December 2000, January 2001, February 2001
Werner began the aggressive chemotherapy protocol against Stage III esophageal cancer. He received the standard chemotherapy drug, Docetaxel. When his medical team asked if he would like to volunteer to become a research patient for an experimental cancer drug, Werner responded without hesitation, “Let’s just do it.”
How did he manage the time his protocol demanded? How did he carry on with his responsibilities as Alpine Director of Loon Race Team and Holderness School Alpine Ski team coach while ongoing treatments? One way – Werner’s way. To his protocol team, he said, ” If you can’t schedule my treatments first thing in the morning, I am not going through with this, because I need to be on the mountain by noon every day.”
Werner’s treatment protocol included chemotherapy twice a week for two months, followed by five days a week for six weeks of radiation mixed with chemotherapy. When the time for the radiation treatments to begin, Werner faced driving an hour one way over mountain roads to arrive at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. When family members, friends, and colleagues heard about this schedule, they not only wanted to help preserve Werner’s energy, they wanted to spend time with him. So they joined to become a team of chauffeurs. Once we knew the schedule for Werner’s treatment protocol, a friend or family chose and signed on a particular calendar day to be the driver.
During the six-week daily radiation therapy, a friend or family member walked into our kitchen at 7 o’clock in the morning. They always arrived with a smile. After coffee, hugs, and few laughs, the two travelers left the house for the hour drive to the medical center.
These faithful family members, friends, and colleagues showered us with the love of giving. Their time with Werner preserved my energy for later. Werner did not miss a day on the mountain.
Top Photo: The Big Sky Gate photograph taken by Stefan Zwahlen