Butler County Times Gazette
  • Faith, Family, Friends and the Class of 1966

  • One in every three people reading this right now will be diagnosed with cancer this year. The population of Butler County as of 2012 is 65,827 meaning 21,943 will be diagnosed with cancer. The American Cancer Society (ACS) and El Dorado’s Relay For Life fight back for those people.
    • email print
  • One in every three people reading this right now will be diagnosed with cancer this year. The population of Butler County as of 2012 is 65,827 meaning 21,943 will be diagnosed with cancer. The American Cancer Society (ACS) and El Dorado’s Relay For Life fight back for those people.
    This year’s event is at East Park on June 20 starting at 6 p.m. with the survivor and caregiver laps. The luminaria ceremony is at 10 p.m. and breakfast at 6 a.m. The public and all cancer survivors are encouraged to attend a night of fun activities.
    The Survivor’s Reception, at 6 p.m. June 19 at Trinity United Methodist Church kicks off the “Field of Dreams” Relay. This year’s Honorary Survivor is Linda McCoy Call of El Dorado who is no stranger to cancer. Three brothers, her grandma, a cousin and sister-in-law are all survivors. She’s lost a cousin, brother, a 2-year-old great nephew, and a grandmother she never knew to cancer.
    Call had skin cancer removed from her nose in 2003 and was diagnosed in December of 2013 with breast cancer.
    Call’s journey started with a yearly mammogram after feeling a lump in her breast.
    “I thought, ‘oh I’ll probably get a letter that says I have to come back’,” she said.
    Susan B. Allen conducted another mammogram and sonogram. The radiologist wanted her to have a biopsy right then but she had already made plans to go to Seattle to see her grandson.
    “I didn’t have time for cancer,” Call said. “It comes when you least expect it.”
    When she came back, Dr. Paul McKesey did a biopsy.
    “On Dec. 19, at 8:30 a.m., I got word it was cancer,” she said. “I didn’t cry, I was in a daze.”
    A lumpectomy procedure was done on Christmas Eve day. Four lymph nodes were also removed. On Dec. 30 she found out there were cancer cells on them. This was a tearful time for her and her husband.
    “I cried, I cried for my kids,” she said.
    McKesey suggested a bilateral mastectomy because the cancer could develop in her other breast. On Jan. 3, she had her surgery.
    “There were so many family and friends praying,” she said. “The only thing that got me through it was faith, family, friends and the class of 1966. I wasn’t scared, I was lifted up.”
    Her chemo was delayed one month because she got an infection on her face. John Rothwell and JoAnna Rush, two of her children, came down and went to her appointments with her.
    Page 2 of 4 - “They helped by taking notes because you go in and you don’t hear everything,” she said.
    Roger Call, her husband, is a good caregiver. She appreciates people who sat with her during chemo, her supportive classmates and people bringing meals.
    “It’s great because he’s not a good cook,” she said. “He can make a peanut butter and jelly and eggs but that’s about it.”
    Two weeks after the mastectomy she stopped taking pain pills and had two days where she just started crying about anything so she did some research.
    “I decided I’m not crazy,” Call said. “I talked to my lady doctor and she said this happens to people after they’re off the pain pills and that it was good to wash out all the tears.”
    Call started posting her findings and experiences on Facebook to try and help others.
    She will take pills for five years to reduce the chance of cancer coming back.
    “If it does, it will be stage four,” she said.
    She said the most devastating thing was 14 days after her first chemo when she brushed her hair and handfuls came out. Her cousin Becky told her losing hair “puts cancer in perspective.” It did for Call, too.
    “By then so much was coming out and I didn’t want patches so my husband shaved my head,” she said. “I asked if I got a piece of gum when he was done because barbers used to do that.”
    She wanted to cover all the mirrors in her home.
    “I had to go to the basement and there was a mirror down there,” she said. “It was like a scary movie. I peeked around the corner, looked and said to myself, ‘oh it’s not as bad as I thought.’ In fact, my daughter keeps saying, ‘mom, you’re beautiful.’ I see myself in a different light. I’m kind of starting to believe her.”
    When she goes places like church, she wears a wig.
    “I didn’t want it to be about me; I don’t ever want it to be about me,” she said.
    If she’s with her grandkids she plays a game by making them close their eyes and she puts on different hats.
    She received a free wig from ACS’s Look Good Feel Good Program.
    Page 3 of 4 - Day by day she’s recuperating.
    “I can tell because of my positive mental attitude,” she said. “I couldn’t pick myself up by myself. But why be sorry if I can be happy to be alive?”
    Deb Hall is this year’s Relay event chair and a good friend of Call’s.
    “She has been a great role model and inspiration to me,” Hall said. “When I was diagnosed, she told me there are people here for me and she asked if I would be interested in doing a Relay Team. I said give me two days. She knows I have a large family and before the two days were up, she came over, and I signed myself up.”
    The name of Call’s team is “Homerun Walkers,” because her son John Rothwell has always had a knack for hitting homeruns. He had to have surgery on his knees but since he hit the ball over the fence, he was able to just walk the bases.
    “When I found out the theme, I thought I’d name it after him,” she said.
    Five of her six brothers played softball at East Park Ball Diamonds. She hopes Herschel, Chet and Paul will back on the field during Relay.
    Her graduating class contributed to her team. Classmate Billee Douglass sent e-mails to the class to let them know how she was doing.
    “I took over when I started feeling better and mentioned they could contribute to the team,” Call said. “One man lost his sister and this is a way for him to give back for her. They told me, ‘you cheered in high school and now we are your cheerleader’.”
    Many members will be at Relay and they decided to have a mini class reunion at the Holiday Inn Express at 6 p.m. June 21 after the Relay.
    Call’s grandkids really keep her alive.
    “Some days I don’t feel like going anywhere but for them I do,” she said. “One week after chemo started, all my kids were in Kansas City so I went up there. I came home and went straight to bed.”
    Between chemo and Relay meetings, Call feels close to other survivors.
    “So many people have cancer and it makes me more aware,” she said. “I never knew what to say but now I know. I already had empathy but I feel bad for what I didn’t do because I know all the things people do for me.”
    Page 4 of 4 - Survivor attendance shows people the reason to Relay.
    “More survivors should come because it’s uplifting and shows there is life after cancer,” Call said.
    Relay and the Survivor’s Reception gives people an opportunity to help each other heal.
    “Survivors have something to shout about because it could have been the other way,” she said.
    Cancer is never timely.
    “You never know when,” Call said. “More and more people find out about cancer and it’s eye opening. Sometimes I wonder if it’s because of the food we eat and drink. We don’t eat as well as the pioneers. I worry if the preventative medications help cancer growth. We’ve all got cancer, we all probably have the cells, but it does not grow unless it’s fed.”
    After Call beats cancer, she wants to go back to substitute teach, attend Mardi Gras next April, and visit friends in Louisiana.
    “I miss being around kids but I see the grandkids more,” she said. “They keep me going.”
    She enjoys swimming with them. This brings her to a dilemma with breast reconstruction of which she is still unsure.
    Call also enjoys taking her sister who is in assisted living to church at St. John’s on Saturdays. She is 20 years older than Call.
    “Now we’re sisters,” said Call.
    At first, she wondered why her sister-in-law said she would sit with her during chemo.
    “If people want to help you, let them because by letting them help you, you’re helping them,” she said. “People have a misconception that just because you have cancer, it means you’re going to die. It doesn’t. It’s a journey to get well. Keeping a positive attitude is number one, well prayer is number one.”
    Despite everything she is going through, Call stays busy.
    “I wish I could slow my mind,” she said. “Sometimes I can’t do much but you have to do something each day.”
    Call also believes everything has a purpose.
    “I may not ever know in this life why I got cancer but if it helps other people and makes me want to help more then that’s a reason,” she said. “We’re not all just sun-shiny and everything just hunky-dory but each day has something and we all need to find something we’re thankful for. It’s just something we need to do.”

        calendar