The Back Story


So, how did this all come about?  Back in 2011, shortly after our daughter Darcy was born, my wife Shannon had a pretty dramatic weight loss in a 6 week period.  We thought it was something postpartum, but her OBGYN was concerned and sent her to a Gastroenterologist.  She had bleeding issues since she was younger, but everyone dismissed it as trivial things.  Even the Gastroenterologist felt it was likely IBS, but setup a colonoscopy “just to rule things out”.  To our shock, we found out she had a large tumor, and was diagnosed May 3rd 2011 with Colon Cancer, at the age of 30, just 1 day after Noah’s 3rd birthday.  This began a 3 and a half year shitfest of scans, doctors, two radiation treatments, a very emotional reveal that a routine PET scan showed spots of potential mestasis, switch the chemotherapy for 3 months, major surgery to remove the primary tumor.  We were hopeful, after the surgery, that perhaps those spots in her abdomen weren’t cancer after all.  But a CT scan a month later showed spots in her lungs that had continued to grow, which put her as Stage 4 Colon Cancer.  Uncurable.  So…back to chemotherapy, for the next 3 years.

Meanwhile, two kids are trying to grow up with their parents.  Shannon did everything she could with the kids, trips to Disney World, the beach, Maine, day trips to D.C., the Aquarium, etc.  For the most part, I was doing the “work” of the house…Cooking, cleaning (when I could), toting the kids to sports or activities, most of the watching of the kids. In 2014, we thought things were going well.  Shannon’s latest regiment was keeping things stable on her CT scans, even as late as December 15th, 2014.  But she had developed a pretty nagging, hacking cough.

On the morning of December 24th, 2014, I found her in our bed, with very labored breathing and unable to be roused or speak.  After trying in vain to get her to respond to me, I called 911.  She was taken by ambulance to Carroll Hospital Center, where it was determined that she had pneumonia.  She had to be put on a ventilator to keep her breathing well enough, and they began 5 days of antibiotics to try to combat the infection.  Unfortunately, she never improved and on the morning of December 29th, 2014, with me by her bedside, her heart stopped beating and she was not resuscitated (Doctors had advised that given her underlying conditions and the pneumonia, resuscitation was unlikely to work, and at best, would delay things only for a few days).  Her family was in the waiting room, having just arrived to see her for the day.  While things had been in decline, it was a bit of a shock to all, even her doctors.  Our kids were in Ocean City, MD at the time with my parents.  I had sent them off in the hopes of getting their minds off her sickness while we were in a wait and see mode.  We called my mom and, after she had gotten away from the kids, we told her what happened, and asked her to try to bring them home without revealing the grim news to them.  When they arrived at our house, surrounded by both sets of grandparents, I broke the terrible news to them.  From there, we begin our horrible, eventful journey…


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