Celebrate and Be Grateful: A Special Speaker for the Smoky Mountain Cancer Support Group

Celebrate every day and be grateful. That was part of the message from Michael Holtz at this month’s Smoky Mountain Cancer Support Group meeting.    


 Michael Holtz is a cancer survivor, an advocate for cancer patients, and the State Lead Ambassador for American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Tennessee. (ACSCAN TN) 

He loves his role with ACSCAN because he knows he is making an impact on legislation that matters to cancer patients and in the battle to end cancer.    

Advocacy matters, and it does make a difference.  Because of advocacy, the Federal Government has continued to increase Federal research funding, that includes Cancer research, by $2 billion every year.  Many ACSCAN volunteers are cancer survivors just like Michael and when Legislators see their faces, they realize how important the funding is to the survival of cancer patients.   


This year, Michael and other ACSCAN volunteers are focusing their energy on the Palliative Care Hospice Education and Training Act (PCHETA).  Palliative care is comfort at the beginning of treatment, Hospice care is comfort at the end of life.  This Legislation would fund education for medical personnel in the area of pain management, for patients with serious illnesses that result in chronic or acute pain.  Thus bringing comfort to patients and their families during the entire treatment for their cancer diagnosis.   

It has been a 6 year effort to get PCHETA to where it’s at in Congress.  It was passed unanimously by the House and is now in the Senate ready for mark up. This is when the Senate debates, amends, and do any rewrites of the proposed legislation. 

Our own, Senator Alexander has an important role in getting PCHETA to a vote in the Senate. The path to vote for PCHETA starts in his committee and as the Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, he is the one to move it to mark up.  Sen. Alexander listens to his constituents and is a big supporter of cancer research.  As a constituent, you can call his office and ask him to “schedule the Palliative Care Hospice Education and Training Act, Senate Bill 693, for mark up”.   

The phone number for his office in Washington D.C. 202-224-4990 

Michael told the small crowd, “we would like to see the day when no one has to hear the words, you have cancer, and this legislation is a road to that day”.   He and 650+ ACSCAN advocates will converge on Washington D.C. this month to ask Congress to support PCHETA.   

A highlight of the Washington D.C. trip is the Lights of Hope ceremony where thousands of luminaria bags from around the country are lined up around the reflecting pool of the Lincoln Memorial.  The bags are a somber reminder of the far-reaching impact of cancer.  But from the solemness ignites a flame of passion that continues to drive the volunteers.  You can make a statement about cancer with the purchase of a Light of Hope Luminaria. Michael will carry it to Washington D.C. and add it to the others around the Reflecting Pool.  Go to http://action.acscan.org/goto/michaelholtz2018, and make your donation.  Each bags $10 and supports ACSCAN.   The deadline is September 16th. 

The Smoky Mountain Cancer Support Group meets the second Monday of each month, at the My People Senior Activity Center.  All are welcome.  Contact Carlene Maples at carlene.maples@gmail.com, for more information.   

A Morning Ride at Cades Cove Stables: Our Favorite Horseback Riding Place in the Smokies


We are lucky to have a selection of horseback riding stables in this area. When you want to saddle up and ride, there is a stable that is particularly worth the drive to the mountains. We had a wonderful morning ride at Cades Cove Stables. Here is a summary of our trip.

Lisa and I wanted a final, fun activity before work resumed last month so we drove up to Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to try the stables located at the entrance. We had tried to ride a week earlier, but a fast moving storm cancelled rides for several hours so we decided to try again a week later. As it turned out, we had the perfect morning and an idyllic ride on our last day of summer vacation.


We wanted to be in the first group (if possible) so we met at 7:30 and drove through Wears Valley in order to arrive by opening at 9:00 a.m. There are no reservations. First come, first serve. There seemed to be about 30 horses in the stables ready to ride. That was a lot more than I was expecting so they can handle different group sizes.


Enter the office, sign a waiver, pay, and choose a riding helmet, if you like. I think that they were optional for adults, but we tried them to ‘get the whole experience.’ We like wearing cool hats too.


You will get a quick lesson from your guide and then saddle up. You can see how easy it is to get up in the saddle with this platform. Lisa’s horse was named Puddin.’

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My horse was very gentle and nice. Her name was Noble. She reminded me of a Palomino.


Everyone gets a safety check of bridles, straps, and stirrups. They were very thorough.

And away we go!

The trail is about 3 miles so the ride lasts about an hour. It is mainly flat and woodsy.

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About a mile into the ride, the guide will stop and do another quick safety check.

On the way out and back, you get to cross a shallow creek. So relaxing!


We mainly walked, but there were some sections on the trail that we got to trot. I wasn’t expecting that for a trail ride and really enjoyed it!


One thing we really appreciated was the fact that our guide stopped at the halfway point and took pictures with everyone’s cameras so we could remember the moment. It is not recommended to use a camera during a ride because it could scare the horse and you need both hands ready–just in case. I took pictures and video for this blog. If I did it again, I would use my clear camera sports bag and just wear it around my neck. It is not easy juggling a camera and riding so the guides will help you with photography. We really needed help with the picture above so it was a nice service. We left a nice tip to show our appreciation for everything.


At the end of the ride, dismounting is just as easy. You use a platform to get off the horse so all ages can ride.

Dismounting is as easy as pie!


Our guide, Debbie, was the best. I was impressed that she could ride backwards in the saddle while talking to us. Get a picture at the end of hour so you can remember them and your ride in the mountains.


There are children’s rides and carriage rides available as well.

Here is a link:      http://www.cadescovestable.com/index.html

In summary, here are the things that we liked the most about this riding stable.

  1. The horses and healthy and well treated. They get every other day ‘off’ in the pasture.
  2. These are knowledgable ‘horse people.’ They know what they are doing. They are friendly too.
  3. The trail is easy so you can relax and enjoy the ride.
  4. The are times that you may trot, if you like.
  5. The waiting area is good. We saw a bear on our first trip.
  6. There is a bathroom next to the office.
  7. The horses are well tempered and gentle.

Here are some good ideas.

  1. Wear old shoes or boots.
  2. Bring a snack and have a picnic in Cades Cove after your ride. Keep it safe from bears in your car.
  3. Wear a sports camera carrier bag around your neck if you want to take photos.
  4. I hate a horsefly and there was one that bedeviled our horses during the ride. Be watchful and gently swat at them if they land near the top of the tail where the horse cannot reach as well.
  5. Maybe wear a hat or a visor.
  6. Crowds are smaller during local rod run weekends and other big events.
  7. Tip your wonderful guide!


This was a wonderful way to end our summer vacation. We highly recommend Cades Cove Stables. It is our favorite horseback riding place in the Smoky Mountains!