Edna Slaughter, 1975
Ron Slaughter, 1975
In 1974, Ronald Slaughter was serving his country in the United States
Navy aboard the USS
Pyro . After several long months at sea, the
Pyro moored at Subic Bay in the Philippines. Ron couldn't wait to set foot
on dry land.
"I wanted to get as far away from the
Pyro as possible," he says. The moment he got shore leave, he stopped
at a restaurant and ordered a sandwich and a cold beer.
"When I sat down, I looked up and saw the most beautiful woman I have
ever seen." Her name was Edna Corral--4'11" and 20 years
old. Ron made the sandwich last forever, enjoying every second around
the lovely girl. Ron and Edna had fallen in love. Just like that.
Ron and Edna in the 'Kissing Cave'
Moving to a New Land
In October of 1974, Ron was honorably discharged and returned to his home
in Nashville, Tennessee. He hit home and starting trying to find a way
to bring his beloved Edna to the U.S. Before he even looked for a job,
Ron enlisted the help of his local congressman, who expedited a fiancé
visa for Edna. In March of 1975, she arrived in Nashville. A few weeks
later, on April 25, 1975, Ron and Edna Slaughter married.
Like the hard working American man she married, Edna's family had instilled
in her the belief that hard, honest work would bring good health and a
good life. Edna and Ron saw the world the same way, though they grew up
on its opposite sides. American values of partnership, love, hard work
and honesty bound these two people together in body and spirit, in mind
and in soul.
Edna's love of adventure manifested itself in the way she quietly pulled
up stakes and moved to a foreign land. Yet she also had a spirited sense
of play. Days after they married, Ron came home from work to an empty
house. His worry and guilt about asking Edna to leave her family, friends,
and home to Tennessee, where all she knew was Ron, made him fearful. Was
she lost or had Edna decided that this new world and new life were more
than she could adapt to?
He left the house, consumed with worry, and began walking through the neighborhood
in search of his bride. A sudden commotion got his attention. A group
of local kids, some tossing a ball and some climbing trees, were all laughing,
pointing, and talking to a beautiful girl who sat on the topmost limb.
It was Edna, showing the local kids how you really climb a tree…and
who was the real top dog.
Partners in Love and in Life
Ron and Edna were inseparable. They had few close friends because they
were completely and utterly fulfilled in the company of one another. Every
errand was something to do together, whether shopping for groceries, going
to church, going on trips, and most of all working together.
Edna and Ron fishing Percy Priest Lake in Nashville
Ron worked as a machinist, but constantly worked extra jobs as he was a
skilled remodeler. "I always said there were only two things I couldn't
fix--the crack of dawn and a broken heart." Edna was his one and
only helper. Indefatigable, bright, and eager to learn, Edna had soon
mastered the remodeling trade. Ron felt he had become the apprentice,
and she the journeyman. As with everything else, work was just another
chance to be together, to laugh, and be in love. If there were no weekend
remodeling jobs, they made a few sandwiches, loaded a cooler and drove
until they found a place to picnic. "We didn't have much and
we didn't need much. We didn't starve or struggle, and we always
made ends meet. We did it together."
The Slaughters were a team, "joined at the hip. If I stubbed my toe
at work, I'd come home and Edna would be limping." Edna knew
that the team stuck together, no matter what. When a confrontation or
conflict occurred, and Edna began biting her lower lip "something
was up." And when Edna said the ominous words, "Look here, mister...,"
the situation was about to turn bad for whomever had crossed her. "It
was my job to diffuse the situation and get Edna away just to save the
Great Parents, Wonderful Kids
In July of 1976, their daughter Analiza was born, followed by daughter
Marta and son Deata. The Slaughters may have lived modestly, but the love,
affection, work ethic and family support were unstinting. Living with
parents who loved each other deeply, and learning early on that the family
was a team, each child grew to adulthood in happiness and security.
Analiza tackled and completed a five-year intensive training program with
the United States Army Corps of Engineers and now works as a certified
senior hydropower plant operator in Tennessee. For her closeknit and loving
parents, Analiza blessed them with their first granddaughter, Megan.
Daughter Marta is a talented artist now working on her masters degree in
fine arts at the University of South Florida. Travel grants, fellowships,
and exhibition awards throughout her academic career have marked the ability
of this talented and hard working artist.
Edna with granddaughter, Megan
Edna and Ron in Florida, August of 2005,
still climbing trees
Son Deata is an honors student entering his senior year of high school,
studying music at the Nashville School of the Arts, a nationally ranked
magnet school. Good family, good values, love and teamwork characterize
these solid, hardworking American people.
It wasn't long before Edna was called "Mom" not only by her
kids, but by Ron and everyone else who knew her. "She became the
boss and we liked it that way," said Ron. Strong-willed, independent,
and determined, Edna traded her family, country, and way of life for Ron
without regrets or hesitation. "We loved each other and wanted to
be married. I love my husband, he is a good man. When I first met him,
I called him Ronnie the mechanic, because he fixes everything."
Ron and Edna love the outdoors. Edna spent her time running, walking, fishing,
and hiking. She and Ron knew how to have fun indoors, too. They would
shoot pool, dance, and sing karaoke, and find time for community organizations
as well. They are active members of the local chapter of the Philippine
American Foundation. Edna's boundless vigor and active lifestyle meant
that with the exception of childbirth, she had never even been to a doctor.
Onslaught of Mesothelioma
On February 22, 2006, Edna's lifestyle and active ways came to an abrupt halt.
When she began complaining of left-sided chest pain and a shortness of
breath, Ron rushed her to the emergency room at the Nashville General
Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee. Chest films indicated pneumonia. The
physician prescribed antibiotics and sent her home.
But the symptoms failed to go away, and the eternally energetic and vivacious
Edna was beset with chronic fatigue as she found herself laboring even
to breathe. She returned for another opinion, and the new x-rays showed
massive collection of fluid in the lining of her lungs. This time she
was diagnosed with pleurisy, a painful inflammation of the lung linings,
but they remained concerned.
Her worsening condition brought Edna back to the hospital. One month after
her first symptoms of pain, Dr. Ian Morales, Chief of Pulmonary Medicine
at Nashville General Hospital, performed a bronchoscopy with thoracentesis
to drain the fluid from Edna's chest. Tests on the removed fluid and
tissue were inconclusive, and Edna returned home with antibiotics and
Ron was distraught by the worsening condition of his wife and partner,
a woman who had been able to work side by side with the strongest and
most able of men. By May 4 the fluid had returned and Edna underwent a
second procedure by Dr. Joe B. Putnam, Chairman of Thoracic Surgery at
Vanderbilt University to drain the fluid and examine the inside of her
The pathologist evaluated the tissue that Dr. Putnam had removed during
surgery, and delivered a horrific blow with his diagnosis: Edna's
chest had been invaded by epithelial pleural mesothelioma, a malignant
and unstoppable killer for which there is no known cure.
Ron and Edna. August, 2005
When Dr. Putman entered the waiting room, he asked all of Edna's family
and friends to step outside so he could talk to Ron alone. He relayed
the diagnosis and told him the cancer was terminal. This shook Ron to
his core, and violated everything he knew: to Ron Slaughter, everything
could be fixed. When Ron explained the diagnosis to his anxious children,
the devastation was complete.
Dwindling Medical Options for Treatment
Edna urgently wanted to pursue a treatment program to afford her more life.
Mesothelioma has eluded a cure, but cutting-edge medicines and skilled
surgeons have devised a number of techniques to stave off the final result.
Edna's desire for treatment, however has been complicated by several
factors. Her unendurable and constant, excruciating pain required a daily
regimen of the most powerful painkillers, as well as a pain patch to alleviate
Surgical options, including an extra-pleural pneumonectomy that would reduce
the tumor by amputating the affected lung, were rejected by Edna, whose
optimism and hope that she would beat the disease made her slow to accept
the amputation. Her doctors also feared that the relentless and aggressive
mesothelioma had spread away from her lungs, making any surgery on the
lung itself of questionable value.
On May 26 the Slaughters sent Edna's medical records to Dr. Harvey
Pass, Chief of Thoracic Surgery and Thoracic Oncology at the New York
University School of Medicine and Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Pass
discussed a tri-modal therapy to combat Edna's mesothelioma. Edna
would begin with chemotherapy, followed by surgery and radiation.
Since electing this treatment plan, Edna completed six chemotherapy treatments
of Alimta and Cisplatin. The pain now racks her entire body, and the cancer
has spread to her spine and hips. She cannot understand why this is happening
to her: a few months ago she and Ron were remodeling their kitchen, playing
with Megan, and laughing. Always laughing.
Edna, April 6, 2006
Once-bright Future Fraught with Worry and Doubt
"I am scared for my children, my husband, that he will get what I
got. Sometimes I feel like I wish, you know, that this is just a dream
and have to keep pinching myself to wake up. It is so hard. So hard to
breathe. You hurt every day, every night. I cannot take care of my kids.
I am living in a death trap."
But the team is always there, and the strength and love that this family
has for its mother shines through with astonishing power and vitality,
even as Edna slips further behind. Marta has moved back to Nashville from
Florida to help her parents cope with medical treatment and do the daily
chores. Marta has put her graduate studies on hold, and she gave up a
scholarship to study in London and Paris during the summer of 2006. From
afar, the team has coalesced around their dying mother. Analiza and her
daughter Megan, precious to her grandmother, have moved back home to help.
Before being stricken with mesothelioma, Edna and Ron worked extra jobs
to put money away for Deata's education at Vanderbilt University,
where his dream is to enter medical school. This dream too may well be
deferred. Ron is no longer working and cares for Edna full time. Their
only hope now is that Deata will be awarded an academic scholarship. The
team is there, but it is stretched to the point of breaking.
Edna is bedridden and on oxygen around the clock. In her sleep she waves
her arms as she dreams of being with Ron, remodeling their kitchen.
Ron deals with the new world he has to live in, the new world of being alone.
"Last week, I went to Arby's to buy a milkshake, alone. I also
went shopping for a pair of blue jeans and didn't know what I was
doing. Mom is always with me. Always. I'm walking around in a fog.
All the time. I always thought I would be the first one to go. My family
is all I have. Nothing else in the world has ever mattered to me other
than my family. Why is this happening? She is my best friend, my partner.
I don't want to lose her. You know, I used to think there were only
two things I couldn't fix. Now I know there are three."
*** POSTED DECEMBER 27, 2006 ***
Edna Slaughter passed away on December 31, 2006
*** POSTED DECEMBER 27, 2006 ***