Dale Toler, 59, undoubtedly had many challenges and scary situations in his 25 years with the Austin Police Department. A retired Sergeant, he was on the bomb squad and on the SWAT team. But on a regular kind of day, undergoing a routine physical in August of 2016, he and his beautiful wife and caregiver, Sharon came face to face with the biggest challenge of their lives. Dale says he had been feeling tired and just thought it was “age or a thyroid problem.” Within a week he learned he had multiple myeloma.
Fortunately, it was detected early and bone scans were clear. From Jarrell, Texas, chemotherapy was immediately started close to home at Austin Cancer Center in Georgetown, TX. As part of Dale’s treatment, an autologous stem cell transplant was done on April 6, 2017 at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston where Dale says everyone “takes quick action and are all about the treatment to get you healthy.” Chemo was so hard on Dale, says Sharon. There were times when “I just wanted to run out of the hospital room, but I knew I couldn’t leave him, so I just tried to process everything one day at a time.”
To help me cope, she says, Dale encouraged me to go home every night. We are so grateful for the “reliable Halo House apartment shuttle.” I went home to our safe and comfortable apartment every night and recharged. Halo House was “an answer to our prayers” and has been a “great place for recovery” says Dale. “It’s kind of like being back in college, but better because we have everything we need,” he says. “We even got Easter baskets which really warmed our hearts”. The washer/dryer has been a “Godsend” they say. Sharon says she washed Dale’s clothing every night because of all the hair he was losing due to treatment. She says she thanks God ten times a day for Halo House. For $20/day, declares Sharon, where else could you get all this comfort, convenience, financial peace of mind, cable, internet and so on? And Bill Boyd, our Ambassador, has shown us so much love and warmth. “Bill,” says Sharon, “is the personification of the Halo House Mission and we consider him a part of our family. Dale and I plan to support Halo House!”
The only place we are looking is forward and God is on our side leading us down the right path says Dale. I am feeling better every day, but still get tired. My stomach feels better and I’ll have to stay out of crowds to keep from getting an infection. I’ll also have to be on chemo pills the rest of my life. But, Dale continues, I’m looking forward to going back to teaching criminal justice at Austin Community College in the Fall and Sharon will continue her wonderful career as a 3rd grade teacher, but will retire in 2018. Sickness changes your perspective, says Sharon. “Dale is not cured but we are intent on having active and fulfilling lives” with all our loved ones, especially, our 3 children and 3 grandchildren. Dale laughs, “What Sharon and I really look forward to the most is just sleeping in our own bed and catching up on Big Bang Theory episodes!”
Sharon lovingly says her husband is a “warrior” and gave it all to Christ to handle. But, it is Sharon, Dale sweetly says, who has had the toughest job on the sidelines, always anticipating next steps and feeling anxious. She has been fantastic, a huge support and completely focused on me. Sharon softly whispers, Dale is the best person I know.