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Oncology social worker is fighting her own battle

Richmond Times-Dispatch | November 25, 2010

BY BILL LOHMANN

Yoder

You could certainly understand if Robin Pugh Yoder didn't feel particularly thankful today after the year she's been through.

In July, the Chesterfield County woman was diagnosed with cancer for the second time. A month later, surgeons amputated her right leg.

On Monday, the 49-year-old accomplished athlete, instead of training for her next triathlon, was in a rehabilitation center learning how to walk on her prosthetic leg.

And yet . . .

"I have a lot to be thankful for," Yoder said over lunch after her therapy session.

If she had not visited her physician because something about her leg felt odd, she might very well be making end-of-life plans, so she's grateful for that. Then there is the outpouring of love and caring from family, friends and even strangers that has shown her and her family the innate goodness of people.

Two days before her surgery, she was in a store buying pajamas for her hospital stay. The clerk asked if she was going on a trip.

"Not the trip I wanted," Yoder replied. The clerk wanted to know more, so Yoder told her about the amputation. The woman asked Yoder for her name so she could put her on the prayer list at her church. Yoder told her about the blog she was writing about her experience.

A few weeks ago, Yoder received a get-well card from a woman who said she had been standing behind Yoder that day in the store, overheard the conversation and made note of the website address, and had been following her recovery.

"I've just been humbled at every level," Yoder said.

The whole experience, as you might expect, has been frightening and at times discouraging— just imagine feeling trapped on your front porch because you're missing a leg and there's a hill that might as well be Mount Everest between you and the rest of the world—but she never has felt defeated.

An example? A few hours after receiving her cancer diagnosis in July, she was sitting in the office of prosthetist Joe Sullivan shopping for artificial legs. She hadn't decided to go through with the amputation and she certainly hadn't come to grips with the prospects of losing a leg, but she was determined to make an informed decision.

Click here to visit Robin Pugh Yoder's blog.

 

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