The Thanksgiving week gave us all a break on our heating
bills with mild weather at our hometown, yet don't sell your coal pile because
cold days could be just ahead.
Before moving along to share my talk and thoughts about
cancer, let me finish for this week our visit with Edsel Hall. Next week, I
hope to continue my most interesting coffee chat with retired professional
photographer Elza Painter. I must apologize for the wrong photo caption under Edsel's
photo that is repeated here with the corrected information. Edsel has been a
barber in four states: California, Michigan, South Carolina, and Tennessee. And
so far as I know, no one here has worked for as long as a barber and only taken
two vacation days in the past 27 years. Wife Roseann celebrates her 82nd
birthday in December and sent a cake with Edsel to share with his customers.
One of four brothers, Edsel's brother Lloyd Hall, who lives in South Carolina,
has been a barber for 40 years. But rather than drive all the way to S.C. for a
haircut, Edsel just goes to see his friend barber Ken Hall, who cut Edsel's
hair a few weeks ago.
I found it interesting that Lloyd, 67, was stricken with
polio as a child and spent many years in the Shrine Hospital at Greenville.
Ever since he has worn back and leg braces but manages to work every day. The
other brothers are Floyd Hall, a repairman in SC and Jacob (J.L.) Hall, retired
and living in California. Edsel said he has enjoyed his many years and comes to
work to be able to help somebody.
What's with the purple ribbons?
Last week a group of local citizens began placing purple
ribbons about town and at the Newport Plain Talk as a way to remind people that
November is pancreatic cancer awareness month. A friend of the Plain Talk,
because he has done so much work for us during the past 20 years, is among the
people calling attention to what some may think is a rare cancer. But Leonard
"Lenny" Zmich knows better. And because he was diagnosed with this
cancer wants others to be aware of the symptoms and help raise awareness and
money for research and a cure.
To me it seems our town is more aware of cancer in
general and that may be due to efforts such as Relay for Life. Just last week I
heard that our friend Dr. David McConnell told co-workers at Family Practice
Center that he has colon cancer. I stopped by to see attorney Fred Myers
mid-month where attorney Melissa Ball was kind to usher me into Fred's office.
He was at his office for a short while, recovering from cancer surgery. Doctors
removed a portion of his left lung. You may have hard that Buzz Brooks has
cancer, too. I talked with him on Wednesday and he had just finished a
chemotherapy treatment for lung cancer after being diagnosed a couple months
ago. While these cancers may appear to be more common, Lenny's wife, Debbie
Zmich, told me that pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of death.
Lenny is still working for himself and doing repairs and
renovation on his good days. His life has been accustomed to hard work and long
hours, and I will share some of his experiences with you. He comes from a
working class family in the Cleveland, Ohio, area and moved to Newport after
marrying Debbie, whose family is local. I vaguely recall seeing his difficult-to-pronounce
name back in the 1970s, because of his interest in local sports and Plain Talk
sports coverage. He continues to be involved in Scouting.
You may have heard he started chemotherapy using a new
trail drug in October. You have to endure this treatment to know how difficult
it can be and you and I only hear the reports and I whine about my backache to
Dr. Ken Johnson, who is also Lenny's doctor. Last year around the fall Lenny
started showing signs of diabetes, as his blood sugar was high, he said. During
the past two summers he began losing more weight but said this is not uncommon
for him because of the hard work and heat. I think he was weighing around 250
pounds and is a strong fellow. Like me he has Polish ancestry so we kid each
other about this. The fatigue sent him to the doctor and he began medication.
His weight loss to about 200 pounds continued and energy levels varied greatly.
He recalled that around the time of the Moon Pie Festival he and the family had
a gastrointestinal bout. "I never get sick," he said and feels that
the sickness shocked his system.
Visit to Knoxville doctor
Debbie kept pushing him to see a specialist, which he did
in Knoxville off Weisgarber Road. After several tests, they confirmed he had
pancreatic cancer and recommended treatment. That was September. Lenny
explained that he sat in a large room, which had a couple of dozen seats and
usually other people getting treatment through IVs. His assigned nurse would
draw six to eight vials of blood before the IVs, and the process took three to
four hours. He liked the nurses and cancer center and brought to everyone there
dozens of apples from Carver's orchard. Daughter Brandy Hensley, who is a
leader at the Newport Animal Shelter, likes to bake and prepared a batch of fancy
cupcakes for the nurses and doctors, too. Lenny and Debbie like to share, just
as the ladies of First United Methodist Church, "The Heart Menders,"
knitted a throw for Lenny recently.