Julie Troyer lived outside Milan with her husband and two young children and worked as a school teacher. She was diagnosed with an aggressive glioblastoma in late July 2017 and treated in Italy. She died on July 29th 2018 at the age of 43.
Her parents Ron and Jean, and her older brother John, have written about the things they wish they’d known before Julie died.
1. We wish that the Doctors had given us a more realistic and honest prognosis of Julie's end-of-life trajectory given her specific glioblastoma -- in either Italian or English. They assured us about her condition improving even though we knew it wasn't likely.
2. We wish we knew that dividing up cremated remains into parts would be so complicated under Italian law.
3. We wish that pain control conversations began as soon as Julie was diagnosed so that we could pursue as many options as possible, as opposed to waiting for the Doctors to make decisions.
4. We also wish that maybe things weren't so clear with hindsight. It's easy to see where mistakes were made when looking backwards in time, but in the moment the reality was a lot fuzzier.
5. We 100% wish that we intervened sooner to tell Julie (1) that she was dying and (2) made her Doctors say that they knew she was terminal and dying. We're the Death Family. We can handle the end-of-life truth. This also means that the three of us will aggressively intervene for each other should it become necessary in the future.
Bonus Point: Dying from brain cancer in Italy presented challenges but we also know that if this had happened in America, Julie's treatment would have likely financially drained our entire family. The Italian medical system needed to discuss dying more, but is also paid for everything every step of the way. For that, we are grateful.
About the Troyer family
This Five Things was written by Julie’s parents, Ron & Jean Troyer, and her older brother, John Troyer.
Ron Troyer is a retired American Funeral Director, Mortuary Science Professor, and Grief and Bereavement Counsellor. His wife, Jean Troyer, is a retired Christian Education Director for the United Methodist Church.