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This handsome devil is Bill Hepper, who worked as Knotty Boy's first Wholesale Manager starting in 2002. He is also Adrianna's dad!
In April 2004, Bill was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma in his jawbone (highly unusual, as it is a form of skin cancer), and battled this very aggressive cancer through surgery, radiation and chemotherapy for two long years.
By Spring 2006, he had received as much conventional treatment as his body could tolerate. Bill was told to put his affairs in order and say goodbye to his family - the cancer was simply too aggressive. There was nothing more that could be done, and he would be gone in six months.
Thankfully, this story has a HAPPY ending! Through a move to India, combined with diet change, more surgery, Ayervedic (Indian traditional) medicine and much prayer, the once-softball-sized tumor in his jaw completely disappeared, and no cancer is found in his body. A true miracle, considering it was the fastest spreading cancer his oncologists had encountered in their careers.
From India Bill moved with his wife Sandra, and his new lease on life, to Turkey, then Malta and now resides in Florida to continue getting that good Vitamin D and staying healthy. We are so happy for his recovery and current health.
Bill Hepper died in 2014, and was followed into the unknown by his wife, Sandi, in 2020.
At a memorial for Bill, we shared our favourite memories of him and I uncharacteristically found myself mute. It was later, in the manner of such things, that I realized why: every moment I spent with him I treasured, was well spent, was my favourite.
Bill was told in 2004 that he had cancer, and that he had six months to a year to live. Dead in the doctor's eye, he said, 'see you in a year'.
He died ten years later. Not of spite, or retribution or revenge or 'f*ck cancer' - not some noisy hero or any of the things that people say about the departed. He lived as long as he did by strength of character, faith, hope - bolstered by love for those close to him, the world broadly speaking, and God. The cancer which took him ate him alive, and I never once heard him complain.
I never met his like before, and do not expect to again, nor have I met any who had an unkind word to say of him - roundly appreciated by, and his company welcomed by, all who met him.
Bill was not a father-figure, but a very father in every meaningful sense to and for me, and will remain for me a benchmark and template of what a man should be, in terms of healthy masculine virtues and a Godly ideal to be imitated.
Sandi I knew almost as well, and she was until the time of her departure also a mother to me, the dearest of friends who invited me freely to her family's table for any event. It is to be noted here that she preferred to be considered a sister, in the manner of women of a certain age. I know well that she would laugh at this, lay a somehow proprietary hand on my arm in a way that only those who love and know they are loved do.
Something a lady would do, and she was very much that, through and through: afraid of very little in this world, but somehow not part of it. We bonded over many things, chiefly shared faith, and a love of foreign film and foods of the world. Sandi drank the arts unabashedly, while being quite sure of what she liked and what she did not.
She had more travel stories than I ever got through hearing, this was her and Bill's great passion and they lived it well through the 60s and until they could not, any longer, and then some. Worldly with respect to how people are, deeply innocent of evil, wise and with a mixture of a great sense of humour and appreciation of the absurd.
These two people conspired to create Adrianna, my sister by choice and the founder of Knotty Boy.
I say farewell to them here as their adopted son: thank you, thank you, and thank you. I'll see you in the clearing at the end of the path, my friends.
Bill kept a blog which, characteristically for him, he intended to be not just a record of his own journey, but also to offer hope and advice to others experiencing the same struggle. Read his and Sandi's travails in living with cancer here.
See and hear videos of their travels together - sadly, not the nearly unbelievable Bus-Ride-Through-Afghanistan-In-The-60s ones from before cellular phones made everyone a Spielberg, but the next best thing, here.
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