Alva Review-Courier -

Lynn Says

I'm learning how important volunteerism is to hospitals


I likely will be writing about my bout with cancer over the next few weeks. I'm trying to provide you with a fair warning so you don't have to read it if you are not interested. I'm actually quite surprised at how many of you have told me you are very curious as to how things are going. I remember back a few months ago when Norville Ritter, Dean Stands, Joe Shirley, Pat Headlee and others allowed me to write their stories. I valued their openness and gave me a chance to accompany their mental journey and be a far better citizen. Please don't be offended if I haven't mentioned you yet because I write this at 3 a.m. under a hydrocodone-influenced high.

One more thing before reviewing the story: here's the exact wording of a wonderfully kind “help note” I received by text message yesterday. It reads, “Just wanted to take a minute to say how much I value and appreciate your friendship! If you need anything (help with the paper, Newsgram, ballgame coverage, meals) anything at all please let me know. I'd be happy to help.” I've received several offers of help like that and I will have to take advantage of them but this was particularly nice as it mentioned a lot of the hats I wear.

But, it also reminds me of how many people in our town are in need of somebody stepping up to the plate and driving when I am no longer legal to drive.

That's part of the hospital volunteerism I mentioned earlier. There are those in our community that volunteer by actually being in the hospital. Others volunteer by driving people like me to out-of-town medical appointments. So far, we've handled the fuel expense ($250 last week) ourselves, but my sister Tara has driven to every appointment so far on her own dime. So if you have co-workers or church members traveling a lot for medical appointments, slip them gas money now and then.

Tara is actually a very valuable resource as she helps fill in those forms with all the family medical history I can't remember. By the way, I'm very disappointed at how poorly EHRs (electronic health records) work in the same big city (Mercy) hospital. Every specialist you are directed to has almost the same set of forms to be refilled out, and “NO,” you cant use yesterday's form.

I cannot praise both the Share Medical and later Mercy Hospital staff enough for their helpfulness. One cannot walk ten feet in any direction (if you have a puzzled look on your face) without either a staff member or a volunteer member offering to either point or walk you in the direction you need. Some of the journeys are quite lengthy.

I have had several diagnostic scans with different types of equipment. These include a CT scan here in Alva, an EDT scan here in Alva (which spotted esophageal cancer), a more lengthy CT scan at Mercy with ultrasound add-on, and finally a PET scan last Friday in OKC. Most of those required general anesthesia so I've been knocked out three of the last five days. Marione has done a perfect job of taking care of me and keeping me from falling in my loopy state.

The treatment plan is still being devised but it will be a simultaneous assault on cancer with both chemo and radiation. What I don't know that is frightening is the result of the PET scan. Apparently, I will learn late Monday afternoon whether cancer has stayed put in my esophagus and adjoining lymph nodes or spread to the extremities of my body.

I have had all sorts of people recommend various cancer treatment centers with passionate testimonials. All of the recommendations are from people I respect and do not want to discount. Yet I can't go riding off into the sunset on several different horses at once.

The thing I am most appreciating is the FAST track that Dr. Reitz has me on. The several physicians and he could not be doing their diagnostics at any higher speed.

Oh, it has been wonderful that Trey and Kat Lunn, along with one-year-old Brie, happened to move back to Alva for newspaper and photography jobs almost the same week all these medical problems popped up.


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