Linda and Moscoe Gardner
Face and Survive Cancer and Learn the Meaning of
Through 40 years of marriage, Linda and Moscoe Gardner each faced, and survived, personal battles with cancer and discovered the keys to living a purpose driven life after beating cancer.
Over the course of a lifetime, spouses face many trials together. Sometimes, those trials include health scares for one or the other.
But for Linda and Moscoe Gardner, cancer was a scare, and a life trial, they faced together both as survivors and as caregivers.
And they faced it with Riverside by their side from diagnosis to treatment and remission to survivor support.
Battling cancer together.
For years Linda could feel the aches and pains in her bones, telling Moscoe “I am going to end up with cancer,” Linda said, always as a joke with a hidden sense of reality thrown in.
In 2008, working to address some of those knee pains, Linda underwent knee replacement surgery. During the operation, she lost a lot of blood, she said, resulting in a needed blood transfusion and follow up monitoring of her blood count.
By 2009, during one of those follow up visits for blood work, Linda’s physicians noted that her hemoglobin blood count had dropped to 6.9, lower than the normal range.
Linda’s primary care physician sent her to a hematologist for further testing, which revealed what she’d feared for years.
Linda had cancer - stage two multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer.
“I didn’t hear another thing after that. I just cried and cried,” Linda said.
She knew the diagnosis meant she was in for a fight, a fight she’d witnessed before.
Fighting the good fight.
When Linda learned she had cancer, it wasn’t the first time the disease had hit her home.
Five years earlier, Moscoe battled prostate cancer, detected thanks to Jeffrey Haskins, M.D., a Riverside Urologist. He had prostatectomy surgery to remove his prostate and began radiation to fight his cancer.
She knew how to care for him.
Not only did she love him, but Linda also spent her life serving others as a nurse. She began her nursing career in 1978 at a local nursing home in Tappahannock as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). She went on to study at Rappahannock Community College and earned her Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) certificate before joining Riverside Tappahannock Hospital in 1989. She cross-trained and worked in a variety of areas before retiring from the Oncology unit.
“I became a nurse because there are so many people out here that need care and you have to have a great passion for nursing,” Linda said. “You have to have empathy for that other person and you treat them like you want to be treated when they are in the hospital. I always tried to make my patients feel like they were something special. When they come in, they could be really sick and when they left, they would feel better. I always kept them laughing. People always tell me I have a good personality for patient care.”
But caring for yourself is different. Plus, Linda faced a different type of treatment.
Soon after receiving her diagnosis, Linda began receiving oral chemotherapy.
“I did really good with the oral chemotherapy,” she said. “I wasn’t really, sick, just tired but would have a hard time resting at night.”
While the treatment was working, Linda’s oncologist, Nancy McKinney, M.D., referred her to the Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center in Richmond where she received a successful stem cell transplant in 2010.
Linda has been in remission for three years thanks to her treatment, support network and positive attitude.
“They told me one thing that helps me a lot is my personality and my positive attitude,” she said. “The nurses would always tell me they had never seen a patient as bubbly as me! I was always cracking jokes and I didn’t let things get me down. I’m still the same way. I try to not think of the worst-case scenario. I believe in God and God will take care of me.”
Life after cancer.
Love. Family. Health. Support. That’s the key to living life after beating cancer, Linda said.
Today, Linda and Moscoe live cancer free together and look back lovingly on all they created in their 40 years of marriage - one daughter, two sons, seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
They maintain an active lifestyle traveling, camping, spending time with family and giving back.
After retirement, Linda wanted to give back to the community that cared for her and Moscoe.
In addition to serving as a substitute school nurse for Essex County Public Schools, Linda spends her days volunteering at Riverside Tappahannock Hospital, the very place she worked as a nurse for more than 20 years.
“My administrator always jokes and tells me I just couldn’t stay away,” Linda said with a laugh. “Volunteering brings back a lot of memories from my nursing days. The thing I missed the most was just interacting with the patients and as a volunteer, I get to do that and so much more. It’s a good feeling to give back.”
Perhaps most importantly, though, today Linda and Gardner both remain proactive with their health.
“We continue our routine physician visits to monitor our health,” Linda said. “We are also moving all of the time and I think that’s the key to staying healthy as we age.”
Linda also regularly attends a cancer survivor’s support group started and run by Betty Blevins, a fellow cancer survivor and retired Riverside team member.
The group meets once a month and holds round table discussions where survivors share stories about their family life, cancer and the struggles.
“I am the only African-American in the group and I tell them I bring out the color in them,” Linda said, laughing. “I really enjoy them.”
And she really enjoys the support.
“It’s important to remember that there is life after cancer,” Linda said. “Get out there, make friends, find support, remain active. But most importantly, have a good attitude and you can stay strong.”
FREE prostate cancer screenings September 22, 1-5pm with Dr. Jeffrey Haskins,
Riverside Urology Specialists. Call 800-520-7006 for
an appointment time.
Extended hours for screening mammography in October: Every Tuesday and Wednesday from 8am until 7pm. Schedule at
riversideonline.com or call 800-675-6368, option 2. Walk-ins also welcome. Get your mammogram and
receive an entry into our raffle prize.
“Love. Family. Health. Support:
Improving your quality of life during and after cancer treatments” Joe Durham, Director of Rehabilitation.
October 19, 6pm, Riverside Tappahannock Hospital
“Lymphedema Treatment: Self-care tips” Brandy Glass, Physical Therapy Assistant & Lymphedema Specialist. October 19, 6:30 pm, Riverside Tappahannock Hospital
“Surviving Breast Cancer” Dr. Reginald Mason, Riverside Surgical Specialists. October 25, 6pm. Riverside Tappahannock Hospital. Call 443-6203 to save your seat.