#31 Cuyahoga Valley National Park, OH
Another great day in a very interesting National Park! There were several things that made it a great day, but let's back up to the night before when I flew into the Cleveland Airport.
Ken and Cindy Ertel picked me up from the airport and took me to dinner in Cleveland. Ken is a NET patient and sees Dr. Eric Liu in Denver. We had made contact this winter on Facebook and I met them when Ken was in Denver for surgery. They are incredible people who never take any day or blessing for granted and are eager to share. Ken is the lead for the Ohio NET patients support group and does a stellar job educating and supporting the good patients there. Laura, also a NET patient, supports Ken with all the behind the scene details and planning, and she does it brilliantly. What strikes me most about Ken, Cindy, & Laura is that they don't lead, they walk with people. It makes all the difference.
Ken & Cindy
Terrific restaurant owned by Chef Jonathan Sawyer
"Farm to Table" fresh
They put me up most graciously in their beautiful home and let me love on their sweet dog Zuka. I always miss Belle, my Great Pyreneese when I'm away from home.
The next morning we were up and ready to start the 5 mile hike in Cuyahoga! So what made Cuyahoga special? Well, it was many things: it was the generous hospitality of the Ertels, it was getting to see Jeff & Cathy Larsen who came to support me (they used to live near us in Colorado and live nearby); it was also that we were being joined by many NET patients from Ohio. It is always deeply touching and very humbling when NET patients share their journey with me. I remember how hard it was to walk with my daughter on her NET journey, but I wouldn't have chosen to be anywhere else than supporting her. I honor each and everyone of them and their caregivers.
I would like to especially thank Pam Barnes, Park Ranger & Public Affairs officer for Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Pam was so welcoming and helped with the coordination of everything that day! Many, many thanks Pam!
There was one more item that made it a great day...the producer and film crew from The Today Show with Megyn Kelly had travelled to Cuyahoga to film and interview. I am so grateful to the show for taking an interest in NET cancer and helping us bring awareness to this most misdiagnosed disease. I especially want to thank Becky Liscum, the producer, for her unparelled kindness and sensitivity to telling Anna's story, and the story of suffering NET patients everywhere.
L-R Cindy, Laura, Ed, Melissa, Doug,
Suzi not pictured, Ken, Gil, Ken, Bob, Marsha, Jeff,
Jeff, Cathy taking picture, Brenda, & Greg
We had a wonderful walk in the woods along the old Ohio canal lines that supported commerce and travel back before trains.
One of the old locks on the canal
And the moment you've all been waiting for...FLOWERS!
I'm sure you have heard all the jokes and horror stories about the Cuyahoga River. In the past it was so polluted that it actually caught on fire several times. Fire patrol boats would cruise the river in the event a fire took place on the water. Yeah, pretty bad...
There were a few who believed it could be cleaned up and returned to a healthy ecosystem, but most thought that was delusional thinking. I could write pages upon pages about the struggle and victories that ensued with the cleanup of the valley and river, and the brave, persistant people who fought for it; for I believe these people were great heroes. It's one thing to set aside a pristine wilderness for a National Park; it is quite another to fight big industry and sheep like intellect to make a great National Park. Great job guys, the Park is wonderful! It is beautiful and accesible to all.
Sometimes in life we are called to do something extremely hard or "impossible". Whether it is cleaning up the Cuyahoga River Valley or fighting a tough, tough cancer like NET, we need to stand up and be warriors. Anna was a great warrior. She wasn't afraid of dying; she was afraid of not living. By that, I mean she wanted everyday to be a great experience. Don't be afraid to get up everyday and live.
See you on down the tracks, my friends!