El Dorado County is at it again!

The support for Patty over the past year has been amazing.  From the initial cancer diagnosis, through the mastectomy, through chemotherapy and even today!

 Two weeks ago we traveled to our old stomping grounds in the Lake Tahoe and Placerville areas of Northern California.  Our first stop was the office Patty retired from a year ago… the El Dorado County Department of Child Support Services.  As I said in an earlier post…

 We walked through the security door.  People heard Patty’s voice and immediately came to the front of the office and showered her with love, hugs and tears!  It was so obvious to me how much these people truly care about her!”

 If you’ve followed this blog from early on, you’ll remember these women (and a few men) from that office raising over $600 in Patty’s name for cancer research through the Susan Komen “Pink for the Cure.”  I remember both of us being so touched and humbled by their effort!  It was amazing!

 We have a very close friend named Becky.  Patty first met Becky when she went to work for the El Dorado County Dept. of Child Support Services as Becky was her immediate supervisor.  Over the years their relationship grew from a boss/subordinate relationship into a very close friendship and beyond!

 As you know by now, Patty is in the process of raising money to walk in the Susan Komen 3-day Race for the Cure in November of this year.  The entry fee/goal is to raise $2,300.00.  Patty just passed 50% of that goal and is sitting somewhere around $1,180.00 raised.  

 Well, Becky is up to her tricks… she has put together a fundraiser at the office to support Patty in her efforts to participate in the 3-day Race for the Cure.  Take a look at the display in the office…

Becky is holding a raffle of a Harry and David gift box of “munchies.” 

The drawing will be held on April 20th! 

It’s ironic.  The Susan Komen website is the first one Patty research when she was diagnosed with cancer.  The website was so helpful to her, as well as I.  She feels so good to be involved in raising money for this organization and even more so with help from all her friends!  Becky told Patty this will be the first of many fund raisers to come!

Becky… Thank you!  You’re the best!

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As Patty gets stronger… we travel!

We had the best time this past weekend!  We made a trip up to our old “stomping grounds” between Placerville and Lake Tahoe where we had spent the past 10 years of our lives.  We were both really excited to make this trip as it would be the first time out of town in nearly a year since Patty was diagnosed!  We were not only excited to get out of “Dodge” for a few days, but we were also excited to have the chance to visit with friends that we’ve really missed.

Patty had purchased our tickets about six weeks ago with Southwest.  She felt pretty good about getting the “internet deal” for a relatively good price.  The only issue with the internet deal was that the best price tickets were for flights people don’t want to take as our departure was scheduled for 6:30 a.m.  Thank God I’m an early person… Patty is quite the opposite.

Patty and I were at the American Cancer Society event the night before.  We were pretty wired when we got home.  We finished laundry, packed our bags, cleaned the house and hit the bed around 11:00 p.m.  I set the alarm for 4:00 a.m. which would give us time to shower etc and be out the door by 4:45 a.m.   Do you remember when you were a kid and your parents told you they were taking you to Disneyland the next day and  how you woke up every hour to see if it was time to leave yet?  That was me and Patty that night.  We woke up pretty much every hour on the hour!  In fact I was laying wide awake in the dark at 2:00 a.m. and realized Patty was awake also!  We laughed about it eventually fell back asleep.  I got up about 10 minutes before the alarm went off.  I showered, make coffee and rustled Patty out of bed.  We were on the road right on time… about 4:45 a.m.  Leaving at this time would allow us time to drive to the parking lot a few miles from the airport, shuttle to the airport, check our bags, stand in the security lines etc…  As I’m sure you’re aware, timing is everything when it comes to the “airport!”  We finished checking our bags and went to the security area.  My God!  I’m not exaggerating; the security line must have had 100+ people.  I asked Patty: “What the heck are all these people doing up so early?”  The line seemed to stretch forever!  We got in the back of the line and surprisingly it moved somewhat quick.  Not real quick, but somewhat quick.  It took maybe 15 minutes to get to the security area… remove your shoes, belt, watch, empty your pockets etc…  Thank God they weren’t using the Body Scanner as that would have taken more time.  We got through the security area and walked over to the electronic board that shows the arrivals and departures.  I scrolled my eyes down to the Southwest departures to Sacramento.  Ah, there it was, flight 522 to Sacramento, departing at 6:30 a.m. at Gate 1.  Perfect!  Wait a minute… Gate 1??????  That’s in another part of the airport!!!  I looked at my watch and it was now 6:10 a.m.  We had 20 minutes to run to another part of the airport, go through another security line and get on our flight!  Not a chance!  But, we had to give it a shot!  We made it to the other security area within minutes, but now we found ourselves in yet, another line.  Not as long as the first security check line, but this one was utilizing the Body Scanner which is a slow process!  We were both on edge hoping to make this flight. Suddenly a woman who worked for Southwest walked over and yelled our names… “Is there a Mr. and Mrs. Sousek here?”  I called to the woman who looked at me and with somewhat of a snotty attitude asked: “Why are you late?  Did you get lost?”  Whatever!  I told he that we had gone to the wrong area, hoping she would move us to the front of the line, but not a chance.  She just walked off.  We were now about the 5th and 6th people in line and they stopped using the Body Scanner so thing now moved quicker, other than still removing our shoes, belt, watch, empty our pockets etc… We got through the other scanner, grabbed out things and ran to the gate.  There stood the Southwest Airlines woman (with the snotty attitude) who informed us that we missed our flight.  The next flight to Sacramento departed at 8:30 a.m.  Patty looked at me with a frustrated expression and said: “Oh man… we could have slept in another two hours!”

We made the 8:30 a.m. flight and landed in Sacramento a little before 10:00 a.m.  I joked with Patty that I learned if you send your bags on the flight before your scheduled flight, there’s no wait when you arrive at your destination.  You just walk over to the baggage claim area, pick up your bags and leave!  Too easy!   Sacramento was cold, cloudy and appeared ready to rain.  We rented a 4 wheel drive Chevy Tahoe since we were going to snow country and were on the road by 10:30.

Our first stop was in Placerville at the El Dorado County Department of Child Support Services.  This is the office that Patty retired from in February 2010.  She hasn’t seen these people since she left.  We arrived around 11:30.  Patty was so excited to see everyone!  We walked through the security door.  People heard Patty’s voice and immediately came to the front of the office and showered her with love, hugs and tears!  It was so obvious to me how much these people truly care about her!  I know a lot of women in this office and also got my share of hugs.  I had a number of thank you’s for keeping them informed on Patty’s progress through this blog.  (That made me feel good!)  Patty and I stayed about an hour.  We got into the car for our drive up to Lake Tahoe.  Patty looked at me and said: “I’ve really missed those people!  I just love each one of them!”

We arrived in Tahoe about an hour later.  It had been really stormy and snowy up there for the week earlier and we had hoped the roads would be drivable.  We lucked out and had clear roads all the way.  We stopped by the Tahoe Child Support Branch Office.  Some of the staff had changed since Patty left and others whom she wanted to see were off that afternoon, but we had a really nice visit with Donna who was holding down the fort that afternoon.  We visited about a half hour.  Next stop was by my previous employer, Heavenly Mountain Resort.  It was funny, driving up the road to Heavenly made me feel like I had never left.  It was all too familiar and natural for me.  We dropped in on my old boss, Casey, and his office manager, Audrey.  Casey was on the phone when we barged in and the look on Audrey’s face was priceless when she saw the two of us.  I said: “Damn, if you don’t keep this door locked anyone can just walk in!”  Casey heard my voice, and I could hear him stumble his words on the phone.  We visited with the two of them for about a half hour.  We then went to another area of the resort where I found a close friend of mine, Curtis.  We visited for about half hour with him.  Unfortunately my other close friend from Heavenly, Mark, was off that day so I didn’t get to see him.

After visiting with our previous co-workers, Patty and I realized that we really miss a lot of those people.  You know, you spend 8 hours a day with them, 5 days a week!  That’s a lot of time, especially when you’ve done that for 8 to 10 years.  These people are very special to you.  Speaking with Curtis was like I had just spoken with him the day before.  Nothing had changed.

We’ve made an open invitation to any of these people to look us up if they ever make it to San Diego.  (Remember, we’re moving out of our 708 square foot condo in two weeks!  We’ll have the room for guests!)

Sometime emotions catch you when you least expect it!

I know… I know… it’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve blogged.  I know I said I’d keep this up, so I’ll try to do better. I promise!

 Last Thursday, Patty and I had the privilege of being the guest speakers for the National City American Cancer Society Relay for Life Kickoff!  The plan was that Patty would speak first about her experience then I would follow with speaking about the “husband’s perspective.”   

 I have about a half hour drive to and from work each way.  This is my “thinking” time.  So about a week before this event I gave a lot of thought about what I would say and ran it though my head until I felt comfortable.  Patty, on the other hand, is busy with Avery during the day and is pretty exhausted by the end of the day.  She had somewhat of an idea what she would talk about and the morning of the event she took some time to put her thoughts on paper.  

 Patty is so funny.  She is a great public speaker and you’d think it just came naturally to her.  That is anything but the truth.  She’s a nervous wreck!  I got home from work that Thursday afternoon around 3 p.m.  Patty was sitting on the couch holding Avery.  I can read her like a book!  I could just feel the tension in anticipation of speaking radiating from her.  She said she had written her talk down and would most likely end up reading it at the event.  (Again… I know her, she’ll start by reading but end up freelancing without notes.)  

 We got to the event early, about an hour early to be exact!  It was at a restaurant so we had time to have some dinner.  Little did we know that they were serving dinner at the event!  It’s ok… it kept Patty busy and her mind somewhat off public speaking.  The event started at approximately 6:30 p.m.  The Chairman of the Relay started things off followed by the Mayor of National City who said a few words.  Then they announced  “Patty Sousek and her husband, Ed, are going to speak about their experience with cancer.”  People clapped as Patty held her speaking notes in a sweaty death grip and we made our way to the podium.  Patty talked first.  She placed her now crumpled notes on the podium and started things off.  She did really well. Her voice never quivered and she was just the Patty we all know and love.   As I knew… she started by reading her notes word for word then shortly thereafter, she used her notes to just trigger talking points.  It was very heartfelt!  I stood behind her with complete pride!  They had told us to keep our talk short and Patty finished easily under 5 minutes.  Then came my turn.  I’ve done a lot of public speaking over the years and I do a lot of public speaking in my current job, so getting in front of a crowd doesn’t intimidate me in the least.  In fact, those of you who know me, know that I just love being the center of attention.  I had a pretty good outline in my head of what I wanted to cover and I was confident I could do this from my heart.  I started my talk.  Things were going well for the first minute or so, then it happened!  I was starting to say: “Then came June 22nd… a day I’ll never forget, the day Patty was officially diagnosed with cancer.”  About three-quarters of the way through that sentence, I was engulfed with emotion like a title wave!  I had to stop because I knew what was to follow!  TEARS!!!  I thought to myself: “Ok Ed… get a grip!”  I stopped speaking and hung on!  You could hear a pin drop at this moment!  Within maybe 10 seconds I could feel the emotions passing!  I thought “Phew… I dodged a bullet on that one!”  At least I got through it and didn’t act like a blubbering fool!  So I continued with that sentence about June 22nd.  Immediately that damned wave of emotions hit me again!  “Ok Ed… What’s going on here?”  I had to stop again… I closed my eyes for a second and did a quick prayer in my head…. “God… help me get a grip!”  I looked up at the silent crowd staring at me… I said: “Wow… I don’t know where this is coming from!” and continued with my talk.  My talk lasted, with those two interruptions, about 10 minutes. 

Those two waves of emotions really caught me by surprise!  I’ve never spoke in public about something so personal as this.  It was almost like reliving the day when Patty got the official word that she had breast cancer.  That was a pretty painful day for both of us. 

We plan on speaking in public about our story whenever asked.  This little bump of mine won’t hold me back.  I think I’ll be a little more mentally prepared, but then again, people knowing I was close to tears, showed just how this impacts your life.  I couldn’t have scripted it any better!

We got home that evening around 8:00 p.m. and got busy packing for our trip up to Placerville and Lake Tahoe for the weekend.  That’ll be my next blog.