was horrible to see, as I look at the pictures of the last few weeks of her life I see a girl in pain, a girl that was hurting so much. But yet I told her: Believe! You’re going to get better.


The last month of Gabby’s life she stopped calling to me, only called her mom, she also would rarely even look at me. As I drove around tonight I realized how smart she was, she had stopped believing what I was saying awhile ago. She knew I wasn’t protecting her, wasn’t fighting the monster under her bed or in her closet. I wasn’t doing what dad’s do. I realize I can’t fight cancer, but a five year old little girl looks to her dad for protection. I couldn’t protect her, I wasn’t protecting her, and she knew it. All I wanted was for her to stop hurting so badly.


Which brings me to the end of this update, during the last few months I have started to wonder was I lying to all of them or was I just lying to myself?


Believe in Gabby


59 thoughts on “Liar

  1. I read your post and my heart aches for you! I ask my cousin ( Lindsay Thomas) all the time how you guys are. I just wanted to let you know, Your a WONDEERFUL Dad! You did everything you could! You gave all you had. Even though you couldnt fight cancer and make it go away, you were the best dad you could be with what was going on. The respect I have for all of you could never be put into words. I won’t tell you I know how it feels or she is in a better place. I do know many people’s thought and prayers are with each and every one of you everyday! Gabby would want you to live your life to the fullest! Live each day likes its your last!

  2. John, you weren’t a liar. You had hope, which is the most beautiful and human thing in the world. Hope in the face of what seems to be a certain losing battle… Well, in retrospect you think, “What was I thinking?” but what else could you have done? You were (and ARE) a great dad.

    I think about your family daily. I’m so sorry for your loss.

    • John, I agree with what Scott says. For us, even when the doctors were telling us there was no hope, I always held on to the hope that there would be a miracle- that’s what we do as parents- if we don’t hold out hoping for that miracle, who will?

      Please stop beating yourself up.

      My wish for you is peace of mind, and I truly hope that with time you will stop blaming yourself for things that were completely beyond your control. The Cancer had it’s own agenda, it was out of your hands. Your continued hope is what sustained you and our family. Without hope, what would you have had?

      Sending gentle hugs to you and your family.

  3. John please believe us all when we say you are NOT a liar, OMG you where going through hell all of you where! Please please believe me when I say you are an AMAZING father!!! No matter how much we hate to admit it, Mothers just have that touch that we all craze when we are sick, it has nothing to do with you and believing….BELIEVE in YOU now John, in Carolynn, in Katie and Madison….BELIEVE!!!!! ♥

  4. Try not to dwell too much on it. Sometimes we do things we can’t understand to cope. You wanted her to get better, so you believed. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Your little ones will understand one day. Hopefully not in the same ways. And while Gabby may have known her forced destiny, I highly doubt she will be blaming you for being unable to protect her. You are a wonderful, loving and human parent. Never forget that.

  5. John,
    Never ever doubt for a second that you didn’t do what a dad should do! You love Gabby, Katie and Madison! You are a Great Father!

  6. I remember you wrote about your fear, your old worries versus your fear. We could read your fear written from your heart. And we could feel the love you gave to your own little Gabby. We saw your love and protecting arms until the last pictures. I truly hope that Gabby can give you a sign that she left you in true love. That is the protection you could give to her. Lying? You also made us believe and hope, which was so important. And you made us believe forever in your pure and innocent girl. And telling the truth? Your girls wouldn’t have believed you! They are so innocent. Dear John, good father, maybe our words don’t help you that much in this most tough time of your life, but your words say so much to us. Thanks for sharing, and stay strong, believe, believe in yourself!
    Viskaal Family (again, sorry for english mistakes….)

  7. Don’t let evil in. Believe in the strength of your family. Remember that love brought you and your wife together. I can’t even begin to imagine what you are battling inside, the struggles of daily life and questioning yourself. You gave your all and still do for your family. You believed Gabby might just be the one to beat this ugly monster and you were there to give her hope and cheer her on, even to the end in the face of evil and desire when all hope was slipping away…you still believed in her! The anger and hurt that you all are feeling is part of the ugliness and the saddness. Try to look for the touches of Gabby in everyday…a smile, a giggle, a memory, a pink sky…Gabby lives in because you taught her to believe in herself. Just like your ore daughters and your wife, believe thatone day you will smile, maybe not the same smile and maybe the tears won’t be so painful. I pray that you always hear the echoes of her laughter and have a warm cozy feeling in your heart whenever you recall all the wonderful time with Gabby. She sounds like an amazing little girl who has touched so many lives in such a short time. 5…Forever 5…forever innocent and pure. I can not even begin to imagine. Just know that you have a whole connection of friend’s who believe in you and want you to know that we would never judge you. You are amazing for writing and sharing some of the most intimate details of Gabby’s journey with all of us. I ask Jesus to watch over all of you and give you peace in your hearts and a love that can not be broken. Hugs from VA.

  8. John,

    Through two different friends we have heard of the struggle you and your wonderful family have gone through. More than likely you met my husband at one of Todd’s poker games. As parents we can’t imagine what you and your family have gone through. However, our lives were touched with brain cancer years ago so we know all to well effects that it has. I come daily to check for updates and will continue to pray for some peace for all of you.

  9. You did what all of us would have done in the same situation….it’s human nature to believe that good will prevail and not believe that anything bad will actually happen. I did it with my mother when she was dying from breast cancer at the age of 46. Afterwards, I questioned myself and wondered if I should have allowed doctors to put her through such torture, if I should have just given her ice cream every night for dinner or kept her away from hospitals or just taken her away to an island and let her die amidst the beauty and not in a hospital bed in our living room. But, the reality is that if we DIDN’T try everything and we had just given up, no one could live with that, wondering WHAT IF….how are we to know if a treatment will work or not work, or if a medicine will heal, or if a miracle will happen?? We can only do our best with what we have at the time. I BELIEVE deep in my heart that Gabby thought you were the BEST FATHER a child could have….and maybe she didn’t want to see your pain that is so hard to hide. Somehow we always cling to our mothers, maybe because we were with them from the VERY beginning (sorry Dads, but Moms have a 9-month head start)…but I know personally that it was MUCH harder to watch my father cry, not because we are mad that they aren’t strong enough, but maybe because we know how deep the hurt must be for them to show it. BELIEVE that Gabby loved you all the way to the end of her earthly life and will love you forever….I am very sorry for your loss and very sorry that you are hurting. There are no words….

  10. I think as parents we do anything and everything to try and make our kids lives as full as they can be. You are not a liar, you were looking on the positive side and trying to keep Gabbys spirit and fight alive,there is no shame in that. Your daughters are hurting right now and although its easier said than done just do not take what they say to heart. I am thankful you have this outlet & FB for your anger & frustration, so you do not take it out at home on your wife and kids. BUT, with that said you need to be there for them and for yourself. Its harder to stay and work it out than it is to take off for a moment of sanity..BUT in the end you dont want to be the dad who leaves when the going gets tough, you wanna be the dad you is there NO MATTER WHAT, just like you were for Gabby during her fight! Keep being the amazing husband and dad you know you can be! I put $1900 in the mail to your family today to get you guys to Disney, good things still happen and please BELIEVE, whatever that may mean to you!

  11. Katie doesn’t understand now. But both she and Maddie will understand someday. They’ll look back on this time and know every single thing you said to them was because you love them. It wasn’t a lie because you believed it to be true. But Katie is young and confused and trying to understand something that she has no business trying to understand at her age.

  12. I agree with what others have said. All children want their mommy to help when times get really rough. I have seen pictures of you & Gabby together and John I can “feel” and see her peacefulness as she lay in your arms.

    There are so many phases of grief and your daughter is going through the anger one right now (so it seems).
    I told my daughter I was bringing her baby brother home from the hospital after the Drs made him all better. (Which is what I truly believed would happen)Instead I had to tell her he had died. She screamed at me “NO, YOU said you would bring him home to me, you LIED”. Of course it about ripped my heart out to hear her say such things to me about me. But she was a child who did not understand and a child who was hurting.

    In time they will understand that you did what all good dads would have done – BELIEVE! I know that does not help you now with how you are feeling.

    You had no choice but to believe and to spread that message to others. It was what your heart was screaming to your mind.

    In time I pray that you will somehow find peace in the word BELIEVE again.

  13. John, seriously, I hear you are hurting. This may hurt to hear, but it needs to be said. Your children are in an agony for which they do not have near the number of words you do. This is the worst thing in your life, but you understand more than any child can that life ends.

    They are hurting and as therapists say, “Hurt people hurt people.”

    You have words. You have a lifetime of experience that gives you very little to cope with this horror. Your children have far less. You were the greatest power in their lives. You were the world. You were God himself.

    What happens to your world when God cannot save?

    I don’t want you to hurt, so please forgive this blunt comment. Be human. Tell her you are sorry you told her something you should not have said. As you hold her, let her know you made a mistake, you told her something because you did not know how to share the truth. Then just let her talk. Ask her questions. Cry with her.

    We have to love kids, John, and we have to remember they are the most self centered little beings in the world. She is not trying to hurt you, she is trying to make sense of what happened. She has lost her sister, but, my dear friend the people who make this world safe for her cannot keep it safe anymore. All of her existence as she knew it just changed and she does not have any way to make sense of it.

    I am no fan of Disney right now. It is time to cry, John. It is time to grieve, it is not time to get busy. Honestly, my dear brother, it is time to collapse into each other. I know that is scary, and I don’t know when it ends. It is just what it is time to do.

    It is what it is time to do.

  14. I had a son who passed away when he was 5.He had Wilms tumor.A cancer of the kidney that after diagnosed and treated w surgery,chemo and radiation spread. When we were told he was terminal and had a few short months to live,I STILL BELIEVED!! When he passed away and I had to make funeral arrangements I actually had “friends” say. ” you haven’t done that yet? I was still believing at the funeral home.Belief is what kept breath in me to get thru each second of every minute of every hour of every day..Your girls are young.In time they will thank you for the loving father that you are.

  15. I am so sorry for your pain. I read your posts and my heart breaks. I wish I could make it all better for you. I pray for peace for your family.

  16. No way am I comparing you to God. But in your girls eyes you may be the closest thing they can talk to. Could Katie be going through the anger stage of grief at this time? Could she be reacting the same way you did towards God? Like father like daughter.
    I am SO sorry for your loss. It is the most unfair thing a human has to live through and for the rest of you life. I can only imagine what you are going through. I don’t think I would even have your strength. thank you for sharing your experience. Much Love and Tears <3

  17. John, You are a great Dad! Katie is letting her hurt and pain out to the people that she feels most comfortable with. She is not really angry with you, but angry with the situation and you are the person that she can take it out on. Remember that she is too young to be thinking of anyone but herself yet, and she may say painful things, but she needs to say these things so that she can start to deal with it. I am not sure what you should tell her other than you love her and you were trying to give Gabby hope. As Parents we all try to protect our kids and to give them hope! That is what we do. What kind of Dad would you be if you had told Gabby that you had lost hope and you no longer believed that she was going to get better, even if in your heart you knew the “truth”. Hang in there! Maybe you can have her write all of her bad feelings on a piece of paper and then throw it away or tear it up.

  18. John I am reading what Gail wrote and she is wrong. Sorry to say it. It is not about your girls being young.

    You struggled with telling the kids the truth and you predicted the anger. You did not tell the kids the truth and what they need now is the truth so they can move ahead with you.

    It’s okay to say you were scared of how they would feel. It’s okay to share the truth that you cold not handle the truth, or whatever you were feeling. TELL THEM. Let them feel your honesty.

    John they are scared beyond belief, and knowing they are sharing the same feelings mom and dad have helps them to know it is okay to be scared. The kids need validation.

    Please, for God’s sake, do not let yourself get separated from them because it hurts to hear what they have to say. John, they have less to handle this hell than you do. Just reach out and hold on to them. Let them feel your heart.

    • I agree. One of the scariest moments is when things like this happen and you realize that your parent was telling you what they wanted to believe, and this blind sides you. You feel like you’re falling, and they can’t catch you because they never prepared you, and they can’t even catch themselves.

      You are not immune to terror and pain and heartache, but neither are they. You tried to protect them the best way you knew how, and I’m not trying to be disrespectful in saying this, but you did not trust them with at least part of the truth. Telling them that Gabby was fighting a very serious illness would not have been too much. Going into extreme detail would have been. There’s a ver fine line, but when emotions run so high, how can one expect to be perfect in all situations? I completely understand your reasoning, and yet I understand how she is feeling now. (Not from experience, from empathy)

      I sincerely hope that you all are able to move past this in the best way possible for your family and that your little ones understand that you DID try to protect them all, and you did the best you could.

      Your family is in my heart and thoughts. <3

  19. John, In reading all of your posts since June, I am truly amazed by your unbelievable strength, through your words. Sharing your sweet Gabby’s story, is something that I am not sure that I could do as a parent of a child with such a horrific illness. I cried so many nights after reading your posts, and I have never even met your beautiful family. I have learned so much about how very precious and delicate life really is, because of your beautiful Gabby. You have been truly one of the strongest have been through hell, and I can only tell you that you are human, and I can’t imagine any other way of handling things with Katie and Madison. You taught us to “Believe” in Gabby. Do not doubt yourself, you gave her so much love and it was so evident in all of the photos and seems as though you have done what any human being in this very sad situation should have done. “Believe” in yourself, John. You are a amazing father. Someday, Katie and Madison will understand. I pray for you all every night..for peace.

  20. John,
    I have to warn you that I am not the most eloquent writer nor do I claim to always have the right words but I did want to give you something to ponder…isn’t it far worse a thought if Gabby never felt that you believed in her ability to fight this demon? How terrible a feeling it would be for her had you not believed and showed her that instead of believing you had given up hope? John, you’re an amazing Dad and I’m sure Gabby is proud to point you out to all her little angel friends as “World’s Greatest Dad”. Thinking of you and you’re family!

  21. You are not a liar, and you know it. Your girls are dealing with the grief any way they can. No one can tell you what to do or what to think to help your situation, but I am praying for you and your family daily.

  22. I am so disheartened by the platitudes here tonight.

    Please go back and read what the man wrote. He was doubting what he was telling them long ago. This is the horrible twist between following your guts and wanting it to be okay.

    Seriously, John, get someone great on your team you can talk to you can help you answer the issues that will come up for yourself.

    You have a lot of people who feel good saying some nice things to you. They mean well, but they do not know your family and there is no solution in stuff like, “Someday, Katie and Madison will understand.”

    You gave voice to that doubt yourself and waiting until they are grown to help them understand this will be far too late for all of you.

    I hate to be harsh, but you sound so alone, I am not sure all the, “It will be better talk” can help you.

    You did lie, you know you lied and you know that was not what you taught your girls, John. You taught them honesty, now you can teach forgiveness and mercy is also part of love. John I had 30 plus foster kids and dealt with death and even murder of an 11 year old brother. Sometimes all you can do is hold on to each other.

    • This is Gabby’s page, and in deference to her, and the wishes of her Dad, I will not give voice to negativity. Suffice to say, John, you did not lie to your children. You clung to hope in the face of the type of adversity I hope no one here ever has to confront and you wanted your girls to have that same hope. That’s not the same thing as a lie.

      The fact is that no one but you and your family, including Rob, know what is right for you and your family. Everyone grieves…and heals in their own way, and in their own time. We are here to offer support…not to tell this family what to do, who to blame, who to turn to, or how, as impossible as it sounds, to move on with their lives. They will figure all of that out as a family.

      • Lisa, I’ve seen this kind of thing and I agree with you. The answer lies in this family NOT the platitudes people are saying. Someone has to say this to John.

        John said he lied to his kids. John worried about this very thing weeks ago.

        This is not blame.

        I am saying, John has a view of what he did that his little girl just gave voice to. She said exactly what he feared she would. The answer is not to say,”She is mad, she will get over it, you are a great father” and all the other stuff people are saying to try and make John feel better.

        I am saying steer into it. It was a lie. Human beings, fathers do this when they are scared and don’t know what to do. The answer is not going to be found in the words, “It will be okay.”

        I agree, get some help from someone who can help the family.

  23. As a pediatric nurse for a long time, I’ve seen alot of kids who, when they feel yucky, just want their mom. It’s still the same with me…i still want MY mom when I don’t feel good, even after all these years. Maybe you’re right and it’s not that simple, but maybe it is.
    I don’t intend to minimize your feelings and I am sure that Gabby knew so much…But I do think she believed in YOU as her daddy as much as you believed in her.

    And I couldn’t say it nearly as well, so I’ll just say a big “ditto” to what Rob said.

  24. Reality time. Get your family professional help. The kids need it to express their feelings and you need it to get over the guilt and anger for your families sake. You, understandably, are a mess and no help to your family. Get strong, be a leader and get this under control, today, not tomorrow, today.

    I’m sure I’ll take many shots for sounding harsh be I’ve lived with it and lost a family. My child was killed. Not only was he taken from us at 6 but so was my family because we didn’t properly deal with the pain. My wife and I bickered, faught then blamed. We forgot about our daughter and how she felt losing a brother.

    My ex and I wish we had handled things differently than we did. We lost more than 1 life 8 years ago, we lost a family.

  25. John, my heart is broken with your family. Please listen to Rob. Tragedy, (Gabby having cancer was a tragedy), will either bring families together or tear them apart. Your family has been through so much already, but you have a long way to go. A dear friend of mine brother died very young, she said to me once while crying, “I know my Dad lost his son, but I am right here, why doesn’t he see me”. You are an awesome husband and father, hold on to each other, tight.

  26. NO!! I am sure your other two daughter’s know in their heart, but as a mom and dad we all try to fix everything for our children, and sadly not everything is in our control. I am sure your other girls know that, but they are just hurting so much, just like the two of you are hurting. We can all just do one day at a time.. My heart breaks for all of you so much. I still continue to pray for all of you and it saddens me that we don’t have a magical pill to make everything all better for all of you. Never stop believing in yourselves.. You have all shown such courage and love through the most difficult of times.

  27. John,
    What horrifying feelings you are going through. I think in some way your ride last night and thinking of all the things you “could have done better” is your way of punishing yourself for not being able to protect and save Gabby. I can see me putting myself through the same torture of regret, frustration, anger and guilt.
    However, I did smile when you wrote that Gabby would only call out for Carolyn toward the end… it has nothing to do with you “lying to her”. My kids only want me when they are sick… that’s ALL it is. There is NOTHING like a mom when you’re down. You are still her hero; her Superdad. I have to think…. what if you told her the “truth”? when her health was fading? You’d NEVER forgive yourself for that either. Your job as her father is to BELIEVE in her. To have HOPE. To LOVE her and have FAITH in her. And that’s EXACTLY what you did. You did everything you could…. Everything. Have FAITH in yourself. You deserve it. Love, Suzi Aselton

  28. John-
    I cant add any more value to the kind wonderful words that have already been said. In one of your anger rants, you lashed out at God. He can take it and will always love you. You said you have since apologized. Your daughter lashed out at you in her anger, I believe, because she knows you can take it and you will always love her.
    You asked for signs that Gabby is somewhere. Look around..she is everywhere..Look at how she brought a community together. Look at how she is continuing to raise awareness for childhood cancer. And you are the driving force behind that. Yes, babies of all ages need their mommies when sick. I’m 41 and I still call my mom when I have the sniffles. She knew you were there..she probably didnt want you to know how much she was hurting because she knew that you would hurt too. You kept the community together and kept everyone praying and believing. And yes, we continue to believe..believe that her horrible death will someday be the saving grace for other children..that those children will know and remember Gabby as their hero..the one that saved them.. You are an amazing man, husband and father and most recently, an amazing advocate. We pray for you and your family daily. A year after my dad died from a quick but deadly bout of yuckies, I was sadly at another funeral and the pastor said “I know that everyone will tell you that time will heal your wounds or that you’ll get over this in time. That is bull. You never ever get over the loss of someone you loved or does that wound totally heal. But, you learn to live life without them in your daily life. Continue to look for signs of them. Remember them smiling and remember how blessed you were to have them in your life.” That phrase helped me quite a bit. Because I wasnt over his death and I am still not. This is nothing that you will ever get over and it will never be right. But, I am so thrilled to hear that you are planning to start a foundation in her name. When you are ready to start your foundation, I know you will have hunderds and hundreds of volunteers to help. Please add my name to the list. We continue to pray for you and your family daily.

  29. I am so stunned parents jump on themselves for their mistakes. It’s okay to make mistakes, it’s perfectly fine to say, “yes, I lied, and I am sorry it hurt you.”

    In truth it is a wonderful lesson for kids to learn forgiveness and mercy.

    The kids are too young to have to learn this, but it is what it is.

    My adopted son, who I adopted as a teen so he was pretty wild, one time caught me in something I didn’t want him to know about and I lied to cover it up. It was not a big deal, but it is one of the moments he remembers in this life. He was a kid in foster care and residential facilities for years and lying to him was just part of the process.

    He just stood in front of me dumbfounded as I said what he now describes as some of the craziest words he’d NEVER heard. “Randy, you are right, I lied to you. I’m sorry.”

    A dear friend lost her husband to a suicide. There had been problems but she loved him and I knew that. About a week after he passed away I said to her, “It just be a relief he is gone on some level.” She burst out, “I cannot believe you said that” in an explosion of emotion I’d never experienced and then told me it was. It had been a tough road up until the point he attempted the suicide and a tougher road being with him the two months in the hospital before he passed away.

    But everyone was saying, “It will be okay”, “You are a good mother”, and “You are a good wife.” Nice thoughts, but let’s be honest it had nothing to do with any of what she had gone through for the past few months. It was lots of people making themselves feel better.

    John, you have your truth. I’ve read it. I am only matching what you have said with what you just said. I don’t judge the decision you made earlier, I really don’t think it is a damning decision. The damning decisions come from what we do after the fact and how we handle it.

    Your humanity is all you have. Share it with your precious children, help them to experience all of what being a human is; and part of it is we sometimes do things when we are hurting or scared that may not have been the best thing at the time.

    And find someone great to talk with. There are some great people out there.

    • Why do you keep saying people say stuff just to “make themselves feel better”? You are blunt and there is truth to what you say.
      Please don’t put everyone else down. That is rude. John may find some comfort in the support he gets from his posts or he wouldnt be sharing his horrific experience.

      • Honestly because this is what too many of you are doing.

        JOHN SAID THIS SOMETIME AGO. He said he feared this very confrontation with his kids.

        Why in God’s Almighty name do people ignore this fact? It is because you are not reading what the man is writing, you are writing platitudes.

        READ WHAT HE WROTE, he knows his kids. He predicted exactly what happened and he needs help dealing with that situation, not some imaginary, “John, you are a wonderful father” nonsense.

        The way through this is the children need comfort. How can they have any comfort if they cannot find trust in their father? She called him a liar.

        His child just found out Daddy is not the strongest thing in the universe. Her world is not the safe place it once was.

        SHE DESERVES ANSWERS and the truth is this was an awful terminal illness, the parents did not know what to do, the whole truth was not told.

        SO WHY ALL THE LINES? Read what the man is saying. Help him with his daughter. Stop saying things just to make him feel good. Do you think he wants to feel good right now? HE WANTS TO COMFORT HIS DAUGHTER AND DOES NOT KNOW WHAT TO DO.

        My God, wake up. Turn your energy away from trying to kiss and make this better. THAT IS NOT REAL FOR ANYONE IN THE VOGEL FAMILY.

        So what is left are people who won’t truly reach out and dig into the child’s feelings. She needs and deserves to voice everything she needs to say. She needs to be validated, AND THAT IS HOW JOHN GETS VALIDATED AND MAYBE GETS TO PEACE SOMEDAY.

        How this gets handled is the first and so far worst thing in these kid’s lives. It is far too important to spout, “John you are a good father.”

        WHAT DOES THAT DO FOR THE MAN? He has a hell of a road in front on him. It is a long road and he needs serious friends.

        • Rob- I may not agree with everything you say or like how you may say some things, but I’m hearing you and I appreciate your helping us understand what John is really saying and wherein lies his anguish.

          • I just started reading this blog a short while ago so I missed the post where John shares his concern about what he feared would happen. His beautiful daughters are coming to terms with the fact that parents and God are not magicians, and unfortunately they are learning this hard lesson way too early in life– And now John has to face that and help his daughters through this. Katie has learned the hard truth that dad can be wrong, and because he was wrong, he lied to her because he said things were going to be different. Talk about the loss of innocence. She maybe feels now she can no longer trust her father who has been her protector-

            Anyways, your re- posting from that blog entry which predicted that things would play out this way definitely helps me understand a lot better what’s going through John’s mind and why he’s going through so much anguish right now on top of the grief he’s dealing with.

            I for one now feel like I can be a better source of support for John knowing this. Thank you.

  30. John,
    You are one of the best DADDY’S EVER!!!!! I still and will ALWAYS BELIEVE…. you and your family has touched me and my family in soooo many ways… Prayers are constantly coming to you and your wonderful family… Much Love, Traci and Family

  31. What were you to do? Give up? You called on all the positivity that could possibly be mustered. From you’r family, yourself and thousands of us that believed. Now there is something else to believ in. Gabby is still among us, I not only believe that but I know it!The little girl I take care of (Chole) and I are making a poster for Gabby and Chole wants to draw a picture of Gabby on it. She also comments how much Gabby will love this poster when it is done. Gabby lives and always will! Our bodies are just the container that holds our soul and our soul NEVER dies. It is tragic that her beautiful little body will be missing in you’r home, but her soul is not missing. BELIEVE!

  32. John,
    You weren’t lying…you were hoping and believing!! The girls will understand one day, you had to keep Hope and Believe to keep everyone going and fighting the good fight. I am sure Gabby understands this now and one day the girls will understand it as well. Don’t let yourself get down on it to much. I keep you and your family in my prayers every day. XOXOXO

  33. I don’t think that you lied to them. I do think, however, that Katie now perceives what you said as a lie. Those are two different things. You were trying to stay positive and protect them, which is what a father is supposed to do. But right now Katie feels that you lied to her. I would suggest sitting down with both of your daughters and explaining that you understand how they could feel that you lied, but that you were trying to stay positive and truly believed that Gabby could win her fight. The cancer was just too strong. Let them ask you questions and answer them honestly. They need you right now and you need them just as much, if not more.

    Lots of prayers and love from Spring City. I’m so sorry that your family is going through this.

  34. My heart aches for you John. Having just found a link to this post, I’m sitting in a coffee shop reading this in tears, wondering what I would have done (or will do) if my son’s battle had or does go Gabby’s way. My son is 3+ years post treatment for medulloblastoma, and cancer free, thank god. But I have the same sort of approach to to his battle- He WILL survive, he WILL recover from the side effects, he WILL NOT develop a secondary cancer (my greatest fear).

    My only advice is to get counseling for yourself, your wife, your surviving child, AND for your marriage. It is an incredibly difficult thing. My marriage is ending, our son’s cancer battle is certainly a major contributing factor, and he’s a survivor. Cancer sucks. It took your precious daughter, and there’s not a damned thing you could do about that. Don’t let it take anything else.

    Your pain tears at my heart. I’m so sorry.

  35. Hi John
    I’m so sorry that on top of the incredible pain you are experiencing from losing your baby that you are experiencing the pain of your other precious little ones. I hope that you can understand that Katie is going through normal stages of grief. In time she too will understand that you were doing the best you could to keep everyone’s spirits up; so that Gabby and all of you lived as hopefully as you could when the going got rough.

    When you are ready, maybe you will find the words to explain to Katie and Madison that you really had hope in your heart that what you were saying was true. Hope is all you had to hold onto….and it kept ALL of you going. You didn’t lie—because the treatment and the things you were doing WERE supposed to make it better. The doctors, nurses and anyone who treated Gabby had that same hope….and worked with her under that same statement.

    I understand in Katie’s world that things are black and white, and unfortunately its through experience we all learn that isnt the case all the time. I wish kids didn’t have to find that out….it hurts when you understand that things aren’t always what they are supposed to be.

    My heart hurts for you….and I know this was a really hard slap in the face. But just know you were doing a parent’s job…..loving, supporting, comforting, and encouraging your kids to live the best way they could. Put your arms around Katie and let her know that you understand her anger….tell her you want to scream because you too were told that what everyone was doing would make it better. Tell her you know how she feels because you feel lied to too….that you are angry and hurting like she is. Sometimes grown-ups have to believe in the way things are SUPPOSED to happen….but it doesn’t always end up that way.

    Sending you love as I sit here with a lump in my throat…..

  36. Not much else I can add John as I read above. You and your wife are amazing people and what you are going thru is hard for me to imagine! You have to be honest with your girls tell them you believed she would get better and talk about it – get therapy and hopefully you can all find peace. I think of all of you everyday. You were loved by Gabby and you are always going to look back and think you could have done something different. But I think you were amazing and strong and you BELIEVED!

  37. John, you are a beautiful person who is going through an unimaginable hell. You were and are a wonderful daddy. Your little Gabby was a very smart little girl and she probably knew more than anyone wanted to believe. She just wanted to be comforted and when we need comfort, we normally seek out our mommies..I am sure that Gabby loved you so much and I know that you loved her without end..I am sure that your little girls will understand that you did the absolute best any daddy could do and you held onto to hope because you did not want to lose little Gabby..we all prayed daily for a miracle for Gabby, we all wanted her to beat this monster and no one wanted to give up the hope….I wish more than anything in the world that Gabby could tell you how much she loves you, that she misses you but that is ok now and don’t worry so much daddy…I truly wish this so that you would be granted some peace.. my heart breaks for you and your family..

  38. They new picture you posted is heartwrenching.
    thinking of you all
    be with your girls
    surround them with love
    you all need each other entirely right now.
    my God be with you
    Believing in Gabby! that sweet sweet girl.

  39. John, you did exactly what I did with my niece/my hero..Kayla, at times I swore I was lying to myself but I truly believed she would get better as you did..Yes fathers ache too but oftentimes we as women believe you should be stronger..everyone thought I was strong but I never admitted to anyone that in the last few months of Kayla’s life I refused to sleep because anytime I closed my eyes I would “see” clearly the gathering, the viewing and the procession that would mean the “end of my angel’s time on this earth”..My heart always grieves afresh daily when I read about another one of our angels leaving us…John hold on to the good and bad times..hold on to the knowledge that you were always there for Gabby, even when your heart is about to burst..we’re all here for each other..God Bless…

  40. Katie says a prayer for Gabby every night I sit there while she does. My fear is what happens if? How will I explain to Katie if something happens to Gabby and she said that prayer every night? How am I going to explain it didn’t work? How will I explain that for the past two months I have said she is going to get better? Everything will get better. Katie will know I lied; she won’t forgive me,Madisonas well. For the rest of their life’s if Gabbys doesn’t win this battle they will know I lied to them the whole time. How can they possibly hear one of those sayings and believe in them?

    What bothers me about so many comments I read, is you are just giving pat answers that ignore exactly what this father has sad. You change the reality of what John said and then type in a pretty word for him.

    You have to trust the man knows his kids. He called it and did not leave one word for doubt, “Katie will know I lied; she won’t forgive me,Madison as well.

    Katie needs to hear some truth. John cannot go to her and say, “Well, Katie I am a good father.” Katie needs real answers.

    John had his doubts and had faith beyond all reason, and God bless him for it; but he had his doubts. Katie called him on it just as he said she would.

    Katie needs to know she was heard and whatever the truth is in John’s heart, that little girl needs to hear it.

    After all the kids I’ve had, some 30, and worked with I’ve yet to see any serious benefit to not telling kids, the best you can, the truth. It causes lots of trouble, and that trouble is usually best fixed by talking about why it happened and looking for a little mercy. Mercy is good for everyone. John could use it from Katie, and Katie will feel better to give it to her dad.

  41. Dear Sir,
    I can’t stop reading about you (family) and Gabby.
    Sending thoughts and love from London, UK.

  42. I remember when my foster son’s 11 year old brother was murdered in Philly. He was 16 at the time, only been with me since March and it was the end of August.

    The kids at Phoenixville High School were amazing. No one sad it would be okay. They just came and surrounded my foster son. What more can anyone REALLY do at a time like this? Those kids were an inspiration and taught me a lot.

    Felix insisted on going to school the next day. His family barely survived and had no money for anything let alone a funeral. The kids and staff, without even being asked or asking Felix, reached into their pockets and raised $600 that one single day for the child’s funeral expenses.

    If we really want to help I wonder if we can’t really hear what John says. None of us has answers and I hope the family has great, smart people around them. The road ahead is going to be so hard. We cannot just say, “It will be okay.” It is not okay, it won’t be okay, it will never be okay. Right now they are blessed with children who need them because it has to be hard to even believe it is worth going on.

    Hear John’s words. Really hear them.

  43. BELIEVE In Gabby!

    Believe – Gabby made the world a better place while she was here and after she left us.

    Believe – That through Gabby’s life and her passing that other lives will be changed for the better.

    Believe – That Gabby will be remembered by many people and in many ways. She will never be forgotten.

    Believe – That the love you all have for Gabby, as well as the love she has for each of you will someday be what gives each of you the strength to go on.

    Always BELIEVE In Gabby !

  44. Amen to Dawn, San P, Suzanne A and Lisa T.
    I to will be forever changed for the better. Sign me up for the foundation in memory of Gabby!

    P.S. I am selling scarves at the Spring City Octoberfest tomorrow Oct 1st. All proceeds will go to the Vogel family

  45. My heart breaks for you and your family. I lost my father to cancer and know the pain of loss, although I can’t imagine the pain you are dealing with, losing one daughter and trying to be strong for your other two while still in the throws of grief. I have no words to make it better, but did want to offer a recommendation. Please look into grief therapy for all of you. There are great family programs that I’m sure CHOP can direct you to that will help Katie and Madison give voice to the pain, grief, and confusion they are experiencing, and introduce them to other children going through the same thing. It is important for them to know they aren’t the only ones in this scary world of grief. And their program should also offer you and your wife parents’ sessions that will help you deal with your own feelings, as well as help your girls. Olivia’s House is the grief and loss center I support, but they are in York, Pa, which is a little too far away for you. But I’m sure they could recommend a good program in your area. Take care of each other, and cry. Let the pain out. Much love to all of you, and prayers for peace.

  46. Happy Birthday Gabby!! You’r celebation of life was truely spectacular!! You’r presence in this world touched so many. I AM sorry that you’r parents and sisters will miss you forever, and yet you will live on in so many.
    Tonight, the moon, the lights, the baloons and the wonderful turnout of people who care for you, you’r sisters and you’r Mom and Dad.
    I think I saw you smiling, BIG!!
    Rock on Gabster!

  47. I don’t think u are a liar@ all. I think u BELIEVED.Gabby would beat this horrible monster called Cancer..I ADMIRE u So much John. I pray.for y’all everyday