Monday, May 25, 2009

A Year Later

I was just cleaning up Lauren's room--making her bed, picking up dirty clothes--and my eye caught her bulletin board. A typical nine-year old would probably have a bulletin board with pictures of friends, posters of movie stars and singers, awards ribbons from soccer...Lauren does have some of these. What she also has is a bulletin board with her daddy's picture, his medical i.d. bracelets from his last visit to MD Anderson, his funeral program and two pins that say "Cancer Sucks".

This shocks me--that my nine-year old has had to experience this kind of pain and loss. How does this happen? Eleven years ago Jeff and I were married--we talked of the little children we wanted to bring into this world to love and care for and watch grow into beautiful adults.

I am watching the girls grow--they are amazing, resilient, brave, funny--my saving graces. My gifts from Jeff and God.

I am shocked at how fleeting it all was. From the time Jeff first asked me out, "I don't know what your deal is, but if you want to hang out sometime, that'd be great..." (a true poet) to our "I do's" in Hawaii, to "honey, can you get the baby this time" to "Mr. Melton, you have metastatic melanoma cancer, stage IV. You need to go home, get your affairs in order and just spend time with your family. If you are lucky you may have nine months to a year to live." How does that happen? I blinked and it changed. One night I went to bed, blissfully unaware of the changes about to rain down on us--then I woke up and Jeff had been gone over a year.

I kept thinking--well, after the first year, I will feel more normal, it will feel less raw. It is different--a different kind of rawness. I am stronger--that I do know. Maybe a bit braver--just a bit. But I am still unable to make sense of it all. I can remember people telling me--"God has a reason for this." I just can't make sense of that, though. Really? God takes your loved ones in order for the events of the universe to make sense?

There aren't any more answers today than there were a year a half ago, when Jeff and I heard those words from the doctors. There is life--it does go on. There are tears--they do keep coming--usually when least expected. There are happy times--Ashtyn shooting hoops, Lauren singing like an angel. The days turn to weeks and then to months--the time is passing. I talk with Jeff and tell him how much I hope his new experience is filled with all the good and peace and joy he so deserves. I try to live to make him proud--some days I succeed, some days I fail. Everything and nothing has changed.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Letter to the CEO

Dear Robert H. Bezanson, President and CEO of Cox Health
Kim Day, St. John's Health System President / CEO:

My Dad always told me that “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”. I remember thinking—oh Dad, how cliché! But I am willing to put this theory to work.

Squeak! Squeak! Squeak!

I have four words for Cox and St. John’s hospitals—Urgent Care Cancer Clinic. Yes, it’s me again—and I will keep this squeaking up until there is progress for cancer patients in Springfield.

I am very excited to see progress in constructing a new Emergency Room at Cox South, and it sounds like Cox hospital has given very serious thought about expanding and improving its ER facilities. The O’Reilly Cancer Center is a gift and a blessing. It appears that both organizations are addressing many needs in the new facilities, but there is still one glaring omission. We are still lacking a place for Cancer Patients to receive urgent and emergency care. Even a designated room in the ER area would be a step in the right direction.

This is not rocket science. An Urgent Care Cancer Center is feasible. Please don’t tell that cancer patient who needs urgent care at 2 a.m., or the cancer patient who has just been sent to the ER because the oncologist office is full, that a 24/7 cancer clinic isn’t needed. Please don’t tell them that the CEO is hard to get a hold of to discuss such needs. Please don’t tell them that it just isn’t in the budget. By all means, please don’t tell them that it will just take time.

We need Urgent Care for Cancer Patients. We need Urgent Care for Cancer Patients. We need Urgent Care for Cancer Patients. Squeak, Squeak, Squeak…

Very truly yours,

Holly L. Melton, Founder
Jeffrey A. Melton Urgent Care Cancer Foundation