Welcome to the Voyages of the Summerthor
Welcome to the voyages of the S/V Summerthor. Please feel free to follow what turned out to be a three year voyage from Maine to Guatemala in a 42’ sailboat.
We traveled up and down the East Coast a couple of times, put our anchor down in Key West for “a couple of weeks” and ended up spending something like six months! We were having entirely too much fun! Finally some “cruising” buddies of ours came along and told us that we had gotten “stuck”… they were heading to Mexico and thought we should join them! So we did! Six months in Mexico were followed by a leisurely journey through Belize and another six months in Guatemala! That’s where the journey ended… rather abruptly… but you’ll need to read the epilog for that! Please enjoy… we did! You will find, as we did…
Life’s a TRIP!
The journey of Summerthor ended abruptly in the fall of 2005. Roger was diagnosed with a brain tumor while we were in Guatemala. He received excellent and compassionate care in Guatemala City and the tumor was resected by a VERY talented neurosurgeon. I know… “Very talented neurosurgeon” and “Guatemala City” don’t seem to go together in the minds of MOST Americans. This man was not only brilliantly talented, but had a RADIANT soul. I knew from the moment I met Dr. Enrique Azmitia that he would do the best job anyone could. I was right.
Roger recovered very well from the surgery and had virtually NO side effects at all. He was 100 percent himself. I am grateful for that. Once he had recovered from surgery sufficiently, we flew back home… actually we flew directly to the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health in Washington, DC. He was evaluated by the Head of Neuro-Oncology… who was also QUITE surprised to find that “no one could have done a better job” than that Guatemalan neurosurgeon. He had been very impressed!
Alas… the kind of brain tumor Roger had was a glioblastoma… the kind of tumor that also killed Ted Kennedy. We had originally thought that it was another kind of tumor that was fairly treatable; the NCI pathologists set the record straight. The chances of his survival were very slim. You try anyway…. Of COURSE you try! He went through a round of radiation therapy in a town about an hour and a half away from our home in Oriental, NC, which was the closest facility with equipment sophisticated enough for the delicate nature of treating a brain tumor. That held the tumor at bay very well, but you can only radiate the brain for a limited time before the damage outweighs the benefits. Later he had several rounds of chemo-therapy but nothing worked very well. Brain tumors are tough because there is a blood-brain barrier that effectively stops most chemo agents.
Eventually, as the effects of the tumor became more debilitating, we made the decision to stop therapy and put him into Hospice care. He died at home in North Carolina in August of 2006.
Summerthor was sailed back to the USA by a group of three men who volunteered their time to do so. I am very grateful to them. They brought her as far as the Florida Keys. We got the help of one of our neighbors to bring her from Florida to Oriental, NC. We did this between chemo treatments for Roger. It was the last voyage of “Summerthor”. I was able to sell her before the bottom fell out of the luxury goods market. Later I was able to sell our home in the second-home area of Oriental, NC right before the bottom fell out of THAT market!
I bought a condo in the small city in which Roger was treated and I am happy calling it home. It has a university and good teaching hospital. I have good friends here. I am active in the (very liberal) church I have joined and volunteer for Hospice. The volunteer work fulfills me… I enjoy being in service to others and am grateful that I have the time to do this!
The grief process is a tough journey. As I write, it is close to four years since Roger’s death. I can honestly say that as of this writing, I am HAPPY! My life is different than what I had imagined before Roger was diagnosed with brain cancer… but it is good. It has been a real journey and I am grateful for the lessons I have learned along the way.
I still travel extensively and write about it in my blog "And Now and Update from Almost Anywhere". Travel renews and refreshes me. I am never so happy as I am when I can launch myself onto the wind and FLY! I spent 3 months living in Jerusalem in the fall of 2009. That truly was an amazing experience! It changed me in ways that I am still trying to fathom. I have also spent a month in Thailand and 3 weeks in China… as well as hopping in my car and driving 11,000 miles across the USA in the summer of 2009 (it took me nearly three months). Yes… I travel alone. I actually find I meet more people and have a more interesting time when I am alone. I meet the most AMAZING people along the way! And to me… that’s what makes life worth living… the awesome and amazing people you meet along the way!
Thanks for joining Roger and I on our sailboat adventure. It was fun. I would not have skipped a single step, for fear of missing a single lesson learned!
Fair winds and smooth seas to you all!
Life’s a trip!