Did you ever google songs with the word road in the title?
- On the Road Again
- Life is a Highway
- Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
- Hit the Road Jack
The List goes on and on…..
Driving back from our latest Houston journey I wondered how many trips I have made back and forth…. I couldn’t even estimate how many.
Our first trip was in July of 1997. After a more than grim breast cancer diagnosis here in Jonesboro, I was determined to head to Houston and MD Anderson Cancer Center for a second opinion, treatment, whatever. I was 39, had lost my mother to the disease, had two small children I wanted to raise, and was willing to do whatever necessary for the best chance of survival.
Many of you have heard the story ad nauseum so I won’t repeat, only to say the first road trip was a flight out of the Little Rock airport and we used a travel agent, ha.
Many of my best friends remember that time and were there to help with everything from child care, travel, phone cards (remember those) and most importantly prayer.
1997-1998 saw many trips down the road. Mostly by air but some by car. Starting monthly with the chemo, then the surgery followed by the 3 month stay for the stem cell transplant. Later, when it looked like I would survive, the road trips became a 6 month ordeal, then once a year, with most of them made solo… but never halted completely. 2016 brought another diagnosis with more frequent road trips and surgery and then most recently (2019) even more, and the road goes on and on……
We almost took the roof off of Jerry Bowen’s van in 1997 when the road took us to the Houston Galleria…..The road also took us to an NBA game to see Charles Barkley with hold the ball from the ref….. while I sat in the stands with a fanny pack of Adriamycin.
Before I learned about car services from the airport my sister Becky and I left in a cab with a very gassy driver who took the long road to the hotel.
When I was alone in the hotel and bored, the road took me to the hotel courtesy shuttle where I rode around with a driver from Africa ( a learned man with a degree) who was desperately trying to secure a Visa and bring his family to the US.
The road to Houston (America’s 4 largest city) offered us insight. The world (believe it or not) is bigger than Arkansas. Patients, health care workers, doctors….. many from other countries…. opened our eyes to God’s people who didn’t look or sound like us.
An acknowledgement that to this day humbles me, while simultaneously making my skin crawl, when fellow Christians are so darn sure the USA is God’s chosen nation and we are the chosen people. …
Not on the road I’ve traveled.
I’m pretty darn certain God created the world and all its people and loves us all the same….even if we’re rascals at times.
I am continually amazed at seemingly intelligent folks on today’s road who claim to “research” health care and find suddenly they know more than the doctors and science. Incredible actually….. I repeat, not on my road.
Science, research and doctors have kept me alive since 1997. And just like the need for a travel agent and that trusty phone card, SCIENCE and HEALTH CARE have evolved and changed tremendously.
Case in point…. when initially diagnosed with breast cancer I was enrolled in a clinical trial. A trial that included pre-op chemo. Something new to us in 1997, standard procedure now.
And let’s talk drugs. Neupogen was new in 1997….. Mother didn’t get it in 1984 and the chemo took her life…. For those of you unaware, it’s a drug that raises your white count when the chemo knocks in down (simple explanation). In 1997 I had to inject myself. In 2019 when I started chemo again I was introduced to Neulasta, a contraption they put on your arm for a steady injection during the first few days of treatment. Crazy huh?
In 1998 it was thought that a stem cell transplant was my best chance to defeat the cancer and keep it from recurring. Guess what?
THEY DON’T DO IT NOW…. because research evolved and there are better drugs and more effective treatments available.
I get my “dander” up (is dander really a word?)…. when people argue that the CDC or Dr. Fauci change recommendations for fighting this hellish virus. What can’t we understand about scientific discovery and change? Just like we tell our children… when you know better you do better!
I have to admit that not once have I gone to my oncologist and argued that his advice is different than what I saw on Facebook or Fox news… I’ve never said “how about some horse wormer with a chaser of bleach”…..
Call me CRAZY but the doctors and health care professionals I’ve been BLESSED to meet on my road have been amazingly intelligent, passionate and competent.
AND… they wear masks, they ask about my vaccination……..and I’m not offended. My freedoms have surprisingly remained intact.
My road has had many twists and turns, not the least of which has been the blessing of living to see my little boys grow, graduate from high school and college, get married to beautiful, Christian women and now to have PERFECT grandchildren.
As the song says “the road is LONG with many a winding turn”....
One of the blessings of being “older”…. looking back on my road. And yes, it’s been filled with tremendous joy, but also deep grief. The loss of my parents, my three siblings and so many friends…
You get it, I’m sure, because your road is no doubt full of the same….. especially if you’re the ripe old age of 62 like me.
What have I learned on the road? Well…. I’ve learned that the only thing that is consistent….. The one thing on the road that won’t change for better or worse?
The security found in my Faith. my God. and Love.
The rest is uncertain.
This past week my road was long and filled with anxiety and fear. And yes, I know I’m not supposed to feel that way, but it’s my truth, God knows about it and we’ve talked. I’m working on it, promise.
2 years after a stage 4 lung cancer diagnosis I’m still on the road. Thanks to those medical professionals GIFTED by God (and I believe that’s today’s miracle) I’ve been told my road isn’t ending as soon as I thought…clear scans and another 3 months before we hit the road again.
Today my road takes me to the patio……ha…. where I can hear the JHS band (best in the state) practice. I see the sunlight after last night’s storm and can almost see the hibiscus open to a new day. But the road also stops with concern for a dear friend whose mother has COVID and another whose husband has just recovered. It takes a turn as I worry about my children who are educators and the battles they face just entering the classroom this fall….and it stops when I think about my precious grandchildren who are so vulnerable…..
I try hard to replace anger and irritation with love for those SCREAMING at physicians for simple telling the truth, or spouting irrational comments at school boards and administrators who valiantly want to save the lives of children and keep them in school.
But …….it’s getting more difficult by the mile.
The road continues doesn’t it?
One of my favorite quotes from Anne Lamott (she probably got it from somebody else) is that “we’re all just walking each other home”…… We are on the road together and we need to find a way to help each other on the journey however best we can.
A dose of compassion, acceptance and if possible a diet coke or a great cup of coffee for the trip.
Enjoy the road. I’m trying.