Nadine and Lorenzo Cutchins dealt with a number of illnesses in their family, including Lorenzo’s battle with cancer and a back injury that’s required multiple surgeries.
It was when Lorenzo Cutchins returned to Virginia that he met Nadine, triggering a romance that has lasted for over 40 years.
That lasting love wasn’t because life was easy for the Cutchins, though. They’ve dealt with a number of illnesses in their family, including Lorenzo’s battle with cancer and a back injury that’s required multiple surgeries.
The two met after Lorenzo returned from a three-year enlistment, 1973 to 1976, that Lorenzo spent in Germany as an armor crewmember. They spent the first seven years of married life in Newport News, Virginia and then moved to Washington, D.C. where Lorenzo worked for Colonial Parking. He was hurt while trying to protect an older worker from harm a few years into his career at Colonial.
“We had this older man and we would always look out for him,” Lorenzo said. “He was trying to lift something heavy...so I jumped out the truck because, you know, he’s like my father.”
Unfortunately, the bumper block that the man was trying to move was too heavy for Lorenzo, as well, and he hurt his back.
Still, there was no time to rest. Lorenzo’s back troubles were just one issue as his mother became ill, first with diabetes and then with a series of mini strokes that built to a major stroke that robbed her of her voice. Nadine helped her communicate with the rest of the family as Lorenzo kept working.
“She had to be tube fed,” Nadine said. “So, Lorenzo and I and his sister, we were always the one taking her to the doctor. After I learned how to tube feed, I had to teach the rest of the family how to do it.”
Another problem reared its head. Nadine heard Lorenzo urinating, and she was worried at his frequent pauses. She urged him to see a doctor at the VA hospital, and the doctor diagnosed prostate cancer.
Before he knew about the Fisher House at the Washington DC VA Medical Center, Lorenzo was getting up at 3 or 4 a.m. to drive to the hospital, attend appointments, and then drive back home, sometimes arriving after 7 p.m. This was grueling on the best days, but especially challenging when he was undergoing radiation therapy for his cancer.
A surgery and radiation therapy thankfully eradicated the cancer, and two surgeries to remove damaged discs have alleviated Lorenzo’s back pain. It was during one of those surgeries that the Cutchins learned about the Fisher House.
“His sisters had come to support me with him,” Nadine said, “and we were talking, and I said, ‘Well, I can take y’all to a hotel, I know a couple hotels.’”
A hospital employee overheard the conversation and urged the women to wait. He jumped on the phone and, 30 minutes later, the Cutchins had a room in the Washington DC VA Fisher House across the street where the manager and staff helped the Cutchins feel welcome and supported at their “home away from home.”
Now, when Lorenzo needs to go to Washington for medical care or appointments, he talks with his doctor ahead of time to see if he needs to stay at the Fisher House. And Nadine is usually alongside to support him. When she’s in the house, Nadine likes to cook larger meals so that other families can enjoy the food, too.
“I prayed to God every day to thank him for allowing us to be here.”