Lincoln County News
June 25, 1998

"LifeLines" My journal about living with cancer

by Sandy Labaree

June 1, 1998: Good news today on another of our big Corvette events on our Tour. I called Chip Miller, the head of Corvettes at Carlisle, the huge Corvette Show and Swap meet in Carlisle, PA, the end of August. I tell Chip all about my Tour. He is very impressed and says he will assign someone from his staff to arrange for VIP placement and visibility at the event. He says someone from his office will be back to me in 24 hours. I fax a packet of information to him and will wait to hear. Chip sounded very sincere and offered other contact names for me to use in lining up other Tour events. I am feeling even more optimistic about my Tour. More and more is coming together, even though I don't have a sponsor. I hear Polly's voice urging me on and telling me to keep the faith.

Tonight, Ben and I go to the Cancer Support Group meeting. It will be our last meeting before we leave on our trip. I will dearly miss my friends. I plan to keep in touch with the Group by e mail and postcards. As I look around the room, a chair is empty because Bob has passed away. Maybe when we return in four months, another chair will be empty. It is a sad reality that some of us in the Group are not going to survive this disease, though we are all fighting and enjoying each day as it comes.

June 3, 1998: Today is a long day for me. Ben and I leave early in the morning for a 10 am. appointment with Jeff at the Radiation Center in Scarborough. This is what I call my exit interview from completing radiation treatment. The Center in Scarborough is in a beautiful new building. I have a short wait today and sit next to a lovely lady who tells me all about her breast cancer. She is 86 years old and barely looks 70. She is a widow and tells me she is "ready to go", though she looks the picture of health. I tell her that my grandmother lost my grandfather when he was barely 70 years old. It was a tremendous shock as it was so sudden, but her family and her need to do things for them kept her going. I ask her about her family and friends. I tried to cheer her up and hopefully, she will find the inner strength to carry her through this ordeal.

Jeff checks my lymph nodes over carefully and says I look good. He notes that my weight is down, but I explain that radiation, my sore mouth and dulled taste buds have put a dent in my appetite. Also this latest infection and the antibiotics have contributed to a loss of appetite. Actually, I should say that my appetite is erratic. Sometimes, I don't feel like eating and other times, once I start eating, I do quite well. I really think that my taste buds haven't fully recovered and when you can't really taste things, it affects how hungry you get.

Jeff is pleased to hear about my rib x-rays showing no change. He says that the only thing he can feel in the lymph nodes is a hard area of what is probably scar tissue. He asks about my trip and how long I will be gone. He says he envies me and hopes that I have lots of Blue Highways ahead. He says this is a book about a cross-country journey in the 70's, and I will try to find it and read it. Before sending me on my way, Jeff says I should take copies of my medical reports with me.

The nurse puts the reports together, then Ben and I head out to his office for a quick stop before he drops me off in Brunswick. I have left my car at the American Cancer Society office because I have a noon meeting there. It is great to see the staff and volunteers who I haven't seen in nearly 6 months. I have been so wrapped up in treatments and house-bound that I have only talked to them by phone and not in person. The meeting lasts 3 hours. About half way through, I suddenly poop out. This happens to me about once a week, where I will suddenly run out of energy and could fall asleep at a minute's notice. I make it through and drive home as quickly as possible. Instead of taking a nap, I fix myself a cup a coffee as I have so much work to do preparing for this Tour. I think the only way I will get any rest is when I leave on my Tour and I can sleep in the car while Ben is driving!

Tonight, more good fortune comes my way with a phone call from Karen Walsh of the Central New Jersey Corvette Club. We are going to a Cruise Night in Somerville, NJ with my sister, Peg, on the 19th of June. I have been to this many times when we were down visiting and even drove Velvet there once. Last week, Peg spoke to the coordinators of the Cruise Night about us making an appearance and also talked with Karen who was there with her Corvette Club. Karen and her husband, Mike, have pulled out all the stops and are promoting this appearance and asking all their club members to participate. Their Corvette Club even has its own website and they have just put lots of promotional information about my Tour on their web page! Karen wants me to check it out for my approval. It looks great! Karen sounds like a wonderful person and I can't wait to meet her. We may be traveling together or seeing each other at other Corvette events this summer, as they plan on attending some of the same events as our Tour. As I have said so many times before, Corvette Club people are really so kind and generous!

- - -

(Click here to go directly to the next column)