Routine – that inevitable aspect in each of our daily lives that assists us in being functional human beings. It’s that voice that whispers in your ear first thing in the morning telling you exactly what to expect from the day. Each person’s routine is unique in its own special way. Mine- wake up, walk to the kitchen, fill up a glass of water and shuffle to the bathroom. It takes me about 18 minutes to shower, 15 minutes to do my makeup and 10 minutes to transform that unruly frizz to the long loose curls that make me look like somewhat of a professional.
Routine helps us to feel that our time here on earth is just that- ours. It gives us control and with control comes comfort. But the thing is, we’re not in control. Can you control when the stoplight turns red? Can you control your annoying neighbor? Can you control your children from making the same mistakes as you? You can’t, and there’s no better proof of just how powerless we really are than illness, or more specifically, cancer.
Chances are cancer has affected you in one way or another. Cancer has the ability to tear through your routine like a hurricane and leave no evidence of what once was in its path. 41% of Americans had, or currently have cancer. The disease will deeply affect both the fighter and their families; together, they will battle.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my short stint on this earth, it’s that families aren’t just blood anymore. Your family could be the group of guys you golf with every week. It could be the 15 friends you’ve had since college. For some, it’s the people they see every Monday through Friday from eight to five.
Though I’m new here at Applied Imaging, I can already recognize the amazing sense of family this group of people has created. They’re not just co-workers here; they’re involved in each other’s lives and support one another. And like a large portion of Americans, this family too is fighting a battle against cancer.
In November of 2014, Ken Cottrell was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer. Chemotherapy became his routine. For the next six months, that was his life. And in the following six weeks, radiation took over his day to day. All in hopes that he would one day be able to walk away from his final doctor visit as the man he was before his diagnosis.
But in October of 2015, Ken went back to get a check-up. His Doctor gave him a CAT scan to see how he had progressed. The news he received then was something no one could prepare for. His cancer had metastasized in his lungs and had developed to stage 4. The diagnosis was terminal.
So back to chemo he went. Every other Tuesday Ken goes in and is hooked up to a machine that pumps the chemo through him for 48 hours straight. He heads back on Thursday where his Nurse detaches him from this machine. Same pain, new routine. It’s here that his Nurse Navigator, Tracy, brings up the idea of For Pete’s Sake to both Ken and his wife, Cindy.
For Pete’s Sake is a non-profit organization founded by Marci Bossow Schankweiler after the loss of her husband, Pete, in 1999 to cancer. In the midst of his treatment, their family and friends sent Pete, Marci and their children on an all-expenses-paid vacation. The relief, joy and rejuvenation that Pete experienced while on this trip gave him the energy he needed to get through the next year of pain and treatment with a positive attitude and willingness to fight. Pete made it incredibly clear during this time what that experience had done for him and his spirit. This is the spark that lit the fuse to Marci and this foundation’s explosive beginning.
For Pete’s Sake is a Cancer Respite Foundation. I believe they can explain this concept best;
We provide adult cancer patients who are facing rigorous treatments with the opportunity to spend a carefree and cost-free time with their spouse and children.”
Ken’s Nurse, Tracy, and his Oncologist, Dr. Jaconi, nominated Ken to be a recipient of the For Pete’s Sake gift. After a short interview with the staff at For Pete’s Sake, Ken, Cindy, and their six children- Kyle, Connor, Cole (all 18), Clayton (16), Carly (12) and Courtney (10) received the following gifts:
- 8 round-trip airline tickets out of Grand Rapids International Airport
- 2 rental cars (to fit all 8 people)
- A four-bedroom home with built-in pool (named Jonny’s house; donated by a family who lost their son, Jonny)
- 8 tickets to Disney World
- 8 tickets to Universal studios
- 8 tickets to SeaWorld
- $1,000 spending cash
For so many of us who get lost in the day to day, we may forget just how human we are. Even as I write this, I take for granted my ability to sit here free of pain, to eat my meals without getting sick and to feel that my path of life is nowhere near its end. Sometimes it takes those who are experiencing sickness to put into perspective to the rest of us just how vivacious, lovely and delicate each day is. For Pete’s Sake allows people like Ken the chance to feel what it’s like to be cancer free once again. It helps them to experience immeasurable joy amidst a devastating crisis.
On February 10th, Ken’s Wife, Sons and Daughters will walk up to the gates of Disney. They’ll smell the cinnamon of the elephant ears, hear the chatter of the excited children around them and feel the wind of the rollercoaster as it flies by. For the next week they’ll laugh harder than they have in months, scream louder than their lungs allow and share their never-ending love with one another. They’ll take their first step into that magical kingdom and from that moment on, it will no longer be them, Ken and cancer; it will be just them and Ken. For that week, Ken will get to be Ken. And while he’s there, all 247 of us Applied Imaging family members will be sending our love to him, and we’ll be sending our thanks to For Pete’s Sake for providing him with this adventure.
Routines; at least for now, you can be in control of yours. It’s time we all make giving a part of that routine; go to www.takeabreakfromcancer.org/get-involved/ to find out how you can be a part of this fantastic program.