By Jenny Neyman
Not being a morose individual given to pessimistic thinking, Rick Abbott wasn’t expecting some of the worst news of his life to come from that doctor’s visit in November 2011. This is, after all, the man behind the inspirational quotes posted on the sign in front of Spenard Builders Supply in Soldotna. This week’s offering: “One thing you can’t recycle is wasted time.”
As an optimist, he was hoping for a treatment plan to alleviate the neuropathy in his legs, pain in his joints, migraines, fatigue, nosebleeds and other health struggles that had been worsening. As a pragmatist, he was at least expecting an explanation of what was causing his symptoms.
He got the latter, but in a form that would considerably test the former.
“‘You have lymphoma and leukemia.’ The doctor said it just like that. No soft shoe,” Abbott said. “She said, ‘I have talked to a doctor group in Seattle for over an hour about your case. I haven’t been able to come up with a reason or a solution. I don’t have a cure for you.’ When you’re given that prognosis, what do you do?”
You don’t panic, first of all. One doesn’t maintain a successful business career as long as Abbott — 40 years as general manager of Soldotna SBS and the old Superior Building Supply in Soldotna before that — by falling to pieces when faced with a difficult situation. You measure up the problem and use the best tools available to address it. In this case, as with all in Abbott’s life, that meant relying on his love for family and his strength of faith.
“I had a protective feeling of taking care of my wife (Phoebe), so I was trying to absorb what the doctor was saying, but more so I was trying to protect how she would receive this. But I know the Lord was protecting whatever feelings I was supposed to have. At that time I didn’t have any fear or anxiety — I had none of those,” he said.