Let’s face it. NOWHERE is a good place to get cancer. CANCER SUCKS! However, if you are going to have to go through the trauma of facing cancer, the Pioneer Valley is truly a great place to be. Here’s why (not in any order):
The Cancer Connection – The Cancer Connection offers free integrative health services, support groups and a safe-compassionate space. My dad, who was living with cancer, was treated with Reiki and massage. My father attended a living with cancer support group. My mom attended the caregivers support group. My brother and I walked across the street to the Cancer Connection from Cooley Dickinson Hospital after a very upsetting day and were met with compassion and a space to breakdown in tears.
Medical Marijuana – Access to medical marijuana brought pain relief (enabling him to make minimal use of opiate pain relievers, which brought deleterious side-effects), appetite stimulation and mental engagement. After going to see a doctor at Canna Care, my dad was able to apply for medical marijuana card and two of us were able to register as his caregivers so that we could buy marijuana for him at NETA and INSA. Here’s what my dad had to say in the Gazette.
Community of Support – Our community of friends and colleagues made us meals, continually checked-in on us, cared for our child and surrounded us in a cocoon of love and compassion as we cared for my dad and now grieve his loss. Our community of support also includes wellness practitioners, therapists, and primary care physicians who deliver care with true compassion.
Comprehensive Hospice and Palliative Care Services – When the time came to begin hospice services, we were quickly embraced by the hospice team. Immediately, a hospital bed and other equipment arrived to make my dad’s stay at home comfortable and safe. The team of people who included nurses, home health aids, a social worker, spiritual advisor and harpist came to the home and supported my father and us so that he could transition from this life with dignity and comfort.
This post is dedicated to my dad, Tony Rothschild. He did not live in Western MA but he came here for his final months. A tumor was discovered on his pancreas at Cooley Dickinson Hospital on August 31, 2018. He and my mother, who had been traveling and living full-time in an RV, moved to Easthampton, MA to face the cancer alongside my brother and my nuclear family. My dad died peacefully at home on January 21, 2019.
Days spent at swim holes are some of the most magical moments of summer. One of the best things is walking into the woods and finding a secluded breath-takingly beautiful spot to cool off on a hot day.
Here are two of my favorite spots:
Locally (Easthampton), I go to the North branch of the Manhan River accessed through Hartnett Manhan Memorial Forest. As you drive on Loudville Rd. away from Easthampton, the trailhead is on your left across from the intersection with Drury Lane. Walk in less than a half-mile and where the trail bends to the left, look to the right, you’ll see a clearing. That’s it! There’s a sandy bank and lots of beautiful rocks. It’s a great swim hole for little ones with many beautiful rocks to be found. Adults can get fully wet there too.
Historical Information about this spot is that it once was the home of the Loudville Lead Mines. The lead from this mine was used for musket balls for soldiers fighting the revolutionary war.
For a day trip when I want to spend most of the day in and out of the water, I head up to the South River in Conway, MA. There’s an incredible spot with tiers of waterfalls and a rock ledge to jump off. You can fully immerse here. There’s a sandy beach and lots of great boulders to climb. Fun and adventuring for all ages!
To arrive, you need to get to Conway Station Road from Bardswell Ferry Road. Once on Conway Station Rd, drive until you see a parking area and a little sign structure on your right. Walk in on the trail that is made with log steps. You will descend to the top of a dam and a waterfall. Follow the path down along the waterfall and you’ll arrive!
There are pull-offs on Conway Station Rd. before this pull-off with trails down to other spots along the river.
If you live here, you know that the people of Western MA share in the spirit of generosity. People care about their community and their neighbors.
Valley Gives Day is an annual event to give to the non-profits throughout the region who support our communities. It’s a great way to learn about the great work they do and be a part of supporting them.
It’s cold outside, but Spring is within reach. I know this because it’s time to register for a spring road race!
There’s the classic Holyoke St. Patty’s race that dates back to 1976. I haven’t done it yet. I know there’s a big hill, but I also know it’s a TON of FUN. This may be my year! I’m definitely going to put a team together for the 1st annual Syrup Stampede in Look Park that is benefitting the organization near and dear to my heart, Empty Arms. It’s a very accessible race for all levels and there’s pancakes at the end! Now, this last one is more of a tease because it’s already sold-out. The Fort Hill Brewery in Easthampton is hosting a scenic run that ends at their brewery with a mountain view. Nice! Next year.
Every time I go there, I leave with a couple good finds. I always get compliments when I wear the velvet JCrew blazer I got there, and I can’t help boasting that I got it for $4. They do a great job at keeping merchandise flowing and not overstuffing the racks. If you join their monthly mailing list, you’ll receive a monthly 50% off coupon so any day could be a Thursday!
Living in a community is not only about the good times. What can be the most telling is the support your find during the toughest times. Having moved here to start a family, we were overjoyed when I became pregnant with twins in the summer of 2010 (after 2 years of trying unsuccessfully in NYC). We were nurtured through this process first by the excellent midwives at Holyoke Midwifery Care and finally through science at Baystate Hospital. However, our excitement turned to despair when we learned at our 20 week ultrasound that both of our babies were afflicted with genetic abnormalities that were “incompatible with life”.
Somehow the Empty Arms Bereavement Support pamphlet found it’s way into my hands. I nervously called the number one evening expecting to leave a message. Instead, the loving voice of Carol McMurrich, Empty Arm’s founder, answered the phone, listened to my story, and immediately I knew that I wasn’t alone. That began my relationship with Empty Arms. The support groups and community that Empty Arms offered us was our lifeline through that devastating time. We carry the love and loss of our twin daughters with us as well as the loving and supportive community of Empty Arms.
Empty Arms helps families navigate their grief after experiencing miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss.
Ok. So, it’s really frickin’ cold outside! It was -3 this morning. Yesterday was cold too. This is how we survived the weekend with our 5 year old.
the Hampshire YMCA in Northampton , community central. Once you live here for awhile, you won’t be able to go there without running into someone you know. This weekend I took our kid to a swim class in the little pool. It’s super warm in there. This was a great way to get toasty. I also recommend dropping you dear little one at child watch while you go up and enjoy the sauna or the steam room. Working out is also always an option.
the Lossone Ice Arena in Easthampton, which offers indoor public ice skating on Sunday’s beginning mid-December and runs through early March from 3-5 p.m. You must bring your own skates. Better yet, get your kids involved with the Nonotuck Valley Hockey Association. (based at Lossone) They offer a great Learn to Skate and Learn to Play program for younger children.
Children’s Museum of Holyoke. This place is awesome. There are plenty of opportunities for kids to be physical – climbing and building as well inspiration for imaginative play. They are open 12pm – 4pm on weekends, and we could easily stay the whole time.
Bring your dancing shoes and join us for a Mardi Gras style get down atNew City Brewery featuring New Orleans trombone sensation, the Glen David Andrews Band. Chef Neftalí Duran will be serving up bayou inspired street food starting 6PM and Nicole LaChapelle will take the stage at 7PM to kickoff the festivities. Tickets are $15, with a limited number of FREE tickets available to volunteers.
LaChapelle ignited the Easthampton voters this past November by canvasing door to door and mobilizing a dedicated group of volunteers. And now we’re all ready to celebrate!
My partner, ‘drea, and I moved here in 2009 from New York City. We were looking for a community to buy a home and create a family. We wanted natural beauty and access to cultural events. We have not been disappointed. In fact, we’ve fallen more in love with Western MA with each year.
We live in Easthampton and work in Holyoke and Northampton. We love all three of these communities.
I’ve created Lindsey’s Guide to share all about what we love about living, working and playing in the Pioneer Valley. Please follow me and let me know things I should include.