It was the day before Thanksgiving, 2009 when I discovered something wasn't right. The day after Thanksgiving I received the call: You have cancer in your right breast.
November quickly became December and by the middle of the month, I was requesting a second opinion at MD Anderson. I arrived in Houston the first week of January and met with my oncologist. Immediately he gave me realistic hope. I was diagnosed with Stage 4 HER2 positive breast cancer that spread to my liver and he truly felt that my worse case situation was 10 to 20 years in chronic care.
The month of January was filled with tests and scans and finally, I was accepted into a trial study. I'll never forget the day when Dr I came into my room and gave me the news. My daughter Hilly was with me and with a twinkle in his eyes and a smile larger than life, he didn't even bother to say hello. "I'm going to cure you!" At that very moment, I knew that I was where I belonged. Houston was becoming my home. He asked me if I like to travel. Of course! Well, if you are accepted for the trial, are you willing to travel from Appleton, Wisconsin to Houston every week? Absolutely!
Hilly and I happily packed our bags and started our drive back to Wisconsin. Knowing I couldn't drive this every week, I started looking at flights. I was told of companies with private jets that could offer me a seat to Houston, but I wouldn't know if there would be space available until 2 days before departure and there also was an underlying factor of weather. This wasn't going to be an option for me. I had to be sure to make it to Texas on time, every time. This was going to become very expensive, but my life is more important!
My first treatment began February 4, 2009. I came down and took a taxi to the hotel. I wasn't able to get into the Rotary House.I learned to plan far ahead, but I was close enough to the hospital. My jaw dropped when I owed the driver $50.00 for the ride. I looked at my sister and said,Yikes! This is going to be very expensive!" But what choice did I have?
During my treatment, my research nurse came in and stayed with me for the better part of my infusions. I was so much more than a patient here. I was a person. When we were talking, she asked me if I had concerns. I told her that the commute from the airport is pretty steep and that's when I first heard about the Houston Ground Angels.
I was given the number and I called. I couldn't get anyone for the return to the airport, but I was helped with how the system works. This was my first conversation with Kathy Cardiff, a living, breathing angel.
The following week, my sister and I arrived in the Houston and began our search for a red Ford Explorer, and there she was, warm, loving and ready to become not only my chauffeur, she would become a dear friend. I cannot explain the gratitude I feel to this day for this organization.
Driving in Houston is nothing less than chaotic, especially for a girl from Wisconsin! Not only is this organization generous with the absorbed cost of the airport hospital commute, the living angels one encounters are gifts. Houston Ground Angels and are filled with respect, love and grace. For these volunteers to give of themselves is a truthful and sincere way of benevolence. I thank God for this organization, especially for people everywhere who find themselves in a challenge of their lives.
Houston Ground Angels are beyond helpful. They take the worries away from the minds of those in the throes of physical and emotional turmoil.
My second Houston Ground Angel encounter was with a true Texan: Jerry. I had just finished my treatment and Jerry was to meet my sister Kris and I at the valet service area of Mays Clinic. Looking for a silver truck, not knowing whom to expect, my name was called: "Kath-er-ine????? There he was, Jerry. It's true. Everything is big in Texas, especially the warm hearts and southern smiles of the men and women surrounding Houston. I am endeared to all of you.
Houston Ground Angels are people who without their knowledge give strength and courage to those who are blessed by their giving. These things may seem small, but in the life of a person who is fighting the fight, they are really are just as important as the chemotherapies and procedures towards healing.
I love my Angels.