Shoebox Treasures, SouthPaws, Bypass Surgery, and YoYo’s

Read Time8 Minute, 31 Second

It was Friday morning, and I had just pulled into Woods Coffee in Bellingham to get a coffee for the drive to Anacortes.  The clerk who took my order noticed my necklace and said that she’d never seen a necklace made from tiny seashells before.

“I recently found it in an old shoe box I had used previously, like a storage bin for my keepsakes.”

“Where did you buy it?”

“I got it when I was in Maui, in 1988, but forgot about it until finding the old shoe box in the garage.”

“OMG!  1988, is the year that I was born!” exclaimed the excited clerk.

I suddenly felt like an aging dinosaur.

We spoke for a couple of minutes, and I had to repeat myself a few times because my voice is often difficult to understand.

I explained to the ladies behind the counter that I had had stage three throat cancer ten years ago with only a 40 % chance of surviving.  I told them that a therapist had saved me by insisting that I consider myself in the 40% group of survivors.  And she was right because it’s better than being in the 60% group that doesn’t survive.  You must always remain positive and be free of self-pity.  And never, ever, give up hope!

(NOTE:  I often tell my 40% cancer story but not for sympathy – it’s to give hope and encouragement for those hearing my message – in whatever challenges they or their loved ones are facing.  We’re all cut from the same cloth, Spanky!)

As I was leaving the coffee shop, I heard the one clerk say to the other – “Poor guy!”

I stopped, and for a brief moment, I wanted to go back into the shop and correct her by asking her not to pity me because I don’t feel sorry for myself.  And I’ve never wanted anyone to feel sorry for me – ever!  But I didn’t.

It’s why I never apologize for my voice – I prefer to explain that it’s a result of the radiation treatments for my throat cancer.  I also try not to ever complain about my health issues – I’m just happy to be alive.

I had no shoes and complained until I met a man who had no feet!


Soon, I was back on the road, and within another 30-40 minutes, I was in Anacortes, Washington.  I arrived at the motel I would be staying at that night and then gave a quick call to Tom Wallace, who was going to pick me up for the drive to the ferry terminal.

Tom and Sue were at Mickie Dee’s (McDonald’s) when I called, and they said they’d pick me up in ten minutes.  We were carpooling to save money on parking.  We also picked up our friend Gretchen on the way to the terminal.

It was overcast and windy.  I wondered if the weather would affect the number of walkers we’d get for the Friday Harbor walk on San Juan Island.  I knew that there would be at least 19 Canadians attending the Friday and Saturday events in the San Juan and Guemes Islands.  But our clubs walk in almost all types of weather, so I was confident the weekend would be well-attended and memorable – regardless!

At 1:55 PM, we were on the ferry for the one hour sail to San Juan Island.  The fare was just $6.85 for the round trip for walk-on passengers over the age of 65.  As stated previously, none of my friends are seniors – they’re all under the age of 100!

Registration for the walk took place on-board, and I think there were approximately 24 walkers that signed in for the day’s walk.  Tomorrow, we were expecting up to 100 walkers for the Guemes Island walk.  It was great seeing all of my fellow Canucks participating in the weekend festivities.


Sandy, one of the walkers from the NW Trekkers, was talking to Sue Wallace about her triple bypass surgery and that walking had saved her life.

Sandy, Brenda, and Sue on Ferry (April 5, 2019)                      Photo by Danny

“Excuse me, but I couldn’t help but overhear you mentioning that you almost had a heart attack and that walking had saved your life?” I asked.

“Yes,” she explained, “I had been walking with a friend when suddenly I got a sharp pain in my jawbone near the chin area.  I complained to my friend about it, and she said that it sounded like a heart attack symptom and that I needed to get it checked out immediately.  So I went to the ER and was told that I was extremely close to having a major heart attack and that I would be having a triple bypass surgery the next day!”

“So, if you hadn’t been walking that day with a friend, you probably would have suffered a heart attack?” I asked.

“Yes,” replied Sandy.  “Walking saved me for several reasons.  First, my friend knew about the symptoms for a heart attack and pain in the jaw was a sign of an imminent heart attack.  If she hadn’t been with me – I wouldn’t have known I was in jeopardy because I wasn’t aware that heart attack symptoms for women are completely different than those for men.  And it wasn’t until after my diagnosis and surgery that I became aware of the other symptoms for women, including severe pain in the stomach.  And because I’ve been a regular walker, the veins in my legs were healthy and in excellent shape for use in my bypass surgery.”

“Wow!  I never knew there was any difference in the heart attack symptoms for men and women.”

It turns out that the symptoms for women are also more difficult to detect and that’s why it’s vital for any of you reading this to do an immediate search on Google to learn the symptoms.  It will only take a few moments, and the knowledge you gain may save your life – or the life of a loved one!

Thanks, Sandy for sharing your personal story with me.


Speaking of health issues – my friend Sue Wallace told me that southpaws live an average of 7 years less than right-handed people.  And then she explained some of the challenges and issues that face people who are left-handed including:

  • Iron cords must be on top of iron – and not on the side of the iron
  • People can’t sit on the left of you when you’re eating
  • School desks designed for right-handed people
  • Scissors are for right-handed people
  • Notebooks with the duo tangs are always in the way when a southpaw is writing

It was the first time that I had ever thought about left-handed people and some of the anxiety that they face every day.


When the ferry reached Friday Harbor, the group separated between those walking the 5 KM route and those doing the 10 KM option.  And although the sky was overcast for much of the day – it didn’t rain – which was a huge bonus.

I met a few new dog pals on the walk, including Johnny, who was walking with his owners who are members of the club.  Dogs add so much to the enjoyment of our lives, and I have never met a dog that I didn’t like (although there were a few that weren’t friendly – not many – but a few).  Heres a photo of Johnny:

Johnny the mascot                           Photo by Danny

Some of the group met at Herb’s Tavern for lunch.  Others decided to do a bit of shopping for souvenirs etc.  Our ferry was scheduled to return to Anacortes at 6:30 PM but there was an announcement that said there was going to be a twenty-minute delay in the ferry’s arrival.  But during the late afternoon, the sky cleared and spirits began to soar at the thought of a sunset cruise back to the mainland.

Sunset in the San Juan Islands                                             Photo by Chris Ann

My gal pal Chris Ann took this fabulous photo of the sunset.  She braved the cold wind outside the ferry to get the shot, but it is a beauty!  Thanks, Chris!

I took several photos and video clips of the day’s adventure.  Here are some of the photos:

I also took several short video clips.  But there is one in particular that I wanted you to see.  On the return ferry trip to Anacortes, we saw this young boy doing tricks with his yoyo (although it’s a modern version of what I had as a kid).

And here are the other videos that I took:

Click here to view:  Friday Harbor video clips

It was an awesome day – with awesome friends – on an awesome island!

Dedicated to my walking friends!



Today tune from Danny’s library (purchased):

We’re All Alone – lyrics

Outside the rain begins
And it may never end
So cry no more, on the shore a dream
Will take us out to sea
Forevermore, forevermore

Close your eyes and dream
And you can be with me
‘Neath the waves, through the caves of hours
Long, forgotten now
We’re all alone, we’re all alone

Close the window, calm the light
And it will be all right
No need to bother now
Let it out, let it all begin
Learn how to pretend

Once a story’s told
It can’t help but grow old
Roses do, lovers too, so cast
Your seasons to the wind
And hold me, dear, oh, hold me, dear

Close the window, calm the light
And it will be all right
No need to bother now
Let it out, let it all begin
All’s forgotten now
We’re all alone, all alone

Close the window, calm the light
And it will be all right
No need to bother now
Let it out, let it all begin
Owe it to the wind, my love

Songwriters: William R. Royce Scaggs
We’re All Alone lyrics © Spirit Music Group, BMG Rights Management

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About Post Author

Daniel (Danny) St. Andrews

An almost famous Film, Television & Stage Actor (as in almost pregnant) living in Vancouver, BC His other passions include cancer patient advocate (he had stage 3 throat cancer), walking with the Vancouver 'Venturers Walking Club, and of course, spoiling his dog, Holly Golightly. If you like the stuff he writes about - please leave a hug (or a comment).
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4 thoughts on “Shoebox Treasures, SouthPaws, Bypass Surgery, and YoYo’s

  1. Really enjoyed reading, however, I can’t take credit for the left handed statement about the life span of left handers (it was Frank Sam from Canada).

    1. I heard it from you and that’s why I included it in the story. BTW, I’m going back to Friday Harbor this Friday – this time with a date! But I may not be writing about it… we’ll see how it works out. Hugs, Danny

  2. Hi Daniel, I met you at Herbs in Friday Harbor, where you gave me your card. I enjoyed reading several of your stories. I also like your video clip of Johnny! Hope to see you at other walking events!

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