Audrey Rogers spent nine months on an unexpected whirlwind tour after Hurricane Irma devastated Anguilla in the eastern Caribbean last September. The 87-year-old eventually ended up in the Cayman Islands.
Mrs. Rogers fled the eastern Caribbean Island, her lifelong home, airlifted by the U.S. military to a shelter in Puerto Rico, only to be evacuated from there just before the wrath of Hurricane Maria struck the U.S.’s eastern Caribbean territory. She was taken to her brother’s house in New Jersey, where she received much-needed chemotherapy treatments at a nearby hospital, treatments which had been interrupted by the two destructive storms.
However, due to the conditions in post-Irma Anguilla and in the neighboring island of St. Maarten, Mrs. Rogers was unable to return home.
In April, she came to Cayman to stay with her daughter, Renee, and son-in-law, Cayman’s Deputy Ombudsman Jan Liebaers, and continued to receive chemo treatments at Baptist Hospital in Miami, taking at least three separate trips there during the spring.
Although the frequent travel and uncertainty has taken its toll on the octogenarian, daughter Renee said it might have been the best thing for her mom.
“The Baptist [Hospital] doctors said they could do a bit better than the chemo. They actually removed the mass from her lung,” Ms. Liebaers said. “They said it wasn’t stage 4 cancer, and now she’s recovering fine.”
Mrs. Rogers is now ready to head home.
“We’ve just had innumerable calls from Anguilla asking how she is and when she’s coming back,” Ms. Liebaers said. “She’s quite an icon there.”
Mrs. Rogers has received the member of the Order of the British Empire for her work in education on the small eastern Caribbean island, home to about 14,500 people. Her concrete home has been locked up since Irma struck last September, and Ms. Liebaers said her mom is anxious to get back and check things out.
One more lengthy trip awaits the 87-year-old, who on July 5 will travel to Miami, then to St. Maarten via plane, and then board a ferry for a 25-minute boat ride back to Anguilla. Ms. Liebaers said she will accompany her mom on the trip, just to make sure she gets there in good health.
“She’s really anxious to get back home … she wants to make sure everything is secure for hurricane season,” Ms. Liebaers said.
As the Cayman Compass reported last September, it seems it will take more than two major hurricanes and lung cancer to slow Mrs. Rogers down.
Reflecting on the whole ordeal after her travels last September, Mrs. Rogers remained quite positive.
“That’s life,” she said. “I’m 87 years old. I’ve had a good life. I’ve enjoyed good health. My lung cancer came on me in January  and I was shocked because I’ve never been sick. But I’m still very grateful. It’s fine if I make it to 89, that’s longer than most people get.”