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Choosing to Geo-bach When Your Son Has Cancer with Yvonne Loza Coombes

Choosing to Geo-bach When Your Son Has Cancer with Yvonne Loza Coombes

Join us as we dive into this Honest Conversation with the incredible Yvonne Loza Coombes.

I am totally guilty of this, are you?

Saying you would never choose to separate your family simply because the military makes that choice for you on a consistent basis. So why would you ever do that to your family?

Today’s conversation is a great reminder of why we shouldn’t judge someone for the choices they make for their family. You don’t know what is behind their choices.

My guest today, Yvonne Loza Coombes, Co-founder of Operation Deploy Your Dress opens up about her family’s decision to geo-bach because their current location offered the best medical help (Walter Reed Army Medical Center) for their son who was diagnosed with cancer. Now she found herself living away from her husband, a tough diagnosis and growing a business with an incredible mission.

Has your family made the choice to geo-bach and what led to that decision? Or have you ever been guilty of saying you would never choose to do it?

Here’s the full Facebook Live, or you can read the full transcript below. You can also see the rest of the episodes here.

Choosing to Geo-bach When Your Son Has Cancer

I am totally guilty of this, are you?Saying you would never choose to separate your family simply because the military makes that choice for you on a consistant basis.So why would you ever do that to your family?Today's conversation is a great reminder why we shouldn't judge someone for the choices they make for their family. You don't know what is behind their choices.My guest today, Yvonne Loza Coombes, Co-founder of Operation Deploy Your Dress opens up about her family's decision to geo-bach because their current location offered the best medical help (Walter Reed Army Medical Center) for their son who was diagnosed with cancer.Now she found herself living away from her husband, a tough diagnosis and growing a business with an incredible mission.Join us as we dive into this Honest Conversation!Has your family made the choice to geo-bach and what led to that decision?Or have you ever been guilty of saying you would never choose to do it?PLUS MY LIVE TRAINING is happening soon but you will need the special link to sign up!5 Success Habits of a Happy Military SpouseHow to Prosper Beyond the Boundaries of Military LifeDrop an "I'm in" and I will be sure you receive the link!

Posted by Health on the Homefront on Wednesday, May 8, 2019

 

Full Transcript: Choosing to Geo-bach When Your Son Has Cancer with Yvonne Loza Coombes

Pam Chavez: Hello and welcome to our honest conversation today. We are talking about choosing to geo-bach and run a business, have a family, be a military family. So, we are diving into several really common and tough topics today. And so, hi, I’m Pam Chavez. I am the founder of Health on the Home Front and today my guest, Yvonne Coombes, is a Co-Founder of Operation Deploy Your Dress. So, hello – thank you so much for joining us today.

Yvonne Loza Coombes: Hi. Thank you for having me.

Pam: Yes, absolutely. And so, I’m excited to talk about this today because it’s a topic… I know I am incredibly guilty of having that thought process of, well, why would you choose to be separated when the military is going to do that to you anyway? It’s so easy to jump to judgments when nobody really knows what’s going on in a family’s choice. You really have to make a choice that’s going to work for the needs of your family. So that’s why I thought it was a really great topic for us to dive into. And we’re going to hit several layers of this throughout this conversation.

So, if you’re not in the military community, what geo-baching is, is when you choose to live apart intentionally, to live in, you know, the separate eight areas. Your service member is going to move off to like the next duty station and you are probably going to stay put or stay somewhere else. You’re potentially going to be financing dual households, which is a lot to weigh into the equation. So yeah, Yvonne, I would love to hear you start diving into some of that.

Yvonne: Yeah, I was a lot like you, I always said we would never choose separation. The army chooses it for us enough. Why would we choose it? And I don’t know that I necessarily would judge other people when they did it because to each their own. But I think that I definitely wonder what’s going on. And you know, I think that there’s also the common misconception that like things must not be great in their marriage if they are choosing to live apart. But, you know, it’s one of those things that when you say never life throws you a curveball and it’s going to test you to see if you’re really certain about that “never”. And so that’s what happened with us.

Pam: Yeah, and it tested you hard, too. So you were living in DC and so, of course, it was another military curveball too. Are you all army? Is that what you are?

Yvonne: We are army.

Pam: And so his command date was moved up. Is that what it was?

Yvonne: It was accelerated by about six months, yeah.

Pam: They love to do that to you!

Yvonne: Yeah, and so we had… I think my husband found out at the end of October that he needed to be there in December and “there” being Colorado. And we also still had to go through PCC. And it’s not mandatory on this – PCC is pre-command course and I don’t know if that’s common in all of military. But so they send the service member to the pre-command course, I guess to learn how to command and they send the spouse for one week of that two-week course with them to learn what they’re about to get into, which is, you know, it is a big undertaking on the entire family, not just the service member. And so we had to squeeze in also a two week TDY before he was scheduled to leave in December. And so, you know, we were all in. We were going to go to PCC, we were going to come home, we were going to pack our family, we were going to move during Christmas time and we were going to, you know, go and just do it. Because that’s what military families do. So, we were at PCC when life through our curve ball at us.

Pam: Oh Wow. Yeah. And so how that kind of come up? Do you mind diving into that a little or…

Yvonne: No, absolutely not. So, we were at PCC and it’s the first week that the spouses go with the service members. And so it was the Wednesday of our week at PCC, which was the week after Thanksgiving. And I was in the middle of a class, and the spouses and the service numbers are in separate classes and we’d, like, meet up at lunch and stuff… but I was in the middle of one of my classes and I had a phone call from my son and my son is a junior in college and… well, one of my sons. I have two sons – a junior in college and a 13-year-old, but it was my son that’s in junior college. He called me and he said like, “I need to go and see a doctor”. And luckily, he lives here in DC, he goes to school in DC so he lives at the school, but we’re not far from him and stuff. So, we’ve been able to keep him in our same PCM and stuff. He doesn’t have like a remote PCM or anything.

And so, I said, “Well, I can call and make you an appointment. What’s going on? Are you not feeling well?” And he said, “I have a lump and it’s been there for a few weeks and it’s getting bigger.” And I said, “Well, it’s probably nothing. It’s probably, like, a cyst or something.” And it was a lump on his testicle And I said, “It’s probably nothing, but we’ll see. I’ll call and get you an appointment.”

So, I called (this was on Wednesday) and they said, “We can see him the following Wednesday”. And so I called him back and I told him that. And my husband… By that point, I’d spoken to my husband and he said, “You know, if it’s going to give him peace of mind, tell him to go to an urgent care. He’s going into finals; he doesn’t need this weighing over him.” And we were really thinking it’s probably nothing, and he went to it. So, he Ubered to a civilian PCM because mom and dad are gone. Sorry, it’s civilian urgent care. And at the urgent care, they said, “You really need to get this checked”. So they gave him a referral but we can’t do anything with a civilian referral so we still had to wait to go to his PCM. So I came back on Saturday and I actually called Monday morning and got him a same-day appointment. And we went in and they said, “Yep, we need to refer him to urology and to ultrasound.” And they said, “Here are all the numbers in the DC area that are military medical. Call who you can get into first.” So I said, “You know, if this is something that’s going to need treatment, we want to be in the best system and the best system in the military is Walter Reed.” So totally, if we’re this close, we’re going to take advantage of that. So we called and they said, “We can get you in tomorrow.” And so we said, “Great.” So we went in and they had the ultrasound, the ultrasound technician left the room and I’m in there with him and the ultrasound technician came back and said, “A doctor will be in with you shortly.” You know that it’s something at that point because they don’t just send a doctor in to say you’re doing great.

Pam: Yes. Yeah. That’s sort of when the wind and, like, the reality of the situation starts taking over.

Yvonne: Absolutely. So I called my husband at… he was still in Kansas at Fort Leavenworth for PCC and I called him and I told him when the doctor came in… The doctor came in and said, “We have every reason to believe that this is testicular cancer and you’re not taking him home today.”

Pam: Wow. Gosh. Yeah, that’s a big one.

Yvonne: Yeah, it was. It was definitely that curveball that we didn’t expect, but we knew… we knew right away that we had to keep him here. We couldn’t continue with our move at that point.

Pam: Absolutely. Absolutely. So then your husband moves on, then. He goes…

Yvonne: He did. He moved. He was able to wait until January, but he moved…

Pam: That’s what I was going to say, because sometimes people will get a compassionate reassignment. I didn’t know if that was anything possible. We’re enlisted so the whole command side is like a different world for us. Like I didn’t even realize you had schooling to go to during that. That’s kind of interesting and I totally get that command is big. It’s a lot.

Yvonne: Yeah. His report date was like 60 days out, so he was just able to play with that report date. It had nothing to do with like compassionate reassignment or anything. And you know, we actually didn’t even explore that option because my husband, right off, said, “I will give up command. I have enough time in the army that I can find a job here in DC and do a couple more years and then retire. And I need to be here with you all.” And it was my son that said, “No, you can’t do that. This is what you’ve worked for your entire career and this is seriously a bump in the road for us and you can’t change the course of our family’s life for something that’s going to be, you know, a small blip on the radar in the grand scheme of things. And so he did… he left in January.

Pam: What an amazing kiddo you have. Gosh.

Yvonne: Yeah, he’s pretty special. So we left in January and he took command at the beginning of February… or sorry, mid-February. So we were able to be here while my son was going through chemo. He actually had his last chemo treatment two days before my husband’s change of command. He took his last treatment – we got clearance from the doctor to travel, although his immune system was still low and stuff, you just had to take lots of extra precautions, but they let him travel to the change of command. And so we were able to be in Colorado for the change of command and then came back here while he’s… I mean, he still has doctor’s appointments and check-ups.

Pam: Yeah. Oh, what a special moment though. That had to be pretty emotional, especially for your husband too with him sort of getting that permission from your son and then to have him actually be able to show up. That’s awesome.

Yvonne: Yeah, he was a pretty determined kid. I know that a lot of times in cancer treatment, you have to sometimes miss a week because your levels aren’t right and stuff. And so there was one week in which it would have thrown it all off because we seriously had no wiggle room in this plan to get the family there. And I mean, obviously, we would have 100% stayed here and not made it to the change of command if the doctor said, “no, we don’t recommend it.” There was one week that his levels were low and it was very close and he spoke to the doctors and the doctor said, “We’ll do this treatment this week to keep you on track, but you’re going to be hurting for this. You have to understand that.” And he said, “Nope, let’s continue.”

Pam: Wow. Now how was your 13-year-old handling all of this?

Yvonne: He’s a very tender-hearted kid, so it’s been tough on him. It’s been tough on him to have dad deployed. It’s been tough on him to have his brother sick. It was kind of exciting for him because his brother who was away at college, living away at college had to move home. So he had his video game buddy back for a few months so that was fun for him. And we didn’t have the sibling bickering because he had compassion at the same time. I had to explain to Jacob, our older son, “Don’t take advantage of this.” Because a friend of ours as a joke, gave him a bell to ring when he needed something and if he rang it, Jackson would come running. And I’m like, “Don’t you dare take advantage of this.”

I think that it was such a whirlwind that our family didn’t have a chance to really realize what we were going through until we were deep into it. And at that point, we had formed a routine and we… you know, it was a very aggressive treatment so he had three, three-week cycles and the first week of every cycle was five straight days of chemo, Monday through Friday. And then it was the following Monday, then the following Monday, and then we started over again… Five straight days, Monday, Monday. And so it was… Plus doctor’s appointments in between. Plus, he stayed in school so I was driving him into the city every day because he was taking 16 credit hours. He runs for George Washington University. He runs track and cross country for them, so he’s there. That’s what has him there, so he was able to medically redshirt while he was going through this so that he didn’t lose scholarship and Algebra and stuff. But he stayed in school and kept doing his classes and stuff.

So, you know, on top of the doctor’s appointments, we were juggling getting him to and from school and driving into the city every day is a pain in the butt. Especially because when he made his schedule, it was based around him living on campus so he could walk to his class at nine o’clock in the morning, but to drive him into the city and get him there at nine o’clock in the morning is a different story. He can’t take the metro because of germs and he couldn’t, yeah…

Pam: He is one resilient kiddo, I gotta tell ya. He is an inspiration. Gosh. And so your husband is deployed right now?

Yvonne: He is deployed right now. And I think that’s where maybe some of the judgment might have come in. I think that people didn’t really realize what we were going through because we didn’t make it this big public spectacle. People didn’t realize what we were going through, so it looked like maybe I was like, “Well, he’s going to deploy so I don’t want to move.” And with your spouse in command, there are things that… not necessarily you have to step up and do, but there are things that traditionally the spouse’s commander steps up to do. And so I had a little bit of that guilt where I felt like I was abandoning the unit a little bit during a deployment, you know? But you have to be able to put your family first.

Pam: Absolutely.

Yvonne: And absolutely, we are all in for this unit and we’re doing everything that we can for this unit. And I’m doing a lot of this stuff from afar from this unit. I attend meetings via Skype or phone or whatever. And I still try and do what I can for the FRGs as far as the guidance and advising and stuff like that goes. I’m doing it from afar because what my family needed is for us to be here.

Pam: Absolutely. Yeah. And I’m thankful that you were so close to Walter Reed because that is such a fabulous medical center.

Yvonne: Absolutely. And the care that he’s been receiving through this all has been amazing at Walter Reed. The support that we have from our military family has been unbelievable, and not just the ones that are right here. Because we don’t live on a military installation right now. Being in DC, you’re kind of out floating in this new beast of a world. But we had military friends step up and like, “Anything we can do!” And even if I didn’t ask them… what was so helpful is they didn’t even say, “What can I do?” They said, “This is what we’re doing.” Because sometimes when you say, “What can you do?”… I know now going through it, you know, when you say, “What can you do?” It’s like, one, sometimes I don’t know what I need, and two, sometimes I just feel awkward being like, “Can you bring me some food?”

Pam: Right, exactly.

Yvonne:
It was just amazing that they were like, “This is what we’re doing. We are going to bring you food. We are going to do this.” And my Operation Deploy Your Dress sisters, cofounders, they… You know, they’re not here with me. They’re at different installations around the country and they bought gift cards and sent them to me and it was just so heart-warming and amazing to have that support. I don’t think that people who are outside of the military community can really understand that when we say that this is military family, it really is a family.

Pam: Right, yeah. And I know that as military spouses, because we’re so fiercely independent and used to just having so much thrown at us… I mean, obviously your story has those unique, like, extra heavy layers in there, but we really do juggle so much that I think that we know that we’re all juggling so much. We don’t want to ask for stuff, you know? So, when somebody just does it, it’s almost like, “Oh God, thank you. That is what I needed.” Because it really is. It’s not that it’s hard to ask for stuff, we just don’t want to do it. We don’t want to inconvenience somebody. So yeah, I’m really glad that they stepped up for you. That’s great.

Yvonne: And to go back to the military family… I never felt that judgment from the people who knew us. But it’s, you know, going into this new installation and you don’t know anybody yet so all they know is that you’re not there or all they know is the glimpses that they see of you on Facebook. And so they’re getting this preconceived notion of you before they ever get to personally meet you. And I like to joke around and say that when people meet me, I think that I stand a pretty good chance of winning people over. But growing up, I always said that I was like, black licorice. You either love me or you hate me. People aren’t usually neutral about black licorice; they either love black licorice or they hate black licorice. And I think that I’ve outgrown that about black licorice a little bit, but I do still have that worry that there was judgment… or not necessarily judgment, but I guess a preconceived image of me and my family and what our choice was, without us ever being able to explain and tell our story to somebody.

Pam: Yeah and that’s always going to happen too, so absolutely. Part of that you just cannot avoid. So speaking of Operation Deploy Your Dress, I want to dive into this some. So yeah, this is an amazing, phenomenal mission and I want you to explain it a bit. So how did… Is there four or five of you?

Yvonne: There’s five of us. We have a really hard time getting all five of us in one spot at a time, so we keep having different variations of a picture of the four of us.

Pam: Okay. How did you all come together because you’re in different… were you at one point in the same spot?

Yvonne: We were, we were in Fort Bliss, Texas. This idea came up in December of 2015 and we were all in different units and we were going to do dress swaps for our units, which aren’t necessarily uncommon on a military installation. And we were all planning them at the same time so we decided to just do a joint dress swap and open it up to anybody who needed a dress.

Pam: And in particular formal wear, right? For a military ball.

Yvonne: Yeah. We all had military balls coming up is what it was. And we were trying to figure out how we could boost the attendance at these military balls. And we knew that a lot of times people just don’t go because they can’t afford to, not because they don’t want to. Like who doesn’t want to get dressed up and get your hair done and have a nice night out with your service member. That’s not the case. It’s the fact that a lot of times it’s a choice between a $300 dress and food for your family, and all the responsible people are gonna choose food for their family. And so we wanted to find a way that we could help take away a big cost of that and hopefully boost the attendance at these balls because it’s about more than having a special night out. It’s about building comradery. It’s about keeping tradition alive. And it’s about building a community, a military community. That way whenever your spouse does deploy, you’ve met somebody in the unit before, you have somebody to reach out to if you have an emergency. And not only that, you have somebody just to go through the day to day life of military life who understands what you’re going through. And so we wanted to help with that. And so we got some national media attention pretty quick, which equated to a bunch of dresses really quick. And we realized that this was going to have to be more than a one-day event. Thousands of dresses weren’t going to go away in one day and the need for this and the desire to help this wasn’t going to go away as well.

Pam: And it’s such a fabulous mission. So people donate their dress is what they do.

Yvonne: People donate their dress and they come from all over the country. Even some have come from different parts of the world. It’s not just military families that are donating their dresses from previous military balls, it’s people who have gone to a nice wedding or been a bridesmaid or prom and civilians… You know, we say that we’re deploying America’s patriotism one dress at a time because it is giving the American public a tangible way to support the troops. You know, a lot of times they say like, “We support the troops!” and they put a sign in their yard, which is wonderful, but they reach out and they say like, “We’d like to do more. What can we do?” And this is something that doesn’t cost a lot. It’s the cost of postage. They pay to mail these dresses, but they’re dresses that they already have sitting in their closet. They don’t want to donate to a Goodwill. They don’t want to donate to something because they have some special memories tied to it, but when they hear about Operation Deploy Your Dress, they say, “Okay, we can give to this. We can let go of this memory and let somebody else make a memory.”

Pam:
Right. It’s more tangible when you’re giving it. Like, I give loads to Goodwill and stuff, but when I have family that I can donate my children’s clothes to, that I know needs it, it’s so much easier to just keep throwing stuff in and filling it up and passing it on.

Yvonne: Yeah, absolutely. I mean we all do the PCS purging and give our stuff to Goodwill and to the thrift store on post because those are all great causes. But for whatever reason people hang onto these dresses. They don’t want to send those dresses. We were doing a dress drive for a pop up event here in DC (our pop up event was a couple of weeks ago, but the dress drive was a couple of months ago at the Spouse’s Club here in DC) and somebody came in with a dress and it was zipped up in a bag and she said, “This dress was my mom’s dress. It was her mother of the bride dress at my wedding 54 years ago.” And I was thinking, “Okay, 54 years old… Let’s see about this, you know. But the thought that she was so emotionally connected with that dress that she held onto it for 54 years and when she told her mom what she was going to take dresses to, her mom said, “Okay, you can take the dress this. I will give up my dress for that.” And when I unzip this dress, it was beautiful. It was absolutely gorgeous. And it was chosen as the DC event and the woman who chose it (who’s also somebody who came in and volunteered with us… we had not met her before her volunteering at the event – her name is Shirley), she looked beautiful in it and it’s a timeless dress and it was gorgeous. And you know, we say that we’re also doing a service for these people because we’re allowing them to let go of things and clear space in their closet. Maybe put new clothes or maybe just to clear space in their closet, you know? There is a lot of good that comes from this.

Pam: No, it’s absolutely amazing. And I’m going to share links later too, but if somebody wants to get a dress to your organization, how do they do that?

Yvonne: So we have a website operationdeployyourdress.org, and there’s different mailing addresses posted there and there are also physical addresses, which are for people who want to go in and receive a dress. They can’t receive mail at the physical addresses. That’s why we have mailing addresses. But yeah, they just choose any of those installations. And as we open new shops, we add the shops to the page and then they just choose an installation and they box up their dresses, put a note in there with their address so we can send them a tax receipt and a thank you note. And that’s it. We have volunteers that process it. The whole organization is volunteer-based. None of us are paid employees. We’re all volunteers doing this because, one, we love it and, two, we love the military community. And three, it’s a lot of fun to play with dresses.

Pam: That’s funny. So you have actual physical stores, but then you do these random popups sometimes too.

Yvonne: So we have six shops on installations around the country that are open weekly. They are open all year long and they do shut down for six weeks in the summer so that our volunteers can spend some time with their families. But they have weekly openings and they also will have an occasional night or weekend opening as well. And then we do a pop-up event once a year every April in DC that’s for the DC area. Because everything is so spread out here, it’s very hard to pick one installation that we would put a shop on and still be able to support everybody in this area. So we do the pop up event once a year where we give away hundreds of dresses in one day. And we work with the Family Readiness Department of the Association of The United States Army and they have been great. We’ve teamed up with them to do this event. Plus, we do a few other events with them throughout the year at different installations where we have shops. And it’s another military organization that wants to just be there to help that military community and really pull in those military spouses and family members and show them that they matter too.

Pam: Yeah. Well we just had a comment. Ashley said that her mom and her were just wondering what to do with the formal dresses that they have. So there you go, Ashley. Here is your answer!

Yvonne: We are your answer! We take formal dresses and we take accessories as well. So shoes, shawls, purses, jewelry, formal accessories as well.

Pam: Wow, that’s really great to know. It’s so crazy that it just started out as what it was and it’s just really exploded. I mean you guys are all over the place.

Yvonne: Yeah, we have a couple of other shops in the works that we are excited about, and our goal and hope is to be on as many military installations as possible because like I said, the desire to help is there and you know that people always have a dress hanging in their closet. Every year, people are buying dresses to wear to special events that they’re they’re not going to wear again because of social media. They’re not going to wear it again because everybody’s already seen them in it. It’s been their profile picture. And so our goal is to be in as many military installations as possible. Right now we’re five army spouses, so we’re on army installations or the army side of joint basis because that’s where our connections are. But if there are other services that are interested and they want to reach out to us and help us get into where they are, we are open and happy to explore all branches of service. We do serve all branches of service. Especially our joint base, Langley Eustis, we actually serve more air force and navy people out of that shop and installation than we do army people. So I think that there is a little bit of a misconception that we just are here for army people, and we serve a ton of other service spouses and family members as well.

Pam: Yeah. Gosh, okay. So you’ve got your family, you’ve got your military spouse life and you’re building a business that is… I mean, I know how much time and effort that that takes in too and you’ve just got so much going on. How are you able to fit it all in?

Yvonne: Very long days! Luckily for us, I don’t sleep a lot when my husband is deployed (like many, I’m sure). So I am very productive at 12, one, two, three o’clock in the morning. Surprisingly, I’m very productive at those hours of the day.

Pam: So that’s so funny. I am definitely not. I am like the early bird and so I go to bed early, but then I wake up really early too. But I have found for me personally, the more I cram into my day, the more focused and productive I have to be because I have stuff to do. I get so much more done. The days that I just take off, I’m like, “Okay, I’ll get to this, I’ll get to it.” It’s just kind of, like, worthless. So the more I load up and enjoy doing right… yeah, I’ll make it happen.

Yvonne:
If you look forward to doing it, you’re absolutely going to make it happen. And I think it’s about being organized with it as well. I am a bit of a control freak and as a result have forced myself to have to be very organized with what we do in my whole life so that I can make sure that I don’t… I have lots of spreadsheets and lots of checklists to make sure that I’m not forgetting something.

Pam: Okay. So Ashley said, “And also thank you for sharing your story.” They were forced to geo-bach and no one from the command ever reached out and a couple have made a comment about those wives and she didn’t have a choice in the matter. So she was frustrated and hope this becomes more talked about in our community. Yes. That is why we are having these conversations.

Yvonne: Yes. And I think it’s great what you do, that you are bringing the taboo or hard-to-talk-about conversations out into the light because I think it can be very lonely for people. Because I think they feel like they’re alone. Like they’re the only ones going through it. And often times you’re not alone.

Pam: Yes. And even if you don’t relate to every part of the story, there are going to be layers or elements that you are going to be able to connect to or just realize, “Oh my gosh, we all just have these special circumstances going on. It’s what makes us individual, but then it’s also what brings us together, you know?” Just sort of erasing any sort of shame or self-imposed shame that we do, like, “Oh gosh, I’m not being this or I’m not being that or look at so and so.” And I mean, we’re hopefully just all trying to do the best that we can, you know?

Yvonne: Well, I think it’s important for people to watch these episodes, even if they don’t think that it relates to them, because they could see the topic and have said, “I would never geo-bach, so I’m not going to watch that.” But that was me. I would never geo-bach. Maybe had I have seen this sooner, I might have said that I would probably prefer to not geo-bach, but you never know what life’s gonna throw at you. That might’ve been my mantra on geo-baching instead of “I would never geo-bach.”.

Pam: Right. Well I know we went as a family to South Korea for two years. And so a lot of spouses choose to stay back and they make their family decision, and so you can hear a lot of talk when you’re over in Korea. Like, “Oh well, you know, their wife didn’t come.” And it’s like… We have no idea what went into that decision. Because it’s not an easy one. It’s not easy to have your family apart. That’s why when I saw this topic, I thought, “Oh, that’s a good one!” Because we don’t talk about why people choose to do this and things that can happen and come up and it’s very personal and individual. So yeah, thanks for sharing your story. I really appreciate that. And yes, I love your mission. I’m going to put your links back up there again. I showed them before. So it’s operationdeployyourdress.org, and on Facebook it’s Operation Deploy Your Dress, and you’re on Instagram, too?

Yvonne: We are on Instagram.

Pam: Yes, that’s right. Because I just tagged you in something earlier. All right, great. That is so good. Thank you so much for being open and honest and sharing this with us. I know that it’s not easy to be going through that, so I’m glad that you all are doing so well and your son sounds amazing – both of them. But he sounds like one tough cookie.

Yvonne: Yeah, and we’re very proud of him. We’re very proud of the way that he has just charged on with this whole thing. Like I said, his last test came back free of disease and so he’ll continue to go back every couple of months to make sure that it continues to come out that way. But he went back to running, actually, the day his test came back free of disease. He had me drop him off at the track because track practice was going on. He went straight back to running and ran in a couple of D1 track meets just four weeks after finishing chemo. The community at George Washington University has been amazing as well, not just his team. His team has been great, but just George Washington University community. For being such a big university, they’ve been extremely supportive, just great with him through this whole process. And so we can’t be more thankful for our military family, our biological family, our GW family. It kind of was a perfect storm and it was a storm, but a perfect storm that everything kind of just fell into place and we had the support that we needed from all avenues.

Pam: That is fantastic. He is like resiliency all wrapped up, isn’t he?

Yvonne: That’s what military, kids are, right? I mean we say it all the time. We hope that resiliency isn’t tested, but when it is, we hope that it is there. We talk about military kids being resilient all the time. So it’s proof. I don’t think that he’s unique. I think that it is proof that military kids can weather the storm.

Pam: Right, exactly. You can hear sometimes, people that feel bad for our kids because of all they have to go through and it’s like, no, look, it really gave him strength.

Yvonne: Absolutely. Absolutely. And I mean, he had friends all over the world that were cheering him on and just there for emotional support for him as well, even though they couldn’t be there physically. And he had one friend who actually, at Christmas break, his mom, he came home, he went home to Fort Benning for Christmas break from college and his mom drove him from Fort Benning to DC just to sit with him in chemo.

Pam: Wow. Oh my gosh, that’s so touching.

Yvonne: I mean, they’re dear friends of ours but it was just amazing. She said, “I’m going to bring Brendan to sit with him for a couple of days at chemo.” And I was like, are you kidding? That’s like a 12-hour drive. She’s like, “Of course, we’re going to be there!” And they got in the car and they drove up. It’s what military families do for each other and it’s never expected, but it’s always appreciated.

Pam: Absolutely. Yeah. It’s an amazing community to be a part of. Like, such an incredible bond.

Yvonne: Yeah.

Pam: All right, well thank you. And one last bit of information… I have a live training coming up soon and in order to be a part of the live training, you’re going to need to have the link to join it. So if you drop an “I’m in” in the comments, I will make sure that you have it. And it is 5 Success Habits of a Happy Military Spouse (How to Prosper Beyond the Boundaries of Military Life). And thank you so much for joining us in this honest conversation today. And thanks Yvonne for being here and sharing all that you did. Operation Deploy Your Dress is amazing and so are you and your family, so thanks for everything that you do. Appreciate it.

Yvonne: Thank you.

Pam:
Right. And we will see you all next time. Thank you!

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