Cancer

“How would you like to go back to Kingman, Arizona?”  That question Lisa asked me back in March took me by surprise and her unexpected phone call to me set my mind spinning with the thought of returning to one of our favorite assignments. “Okay! Let’s go to Kingman.”

Cancer!

We began planning for our trip west soon after the contract was signed and our final two months in Cambridge, Ohio flew by in anticipation of the next leg of our traveling adventure.  This would be the first time we had returned to a previous work location and we were excited to go back to a familiar place and renew old friendships.

Carcinoma!

I made reservations at familiar camping spots along the four day journey.  Springfield, Missouri – Amarillo, Texas – Holbrook, Arizona – and, finally, Kingman.  Dates for travel were set and we were ready.

Invasive Ductal Carcinoma!

It was exciting to be going home for a few weeks before we headed west. We would have time to spend with our grandson, Conner Jack, and take care of things like doctor appointments and other minor details.  I scheduled an appointment for lab work and had an examination of my left knee that was giving me trouble.  Lisa scheduled an appointment for a check-up with her doctor and have a mammogram – just routine stuff.

Lumpectomy

During our time at home, our truck broke down and the unexpected $2,300.00 repair sent me into a tailspin. I paced around the house nervous that the truck would not be ready in time to leave on the planned date.  What would we do?  A contingency plan was made to leave a day later, if necessary, and still arrive in Kingman in time for Lisa to begin work June first.  We will be cutting it close.  Got to get Kingman, Arizona.

Radiation!

Lisa’s doctor appointments went well. Her mammogram showed an anamoly that would need a biopsy – nothing to worry about.  Probably a fatty tumor that may need to eventually be removed.  No worries. 

6 – 8 weeks recovery!

The truck was still not ready.  How slow could this place be?  I worried myself into sickness over the truck.  They were overcharging and taking way too long.  What will we do?  Maybe Lisa could fly out and stay with friends and I could bring the RV later.  I had to figure this out.  The stupid truck was messing up our perfect travel plans. 

Did you say – Cancer?

Lisa’s biopsy left her bruised and in pain.  But, we had nothing to worry about.  A follow-up meeting was scheduled with the radiologist the day before we were to leave for Kingman.  We will stop by to see him in between running errands as we make final preparations to leave.  I call the mechanic and it looks like the truck will be ready in time.  Nothing like the last minute.  My mind is on that 1700 mile trek across the country.  I am worrying about our truck making it.  We leave tomorrow morning.  It is too late to worry about it now.

Time to stop by and talk to the radiologist.  Let’s get this over with – got too much to do.

We walk into a dark room. X-rays are visible on the computer screen. The doctor is waiting for us.  Something seems wrong.

It’s cancer.  The world stops turning. I feel light headed.  I look at Lisa. She tries to ask questions but is crying.  We cannot hear anything else the doctor is saying.  Somebody slap me out of this nightmare.  It takes only a couple of minutes and we are now walking back to our car.  I wrap my arm around Lisa. I don’t know what to do. 

Cancer.

I get a call from the mechanic.  The truck is ready.

We learned over the next few days that Lisa will require surgery and follow up radiation treatment.  The prognosis is good and we are hopeful for a full recovery.  We are not sure when we will be back on the road. 

But we know (at least) our truck is ready. 

You know – it’s a funny thing.  I don’t care about that truck anymore.

Advertisements

Packing Up, Saying Good-Bye, Moving On

Thirteen weeks turned into a year and as the holidays and seasons came and went, Lisa and I stayed.  Cambridge, Ohio has been our home since last May and now it is, finally, time to leave.  Lisa and I will be pulling out of ‘Spring Valley Campground’ this Saturday and are looking forward to being home for a couple of weeks before we head west to Kingman, Arizona where Lisa will begin a thirteen week assignment June first.  We have friends in Kingman and in nearby Las Vegas and the opportunity to return to a familiar place was too good to pass up.  But, first things first.  It is time for some sad good-byes.

As I have written before, it is not the places as much as it is the people and friends we have made that make our traveling experiences memorable.  We forget most of the specific aspects of the various locations, but we never forget the people and our friends.  That is the hardest part of traveling – missing the people.

We will miss Lisa’s co-workers at the hospital.  The first day Lisa arrived for work she was handed the keys, a beeper and the news that the only other echo-tech had just quit and she was all they had.  Those first couple of weeks were not easy and in many ways this was the toughest assignment Lisa has had to date.  She worked to help hire and train new staff and leaves the department in better shape than it was that day she arrived.  The staff at Southeastern Medical have been welcoming to Lisa and myself and are now fully staffed and well equipped to move forward.  We will miss Kelly (the big ol’ doody head) and her dogs “Shit and Shinola” (we could never remember their real names or tell them apart).  We will miss our trips to her house in Kimbolton and going out to eat and hearing Gary’s stories about the little horse that beat the crap out of him that time he tried to pull it out of the lake.  I will miss Lisa’s funny stories about Fay (or “Fee-Fee” as she called her).  Lisa absolutely adores her and will miss her greatly.  Dr. Stephany Moore is a friend that Lisa and I have enjoyed spending time with (along with her family) and have shared many laughs and funny stories over the past year.  Their working relationship was outstanding and the two will be spending additional time together next week at an ultrasound training event in Asheville, North Carolina.  Their personal and professional relationship will last a lifetime.
We are both grateful to Mark (Lisa’s boss) and his assistant, Leisa.  Mark showed great confidence in Lisa practically from day one and was instrumental in her being called to work here and then staying through three extensions.  The kindness of Marti Reed was greatly appreciated and we both enjoyed getting to know her and Mark, her husband. We will think of them both every time we see the toy box they built and painted for our grandson at Christmas.
The crew of Stacy, Cheri, Tosha and Elizabeth in the CVP department will be always on Lisa’s mind and just a phone call away.  Lisa knows they will continue being a great team and provide great care for their patients.
It is impossible to mention all the co-workers Lisa has grown so fond of but suffice it to say, they all will be missed.  Driving her to work each morning has become a habit that will be hard to break – as will hearing the stories of life at Southeastern Medical each afternoon.  I will even miss hearing Wayne, the hospital volunteer, asking me, “Are you waiting?” as he did every day I saw him in the lobby.  I’ll even miss you, Wayne.

 

I will miss Sue Dodd.  I looked (unsuccessfully) for art classes literally from one end of this country to the other while we have traveled and never expected to find such a person and artist as Sue Dodd here in Cambridge.  The times we spent singing and laughing and painting were some of my fondest memories of being here in Ohio.  I will never be the artist she is but her encouragement has me excited to keep painting – keep trying.  I will never forget her.

 

 And then there are the people and friends we have made here at our campground.  We will miss Frank and Carla, a very sweet couple that live here with Frank’s job in the oil and gas industry.  We will miss the owners of the campground, Dan and Julie and our Wednesday night poker games.  Then there is Richard Mayo and his wife and the couple that sold us farm fresh eggs and joined us often for dinner at “Theo’s”,  Harriet and Richard Gray.  These people have been like family for the past year.

 

And lastly, we will miss a very special family.  Kevin and Sheri Thrasher and their two boys, Tyler and Chris, have become some of our dearest friends.  Kevin, or “Penis” as we call him, (The nickname came from one of our first campfires with he and Sherri.  As people drove past his camper throughout the night, Kevin grew tired of calling them by their names and just started saying, “Hello Penis!” since they could not hear what he was saying anyway and the nickname stuck) works here at the campground and we came to know this family a couple of months after our arrival.  Lisa has told so many funny stories about “Penis” that the staff at Southeastern Medical now know him by that name only and we have suggested that if he ever is admitted to the hospital or in need of medical treatment, he should sign in as “Penis” and every nurse and doctor will know who he is.  Many weekend nights were spent around their campfire laughing (mainly at Kevin) and enjoying life together.  We will miss our nightly visit from Kevin (he stays at the campground through the week) and I will be forever grateful for his company during the long, hard winter months with little to do except laugh at each other, watch the weather and hope we did not all freeze to death.  Chris, their youngest son, who has autism, has made the extra bedroom in our camper his own while he visits during the weekends and the times we took him to the movies were very special.  His parents do a marvelous job with him and have tried to prepare him for our departure (he only says, “I don’t want to talk about it” – God love him).  This special family is a hard-working inspiration to Lisa and I and we will never forget them.

 

Lisa and I will soon be traveling across the flat, open western landscape as we head toward Arizona.  It is certain that we will find ourselves missing these rolling hills of Guernsey County, Ohio.  We will miss watching the early morning mist lying low in the Appalachian mountains and though the winter was long and harsh, the beauty of those snow covered hills was unlike anywhere we have visited.  I will miss sitting along the banks of the crystal clear stream that snakes through the campground and I will miss feeding the horses (“Ben” and “Misty”) that are stabled at the adjacent farm.  I have to wonder if they will be looking for me after I’m gone.  In fact, I wonder if Lisa and I have made enough of an impact that will make people miss us as much as we will miss them.  With the oil and gas boom here in the area, people move in and out all the time.  It seems that most make little if any connection to the residents as their stays may range from a month to a year or longer.  Maybe Lisa and I should have used that approach.  That is, keep to ourselves and stay disconnected from others.  But, we got close to people here – we made friends and Cambridge, Ohio became our home.  This good-bye may be the hardest one yet.

 

But, now it is time to look homeward.  We are sad to leave these friends that we have made but are excited to be going home to our family and to spend time with our grandson, Conner Jack, before heading west.  Thanks, Cambridge, for your hospitality and friendship!

 

We will never forget you.  Love, Steve and Lisa