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An Alternative Lifestyle--Living and Traveling
Full-time in a Recreational Vehicle
Miracles do Happen 
 
From the May 1991 Issue of Movin' On

Jim and Pam arrived at the Wawona Campground one Friday night when the campground was filling up fast. It was dark out, and Barb didn't notice until morning that their license plate was from Michigan. Barb and Ron like to talk to everyone, but someone from Michigan is even more special. These partners-in-life were even more special than could have been imagined. 

Jim, 34 from Detroit, and Pam 29 from Pickney, had been living full-time in their 21-foot Shasta trailer since August 1990. But their story really starts in January of 1987 when they met at Henry Ford Community College. They were lab partners in an electronics class. Jim said they were “joined electrically.” Gradually their relationship changed. What started casually evolved to love by fall of 1987. They found they had lots in common, like love of the out-of-doors and spent many weekends camping in Michigan. The early spring in 1988 was special because they spent a lot of time in Michigan woods hunting for morel mushrooms, something they both enjoyed. They both graduated in May and their future looked bright. 

One morning, in July of 1988 while Pam was at work, she saw stars. She went to the rest room, and was shocked to see that she was pure white. She went out to her car, turned on the air conditioner full blast and passed out. Some construction workers found her and called an ambulance. She arrived at Providence Hospital by 10 a.m. and was in surgery by 1 p.m.. They 
discovered that a tumor had ruptured. It ruptured with such force that it blew open her colon, and she had been hemorrhaging. The tumor was cancerous and in rupturing had flooded her insides with cancer cells. Although the doctors felt they had gotten most of the cancer, they were not sure. Pam said that it was so depressing at home with everyone believing she was going to die that she had to get away. Two weeks after surgery, Jim took her to Michigan's upper peninsula. They bought a canoe and just enjoyed the peace and quiet. Pam found that she could sleep comfortably in a hammock although she had to contend with the raccoons in the tree branches up above. 

After two treatments of chemo, they discovered another tumor. Doctors at the University of Michigan Hospital removed the new tumor but gave her only six weeks to live. More chemo was started, and at the end of one year she was still alive and free of tumors. Everything looked good. She said that, worse than the chemo therapy was the fact that all of her long blonde hair fell out. 

Three months later (January 1990), she noticed small tumors just under her incision and was started on chemo again. After five months of treatment, the doctors said that it was hopeless. The tumors were inoperable, and chemo wasn't working. Pam wanted to go West so they both quit working, bought the used trailer, put a cap on the pickup truck as well as a rack for the canoe. Pam made a will, and said “goodby” to her family because she felt that she would never see them again. With their small savings, they took off. She said, “I felt that I had to go to a mountain and get up high, to ask God to heal me. I tried to absorb everything and Jim was so positive with me all the time.” Jim had learned the value of positive thinking and imaging when he had been diagnosed as having Multiple Sclerosis. One day he woke up feeling normal and hasn't had a symptom since. 

For Pam, the traveling was difficult. She was uncomfortable as the grape size tumors grew to grapefruit, orange, and golf ball size. She was in constant pain and stopped, as needed, at hospitals to get pain medication. 

When she stopped at Stanford University Hospital in California, the doctors were fascinated and felt they could help. Pam was full of hope and decided to give them a try. The chemo they tried was experimental and was a disaster for Pam. She had horrible reactions— even became psychotic, but they wanted to give her one more treatment in spite of the reactions. She was 
one week from her next treatment, and it was the day before Thanksgiving, when the big tumor burst through the skin. Jim took Pam to Stanford where they just gave her dressings to keep the area clean, and told her to come back for her scheduled appointment. Jim drove to Yosemite, rented a wheelchair and pushed Pam all around the valley. She spent the time crying. 

At her regular appointment, the doctors decided on no more chemo and suggested surgery. Because these tumors had grown, removing them would leave gaping holes in her abdomen so the suggested surgery would include a muscle graft from her back, connecting blood vessels, etc. She was in surgery for 13 hours, but Jim said that when she came out of surgery, she looked better than ever before. She was full of spirit and was released from the hospital in 10 days. She had to endure radiation therapy every day for nine weeks and is now free of any signs of cancer. She was written up in the Medical Journals and Stanford called her case the “most interesting of the year.” 

Barb was impressed at the hiking they did, and how alive and positive this couple was. Jim and Pam are thinking of going back to Michigan and back to work now that Pam is sure she will live. But they want to keep on camping and might settle for half time. If you see this neat looking couple, traveling in a 21' Shasta trailer pulled by a red pick-up truck with a canoe on top, stop and say “hello” to them for us. 

Eclipse (their dog) takes after his masters. He drags his rope through the campfire—it burns and he is free. 
 

Editor's Note: We met Jim and Eclipse in a campground in Michigan in the summer of 1997. Right away we asked where Pam was and sadly learned that she had died only a year after they had been with us in Yosemite. We spent hours reminising and crying.Jim still travels in his red truck, pulling the little trailer.
 

 Copyright © 1999, Movin' On with Ron & BarbTM- All Rights Reserved