Thank you everyone

Happy holidays and thank you to everyone who supported Team INDY in the Purple Stride walk. I personally raised $2000, the Team as a whole raised $4010, and the event brought in a total of over $180,000 to support pancreatic cancer research and awareness.

Merle would be so honored and pleased to see so many people helping this cause. I am also honored by the support you have given.

A Tribute To Merle

Click on the link below to see a tribute to Merle’s life:

He led a good dash.

Merle Makes the Newspaper

The Atlanta Journal Constitution ran feature article on Merle in Sunday’s paper. Here it is.  Click on it to make it large enough to read.

Merle’s Obituary

Dr. Merle Edward Hamburger of Lilburn, GA, born March 1, 1966, died of pancreatic cancer on Tuesday, July 19, 2011 at 10:45 pm. Merle’s life was dedicated to the development of good character, strong values, and positive self-image of today’s youth. His work at the Centers for Disease Control focused on preventing youth and domestic violence. As a black belt in the martial arts, he taught students courage, integrity, perseverance, self-control and indomitable spirit at Northeast Tae Kwon Do and American Karate Productions. He was also active in adult leader training for the Boy Scouts of America and an involved leader of the youth at Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Gwinnett. Merle is survived by his wife, MaryBeth; children Benjamin, Kevin, and Abigail; mother Sydney; and siblings Marjorie, Isaac, and Sidney. Merle was predeceased by his father, Edward and older brother, Sandy. A memorial service will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Gwinnett, 12 Bethesda Church Road, Lawrenceville, GA 30044 on Monday, July 25 at 2:30pm. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Awareness Network,

Memorial Roast

Merle’s wish was that people gather to celebrate his life rather than sorrowfully mourn. A memorial will be held at the:

Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Gwinnett
12 Bethesda Church Rd
Lawrenceville, GA 30044

The memorial will be held on Monday July 25, 2011 in the afternoon. Mary Beth is finalizing arrangements with their minister. A specific time will be set and posted on this blog shortly

Memorial Roast Dress Code:
Scouts: uniform would be OK
Karate: uniform would be OK
All Others: Casual “Merle” style clothing is appropriate or Tuxedo with Birkenstock sandals and white socks

A block of rooms and group rate of $79 have been arranged for at:
Country Inn & Suites
1852 Rockbridge Road
Stone Mountain, GA 30087
Let them know you are with the “Hamburger” group

In Lieu of flowers please make donations in Merle’s name to PANCAN.ORG
(Pancreatic cancer claims 95% of all patients with-in five years)

Another Update


Today has been challenging; filled with frustration wanting to keep Merle comfortable while the inevitable approaches. Sydney (Merle’s mom) and MaryBeth have been with Merle all day. Scott, MaryBeth’s brother drove all night to be here as well. Diney, Merle’s  brother returned this evening. Merle’s highschool friend, Kathy, is flying down from VA tonight as well. Throughout the day there has been  a steady stream of visitors from AKP, the CDC, UUCG, and the BSA.

Merle seems comfortable however his breathing is labored and he is growing weaker.

We will continue to provide updates through this blog.

Here are some photo’s

Merle's 45th birthday with his family.

Merle, his brother Diney, and his best friend Luis

Merle on July 16,2011






Merle and MaryBeth at home June 2011

Merle gets a big kiss from his daughter





The Last Days

Scott Heidrich, Merle’s brother-in-law, here.  This morning around 9 am, the hospice nurse stated that he probably only has 24-48 hours left.  He is unresponsive, but I like to think he can still hear us if anyone would like to stop in and say good-bye.  Address is in the post before last.  I met Merle about 27 years ago, when I was 10.  I really looked up to him and thought he was a great guy soon after we first met.  He was a father figure for me, and will always have a special place in my heart.  I love you, Merle, and my life definitely benefited from having you in it.  I will forever hold onto you in my thoughts and memories.

Merle We All Love You

The Hospice team met last Thursday with Mary Beth and Merle’s mother Sydney to discuss Merle’s next step related to inpatient vs. home care. They decided that Merle should remain at the facility indefinitely. While Merle continues to show determination (sprinkled with a bit of stubbornness), his steadiness and mobility have continued to decline.  He is interactive and communicative some of the time however at other times he is also confused and hard to understand. His energy is weakening but his spirit is strong.

Merle has had a steady stream of visitors and received many cards, all expressing thoughts of support and well wishes. Merle’s mom is staying with the family indefinitely, his sister Marjie and brother Diney (me) have been down for the last few days. Marjie leaves today and Diney leaves tomorrow. More family visited yesterday Reid and Yaniv and more visitors are scheduled for the upcoming week.

Lots of friends are helping Mary Beth with family and general day to day goings on. I know she is very grateful and appreciative for your support. She is trying to maintain some normalcy for the children (as much as possible) during this very difficult time.

Merle, We all love you…. from Diney (Merle’s brother)

Hospice Update

After a rough night Friday, Merle has settled in to the hospice and seems comfortable there. He still has a lot of edema in his belly and his legs, making it difficult for him to walk, but it has improved now that he is in the hospital bed with his legs up for most of the day.  We take short walks around the facility and in its garden a couple of times a day to keep up his mobility, but he is resting 20 plus hours a day.  He is very jaundiced from liver failure, and the combination of dehydration and jaundice makes it  difficult for him to focus or express a rational thought.  His pain seems well controlled by the morphine pump he is now on, though.

Our family is coming down to help out with managing things here.  My parents came Saturday and will stay until Wednesday.  Merle’s mom came today and will stay indefinitely.  Merle’s sister may come Thursday for a few days.  Merle’s brother is coming Friday for the weekend.  The plan is to have one adult with Merle to make sure he does not try to get up by himself (he is very unsteady on hos feet) and one adult with my kids at all times.  Between family, church friends, CDC colleagues, BSA friends, and others this plan seems to be working well.

The plan is for Merle to stay in hospice for 1 week for evaluation, and then he may be able to come home for a while.  They are trying to get some of the fluid off, re-evaluate his medications,and make sure his pain is under control.

Vacation Recap

You know the trip to the beach last week went very well.  It was to great see MB’s brother and sister and their respective families.  But I quickly learned that my ability to tolerate long days out walking about and sight-seeing are much more limited than they used to be.

Everyone arrived on Saturday, so Sunday was our first big excursion was to a botanical gardens and betting zoo.  Tuesday (for me) was more resting than anything.  Also, on Tuesday, several members  went beach fishing.  Wednesday, my sister-in-law’s husband went home and we most hung out at the resort pool.  Thursday was exciting; we went shopping (yeah!)  and then I ordered 1/2 bushel of local crabs  (blue crabs to be sure).  I lost tract of how many I ate, but suffice it to say that it was a lot.  The weekend started to slow down; indeed I slept from 11a to 5p Friday afternoon.

I do not like not having the strength to do thinks that, but even today I am feeling rather run down.  So  it was a good visit with family, but my self-realization of my limitations just is further reminder about the progress of my disease.

Getting sick(er) sucks.