The Herald Bulletin

June 25, 2013

Anderson opens its arms to cancer patient

Fire Rescue House of Madison County steps in to help

By Nancy R. Elliott
The Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON, Ind. — There were lots of hugs last week as Jerry and Carol Decker said goodbye to the friends they made here in Anderson

The couple was headed back to their Washington, Ind. home, after Jerry successfully wrapped up six weeks of radiation therapy for prostate cancer. While here, the couple learned that Anderson has some very loving arms.

“The people here have been so wonderful,” said Carol.

When Jerry Decker was faced with prostate cancer and the need for radiation therapy, he got on the internet and researched his options, knowing that side effects from treatment could be real problems.

“I’m facing cancer. I’m facing being left with some bad problems. So I got digging.”

When Jerry learned of the Calypso system, he knew that was what he wanted. He contacted the manufacturer and discovered that the only one in the state was at Community Hospital Anderson.

Once arrived, Decker told nurse and surgery patient representative Barbi Smith that he and Carol would have to be here six weeks for his radiation treatments, and they had to figure out a place to stay. Since Smith’s husband Jon is a paramedic and a firefighter, she thought there might be a way to help them out — and she put the wheels in motion.

“It was going to cost them quite a bit to be housed,” said Frank Caldwell, president of the Fire Rescue House of Madison County. The organization provides housing for families displaced by a fire.

Living comfortably

In 2011, 23 displaced families were housed at two different locations, a house in Anderson owned by the organization and another one in Alexandria. The Alexandria home was donated by Caldwell following the tragic loss of his son in a car accident.

Last year, Fire Rescue House also acquired an Anderson duplex in which they now have their office as well as an efficiency apartment. When the Fire Rescue House board members learned of the Deckers, they considered the difficulties of their situation.

“The circumstances, we thought, you know, we’re going to make an exception,” said Caldwell.“We just decided we’re going to put these people up and try to make them comfortable and that’s what we did. “

It was a perfect solution for 73-year old Decker and his wife of 52 years.

“The day before, we were just so down,” said Carol. Instead, they were able to live comfortably in the Anderson efficiency where they could cook, wash clothes and relax while Jerry received treatments five days a week. “It’s just like our little home, our second little home away from home.”

Even better, the community rallied to support them. Firefighters and their families as well as church groups have brought the couple meals thoughtfully prepared to accommodate Jerry’s needs.

“We’re not used to people waiting on us hand and foot,” said Carol. Jerry was able to keep up with a healthy regime throughout his treatment, even running three miles a day most days.

Thursday evening, members of the Fire Rescue House board took the couple out to dinner on the eve of their return home.

“They are the nicest, nicest people in the world,” said Caldwell.

Friday morning, after Jerry’s last treatment, their were hugs for the Community Hospital Anderson staff.

Giving nothing but the highest praise for everyone at the facility, and how well he was feeling following treatment, Jerry said, “I think I’ve been really lucky.”

Like Nancy Elliott on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @NancyElliott_HB, or call 640-4805.