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Couple seized the day - Embarked on cross-country trip between cancer treatments

IU Health Simon Cancer Center

Couple seized the day - Embarked on cross-country trip between cancer treatments

This couple has spent hours on the road - traveling from their Virginia home to IU Health Simon Cancer Center. Recently, they embarked on another road trip - taking them 8,515 miles in 34 days.

By TJ Banes, IU Health Senior Journalist,

There are pictures of them jumping in the air in front of the majestic western red rocks, kissing atop snow-covered peaks, and clowning for the camera on the Las Vegas strip. Mostly, there are smiles - lots of smiles.

Recently, Chas and Lexi Goodson loaded up their Toyota Tacoma, named “Freeda,” and their faithful four-legged companion, “Roscoe” and headed out for the trip of a lifetime. The journey took them through more than 20 states - traveling through the American southwest exploring New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah.

Mostly, the trip was a negative head shake to a diagnosis that has steered their journey for the past five years. Chas was diagnosed with testicular cancer on his 21st birthday in Oct. 28, 2018, two years before they were married. They became a couple at the age of 16 when they met at a horse show in 2014. They married in an outdoor ceremony in the pouring rain along the Blue Ridge Parkway in Roanoke, Va. Those who are closest to them know that this was a love story from the start. They also know that it’s no surprise that the couple would set off on a “bucket list” cross-country trip - traveling off road and sleeping in a truck-top tent - even when temperatures dipped to single digits.

Chas Goodson with dog

Chas’ testicular cancer diagnosis affects one in every 250 males, usually young to middle-aged men. He first thought he had a hernia - the cancer had spread through his lymph nodes and caused a soda-can size mass on his lungs. After the initial diagnosis, he underwent an orchotomy and pulmonary lobectomy at a hospital near his home. When the cancer reoccurred, he came to IU Health Simon Cancer Center for additional chemotherapy. Through subsequent follow-up visits he has been in the care of Dr. Lawrence Einhorn, known around the world for his successful treatment of testicular cancer - germ cell tumors - using a mix of high dose chemotherapies and peripheral stem cell transplant.

Chas Goodson in hospital

During one hospital stay, Chas connected with other testicular cancer patients and became known as an “encourager” coaching them through treatment. He and Lexi became fast friends with Isaac and Katie McCurdy who traveled to IU Health from Stony Point, NC. In addition to chemotherapy, McCurdy underwent a retroperitoneal lymph node dissection, in the care of IU Health Dr. Timothy Masterson.

There were many days when a group of young men - all with the same diagnosis - would pass the time with their wives, hanging out in the family lounge at Simon Cancer Center. At the time Chas said: “I’ll do anything I can to help them cope. I’ve never let this put me down. I’ve been so grateful in my life at such a young age. I can’t complain.” Their long talks extended way beyond a common diagnosis.

They talked about far away family, their pets, mutual hobbies, and their careers. McCurdy is a firefighter; Chas works as a pipeline mechanic. Road trips were nothing unusual for him. He, Lexi, and Roscoe traveled around the country from one job to the next, camping in a 40-foot fifth wheeler. Lexi is a travel coordinator for Inner Compass Travel and planned out their recent trip between Chas’ treatments. Their itinerary included North Carolina to Florida, across the southern United States through Mississippi, Louisiana, into Texas, then New Mexico and Arizona, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada.

Chas and Lexi Goodson

They tackled hikes that took them to ancient cliff dwellings, challenging drives through Coconino National Forest and blizzard-like conditions, and camping in the back country canyon of Palo Duro Canyon in Texas.

Before making it back home, they stopped in Indianapolis for Chas’ appointment at IU Health. They are now living in Southern Indiana where Chas has started treatments again.

In late March, Lexi shared an update - pictures that show increasingly large cancerous lesions on Chas’s liver. He was on a clinical trial but is now back on chemotherapy once a month.

As they share photos of an adventure of a lifetime, Lexi writes: “Sometime I find myself questioning why we can never break this never-ending cycle of sickness, however, we are so thankful for each and every day that we had an opportunity to continue to live life limitlessly.”

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