Travel plans go up in the air

Since my husband got sick and has been undergoing radiation and chemo, it’s been difficult to make long-term plans. It’s hard enough to make short-term commitments because we just don’t know how Mike will be feeling on any given day.

We don’t even know when Mike can go back to school or work. Maybe in the fall, maybe in the spring. After all, he will need to recover after the cancer treatment so he can get surgery. Only after he’s recovered from surgery—and we don’t even know when the surgery will happen—can he go back to work. In the meantime, he’s very tired, but also bored.

It’s most difficult for Mike to commit to anything. Some days he feels good; others he just wants to sleep. Other than going to treatment every morning, he takes it one day at a time.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not the type of person who needs to plan every little detail years in advance. But I would like to have some idea on what’s going on. I would like to be able to plan some things ahead of time—travel plans being one of them. My sister is getting married next week in the Catskills. I’m going to be there one way or another, but I just don’t know for how long and when I’ll get there.

My mom’s been asking me for at least a month when she should book the plane tickets. I’ve told her several times that how long we’ll be there and if it’s going to be both of us or just me depends on how Mike is feeling which we won’t know until then. The oncologists told us that he’ll most likely be off radiation and chemo the week we are planning to be in New York, but until this week they hadn’t given a definite answer on whether Mike would be OK to travel.

Before all they would say is “we’ll see.” I hated when my parents told me that as a kid. I still don’t like hearing “we’ll see.” To me, it means, “I can’t be bothered to come up with a real answer right now.”

His radiation oncologist still isn’t sure if Mike will need more radiation; he’s running the test on Monday. Of course, we won’t know until the day before we’re supposed to leave if Mike needs to stay for a few more days of treatment. So whether we’re leaving Tuesday or Thursday (the day before the wedding) is still up in the air.

Meanwhile, my mother keeps asking me about the plane tickets. She’s convinced the airline to waive the changing fee, but we will still need to pay the current price of the new tickets. The price skyrockets the closer to the date of the flight.

Originally published in issue 200, May 13, 2005

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Visit our new web site

It's official! We are WNC Health Advocates.
Please visit our new web site, Visit WNC Health Advocates
The new name reflects what we do -- advocate for health care for everyone and help people access and navigate our current health care system.
While we still hold onto the memory and the generous spirit of Mike Danforth, we need people to be able to see our name and understand who we are.

Help Life o’ Mike

We need your help now more than ever. Your tax-deductible donation will help us get Patient Pals and Family Friends to more people in need of peer support. Please consider a gift in honor or in memory of a loved one.
Donate here or mail your donation to Life o' Mike, PO Box 1213, Asheville, NC 28802.





Patient Pals & Family Friends

Life o' Mike has a peer support program for people with one or more serious or chronic medical issues or disabilities.

We aim to reduce isolation and fear among people who have conditions, including psychiatric illness, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, mild dementia or other cognitive disorder or disability, thereby reducing depression and complications as people learn to improve self-management of their medical conditions.

Patient Pals help alleviate feelings of isolation and frustration. They can help people develop a list of questions to ask the doctor and then accompany the person to the doctor to make sure all the questions are answered, taking notes to be sure the person understands the doctor’s answers.

Our trained volunteers also accompany their “Pals” to art exhibits, movies and walks outdoors, meet for coffee, call to check in and more.

Our Pals have experienced weight loss, improvement in diabetes, HIV, psoriasis, depression and more, just because they have someone who cares about them. Some relationships develop into longer-term friendships; other Pals move on to more independent lives.

Family Friends are there to help caregivers and other family members grow into their new role.

We need volunteers, who are asked to donate a minimum of one hour a week. Training is free and includes information on active listening, ways to help and when to know more help is needed.

And of course, we need funding.

To learn more, call Leslie Boyd at 828-243-6712 or e-mail lifeomike@gmail.com.

Life o’ Mike honors Joe Eblen


Life o' Mike presented its first Michael T. Danforth Community Service Award to Joe Eblen at a luncheon on June 8, in the Friendship Hall of First Congregational Church, 20 Oak St., Asheville.
Joe, seen here with Leslie Boyd, left, and his wife, Bobbie, has spent his life helping children and families, both as a coach and game official for more than 60 years, and as founder of Eblen Charities.

Start From Seed

Life o' Mike has a new program- Start from Seed (SFS).
SFS is a volunteer doula program aimed at providing non-medical, comprehensive support to low income, high-risk women and families of Buncombe County focusing on three areas:

1. We help new doulas with certification and training in return for their participation as a volunteer doula for SFS

2. We mentor volunteer doulas with their first few clients

3. Our volunteer doulas provide birth and postpartum doula services to low income, high risk moms, providing support and tools to empower them as a new parent.

A birth doula is a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; a postpartum doula provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period.

Start from Seed clients are referred to us from the Buncombe County Department of Health’s Nurse-Family Partnership Program, Western North Carolina Community Health Services, and Mission Hospital. The Program is intended and designed for growing clients’ inner strength and helping them gain empowerment to help them cope with the emotional, physical and mental challenges of childbirth, labor, and motherhood.

Our new moms and their infants have many needs. If you would like to help them get off to a good start, please visit our Start from Seed web site: Start from Seed, or call Program Director Chelsea Kouns at 804-814-9946.

Events in the community

Free birth and labor classes

Peaceful Beginning Doula Services holds free birth forums, Peaceful Birth, 6:30-8 p.m. the last Thursday of every month (except November) at Spa Materna, 640 Merrimon Ave., above The Hop, in Asheville.
All are welcome, expectant women and their partners are encouraged to attend anytime during their pregnancy. We also encourage doulas and other maternal/child professionals to attend and share in the discussions. The forums are "birth circle" style, focusing on normal birth which follows the Lamaze Six Care Practices for Healthy Birth. The forums are led by certified and experienced educators.

NAMI Family-to-Family Class

NAMI of Western Carolina holds 12-week classes for families and caregivers of individuals with a severe mental illness 6-8:30 p.m. Mondays at Charles George VA Medical Center, 1100 Tunnel Road in Asheville. The course covers major mental illnesses and self-care. Registration required. Info at 828-299-9596 or rohaus@charter.net.

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