For two Army Vietnam Veterans fighting cancer, living at the Houston VA Fisher House has been a game changer.

Harry Robinson Sr., 75, a door gunner in Vietnam, and Leonard Adams, 69, a heavy equipment repairman known as “Mr. Fix it”, each currently reside in Fisher House III on the campus of Houston VA Medical Center. And each man has come a long way since his initial cancer diagnosis.

“I’ve had prostate cancer for 21 years,” said Robinson, currently in stage four cancer recovery. “I’ve been treated at MD Anderson with six rounds of chemo treatment. My prognosis is looking good. All my vital signs are normal. I feel pretty good right now and have a very positive outlook.”

Adams, who hadn’t been to a VA in 41 years, said outside doctors didn’t know what was wrong with him. “That wasn’t encouraging to me because I needed help,” he said. “But there was one doctor at the Houston VA who told me, ‘Before you leave here, I’m going to get you well.’”

Adams had eight rounds of chemotherapy and 100 stem cells from 100 different people. His blisters, which covered his body less the soles of his feet, began to clear up.

“The blisters were everywhere,” he said. “All in my mouth, all in my throat. One got in my eye, which caused me to see double. I was a terrible sight to see.”

However, both men today look and sound great. And in addition to the stellar care they each have received, living at the Fisher House has put each one—and their wives—at ease. Fisher House takes the worry out of everyday living and allows the Veterans to focus on just getting better.

“We all are family here in the Fisher House,” said Robinson. “We’re all here for the same thing. I’ve been here since Feb. 20. This is it … home away from home.”

Adams, who has resided at Fisher House since Feb. 25, has so much appreciation for his time here.

“Being here brings a lot of relief and joy,” said Adams. “They make you feel like you’re in your own house. They make you feel like you are family. That’s how it makes you feel. You’re not alone in this. It just encourages us and takes our minds off this stuff that we’re afflicted with. Being here is like being at your own house.”

At one’s own home, family would be present. And that’s exactly what makes Fisher House special. Family members of Veterans can stay at no cost while a loved one receives treatment.

“As for the Veteran in the hospital, it is important for them to know we in the Fisher House will be doing everything we can for their loved ones and caregivers, to protect and give them the support they need while they are here,” said Frank Kelley, Fisher House manager. “The people in the hospital need to know their loved ones are taken care of so they can concentrate on getting better.”

While at Fisher House, family members of various Veterans form bonds and help one another. They become a support system for each other.

“You meet people from all walks,” said Carolyn Adams, wife of Leonard. “Everybody here has something going on in their lives. Fisher House makes you like family because you have no one else. We depend on each other. We’re here to help each other. We are all here fighting together for our loved ones. It’s a wonderful place. It goes beyond what they intended.”

Carolyn has been on Family Medical Leave for more than a year. She said her work will call every now and then to ask her to come back, but she refuses to leave her husband’s side.

“I don’t want you to leave me” said Adams. “Honestly speaking—I’m not ashamed to say that I don’t know what I’d do without her here.”

Todd Goodman is a public affairs specialist for the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center.

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Published on Jul. 29, 2019

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  1. Don Crauswell August 7, 2019 at 4:14 pm

    Would the VA please address the latest findings by the Nat Academy of Sciences, linking Hypertension, Monoclonal Gammopathy and Bladder Cancer to Agent Orange. Dam You for failing to act, just wait us out, let us all die of the Poison that you sprayed us with, its a disgrace!

  2. Amanda Brown August 3, 2019 at 1:01 pm

    The Fisher House is a blessing for our Veterans! I am very grateful to both of these gentlemen for their service to our country, and wishing them a quick recovery many more years of excellent health.

  3. David L McSpadden August 2, 2019 at 3:34 pm

    I have also had prostate cancer subsequent to heavy exposure to Agent Orange. Fisher House sounds wonderful and I’m glad it is there for those who an take advantage of it.
    I feel there are unrecognized problems that are probably caused by exposure to Agent Orange. One example, when I worked with it (unknown that it was Agent Orange at that time) I would return home after my duty day in the Agent Orange storage facility at the Navy CB base in Gulfport, MS. My 4 year old son would run up to me and hug my leg as soon as I got out of my car. Some days I had been drenched in Agent Orange. That son, now 52 years old, is almost totally blind from Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) which supposedly an inherited disease. He was diagnosed with RP 4 years after I worked with Agent Orange. Is it possible that Agent Orange caused his RP?

  4. Teresa Sims CG VETERAN August 2, 2019 at 12:59 pm

    You are both survivors and I pray thar GOD will grant you with long life. Thank to the Fisher House.

  5. Chuck Swartz August 2, 2019 at 12:58 pm

    I’m a 40% disabled Vet(1972-1975) being treated for esophageal & lung cancer at MD Anderson Houston. Fisher House told me to go away because the VA wasn’t treating me – I had gone directly to MDA so I had to get an apartment for $3k/month nearby while undergoing treatment. I’m happy for the others that benefit but like all govt programs, if you can’t exactly check the box, you don’t qualify and there is no reasonableness. I live in Dallas so it would have been wonderful for me and probably saved $15-20k. Now, I will have surgery requiring a one week hospital stay in Sept and hotels in the area are about $120/night for my family. I’m sure these are very good & well intentioned people but cmon, I paid my dues…I should cross the border and apply for amnesty and get all kinds of govt assistance.

  6. David Brannan August 2, 2019 at 11:09 am

    They wouldn’t let me stay at the Fisher house in Aurora, Colorado when I had esophageal cancer and under going chemotherapy and radiation, and surgery because I wasn’t being treated by the VA. I’m an Iraqi Freedom vet, and my gastroenterologist sent me there. My VA primary care physician when I told her I had cancer said good luck and didn’t offer any way to get VA treatment even though I have tricare for life.

  7. David Brannan August 2, 2019 at 11:05 am

    They wouldn’t let me stay at the Gisher house in Autora when I had esophageal cancer because I wasn’t being treated by the VA.

  8. Jacqueline Burow July 31, 2019 at 12:59 am

    It is wonderful to see the positive outcome for these deserving gentlemen. It’s so nice to hear of a facility that allows patients to maintain their dignity and allows them to feel at home by welcoming family members.

  9. Chad Childers July 29, 2019 at 6:31 pm

    God Bless both of you guys. And thank you for your service! Best wishes for a full and speedy recovery!

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