PUNA, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - Earlier this week the state Department of Health urged anyone living in the path of the projected Puna lava flow who is dependent on medical services or supplies to relocate. The warning comes as officials are concerned about access and emergency response times should the lava flow cut through Highway 130, as it is projected to in three weeks.
"I think that's easier said than done," said Jethelyn Gregory. She and her husband Arnold sold off their Oklahoma farm and built their Hawaiian Shores home 10 years ago.
"It's been an amazing life it really has and she's the influence of all of it," Arnold said with a smile.
The couple has been married 52 years -- and weathered other storms, but nothing quite like the past two months.
"We've had catastrophe's here. I came down with cancer, we had a hurricane that came through and then the lava flow's coming through," Arnold said.
Arnold is fighting stage 4 cancer and is scheduled to start chemotherapy in Hilo next week.
"If we can make it to the chemo session, we'll do it. If we can't or we have to go around or do something else, we'll do that. We'll just play it by ear," Arnold explained. "We'll work through it. The good lord will watch out for us."
The former school teachers are hoping they won't have to move any time soon.
"Of course you want to be in your familiar situation to be able to stay home so we will as log as we can and that's a possibility," Jethelyn said.
Watching and waiting as the lava flow projections have changed over the last few weeks has been tough on the Gregory's.
"I think particularly at the beginning it was very frightening 'cause at that point we didn't have any options, but as time has gone on we've put some things in place and so I feel a little more restful about it," said Jethelyn.
The Gregory's are worried about being isolated if the flow cuts through Highway 130, but they're hopeful the bypass routes will allow them to stay home and still continue Arnold's treatment with his doctors in Hilo.
"We feel really good with them here so that's something that's kind of important for us to not have to make changes to," said Jethelyn, adding they've gotten a second opinion in Houston and have also seen doctors in Honolulu.
The uncertainty is challenging, but the couple is preparing the best they can -- even if it means leaving the home they intended to retire in.
"It's extremely difficult it really is because I don't know one day to the next what's going to happen. It'll be a hard hard choice to do, but if we have to do it we will. I don't know where we'll go for sure. All of our children live in Oklahoma, that's one option we can go over there. I don't know it'll depend on what my sweetheart wants," Arnold said looking over at Jethelyn with a smile.