Life and Wood Chips
By Tim Ard, Forest Applications Training, Inc.

Life and wood chips are two things that have become close to my heart as I go down this forest road that God has assigned for me to travel. We will not know till we take our last breath here among the trees if we have taken the right path but after we will, if we know the One who designed the forest and the road. Life is always a wooded challenge! Wood Chips have made mine a pleasure!

I guess you could say I have life today because of three healers of Jewish decent, a Baptist missionary and Trees... Dr. Seth Rosen, Dr. Bruce Goldsweig, and above all the Great physician Jesus Christ. The Baptist missionary? That would be my wonderful loving wife, Laura.

Two years ago this time, May 30th, 2008, I was in surgery to remove everything Dr. Rosen could find of signs of colon rectal cancer from my body. The team of doctors had determined from tests that I was in stage four of the disease and prospects uwere not great but the surgery would tell more about my future prognosis.

I had been battling symptoms for quite some time and basically ignoring them. They were not seeming to get any better. In April of 2008 my wife Laura had finally convinced me to go in for a colonoscopy. My first one, at age fifty-two. Laura made my appointment with Dr. Flood in Villa Rica, Ga. His PC, Dr. Anni called to discuss the findings. We were in Connecticut working and she suggested we return quickly to see Dr. Flood and his referral to Dr. Rosen. Following more tests they diagnosed the problem and the tests showed the cancer. I went to doctor Rosen to discuss the first step, surgery to remove a baseball size tumor. The end of May, Memorial Day Weekend, I had the surgery.

Dr. Rosen removed the large tumor and twenty-one lymph nodes around and below it in the several hour long surgery. He also found two small spots on my liver and an area on one of my lungs, but didn't think they were cancerous. He put me all back together and then fed me ice chips for the next thirteen days. Nice guy, huh. Tim Ard not eating for that long a period is a miracle in itself. They did finally start some bottled food intravenously after the first eight or so days stay. I had lost some weight before the surgery, down from 198 lbs to about 186 lbs, but during my hospital stay I went down to 173 lbs. (Funny note, Dr. Rosen and his son are avid fans of Ask This Old House and had seen my episode on felling trees recently. Small world....)

I recuperated at home the next few weeks with the best care a human could have from my loving wife Laura, family and friends. They took great care of me as I lived in a recliner for several weeks.

Dr. Rosen then connected me with Dr. Goldsweig at the Georgia Cancer Specialists clinic at Cobb Hospital. We found out he also had an office and chemotherapy facility not but two miles from our house. He was there two days a week.

July 7th, 2008 I began a regiment of chemotherapy called Folfox 5. It was given intravenously. The first dose combination I took on every other Monday for about five hours then they attached a pump that gave me another chemo slow dosed until Wednesday and then a shot of a bone marrow stimulator when they removed the pump. Thursday's I died to the world! It took everything I could do to just stand up and you had to often, as the next two days, you spent very close to a restroom. The stuff also makes you think you are swallowing broken glass chips if you forget and drink anything cool and especially cold. It also will cause tingling to a level of almost pain if you pick up anything cold. Its amazing how these chemicals do this. You soon learn not to aggravate the situation though. Everything you put in your mouth must be room temperature or warmer. This regiment continued every other week until mid-October.

Still today, two years later, I have little feeling in my finger tips and the ball's of my feet and toes. It does change from day to day. Its a reminder of the work the chemotherapy did but is very bearable compared to the alternative.

In August 2008 we had to get back to some training to keep a roof over us so we started traveling and training every other week I was off the chemo. Let me say this also, Husqvarna, Cary Shepherd and David Breeden, kept FAT going with Laura orchestrating the days even through my time away. Thanks so much to them for all they did to keep everything going! There was a lot of interest in training programs at the time and if it wasn't for them, many classes could not have been completed.

You can't imagine all the friends and co-workers I have had the pleasure to know over the past thirty-six years in this business. Yes, It's been a long and fantastic time in this industry of Outdoor Power Equipment. You know, most all of it has been because of those great acquaintances that I was able to make it through the industry forest, as well as survive the cancer. Thoughts and the prayers of these special people have kept me going.

Dave Zerfoss, at that time the president of Husqvarna USA, called weekly. Dave has been a great friend and influence in my life. His integrity and charisma has given me direction and desire to achieve more and more.

I didn't speak to them every time others called to check on me, Laura took most calls, but so many business associates like Dave Z. kept in constant contact. Just to name a few Mike Bolin, Jeff Cathcart, David Perkins, Bill Fyfe, Robert Albritton, Kathy Burns, Juli from HI LTAP, Cary Shepherd, David Breeden, and many, many others. I know I am missing some important friends and recollections so, Thank you all! These people were brought to my side mostly by Wood Chip's over the years.

I am so blessed when I recall all the good times and relationships that have been afforded me in Life from family, Church, cutting wood and making Wood Chips during training classes all over the country. You know, since the cancer, we haven't slowed much. The groups are smaller but the days are as many as ever. Over 2500 participants, in mostly hands on training, since that Memorial Day Weekend surgery 2008.

God has always had a strong influence and hold on my Life. He has allowed me through many experiences to survive and always prosper in my endeavors. I know one day He will take me home, and I'm ready when He is, but it seems Wood Chip's are the reason I'm still around. Good Sawing Everyone!

Written over the Memorial Day holiday weekend, Maui, Hawaii 2010. A training project for Hawaii LTAP. Tim Ard is president of Forest Applications Training, Inc.