by Joy Sherman
My dad was a frequent visitor to 9 west, the Oncology floor at Yale New Haven Hospital in Connecticut. We would often walk the halls when he had the energy, or I would wheel him around just to give him a different perspective than the four walls of his room. This world traveler now confined to circular hallways. We would always stop in front of the large plate glass window by the elevators, looking north. Below was the Grace Building. Several years later it became the empty Grace Building and a year or two after that, the construction of the Smilow Cancer Center. We made many stops in front of that window over the years.
As time went by, his health became progressively worse. It became his desperate hope to find anything to prolong his life, which he lived to the fullest, and my desperate search for new hope to give him, in new treatments available. While his main care was given at Yale, we made alternative visits to The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, as well as Dana Farber Cancer Institute for new and innovative treatments. I was determined to seek out all life saving opportunities, wherever we had to go to get them. His two year prognosis was stretched over ten years. Most of those years found him in pretty good health, considering. His life, once full of business, sailing and exotic travel, now filled with treatments and the nurses and doctors whom he saw regularly – his new friends. As his health dwindled and he began shrinking, the Smilow Cancer Center was growing and coming to life.
He enjoyed looking out at the activity below. We would watch the ant- size workers and marvel at just how much effort and hard work it takes to build a building and what a special building it would be. I remember during one of his stays, his room was overlooking the construction site. He told me the crane had swung so close by his room he thought he should ask for a hard hat. His humor never diminished, even during the most challenging of treatments. He would often prefer to focus on life around him, curious about anything else that was going on in the world besides his disease. So we would sit and watch the ant-size people for long stretches of time. It became a kind of therapy for both of us, a chance for us to sit together in silence and appreciate just being, while our inner thoughts contained a collective desperation to prolong his life. I knew my future thoughts of those moments would leave me grateful for the extra years I had with my father – made possible by those new and innovative treatments given at such Cancer Centers around the country.
The new Smilow Cancer Center offers hope for patients like my father and their families. I’m not sure how quickly we can eradicate cancer, but facilities like the Smilow will make the journey a little easier and hopefully give us all more time together.
Captain Joy Sherman’s Bio:
Captain Joy Sherman is owner of a sailing charter business called Joyride Charters, located in Westbrook, CT. Her boat, a 35′ Pearson designed by Carl Alberg, is named Hado, the Japanese word for vibration. Her charters, ranging from hourly, half and full day, include small family gatherings, romantic sunset sails, birthdays, singles sailing, therapeutic sails, and memorials at sea.
Captain Joy grew up in Connecticut spending her childhood sailing on Long Island Sound. Her father, Carl Sherman, instilled in her an inspiration for boating and a respect for the sea through his ownership of many fine yachts.
“There has never been a time in my life where boats were not part of it,” she says.
With thousands of nautical miles under her belt, Captain Joy has her USCG Master 100 ton license and maintains current certification in American Red Cross First Aid and Infant/Child/Adult CPR, US tow and sail endorsement and Life Raft certification.
For more information on the Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven, click here.