Foster City’s Marvin Crockett: Finding comfort in cycling

If you’re in Foster City, the odds are good that you’ll see Marvin Crockett out riding his bike. A San Francisco native, Marvin used to ride up and down the hills of the city, so the flat roads of the Peninsula seem easy to him.

Marvin knows the streets of Foster City well. He and his wife Mary Ann were among the first residents to move to their neighborhood when it was a new development in 1964. They raised their four sons here, and were active in schools, sports, and city politics.

Marvin and RickNow 77, Marvin is living with pancreatic cancer and early-stage Alzheimer’s disease; he started hospice care in the spring. And he is still bicycling, riding as much as 15 miles almost every day.

“It’s just a wonderful thing to be on the bike, going where I want to go,” he says, proudly showing off his newest bike, a three-wheeled recumbent. “Cycling is a real comfort for me.”

Marvin worked for 23 years at PG&E, but family was always first for him. When he was offered a promotion to a position that would have meant lots of travel, Marvin turned it down, because he didn’t want to be away from home that much.

Now married almost 60 years, Marvin and Mary Ann love spending time with their sons and their families, including 10 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Most of them gathered in August for a week at their family’s favorite spot, along the shores of Lake Almanor, north of Chico.

Back home, Marvin treasures life’s little pleasures even more: enjoying meals outside with his wife, playing with their terrier mix, Princess, and riding his bike. Marvin has gone on bike rides with his Mission Hospice physician, Dr. Gary Pasternak, as well as with his hospice volunteer, Rick Barrelier.

“Marvin is a family man whose gratitude for his wife and kids is exceptional,” says Rick. “He is one of the sweetest patients I have had the pleasure to be with and learn from.”

Mary Ann says that when Marvin’s primary care physician initially suggested hospice, she wasn’t sure it was a good idea. “I always had the impression that hospice meant you had a couple of weeks left,” she says. But over the past few months, the Mission Hospice team, which also includes nurse Naoko Ishikawa and social worker Darlene Chow, has helped control Marvin’s pain and regain his appetite.

The team also provides important support for Mary Ann, who knows she needs to take care of herself in order to care for Marvin. She swims every day, stays positive, and keeps an eye on Marvin’s pain medications.

The mood swings that come with his disease can be hard to deal with, and Mary Ann likes that she can call the Mission Hospice team when she is having a tough day, or needs help solving a problem.

“I’ve found out there’s more to hospice than most people think – it just makes it easier, for him and for me.” And she is grateful that he’s got his bicycles. “His riding makes a huge difference,” she says. “When he comes back from a ride, he feels really, really good.”