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Riding the Waves: Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center Ensures Continuing Care After Hurricane Ida

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“Some nights, it was so calm. You just see crystal blue water crossing over the Caribbean. And some nights it was rough.”

Earl DuetAs an offshore boat captain for more than 30 years, Earl Duet knows just how quickly circumstances can change. “A lot of good days, but some bad days too,” he remembers.

He mimics this sentiment throughout his life. After two heart attacks, he officially retired in 2006 and looked to a more relaxing lifestyle. He has since stayed outdoors duck hunting, fishing and camping. “I didn’t have any problems and I felt good all the time,” he said.

Cancer Care Weathers a Pandemic and Natural Disaster

In the summer of 2020, during the height of the pandemic, Earl caught a bad cough. When he was able to visit the doctor again at the end of the year, his primary care physician sent him for an x-ray where they discovered a spot on his right lung. “It was about the size of a ping pong ball. I said ‘Oh, that’s not good.’”

In January 2021, Earl visited the Terrebonne General | Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center for more tests and scans. The Cancer Center team diagnosed Earl with lung cancer after confirming the tumor on his lung. His medical team, including Dr. Janeiro Goffin, medical oncologist, and Dr. Ashely Brown, radiation oncologist, put together a comprehensive care plan specific to Earl’s diagnosis. In April, he began radiation therapy followed by chemotherapy and immunotherapy treatments.

On August 29, Hurricane Ida made landfall, battering its way through Louisiana. Earl’s home in Galliano was hit hard. “The storm came through that afternoon and blew shingles off the roof. There was nothing but water coming into the bedrooms and the living room.” Earl, along with his wife and son, used towels and pots to pick up as much water as possible. They spent two days cleaning up water and throwing out wet furniture and belongings. About half the house was damaged as a result.

The Cancer Center Supports Patients After Hurricane Ida

During the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, the Cancer Center worked hard under the One Community One Goal campaign to support the many patients who needed to resume their cancer care as soon as possible.

Earl was without power for about one month and lost all of the food in his refrigerator and freezer as a result of the storm. Thanks to generous donations from the community, the Cancer Center team was able to provide Earl with gift cards for groceries, as well as gas cards to help his travel to and from appointments. “It was a rough time. The assistance from the Cancer Center definitely helped to fill the gap we needed,” Earl said.

Earl is still waiting for construction to be completed on his home but says it will be completed soon. He is looking forward to getting back out on the water to fish again soon.