Trevor Smith Schaefer was the boy who had everything. Then the piercing headaches came and up-ended his world. A brain cancer diagnosis just after his thirteenth birthday marked the start of a journey of recovery and personal growth. With his mother, Trevor became an advocate for children with cancer and a champion for the protection of small communities from environmental contamination leading to disease clusters.
This true story is a must-read for anyone who has faced seemingly insurmountable personal challenges in a world that has stopped listening. Through Trevor’s own trek to recovery and triumph, we learn that embracing one’s physical and emotional pain, and facing up to one’s mistakes, can often be the first step toward progress. "The Boy on the Lake" is an easy-to-read reference on how America’s small towns, and the children who live in them, are slipping through the cracks of environmental overreach and falling victim to a broken system, one that has come under review in Washington and has led to the creation of United States Senate Bill S.76, Trevor’s Law.
Susan Rosser is the co-author of two national and international bestsellers, "Just Desserts" and "A Matter of Betrayal". She is a former press deputy for two Los Angeles County Supervisors. She also was an educator and free-lance magazine writer. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from UCLA with a BA in English and a MA in English Literature. She resides with her husband in Rancho Mirage, California.
|Publisher:||Morgan James Publishing|
|Product dimensions:||5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.60(d)|
About the Author
Susan Rosser has written two novels based on true events, and she brings her enthusiasm for research and writing about importance issues to this biographical project, as well. Her previous published works are: Just Desserts: The Novel with the Diet Inside and A Matter of Betrayal, both national bestsellers. She has appeared on local television shows and radio programs to discuss her novels and has given talks to book clubs, including the Brandeis Book Club. She graduated with a BA in English Literature from UCLA where she was Phi Beta Kappa and President of the English Honors Society.
Charlie and Trevor lived the story the author tells.They have appeared on local TV and radio broadcasts numerous time, been written up in The Idaho Statesman Newspaper and also were interviewed for the Dylan Ratigan Show on MSNBC.
Read an Excerpt
McCall, Idaho Pilgrim's Cove September 28, 2002
The grating noise of the intercom yanked twelve-year-old Trevor out of a restless sleep. He sat bolt upright, head pulsing. He could hear his father's voice through the intercom.
The throbbing in his head increased with every word his father uttered. It wasn't merely the unfamiliar tone of his voice; it was what he was saying: graphic sexual banter with someone on the other end of his cell phone. Trevor Smith was in the great room of the main house but heard everything as though he were right next to his dad. His father must have accidentally pushed the intercom button and now was broadcasting his sexual desires from the two-bedroom guesthouse, where he presently lived.
Since Trevor's mother, Charlie, filed for divorce from his dad a few months earlier, a court order had banished Ballard Smith to the quarters above the garage. It was a pretty pathetic comedown for his father, who used to be a big shot in San Diego. He was the president of the San Diego Padres baseball team in the early 1980s. His dad had been married to Linda, the only daughter of Joan Kroc. Joan's husband was Ray Kroc, the billionaire McDonald's Hamburgers mogul and owner of the ball club. Before his divorce from Linda, his dad enjoyed a life of vast wealth and high drama in the public spotlight.
Even though everyone in McCall knew about his dad's former life, Trevor could tell that the divorce court judge really didn't care who Ballard Smith had been. Right off the bat, he awarded his mom the run of the main house. Trevor lived with her. He preferred it that way. His dad's moods were like a pinball in one of those arcade games — crazily bouncing all over the place. Lately he had felt increasingly uneasy around him.
Right now, Trevor was thinking that if he'd slept in his bed upstairs instead of on the couch in the great room, he wouldn't have heard any of this sordid conversation. With no intercom system installed there, his dad's voice wouldn't have penetrated the thick log walls. But Trevor no longer loved his bedroom. Where once its woody darkness cocooned him, now he merely felt claustrophobic. These days his whole life felt like it was closing in on him.
Once he realized that his parents were really heading toward a divorce, Trevor spent a lot of time thinking about the arc of his life in McCall. Back when he was six and moved there full-time from San Diego, California, his existence was like one big playtime. Every season brought with it another delight.
Each summer, Trevor virtually lived on Payette Lake, honing his skills at water sports. During the winter, he had easy access to snowboarding at Brundage Mountain located a few miles north of his house. In fact, he actually could see the popular recreation area from their kitchen window. A good athlete in a family of athletes, by the age of eight he had won a medal for his Mighty Mite Ski Team.
Not twenty minutes south of his home on Payette Lake near Jug Mountain sprawled the family ranch. Trevor loved his horse and rode as often as possible. Each spring, his family escaped McCall's long winter to spend six weeks at their estate overlooking the deep blue Sea of Cortez in sun-drenched Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
Although none of the children who lived full-time in McCall enjoyed a larger-than-life-style anywhere comparable to his, Trevor possessed a generous nature and had many friends whom he included in all of the fun activities and vacations provided by his parents. As he got older he came to recognize how much more he had than his classmates, most of whom were the children of the town's support workers.
Trevor often heard the term "late-in-life baby" linked with his name. "Guess they saved the best for last," he frequently joked. Family meant everything to him. His five older half-siblings and his parents used to make him feel wanted. Adored. They were at war now. The pending divorce had split the family into two bitter factions. He feared he was becoming an afterthought.
There were recent signs that the breakup was coming. The beauty of his surroundings turned bleak whenever he walked through the front door of the house. Increasingly fierce arguments. Stony silences. Escalating differences between what his mom and dad wanted to do with their lives often left him bereft, torn between love for both of them and his own buried wishes.
Then last November his mom told him she could not deal with his dad's unconscionable behavior any longer. She was filing for divorce. Hearing this, Trevor felt as if he had skied recklessly out of bounds past the danger signs and suddenly found himself overcome by an unexpected, powerful avalanche. Divorce: a word like a wall of snow that knocked him over and nearly suffocated the life out of him. At first, Trevor felt seething anger at his dad for causing the breakup but almost as much for his mom. She promised him they'd always be a family.
His disappointment with his mother faded quickly after that. But his relationship with his dad continued to deteriorate. It seemed nowhere was safe enough to escape his father's Jekyll and Hyde behavior. Certainly not the sunny great room with its massive picture window and its comforting overstuffed sofa, which he had preferred to his room most nights in the past few weeks. Not now with that damned screechy intercom jolting him out of sleep ... No kid should have to wake up to his dad's voice boring into him in such a totally creepy way, Trevor thought. He guessed that the recipient of his father's cell phone sex talk was his latest girlfriend. She was a clerk in his parents' store, Out-A-Idaho, just like the other woman who caused his parents' initial breakup months ago. The clerk his dad had called his "soul-mate."
But why is he sitting there with the intercom on, putting me and my mom in the middle of this? He'd have to be deaf not to have heard that awful sound. He has to know we can hear him.
Trevor felt almost unhinged by the increasingly lewd things his dad was telling his girlfriend he was going to do to her. The pounding in his head increased another notch.
What? Now he's talking to her about
me! That did it! Trevor leapt off the couch, a growing sense of injustice fueling his charge out the mudroom door. He stormed up the guesthouse stairs two at a time and yanked hard at the door only to find it locked. He banged his fists on it, fighting to control his escalating fury. Suddenly, the door opened, and his father stood there, cell phone a few inches from his ear, looking early-morning disheveled and slightly bewildered to see his son at this hour.
"Trevor, what ..."
"I heard every gross thing you said, Dad! You're disgusting."
Trevor whirled around and bounded down the wood stairs, slamming the mudroom door to the house behind him as hard as he could. He wasn't surprised that his father didn't try to follow him. He'd already come to the depressing conclusion that he was unimportant to his dad. And now this morning, his father's own words confirmed Trevor's worst fears: He was an albatross around his dad's neck. In between the man's explicit sexual overtures to this latest woman, already his third soul-mate since the divorce proceedings began, Ballard was insisting that he would prefer to spend the entire day in bed with her, but he had to take his kid into Boise to buy him a bike, an early birthday present.
Trevor would finally become a teenager in a few weeks, and he and his dad had planned this trip to Boise to get a Specialized Vegas bicycle. They hardly ever spent time alone these days, and it was supposed to be a big deal. Now Ballard had totally ruined it.
I'm just a frickin' chore he has to do, Trevor thought as he entered the kitchen. I'm like taking out the garbage — do it quickly and hold your nose.CHAPTER 2
Up in the master suite, Charlie Smith also was jarred awake by the screechy sound of the intercom coming on. It took her a few seconds to process Ballard's salacious murmurings. Once she realized what was happening, her eyes snapped open and she looked at the clock. A little after six a.m.
Holy crap! That man is an idiot!
She hoped that Trevor wasn't up yet. Safely tucked away in his room, he'd have no way to hear any of his father's conversation. She turned over and pulled the covers up past her ears. No use. She couldn't block out his words. Or that smarmy tone in his voice.
Charlie suddenly heard through the intercom the sound of intense banging on the door to the guesthouse, followed by her son screaming at his dad.
Oh my God! What more can happen in this house? A shot of panic coursed through her. She quickly got out of bed, frantic about what this latest event was going to do to her son psychologically.
Charlie threw on her robe and hurried downstairs to find Trevor stomping into the kitchen.
He stopped when he saw her and pressed his hands against his temples. "Jeez, this pain. Why do I get all these headaches?" "Hey, Trev. Considering what you've just been through this morning ..."
"I wish you and everyone else would please stop saying the stress of the divorce is too hard for me to handle."
In fact, Charlie was very worried about her son. He began to be plagued by these bad headaches soon after she and Ballard separated, and while they were sporadic at first, they seemed to sweep over him more frequently these days. He had a history of stubborn sinus infections. She hoped he wasn't developing another one.
"Why don't you lie down?" she suggested.
He didn't look okay. Charlie led him into the great room. She saw the sofa and the tangle of his blankets half on the floor, a clue to where he spent the night and a testament to the haste with which he fled the house to confront his dad.
Hunched together now, they both cried.
Behind them the two-story picture window afforded a panoramic view of a vast expanse of Payette Lake. A stunning glacial body of water that was a catch basin for the region's countless high lakes, rivers, and melting snow, its beauty still had the capacity to stop her in her tracks.
Outside it appeared to be a crystalline morning just like the day before, with a hint of fall in the air. The leaves on the Aspens, silver birch, and some of the pines surrounding their property, and many among the forest of tamaracks and larches on the other side of the lake, were starting to change to their vibrant autumn hues. With the tourists gone, and their boats that had churned the lake for months now safely stored until next summer, the lake was a serene mirror. The calm before the storm, she had mused absently a few days earlier, while sitting outside on the deck to collect her thoughts and gaze at the silent lake for a few minutes. Is this morning that storm?
Normally in September Charlie loved being in these mountains that made up part of the Payette National Forest located about two hours by car northwest of Boise. This morning she wished that she and Trevor had stayed put in Boise where they had relocated last year. Ballard wanted Trevor to go to middle school in a bigger and more challenging school system in preparation for high school and then college. Getting into a top-tier university was especially important to Ballard, who once was the district attorney in a tiny Pennsylvania town but gave up the law to live in California where he joined his in-laws' business and sports empire.
Charlie just wanted out of McCall for any reason. The winters were increasingly hard to take. When Ballard suggested it, she readily agreed to relocate to Boise but to continue to spend weekends and summers at their lake house, providing the best of both worlds for Trevor.
However, soon after settling into the new home and giving Charlie carte blanche to remodel at will, Ballard increasingly seemed to be drawn back to McCall for what he claimed were store matters, until he almost never stayed with her and their son at all.
He even turned down a request from Trevor's middle school basketball coach to help with his team. "Why won't he do this, Mom?" Trevor had asked her. "He always wanted to be a coach in McCall."
"You know I can't answer for your dad. He says he's busy at the store."
"I miss my dad," Trevor lamented again and again. "I thought we were going to live here like a family."
"I did, too, Trev."
Then 9/11 happened. Charlie decided that their family needed to be together. Right away. Besides, the idea of being sequestered in a tiny village in the mountains made her feel safer. She arranged for Trevor to re-enter middle school in McCall. They hastily returned to their home on the lake where Charlie quickly discovered her husband's infidelity with the clerk from their store. The marriage-ending revelation led to him living in the guesthouse.
And now this morning Trevor was being forced to become involved in yet another unsavory slice of his father's personal life with yet another store clerk!
"Did you hear all of your dad's conversation?" Charlie asked softly.
"Yeah," he admitted, reddening and unable to meet her eyes. "He makes me sick. Why do I have a father like him? I hate him!"
"No, Trevor. You don't hate him. You just hate the things he does."
Trevor sighed and looked away, dismissing her inept attempt to mitigate the emotional repercussion of Ballard's behavior.
Suddenly the intercom once more emitted its hair-raising noise. Now what?
Ballard's unrepentant voice echoed through the house. "If you still want to go to Boise with me, Trevor, I can be ready in five minutes."
"You don't have to put yourself through this, Trev," Charlie said sympathetically. "I'll take you."
"No. I need to do this."
"How do you feel? What about your headache?"
"I'll take two Advil," he told his mother. "And I'll be okay."CHAPTER 3
The headaches did not go away. Just before Trevor's birthday in mid-October, the pressure in his head increased. He began to see the world as if he were on a dingy in rocky seas. Intermittently dizzy, his gait became unsteady for a few minutes at a time, and the nausea that accompanied both of these sensations felt like the one and only time he got seasick.
One night, his mom noticed him veering off course as he walked through the great room toward the stairs leading up to his bedroom.
"You okay?" she asked. "You look like a drunken sailor. You didn't get hit in the head at football practice, did you?" "Everyone gets hit in the head at practice, Mom. That's why we wear helmets! I'm fine," he insisted. "Just got up from the couch too fast, that's all. Made me dizzy for a second."
He waited for her to quiz him further, but she turned back to some long legal document she was reading. He quickly went up to his room and lay down. That didn't help. He got dizzy again and had to sit up. Very still.
The truth was, he was scared. But he wanted to keep playing football and knew his mom would get him off the team if he weren't careful. He just couldn't admit to himself that he might be really sick. Like really, really sick! So far, he managed to keep some other new symptoms from his parents, like the fact that he began to throw up just about every day.
* * *
By November fifth, however, he was feeling wasted before the day was half over, and he had to put his head down on his desk in class just before lunch. Luckily they were doing individual reading assignments, and none of his classmates noticed. Mrs. Bingaman, his teacher, did, though.
She was his teacher once before when he was in fifth grade. In Trevor's estimation, Mrs. Bingaman, a tall, slender woman with dark hair, dressed and acted like a borderline hippie. And she had a reputation of being really hard. He'd gone into her fifth grade class with some trepidation but had learned so much from her and found her very caring. He learned another lesson: appearances can be deceiving. She knew he was a hard worker and wouldn't slack off in class without a good reason. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw her walking toward him now. He wasn't surprised.
"Hey, Trevor. What's up?" she asked.
He sat up. His head felt really heavy. He saw her face through flashes of light. "I have a pretty bad headache, Mrs. Bingaman."
In fact, it was one of the worst he'd experienced so far. It had started in the early morning as a dull pain, and he thought he might be able to control it with a few Advil. But an hour into the school day he was in the boys' bathroom barfing. That only gave him temporary relief.
Now just a few minutes until lunchtime, the pain bore into him full-force. He had hoped he could hold out, but it became impossible to focus on his class assignment. It was as if someone were pounding on his head with a hammer — from the inside.
"Trevor, you look pretty pale," his teacher said. "Maybe you should rest in the nurse's office until you feel better."
He nodded and gathered his books and papers. On the way to the nurse's office his vision became fuzzy for a few seconds. The flashes of light returned. He leaned against one of the metal lockers lining the wall and closed his eyes, grateful that the classrooms hadn't yet spilled out into the halls for the lunch recess.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Boy on the Lake"
Copyright © 2013 Susan Rosser.
Excerpted by permission of Morgan James Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Note to Readers,
Part One: The Wrong Kind of Paradise,
Part Two: Fighting Back,
Part Three: Moving Forward,
Part Four: Making a Difference,
Appendix A: Press Release for EPW Oversight Hearing,
Appendix B: Press Release for Senator Boxer and Senator Crapo's Introduction of S.76, "Trevor's Law",
Appendix C: Partial Text of U.S. Senate Bill 76, "Trevor's Law",
Appendix D: Congressional Record of Trevor Schaefer's Written Testimony at EPW Oversight Hearing,
Appendix E: Testimony of Erin Brockovich at EPW Oversight Hearing,
Appendix F: Daniel Rosenberg's Blog Post after EPW Oversight Hearing,
Scars of Courage,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I have known this family for several years. I have known Trevor since he was a baby. Charlie was an extremely self-centered, uninvolved Mother to Trevor. This book is not meant to help others. It is very self-serving and narcissistic.She takes part of the truth about the family and twists it to sound like she was an angel. She is a name dropper and cared only about money and material things. No one cares about what her workout routine was or her lies that she had a close relationship with famous people.I give this book a big thumbs down.