Our journey started with a reason, even though we did not know what that reason was. It didn’t matter. We headed straight on into the journey without a map and without the knowledge of what to expect—all we took with us was our love. One thing we knew, though, it would take a team. We would make sure we did not do this alone. I have always been a shareaholic—I hug strangers! So, when we learned about our new journey, we knew there was no question about sharing all of it, the ups and the downs.
It is our hope that Adventure, Day One will inspire you and help you to understand you have choices—you can choose to be positive, even in the most adverse times—and, just as importantly, you can choose to not be alone. This book is intended for people facing any difficult bump in the road of life, with the idea that reading our story of facing life and surviving the biggest journey we have ever been on will give you the courage to be open and communicate with family and friends—and yes, even strangers. They will become caregivers and life-givers.
It has taken us ten years to put to paper the full cycle of our journey, and even now, we know the journey continues. We didn’t go into this with a plan, we didn’t have a choice. We walked head on into Rickey’s diagnosis of acute myeloid leukemia as if we were going to win—and felt sure there was a reason for this challenge. Even as we walked out our front door on the way to the hospital for the first time and Rickey made the comment, “Well, this is the end of Camelot,” I knew the reason would be revealed to us and that we would be given the strength to get through it.
Life goes so fast. In the midst of it all hopefully we stop and say the things that we feel, we take the time to do the three A’s: pay attention to those we love, show affection to the most important people in our lives, and tell them we appreciate them. You never know when one phone call will change your life forever—and you can’t go back and get a “do-over”—do it now!
How did we get through our challenge? I can’t say for sure if it was our natural optimism or our military “can-do” attitude, but each day we faced together the adventure in front of us and stayed determined to embrace the journey. We faced death as we faced life, together, as one. We drew our strength from each other to help the other one cope—it is just our natural reaction to adversity. We also turned to others—friends, family, caregivers—and they were a bottomless source of help.
As time went by, I saw a pattern in how we were dealing with our challenge. We refused to be disheartened or give up. We didn’t cut ourselves off from others, especially those who wanted to help. We planned special activities and outings designed to heal and lift our spirits. And we continuously thought of it as an adventure and remained positive as much as we could.
This pattern, we realized, was actually a series of strategies we’d been using to deal with our crisis…and they were working! Seeing that they could also help others, no matter what the obstacles, we decided to share our journey.