June 7, 2022
Cheyenne residents Ann and Wyllie Love have been together for 43 years. They have had a full and blessed life. They founded a business in Saratoga, where they lived for most of their married life until they retired and moved to Cheyenne in 2009, to be closer to family and to have easier access to medical care.
Their lives took a difficult turn last summer. Wyllie was diagnosed with rectal cancer. He underwent months of chemotherapy. During this time Wyllie was also diagnosed with heart disease, but he was too weak to undergo a needed heart procedure. That would have to wait until the cancer treatments were done.
“He lost about 40 pounds in two months,” Ann said. “He was melting in front of me.”
In February, after stopping chemotherapy and regaining strength, Wyllie underwent a heart catheterization at Cheyenne Regional Medical Center (CRMC). Two stents were placed to keep a blocked coronary artery open. Follow-up tests and procedures show that the procedure did what it was meant to, allowing more blood to flow to Wyllie’s heart.
“He looks and feels so much better,” Ann recently shared.
Wyllie and Ann are now focused on what’s important to them: “It’s the simple things,” Ann said, like having coffee on their back deck in the morning and running errands together. Their greatest joy, they agree, is being with family, and especially visiting with their grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Wyllie is currently in hospice care through CRMC due to the cancer. But he’s been doing so well that he may be transitioned to supportive care. Supportive care helps people manage pain and other symptoms of chronic illnesses.
“They don’t think he’s at the point that he needs hospice care,” Ann said. “We were happy to hear that.”
Recently Ann took time to write about what the couple has gone through over the past year, including Wyllie’s heart treatment at CRMC and decisions the two of them have made along the way. It’s a privilege to be able to share Ann’s thoughts here:
Wyllie is one of these men who is never sick. He has always been active and planning his next project. Suddenly he finds himself with an illness he doesn’t understand. An illness that changes him and his whole world. He has been diagnosed with rectal cancer and heart disease. Every side effect chemo could throw at him, it did. Dr. Arunpreet Kahlon (a CRMC interventional cardiologist) couldn’t do Wyllie’s stents until the chemotherapy was finished and his platelets had improved.
Sometimes patients don’t know the questions to ask, and sometimes they don’t understand the answers when they get them. It is important, especially for seniors, that our doctors are very blunt. I love that our doctors drew pictures and explained in detail what we could expect. They answered the same questions over and over—as many times as we asked them. They gave us the information we needed so we could make up our own minds.
When an 80-year-old man (Wyllie turns 80 on June 4) has even the simplest procedure, unexpected problems can occur. And with Wyllie, they did. When he went in for the stents, plaque broke off and poked a hole in his blood vessel and had to be mended. At one point he quit breathing and had to be intubated. It was a very scary time. Fortunately, our confidence in Dr. Kahlon and the cath lab staff was well founded. If Wyllie had been anywhere else, the results could have been so much different.
Wyllie spent six days in the intensive care unit. We were kept apprised of the treatment and changes the entire time. We can’t praise the doctors, nurses, CNAs and technicians enough. They were fantastic. Wyllie and I have been together for 43 years. Wherever he goes, I go and vice versa. But the staff never made me feel like I was in the way. Even if I was.
Last fall and winter, Wyllie barely had the energy to walk from the bedroom to the bathroom. He didn’t go to the store because he was afraid his strength would give out and he would get stuck somewhere. He slept through Thanksgiving and the holidays (his favorite time of year). Wyllie came home with his stents in March and since then his personality (along with his hair) has returned. He’s interested in the world around him, and he can carry on a conversation and hassle the grandkids. We practically had a celebration on the day he walked through the Walmart parking lot. Two little stents, along with the knowledge and talents of Dr. Kahlon and staff, have made it possible for Wyllie to attend his youngest grandson’s high school graduation in May…and to plan and look forward to whatever is left of his precious life.