Lincoln County News
September 24, 1998

"LifeLines" My journal about living with cancer

by Sandy Labaree

This journal submission describes our Tour appearance at Mid America's Fun Fest in Effingham, Illinois. My car receives special attention and a full head to toe check-up, courtesy of Mallett Racing. Meanwhile, I look ahead to my own check-ups and tests coming up next week.

September 10, 1998: Tonight, I conducted a cancer awareness evening at the Mid America Fun Fest Show in Effingham, IL. In attendance were employees of Mid America Designs, Inc., folks from the community, members of a local cancer support group, and staff from the local oncology center. Assisting me with the program was Dr. Dy, a medical oncologist who recently moved to Effingham. Dr. Dy came from the renowned Fox Chase Cancer Center in Pennsylvania. Dy is highly skilled and up to date on all the latest in cancer treatment and research.

Dr. Dy and I made our presentation very informal, allowing for questions and discussion. I described my experiences with cancer and discussed the role that family, friends and support groups play in helping deal with the disease. I was pleased to see that the question and answer session lasted for nearly an hour. Years ago, folks would have listened politely to a program on cancer and been too afraid to ask questions. Fortunately, times have changed and people are eager to learn more about cancer prevention, detection and treatment, as well as the latest news in cancer research.

After the presentation was over, Dr. Dy and I had a chance to chat. He was curious about my prognosis and treatment. We discussed my current status and he suggested that I might ask my Drs. about two new drug regimens that are showing promise in Europe. One is an oral drug, the other a monthly IV infusion which may prevent the spread of cancer into the bones. I plan to discuss this with Dr. Tom next week when I have my check-up back in Maine.

September 11, 1998: Ben and I will be setting up our booth display at Fun Fest this afternoon. The event officially opens tomorrow morning. This morning, Dr. Dy invited us to his office for a tour of the new medical and radiation oncology facility. His office is located in the midst of this state-of-the art medical treatment center. It is more modern than anything I have seen in Maine, and all self-contained. They can do radiation and chemotherapy treatments in the same building and they even have their own laboratory for blood tests! Their facility in Effingham serves a wide rural area and allows folks to receive full oncology services without having to travel to Chicago, St. Louis or Indianapolis for treatment.

We have lunch in Dr. Dy's office with his staff and one of the representatives from Lilly Pharmaceutical Company. Lilly manufactures the drug Raloxifene, that I am currently taking for bone thinning and hopefully, to control the spread of my cancer. The representative was very interested in hearing how I was doing on this drug. I hope that this drug is helping me and maybe the tests that I will have in a few weeks will show some good results.

I always worry about upcoming tests and dread waiting for the results. My recent back pain concerns me and in the past week, I have noticed that the lymph nodes in my neck are tender and swollen. My right arm has also been swelling, which I think may be a condition known as lymphedema. The nodes and my arm appear to be more swollen at the end of the day, perhaps because I am tired. My radiation oncologist had told me that my nodes would swell after radiation and remain so for about six months. He also said that scans or x-rays of my nodes during this period would be useless and produce inaccurate readings. I am hoping that the tenderness and swelling are normal, and perhaps my nodes have been aggravated by my hectic schedule and lack of sleep. In any case, I am looking forward to my check-ups and reassurances from Dr. Tom and Wes that everything is O.K.

September 13, 1998: We have finished a very successful appearance at Fun Fest. The weather was clear all three days, though temperatures were in the 90's. Fortunately, we had a booth under a tent awning. Thousands of Corvette owners and enthusiasts came through the show. In addition to our promotional models and diners, we had two special raffles to benefit the Tour.

Jim Sansovich, a noted automotive artist and illustrator, photographed our car at the Carlisle Show. Jim takes many photos and compiles them much like puzzle pieces into beautiful collages. He had offered to do one of our car. He then signed, matted and framed it and suggested we raffle it off at Fun Fest. Jim's collage was a real work of art! I hated to part with it, but Jim set it up on an easel display and we sold tickets and raised $490. The winner was Dana Mecum, the head of the Bloomington Gold Show that we attended in June! A second raffle of a small cargo trailer, courtesy of Reese Trailer Company, raised funds for our Tour and the National Corvette Museum. We sold tickets for the trailer and will probably receive about $150 from that, once all is tallied.

While at the show, I had an opportunity to meet with the Reese Trailer folks. One of their managers lost a wife to pancreatic cancer and had a daughter who had survived a childhood cancer. Reese's interest in helping our cause was personal and sincere. They also generously offered to donate other cargo trailers for raffles at our future events! The incredible outpouring of support for our Tour continues to amaze me.

Fun Fest was a very good event for us. We estimate that we raised over $1500 in three days, $650 of which was donated by employees of Mid America who attended our cancer awareness presentation. We know that more donations will be coming in the mail. We also had the time to chat with Mike and Laurie, owners of Mid America. Both have had several family members affected by cancer. Three have had breast cancer and two have had melanomas. The family risk runs high in both of their families. Mike had a tough time introducing me at the VIP dinner during the Fun Fest. The emotional impact that cancer has had on his family is still very fresh in his mind.

Before we leave Effingham, Chuck Mallett, the owner of Mallett Cars tells Ben to bring our car to his shop in Berea, Ohio, outside of Cleveland. He wants to donate a full check-up of my car, and he has offered to install our new tires as well. Ben would like nothing better than to see Chuck's shop and talk racing! He is the proverbial kid in the candy shop. We re-arrange our schedule to stop in Berea on Tuesday.

September 15, 1998: Today, we are spending the day at Mallett Cars. Chuck's shop and garage are painted pure white and are cleaner than my mother's kitchen floor. Before bringing my dirty car inside their garage, Chuck and his staff thoroughly wash my car. The Mallet team then goes to work changing all the fluids and oil, installing new belts, brake pads and rotors, and the new tires, donated by Corvettes At Carlisle. They make minor repairs and re-adjust my driver's door and window which had a slight wind noise. They also clean the engine compartment, wax the car and install three small script Mallett decals. Mallett Cars is really set up to do race cars which Chuck races or prepares and sells to customers. Chuck is well-known in the racing business. He is young and unassuming, very kind and polite. He is absolutely consumed and enthusiastic about cars and racing. He doesn't miss a detail. Chuck's brothers, Lance and Glenn, and their father, Charlie, who is a former racer and mechanic, work together in the business. They are also joined by fellow employees, Matt and Dave. Chuck's mother, Bev, and his wife, Julie, also lend a hand. It is truly a family operation. Bev makes lunch every day and brings it in large tubs to the shop where she sets out a full spread for the entire staff. We are invited to join them for a delicious homemade spaghetti dinner with salad, bread and dessert. Bev also serves afternoon tea and cookies everyday!

Chuck and his staff of six spend the entire day working on my car. Chuck is fascinated with the high mileage on my car. We have put 20,000 miles on my car since June 12th. Chuck is curious about the condition of my car's wheels, tires, brakes and suspension parts. Some things are wearing out already. He checks the wheel alignment and determines that since we have been carrying such a heavy load of luggage and cargo, that it probably contributed to the severe tire wear. He re-aligns the wheels based upon carrying a full load. He also tells me to call him if we ever need new parts for my car. He wants to follow our progress on the Tour and monitor the effects of high mileage on the C-5, the latest model Corvette. He says our car is a test car of sorts. He's absolutely correct, with the driving we have been doing the past four months, we are testing my limits and those of my car!

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