Her bucket list is no flight of fancy

Staff writer

When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.

One of the chief lemonade makers in Robin Kyle’s life is her sister, Genni Wilson of Hutchinson. Wilson has taken charge of the lemons that have been tossed into Kyle’s life and, with help from friends and family, she is making lemonade for Kyle as fast as she can.

Kyle has been diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer. She is undergoing treatment in Hutchinson, but her oncologist had a frank conversation with Kyle and her family recently and said that she likely had six months to a year to live.

“The doctor said … about 50 percent will still be living after six months or so,” Wilson said. “After a year, the number drops to about 10 percent, and those patients live about two years. But someone has to be in that 10 percent, and we hope Robin is part of that.

“My sister has been a heavy smoker for many years. Initially she thought she had some bronchial infection, but after the tests were completed, a scan showed that the spots were tumors. Anymore, they can tell what the cause is. I want to say this in hopes that it scares someone into quitting.”

After the diagnosis, Kyle, of Florence made a “bucket list” of things she has never done and places she has never seen — those things she would like to do before she dies. In June, Wilson created a Facebook page where friends and family can get updates on Kyle’s treatment and post photographs, videos, or comments. At the top of the page is Kyle’s bucket list, and as of Sunday afternoon item No. 3 had been scratched off.

“One of the things Robin wanted was to take a ride in a helicopter,” Wilson said. “This was a surprise — she didn’t know it until she got here — but she and her husband Danny are going up.”

Karen Larsen of Peabody is a Life Team flight nurse flying out of Emporia. She and her husband, Larry, had heard of Robin Kyle’s wish and on July 4, she asked Florence Fire Chief Mark Slater what he knew about Robin Kyle and the bucket list.

She said that Life Team often made an effort to help people like Kyle who have special requests. Slater told Larsen he would contact Kyle’s husband to pick a day and time that would work and coordinate it with Larsen’s flight schedule.

Sunday afternoon, the Life Team helicopter, staffed with Larsen, a pilot, and a medic, landed in an empty lot just off Florence’s Main Street. In front of a small cheering crowd of friends and family, the helicopter took off with Robin and Danny Kyle for a 10-minute tour of Florence. Robin Kyle was sporting an ear-to-ear grin when they landed.

“You should see all of this from up there,” she said.

She will cross more items off the bucket list in the next few weeks. She and Wilson will fly to Reno, Nev., for the wedding of Kyle’s son, Brian Partridge, on July 27. After returning to Kansas, they have planned a trip to Las Vegas, Nev., and the Grand Canyon.

“I am serious about this project,” Wilson said. “We’re going to do this list — everything on it.”

With no regrets, Wilson and her husband cashed in a life insurance policy to get the money to make sure Robin gets it all done.

However, the last thing on the list won’t cost much at all.

“When we were kids, Robin and I used to make mud cookies for our little brother, Warren Partridge,” Wilson said. “And he ate them! It really worried our mom, and she even took him to the doctor to see why he ate dirt.

“I have a request on the Facebook page for an edible ‘mud’ cookie recipe. We are going to make that boy some mud cookies that he can eat and not get in trouble.”

Wilson is stoic discussing Kyle’s disease, but sometimes emotional when owning up to how much she loves her sister and how much she hopes to ease the distress of her situation. She is making lemonade for Robin Kyle.

“She is my sister, and I love her. I want this to end right,” Wilson said. “Just because you are dying, doesn’t mean you can’t live your life.”

To view the Facebook page go to www.facebook.com/RobinsBucketList.

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