2011 Christmas Letter
2011 has been a challenging year for Alan and Cheryl.
Alan did retire from Northrop Grumman after 32 1/2 years as of January 1, 2011. That was a very good thing. Alan had a long and satisfying career. He loved his job and made important contributions. Still, retirement has been a welcome change.
The challenges started in February when Cheryl was diagnosed with breast cancer. Thanks to mammograms, it was caught early. She had DCIS (ductal carcenoma in situ) stage 0. She had a lumpectomny in April followed by 5 weeks of daily radiation treatments which concluded on June 28. Thanks to being retired, Alan was with her at every appointment. She now takes Tamoxifen daily and sees the oncologist’s nurse practitioner every six months. While you never claim to be cured of breast cancer, this outcome is the best that could be expected. The surgery was completely successful, she suffered fewer side affects from the radiation than most people, and has resumed normal living.
The other challenge of the year has been coping with the end of life process for Cheryl’s father, Bill Roach. Bill’s health had been declining for some time and finally he determined that he could not live on his own anymore. In July, when Cheryl asked him if he wished to remain in Texas (Dallas), he said that he wanted to come to California to be near us. So, shortly after her own breast cancer treatment, Cheryl and Alan got him moved out here. On August 24, he moved into Sunrise Assisted Living in Hermosa Beach, about 5 minutes from our house. The location and the facility were a blessing to us in being able to be caregivers.
We had hoped for Bill to have some time to enjoy Sunrise, a beautiful facility, even with an ocean view outdoor patio. But unfortunately, his health continued to decline. His life consisted of exhausting days going to doctors offices and in hospitals. On November 22, he decided that he wanted no more of that - he stopped the treatments and went into hospice care. During this period, he can continue to stay in his room at Sunrise. Estimating the time remaining is an inexact science. Some of the hospice workers thought it might be only a few weeks. As of this writing (Christmas day), he is alive but ready to pass on, and getting weaker. We are taking care of him with love in this process. Cheryl spends most of each day with him. Alan does shorter visits and does most of the errands.
We did manage to have a nice trip this year - to Italy for 3 1/2 weeks in March. Even though the breast cancer was diagnosed, we were advised to go ahead with the trip - the surgery couldn’t take place before April in any case. So we did have a good trip staying in an apartment in Rome for a week, followed by 15 days in a rented house in Tuscany. It seemed a little long, with the breast cancer surgery hanging over us, and, even then, worried about Cheryl’s father. But it was a great experience, as our photos will attest.
We also managed almost a week in July driving through California up to Monterrey. That was enjoyable. But immediately after that was the decision for Cheryl’s father to move to California and all the hard work that followed.
For those of you who like, you can see some photos from our trips on our website as usual (click on link at top of this letter).
Cheryl and Alan