It can be human nature to take things for granted. It’s easy to operate on auto-pilot, forgetting how fortunate we are to live in a place of beauty, surrounded by some of the most caring people in the world. But here, in Appalachia Kentucky, that is our reality.
Lindsey Musick grew up in central Ohio. As a young, married woman, she spent significant time in India, studying religion at the University of Madras. She found lasting connections in the people she met, and she gave birth to her first child there.
Musick left India alone with her young infant and made the long journey back to America ready for her next adventure. As a native Ohioan, eastern Ky had never been in Lindsey’s long or even short-term plans, but when her then-husband took a job in Corbin, Ky., the couple fell in love with Appalachia. A career opportunity led the small family to Pikeville, Ky., where they would decide to settle.
“We decided Pikeville was the place we wanted to raise our family,” Musick said. Her husband found a position in the city, and after moving there, the family grew by two more children. Musick became very involved in the local community through both church and career. “I see Pikeville and eastern Ky as being very motivated to evolve. It’s evident everywhere. When someone identifies a need, it becomes an opportunity for growth and people get excited.”
Spirituality has always been a significant part of Lindsey’s life. “Since I was a child, I have sought to know Jesus and asked for his guidance in my life.”
It was her spirituality, coupled with her new-found community that helped see her through some of life’s most challenging circumstances. As 2017 ended, Musick’s marriage ended as well. In 2018, Lindsey lost her job. Then, within a week, she received a devastating diagnosis of metastatic colon cancer involving the liver. She found herself a single mom of three young children, facing a very difficult illness. Musick’s family, friends and the local medical community rallied around her through diagnosis and treatment.
“There are a lot of places that wouldn’t have had the same procedures in place that saved my life,” Musick said regarding the care she received at Pikeville Medical Center (PMC), a Presenting Partner of Shaping Our Appalachian Region, Inc. (SOAR). “A lot of hospitals would have dismissed the possibility of colon cancer because of my young age. The knowledge and diligence of the medical staff saved me.”
Musick spent nearly three weeks in the hospital following her diagnosis and started chemo within a week of her discharge. “The Cancer Center staff at PMC knows me. They are aware of what’s going on with me and they’re very accommodating. The palliative care team is probably the biggest component in my comfort.”
Palliative care is specialized medical care, designed for patients facing a serious illness. A palliative care team consists of doctors, nurses, social workers and chaplains. Each member of the team addresses and customizes their interaction and offerings to suit specific patient needs, with a goal of improving the patient’s quality of life. There are often misconceptions about palliative care, it can sometimes be confused with Hospice care. At Pikeville Medical Center, the palliative care team works along with the patient’s doctors even when curative measures are being taken.
“From the first appointment, the palliative care team was there to make my diagnosis more manageable. They scheduled appointments, set me up with benefits and thought of things I hadn’t to help me through the overwhelming task of navigating this cancer diagnosis.”
Palliative care is available in most hospitals. However, PMC offers an innovative approach to palliative care incorporating outpatient programs for oncology patients. The program provides the patients with an advocate and a variety of services tailored to their exact needs.
Musick had other options. When deciding where she would receive treatment, proximity to her children took precedence alongside finding a facility she could trust. The Pikeville Medical Center Palliative Care team was a major factor in establishing trust. “Being able to receive treatment close to home meant so much to me and the quality of the care here is better than I could have hoped for.”
In addition to her high praise of the Palliative Care Team. Musick is grateful for the support she’s received from friends and her church community. “Cornerstone Christian Church has been incredible. From the very beginning they have been helpful, providing food and back-to-school supplies for my children and transporting me to and from appointments when I couldn’t drive. They helped relieve my daily worries, so I could focus on my health. They represented a strong, stable, community for my kids when they needed it most. Because of my church family, this journey has been doable.”
It has been six months since Musick started her first cycle of chemo. She’s now on a lifelong maintenance dose and continuing to weigh long term treatment options.
“My goal is to do the best I can to stay positive for me and my family. I want to bring awareness that colon cancer is not only a disease that affects people later in life. My goal is to increase screening and to focus on my family.”
As for her future, Lindsey is clear, “I want to stay here. This is my home. My kids and I have established a strong community that cares for us. We have friendships and relationships with strong foundations in trust. Eastern Kentucky is no stranger to trials and has shown intense strength in persistence when rising to meet challenges. I have been welcomed here like family. Appalachian people see opportunity when they’re presented with an obstacle. I embrace that. I felt like that was my experience at the hospital and what I’ve seen in the people I know here.”
Lindsey Musick, an Ohio transplant is now firmly- and happily-rooted in our region. Her message is one of faith and determination. Her time spent raising her family here and the people who have helped her will not be taken for granted. “This is a good place. It’s the place I want my kids to grow up, where the nurses and doctors who saved me are right around the corner.
For more information on PMC’s Palliative Care Team click HERE