One of the hardest parts of visiting the treatment center every day is watching the kids, who are at much greater risk than I, and who have a whole life ahead of them that might be cut short. Seeing a 4-year old who doesn’t want to go through “those doors” but then sucks it up and dashes through, or the young teen age girl with a knit cap to cover her hair loss from the chemotherapy, or the… Well, you all get the idea. There was a young boy the other day, probably about 6 or 7, who was wearing a helicopter volcano tour t-shirt from Hawaii. I caught his dad off to the side and asked him if his son like helicopters. Well, duuhhhh! So I told dad that I flew helicopters for @ 20 years in the Army and I had a couple of things that I’d like to pass on if the boy might like them. He gave his permission, so I put together this little package, with a memorial I’d received from one of my unit assignments – a brass life-size replica of the cyclic control stick head for a UH-1 Huey (Bro Mitch Carroll got some door gunner time in those – but that’s a different story!), a Luke Skywalker action figure for a crew, the miniature Master Aviator Wings off my Mess Dress Blue uniform, and then threw in a DVD of the Eruption of Mt St. Helens with my 5 sec of video fame so he could see the aftermath of what a volcano can do. This afternoon after the young man finished treatment, I had an opportunity to sit down with him for about 20 minutes. I presented him with the package, explained what the cyclic stick was, showed him all the buttons and what they did (which he won’t remember, I’m sure!), and then answered a bunch of his questions, which turned into a mini-rotary wing aerodynamics lesson including how autorotation works when the engine quits. At the end, I appointed him an Honorary Master Aviator and, in recognition of his Courage in the Face of the Enemy, I pinned on his wings. I can’t do much about those poor kids, but we have to do what we can, and I’ll tell you that attitude and morale are as important as any other factor in the treatment process.
As always, may you never stop learning and may your journeys always lead to new and exciting destinations!