Some adventures we don’t seek. Don’t ask for. Don’t want. Yet it’s these things, of course, that often do the most to define us …
This posting from Real Deal Brazil fan Kim DeVoid Colby of Manchester, N.H., about her husband, Rob, appeared on our Facebook fan page Oct. 24, and gave us real pause:
“Today my husband did something noble,” Kim begins.
Rob, we then learn, was recently diagnosed with cancer, specifically, Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Knowing what treatment he was facing, and that it would inevitably result in temporary baldness, Rob decided to do something proactive. He lopped off his hair – all two feet of it – and donated it to Locks of Love (http://www.locksoflove.org/), the wonderful nonprofit group that provides hairpieces to underprivileged kids in the U.S. and Canada living with long-term medical hair-loss.
And through it all, what was Rob’s biggest concern about himself? Not that he was going to be bald from the chemo. Not even that the chemo, in fighting the cancer, would be brutal on his body. No, Rob’s pressing worry was about his hat. His beloved Real Deal Brazil recycled-tarp hat.
“His one thought … will his Real Deal hat still fit??” Kim writes. “We love your products and while his hat will fit him again ..., he will be hatless until I can make a skull cap to keep it in place. Thanks for being his number one concern while he loses his hair that has been long for 16 years!!! LOL.”
We’ve since received several notes directly from Rob himself. In one he included a few pictures detailing the beginning of his journey with chemotherapy.
In the first photo, above, we see Rob still with his long hair. He’s contemplating, he says, “the vast journey soon ahead of me.
“As with all great adventures, one must make a sacrifice,” he muses on his decision to donate his long-held long hair. “An offering to those who look down upon us and bless or curse the path before us.”
The next two photos, which follow the text here, are post-haircut. In the first of those, Rob is on his way in to beginning chemo at Foundation Oncology and Hematology in Nashua, N.H., about a half-hour’s drive south of Manchester. (“I am still missing the hair,” Rob writes.) In the second, Rob is “all hooked up and getting the stuff pumped into me,” he notes.
Rob has unfortunately been no stranger to health concerns even before the cancer diagnosis. He’s someone who routinely lives with a lot of pain, suffering from reflex sympathetic dystrophy (or RSDS, a poorly understood syndrome associated with compromised immune-system function), fibromyalgia, bursitis and arthritis.
Any of that would be enough to turn a person’s thoughts dark and squarely inward, yet that’s hardly what comes across in Rob’s e-mails to us. Instead, what shines through is his ready good humor: "If I could offer any advice to anyone who has to get chemo," he says at one point, "get a seat near the bathroom. Man, I was peeing every 5 minutes...”
The other thing most apparent in Rob’s notes is his quickness to praise the folks taking care of him, from the oncology doctor who called him on her own time to ask if he had any questions before beginning chemo to the nurse who tried to ease his boredom by teaching him to knit – “which,” Rob notes, “I am doing pretty good at if I do say so myself.”
In fact, Rob simply can’t say enough about the nursing care he’s been receiving. The nurses at Foundation Oncology and Hematology, he says, are “the Real Deal when it comes to helping others.” (We couldn’t have ever said that any better ourselves, Rob!)
“The nurse who is in charge of my treatment went out of her way to find out a bit about my RSDS and Fibro and how my body would react to the treatments,” Rob reveals. “She didn't have to so this, (but) because (she did anyway), they made sure to give me a bit more of the anti-nausea meds to hopefully spare me the extra pain the vomiting would incur.
“It might be the Chemo and me feeling icky and sick,” he adds, “but I'm getting all sorts of emotional thinking about what I have seen (the nurses at Foundation Oncology and Hematology) do for people so far and I've only been there two days. I still have about 4 more months and can only imagine what I'll see.”
Kim is actually in nursing school herself at the moment, and Rob, she says, keeps telling her, "You better get some learning out of this; I want all this crap to amount to something."
The nurses, Kim adds, "are sooo nice there; they keep teaching me more and more."
Rob is right now going through something none of us wants to imagine could ever happen to us, and his concern for others throughout is incredibly admirable, and more than a little humbling. “Noble,” as his wife has put it.
So at the Real Deal Brazil, we’re really honored to think we’re any small part of Rob’s healing process, and wish him our heartfelt best on his path to his own revitalized Real Deal future.