Deep down, Lyle Monforton already knew he had cancer. He’d discovered a lump in his stomach even before he moved down to Georgia to live with his sister. At first he wrote it off as possibly a hernia from his work. But it got progressively worse. When his mom visited and they explored Savannah together, she begged him to go see a doctor, but he still resisted.
“I admit, I didn’t want to know,” Lyle said. “I didn’t care. I pretty much already knew what was…where it was going.”
Lyle was in pain every day. He would vomit every morning. Finally, he told his sister, “Take me to the ER.”
“They did a CAT scan and panel test, pretty much diagnosed me on the spot, and sent me to oncology there,” he explained. His mother came and brought him back to Michigan, but their journey was just beginning.
Lyle didn’t even have a doctor. He couldn’t find a primary care provider that was accepting Medicaid patients, and his appointment with an oncologist was a month away. He only had three days worth of pain medication.
“I was rationing what medication I had,” he said. He had made so many phone calls, but to no avail. So he thought, if he went to the ER, if he was physically there, someone would help him. But he was told he needed to see his primary care doctor, and was sent home. He was back at square one. So he told his mom, “Just call Angela Hospice.”
Lyle had watched his uncle’s difficult battle with cancer, but he had also seen the “phenomenal” care he received at the Angela Hospice Care Center.
“I already said flat out from the start: I’m not doing chemo. I’m not doing radiation,” Lyle said. “I want to be me.”
Angela Hospice was able to help him do just that.
“Within three days we had everything accomplished that we couldn’t get accomplished within three months,” Lyle said. “Angela Hospice has been nothing but a godsend. Literally, without them, I couldn’t tell you where I’d be right now.”
Instead, Lyle was at home with his family. Some couldn’t understand his decision at first to forgo chemo and radiation. But they did see how his choice let him express himself.
“Everybody’s looking at me, they’re like, ‘You’re still Lyle,’” he said. “Normally, people with stage four cancer, they’ll be bedridden.”
Lyle may have been content with the choice he made, but it doesn’t mean it was always easy.
“Have I accepted the fact that I’m going to die? Yes,” he said. “Do I want to go yet? No. I still have things I want to do.
“To keep myself going I’m just like, it’s a day at a time. You know what? I want the best quality I can get out of the rest of my life. If it’s gonna be six months, I want it to be the best six months I can get.”
Of course a global pandemic makes things more difficult. “If anybody’s got a bucket list, forget it. You ain’t fulfilling it,” Lyle quipped.
But he was able to live his life, even in a time of restrictions. He and his mother took a trip to Mackinac Island and had a wonderful time. He visited Frankenmuth for the first time as well. And he did something he had always wanted to do: he left his mark musically.
Lyle had been playing guitar since he was about eight years old. He loved music. So when his friend Ron called to say he was writing a song about Lyle and wanted his input, Lyle jumped at the opportunity. Together they spent 12 hours in the studio “putting all the layers of the onion together,” as Lyle described it.
The result was “I Am Lyle,” a beautifully orchestrated song. Lyle sings on the recording, telling his story in his own words and his own voice. It’s both a testimony and a legacy.
“This is me,” Lyle said as he listened to the recording. “Raw, uncut, it’s me.”