South Routt ‘Rallies for Rob’
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — In facing death, Rob Wofford exhibits tremendous calm, courage and wisdom.
Since the diagnosis about a year ago of glioblastoma — terminal brain cancer — Wofford hasn’t lost the playful friendliness in his eyes or the wit and warmth in his smile.
“I am not a victim,” Wofford said. “I’ve had a good life.”
He is sad, but he is not angry.
A South Routt resident for more than 20 years, Wofford is a master in construction and ranch management.
He has a passion for horses, sailing, fishing and working with kids.
Whatever he does, he does fully and with joy.
For many years, Wofford ran a summer camp at the ranch he managed on Routt County Road 15, outside of Phippsburg. Friends and family of the ranch’s owner would send their teenagers from across the country and world to spend the summer months learning how to take care of livestock, build fences, herd cattle and the basics of vehicle mechanics.
Joelle Dozoretz, who has been at his side throughout his illness, describes Wofford as, “Amazing. Everybody wants a Rob.”
Longtime friend Lacy Trout calls him “one of the most generous people I’ve ever known.” Wofford has known Trout’s two kids since they were born. And they both adore him — first using the word “fun” to describe him.
Wofford is himself a big kid, said Trout, and a “goofball.”
“I’ve made a lot of people smile and taught a lot of people a lot of things. And I’m okay with that,” Wofford said
The September 2018 stage four brain cancer diagnoses was “soul crushing,” Wofford said. “Because it is so aggressive. And I had a pretty bad case and was exhibiting signs I didn’t realize.”
The typical length of survival following a glioblastoma diagnosis is 12 to 15 months, with fewer than 5% of people surviving longer than five years.
Because it was his brain — his identity — “It sort of takes everything from you,” Wofford said. “It’s debilatating. And you are no longer who you were.”
Just days after doctors discovered the tumor, they operated.
“They got out as much as they could,” Wofford said.
From the beginning, Wofford knew it was incurable “but manageable.”
Things did improve a little after the surgery.
“I felt more reconnected to myself,” he said.
But things gradually — and at times, very quickly — continue to deteriorate.
A man all his friends describe as a “fighter,” Wofford has already outlasted the doctor’s predictions.
And he knows how lucky he is to have friends and family who have stood by his side and help with the things he increasingly cannot do by himself.
Dozoretz is fierce in her admiration of his bravery. She’s watched him through a long stint of double-dose chemotherapy treatments and radiation And she’s watched as everyday activities — like climbing the stairs — grew into impossible tasks.
“He’s the strongest person I’ve ever met,” she said.
One of the hardest things for Wofford is not being able work.
“I’ve always been gainfully employed,” he said.
Soon, he is going to need more than his friends and family can provide. He is going to need full time care. And the bills are piling up.
Knowing Wofford didn’t want to ask for help, Dozoretz created a GoFundMe page.
She wrote, “All funds raised will go to Rob’s daily living expenses, bills and ensuring that he is as comfortable as possible. Rob is a fighter, a warrior and such a strong spirit and is in no way giving up. We ask that along with any donation that you can possibly help with, we ask for you to please keep him in your thoughts and prayers, as we know how important the power of positivity and prayer are.”
So far, they’ve raised just over $9,000, largely from small donations from neighbors in the close-knit community where Wofford is well-known as someone always ready to throw his tool bag in the truck and come help.
So, even more difficult than not being able to work for Wofford, is not being able to help others.
It’s intrinsic to his being. It makes him happy.
Acknowledging that he needs help, and accepting it, also goes against who he has always been.
Not only would Wofford “literally give you the shirt off his back,” Trout said, he doesn’t ever want to impose on anyone.
Wofford won’t even ask for a ride in the pouring rain, Trout said. He just can’t bear the thought of putting anyone out.
“I’m so used to being the helper,” Wofford said. “Now to be the one needing help … feels sideways.”
Many of Wofford’s friends don’t even know about his condition or the full severity of the prognosis. He didn’t want to burden them.
“I don’t want to put that on them,” he said, the pain of hurting his loved ones heavy in his voice.
But a friend advised Wofford that his friends want to know, and need to know, as difficult as it is. They have to cope, too.
“Now, it is time to let the world take care of you,” Dozoretz told him.
By telling his story, Wofford hopes he can create some awareness about what it means to live with glioblastoma.
Finally, last week, there was some good news.
Wofford found out he is a candidate for another surgery. That was just days after being told by doctors there was nothing more to do, and he only had a few months to live.
But after the tumor board met, Wofford said, the neurosurgeon said she is willing operate.
Wofford has no doubt he wants to undergo another brain surgery.
“If there is a chance for a little normalizing — I’m just not a quitter,” he said. “I’m not digging a hole. I’m not throwing in the towel.”
Of course there are risks — big risks — but Wofford wants any chance he can get to make the most of the time he has left.
“I realize this is going to end my life,” Wofford said of glioblastoma. “But I don’t have to be comfortable with that. In order to live the rest of my life well — this option will give me more quality for what time I do have left.”
For more information or to donate, go to gofundme.com/f/nju7c-rally-for-rob
Donations can also be mailed directly to Rob Wofford at P. O. Box 44, Phippsburg, CO 80469.
To reach Kari Dequine Harden, call 970-871-4205, email kharden@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @kariharden.
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A serious climbing accident, including a forceful twisting and smashing spiral fracture to her right ankle, put Joan Allison Weiss in pain and limited her mobility for almost 20 years.