Throughout their 26-year marriage, Rick Flowers has joked with his wife about a bucket-list trip to Maine — to eat their way up the coast. Recently, thanks to Dream Foundation, they did just that.
Rick, who regularly receives infusion treatments at the RUSH Copley Cancer Care Center in Yorkville, was diagnosed nearly a year ago with a brain tumor. At that time, his wife, Wendy, began researching resources and discovered Dream Foundation, which serves terminally ill adults and their families. Yorkville outpatient oncology nurse Becky Buttrum, BSN, RN, was familiar with the program and encouraged Rick to apply.
His dream was granted, and Rick and Wendy enjoyed a five-night, six-day trip to Maine, where they stayed in an Airbnb with an ocean view. The dream included airfare, a gift card to a restaurant in Maine and a check to cover other expenses — all donated by Dream Foundation partners, including United Airlines and Turo.
They ate lobsters, scallops, steamed mussels, oysters and more. “Rick loves lobster and seafood,” Wendy says, “and when they give you a lobster in Maine, they give you the whole lobster — with claws and eyeballs looking at you!”
Rick ate his fill of seafood — so much that on the last day of their trip, they ventured to a Mexican restaurant for a change.
“The time in Maine was amazing,” Rick says. “It was everything I thought it would be. I got to spend time with my wife — just us two. No talk of cancer, no work, no responsibilities. It was time for us to just be together and cherish the time.”
Since retiring from a 22-year career with the Kendall County Sheriff’s Department, Rick has mowed lawns and done odd jobs. Wendy still works full-time, so they both greatly appreciated the trip, which they considered a belated celebration of their 25th anniversary.
Their trip included a lobster excursion where they went out on a boat tour to the lobster traps. Rick even got a chance to drive the boat, parking it by the buoys to pull up the lobster traps.
They also visited Fort Williams, home to a famous lighthouse often depicted in photos of Maine. And they drove to Manchester to see the headquarters of Maine Cabin Masters, one of Rick’s favorite TV shows.
But driving the lobster boat was Rick’s favorite part of the trip.
“Funny enough, I’m colorblind,” he says, “and the captain didn’t know that. He was asking me to drive to different-colored buoys to pick up the traps.”
The couple say they can’t thank Dream Foundation enough. “It’s an amazing resource,” Wendy notes. Based in California, the organization has served more than 34,000 recipients across the country and in Puerto Rico.
Wendy and Rick say they are overwhelmed by the generosity of people who donate to make dreams come true — for them and for others. Because of that generosity, they were able to leave Rick’s cancer behind for a while.
“We don’t want to dwell in cancer. We don’t want life to be just about cancer,” Wendy says. “You still have your life to live.”
“I just want to thank everyone for all their support and generosity,” Rick adds. “There were so many people and organizations involved with making this dream come true. It's humbling to me to realize that there are organizations out there that do this for people.”