Ron and Hazel's 'Travels with Nuggie' travel blog


Hazel at 21 in 1964.

Hazel at Assisi, Italy in 2012.

Hazel and I have traveled nearly 100,000 miles in the past 10...

Hazel fell asleep reading a Carl Sagan book with "billions and billions"...

Years ago, it was three pomeranians. Now, down to Lily.

At Thunderbird Lodge on Rainy Lake, a mile from Canada.

After carrying the testing kit around for two years, Hazel finally...

Hazel with grandson Oliver in 2018.

Cancer is not one disease, but many diseases that occur in different areas of the body. Each type is characterized by the uncontrolled growth of cells. The Winter of Our Discontent is John Steinbeck's last novel, published in 1961. The title comes from the first two lines of William Shakespeare's Richard III: "Now is the winter of our discontent / Made glorious summer by this sun [or son] of York".


After returning from our Christmas trip to visit our daughter Sarah in New York, I knew both Hazel and I needed to get serious about something not right with our medical conditions. I've had an ongoing "sore", for lack of a better word, on my cheek for the past couple of years that would not heal. A friend who had a similar situation told me I'd better get in and have it taken care of, so I said "ok" but then put it off again.


At the same time, Hazel has been complaining about "sore ribs", and it was getting worse. Like me, she didn't want to go to the doctor, and I finally had to strike a deal with her, I would go and have my thing taken care of, if she would make an appointment.

I made my appointment, calling my health insurance carrier Humana, to be get a list of clinics on the approved list, and there was one only 2 miles from my daughter's home in the Twin Cities. I called and made the appointment.

Now, to get Hazel to do the same. It finally took our daughter Annie, and Hazel's sister Laura to make that appointment and drag her in there.


My situation was basal cell carcinoma, a skin cancer that didn't migrate like the more deadly varieties, but needed to be removed. The first session was easy, and my small wound healed. But, the lady dermatologist said we had better schedule surgery, because there was most certainly more of that nasty stuff hiding below the surface. That appointment was made, and on the appointed day, I drove in for the procedure. With local sedative, given several times, and what seemed to take forever, the surgeon felt that he'd gotten it all. Now came the stitching up, which was the worst part of it.

The doctor was a pleasant fellow, we had a nice conversation while he was stitching away, asking about my family, my career, and where did I go to college. "St. John's University", I replied. "Oh, how did you decide on that one?" he asked. "I didn't", I said, "my mother picked it out." When I told my mom that I wanted to go to the University of Minnesota with my buddies, she said "you're not going to the University of Minnesota, all the teachers down there are communists!" The next thing I knew, my folks were driving me down to St. John's University near St. Cloud, and introducing me to my new roommate.

Back then, kids didn't know they had rights, those would wait until the next generation, which I found out when Hazel and I had our family.


Meanwhile, Hazel's situation was much more serious, a combination of CAT and color CT scans, and a mammogram, maybe more than one of each, showed a mass had formed in the tissue below her breast, up against her ribs, the source of the discomfort.

Now, after two months of tests and dinging around, the doctors are finally going to begin radiation treatment this week to reduce the size of that mass and consider surgery. All the while, Hazel is in continual pain, eased only by two Advil PM tablets a day, one at bedtime to help her sleep, another in early afternoon, to let her nap through the discomfort. There is so much negative news now about prescription pain relievers, the doctors just are not dispensing them as they once did. We are going to ask for a "medical marijuana" prescription this week, and see if that helps, which I am being told will do the trick.

Hazel's treatments are only about 15 minutes long, but it is a one hundred mile round trip from our lake cabin, Monday through Friday for up to six weeks. The trip is difficult for her, we've made several during this two months of testing, and every time the car catches a frost heave or pothole in the highway, Hazel suffers. Her sister lives a short distance from the clinic where the treatments will be done, so we're hoping she can stay there a few days during the week. But, she does need continual care, she's been sleeping in the bedroom, I'm on the couch right outside the door, and it is difficult for her to even adjust her pillows and blankets without help, and my cooking and cleaning skills are becoming really good.

And that is no problem, I would do anything for this wonderful wife of nearly 53 years, and we both just want this situation to improve, get solved, and spend next winter in Florida or somewhere else as pleasant as all those trips we've taken over the years.

Our motorhome is parked just outside the door of the lake cabin, ready to go at a moment's notice.

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