Mike Charnock of Houston was treated for high blood pressure and enlarged lymph nodes before doctors found the real cause. On July 26, 2010, at age 35, he was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer, which had spread to his brain.
With brain surgery under his belt and a strong treatment plan, Mike is defying the odds every day. His wife, Lyndie, shares her experiences as a caregiver to encourage others that complete faith and a good attitude may help them do the same.
When you arrive at MD Anderson, you realize that you're not in Kansas anymore. MD Anderson employs 18,000-plus people. That is an entire city. Actually, larger than some cities.
The times I've been here with Mike, there has been a lot of hustle and bustle. It seems we go from appointment to appointment.
The day after Mike's surgery, he had visitors throughout the day and night. On the second night of his stay, as some friends were leaving, I began walking them toward the entrance that led to their parking garage.
The land of Oz On our way, I saw that everything had shut down for the night. The hallways all looked the same, so we decided to stop and ask a security guard how to get out.
When we asked if we were headed the right way, he simply said, "Follow the green carpet with the dark green blocks. Those paths always lead to somewhere specific that patients can access."
Wow, how smart is that? Simply, "Follow the green-blocked carpet" and you are sure to find your way.
I had never really looked at MD Anderson as anything but a huge network of hospital buildings and hallways that heal. It may sound funny, but now I think of it as The Great Oz!
You know the place. Where the scarecrow went to get a brain. Where the tin man went to get a heart. Where the cowardly lion found courage and where Dorothy learned how to get home, back to Kansas.
We don't have red slippers. Instead of tapping our heels three times, we just continue to believe and pray. We trust and know that if we give it all to God, soon enough we will be "back in Kansas" -- back to our normal.
Exploring the blocks
That same night after Mike went to bed, I decided to take a tour using the green-blocked carpet to see what I could find. I made it down to the main entrance and sat in the lobby.
It was so quiet. There were no valets wheeling people to their cars. There were no doctors speeding through the halls with their white coats and rushing to their next appointments and surgeries. There were no visitors coming through with flowers and balloons, asking for room locations to rush a bouquet to offer a patient a smile.
It was complete quiet.
Walking around that night, I had a lot of time to think. I remember thinking about how thankful I am that Mike and I live only 15 minutes from MD Anderson. I know that even though our lives have already changed, they will continue to change as we move forward.
Mike is still receiving treatments and I pray that he will react as well to this as he did to his surgery. I still can't believe he was home within 48 hours of brain surgery. I realize everything may not be that easy, so our days at MD Anderson are not over anytime soon.
We look forward to the day when he finishes treatment and we will get to go home to our own house and our own bed. But what a blessing it has been to have all of this in our backyard.