Ray and I met years ago. My husband and I were referred to Lynn and Ray when we decided to move and needed a real estate agent to list our house; they were our team. Ray and his wife Lynn and my husband Dave and I quickly turned into friends; who knew that our path in life would cross over in different ways.
Fast forward to November 2014, Ray and his wife were enjoying a vacation in Hawaii. Ray woke up and found blood on his pillow. Startled of course and not sure what the reasoning was, they sought out the best doctors they could find once arriving back to St. Louis. After a quick CT scan and biopsy, they realized that there was a mass on his tonsil. After further investigation, it was determined this mass was not benign; it was cancerous – “P-16” positive. They remembered hearing, “if you have cancer, this is the type to have.” Lynn recalls that moment vividly, she looked at Ray and said “No pity party here dear. I am by your side. We are a team.” Hearing those words “you have cancer” is awful. And that having any type of cancer is “the good kind to have”; they knew regardless, that together, they could beat this.
And from that moment on, Lynn was by Ray’s side… undergoing the treatment plans that included 10 arduous weeks of chemotherapy and 35 proton radiation treatments through Siteman Cancer Center. This was quite the daunting task to endure – as the treatments lasted for days, weeks and months well past the original diagnosis – occurring from late winter 2014 through spring of 2015, and through it all, Ray and Lynn persevered. Ray continued to work through all of this; he knew that he had to keep going and keeping life as normal as he could was what was best to get through this.
I met up with Ray early during his treatment in March 2015. I presented him with the Powered by Hope – Medal of Hope and Coin of Courage to hold onto during their journey. They told me that they thought they lost their coin once and were “completely devastated.” They searched and searched and eventually found it in their car; all peace was restored. It was amazing to hear how much the Coin of Courage truly meant to them; how it symbolized Hope and that for a few moments in time – they felt lost without it and that it made them whole again. He has never let go of it to this day; it goes everywhere with him. That is what I intended with the Coin of Courage; to always have a piece of Hope with you.
He shared the kindest words with me – how commendable I am and how I took what I have gone through, my challenges and put a positive spin on it. I am humbled. I don’t think about my challenges, I think about others first – this is what I was meant to do and my purpose. I was given this gift to inspire others and give hope. In turn, they do the same for me tenfold and I am deeply humbled by each and every personal experience. To me, this is the cycle of life and how there is a reason why we met long ago; we were meant to be in each others’ lives. We are more than friends – we have a bond that no one can replace. We share something very special and I am forever grateful to be part of their life.
Fast forward months later, it’s now September 2015 – life is getting back to a “new” normal for Ray and Lynn. He made it through treatment with flying colors, and is trying to get back to working without a doctor’s appointment every day. And he is back on his stationary bike almost every day – bringing back a fitness regime to his daily activities to restore the energy and health was taken from him months prior.
Ray and Lynn recall their experience…
“Everyone was unbelievably supportive. People were phenomenal. Family. Friends. The medical staff at Siteman. It was an unbelievable experience if anyone can understand that. He was extremely complimentary to the technicians – Matt, Shari, Paula, Nikki, Janette and Nurse Chris and Susan at the Proton Center at Barnes.”
Ray shared this sentiment and advice for others who are going through this…
“You have to have faith and hope. It is not sprint, it is a marathon.“
He continued to say…
“The Coin of Courage is a symbol of Hope. It goes everywhere with me every day. I hold on to the Coin of Courage and never let go of Hope.”