9/18/2020 12:11:00 AM A Special Day For A Special Friend
Howard's Special Day with his HAM Radio friends.
(Photos Courtesy of Jeanette Johnson)
Petey and Howard
Jeanette Johnson Guest Columnist
I know you normally know me as the Executive Director for Keep Lincoln County Beautiful, but today I want to share a story totally unrelated to KLCB.
I have a family friend named Howard Outland. He is battling stage IV metastatic lung cancer cancer and is in hospice. Doctors have stated his illness is fatal.
Howard has been a leader and advisor in the HAM radio community for many years and has gained great respect from many individuals throughout the community.
Monday, September 14th was Howard's 62nd Birthday. With Howard expected not to last much longer, HAMs from all over thought this would be a good opportunity to give Howard the celebration he needed to celebrate his life.
With special permission, John Hull (KN4DOH) coordinated a memorable "Howards Birthday Check-In" to honor his great friend. Big names in the NC HAM community like state leaders drove to overlooks on the Blue Ridge Parkway to be able to check in to Howard's Birthday Net. This was an event that could abide by the rules of Covid-19 while celebrating Howard for his birthday.
HAM members in the community were not going to let their good friend go out without a bang. This was truly a special moment for Howard and he was able to speak on the radio for the first time since he had been put into hospice.
This will be an event that many HAM radio operatives will remember for years to come.
Howard is an extra class amateur radio operator, call sign WB4UD, from Lincolnton NC. Howard has been active in the amateur radio hobby since 2014. He has made contacts with people all over the world and avidly enjoys the hobby.
In the middle of July 2020, Howard started to have some lower back pain while sitting in his wheelchair. This progressed and he started having pain behind his sternum. He went to the hospital and was diagnosed with costochondritis. It was thought that this was just inflammation of the cartilage that connects the rib bone to the breastbone. He went home with orders to take it easy and follow up with a chiropractor to help adjust his back to make sitting easier.
He followed up with the chiropractor and had a few adjustments. On July 25th, he was having a lot of pain in his chest and back. He spent most of the day in bed and on Sunday July 26th, Petey (his significant other) called 9-1-1 because he was having so much pain and trouble breathing.
Howard went to Lincolnton hospital where they did a chest CT and found several tumors on his breastbone and lungs. They followed up with a full scan and found that he had tumors at the base of the spine (which is why he was in so much pain sitting), the base of his skull, liver and several other places in his body. He was immediately transported via ambulance to CMC Main, Atrium Health in Charlotte, that night.
He subsequently spent ten days in the hospital. During that time they did several biopsies to try and determine what kind of cancer he has. While he was awaiting the results, his care team was changing his bed linens and rolled Howard onto his side. This move subsequently fractured his right collar bone.
Howard finally came home on August 5th via ambulance. Due to COVID-19 and all the changes it has brought, there was a lot of miscommunication and misunderstanding between the hospital and his home health team. It took several days to get home health started.
On Monday August 10th, he and his family had a tele-health visit with his oncologist. His oncologist diagnosed Howard with Stage IV metastatic lung cancer. Due to the advanced nature of the cancer, Howard is not a candidate for treatment (chemo/radiation). His physician gave him approximately six months to live without treatment and eight to ten months to live with treatment.
Howard and his family have decided to forego treatment in order to have the best quality of life for the time he has left. He was placed on hospice by his oncologist on 8/10/2020. He will be spending the remainder of his time at home surrounded by his family and his beloved dogs, Jackson and Harley.
After spending over ten days in the hospital, Howard’s medical bills have already begun to pile up. Prior to his cancer diagnosis Howard was on disability and a fixed income. He has Medicare coverage, but not Medicaid or any other forms of insurance. Petey has been Howard’s primary care taker and is going to need some help. After exhausting all of our options, it has become apparent that in order to get in-home help, we will have to pay out of pocket for a CNA to come in and help a few times a week.
We have started this GoFundMe page to raise donations to help pay for the medical costs of Howard’s time in the hospital, in-home health aids to help with bathing, feeding, changing etc, medical supplies not covered by hospice, and eventually final expenses.
Any help would be greatly appreciated. As always your prayers are the number one thing our family could use. We will update regularly to keep everyone informed.
For now, visitors are being restricted due to COVID-19 and they are on a case by case basis. Howard does have a radio in his room and is listening to the Oscar Channel (W4CQ) as well as DMR on the Florida 3112 channel. He has been unable to get on the radio to talk, however he enjoys hearing everyone on the radio.
If you would like to send cards, you can mail them to: 2886 Woodgate Road, Lincolnton, NC 28092.
About the author: Jeanette Johnson moved to Lincoln County in 2015. She loved Lincoln County from the first time she visited it and knew she wanted to live in this community. After years of working the Foodservice Industry, Ms. Johnson decided to pursue her passion of sustainability and became the Recycling Coordinator for Lincoln County in 2017, a title she still holds, along with being the Executive Director for Keep Lincoln County Beautiful. She is extremely passionate about the mission of KLCB and works to ensure the success of its mission.
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