Chapter 1: A New Normal, 3/9/17

Chapter 1: A New Normal, 3/9/17

So looks like we have new normal around here.

After some abdominal pain last month and some further testing, Don has been diagnosed with Neuroendocrine Cancer (aka NETs – Neuroendocrine Tumors, also sometimes called Carcinoid Cancer). This is a rare cancer, that in his case started in the small intestine (we think) and has spread to the liver. We have learned that many patients manage this disease over many years. More on this in future posts.

So, our usual fun, busy, exciting roller coaster ride has gotten a little more bumpy. As our friends and family, you are already seated on the coaster with us. We might need to grab your hand for a moment or two. Here are a few rules for the ride:
1. You may tell us you are sorry to hear the news, but you may not freak out and you may not whisper to yourself or others “Oh my God! How could this happen? This is terrible?!” You’re right, it sucks. But wallowing in the yuckiness and fear really doesn’t help. This is one of the sorry parts of being human (’cause you know I’m an expert on being human – ha ha). As an old friend told me about 20 years ago, “Life is one big shit sandwich and we all have to take a bite.” (Thanks, Tom. I know you’re out there.) So far in my 47 years on this roller coaster, I know that the highs are awesome and the lows are when we gotta take our bite. The lows teach us how to enjoy and appreciate the highs.
2. There are millions of people who live a long life with cancer and after cancer. Don will be one of them. There are lots of success stories with this disease (neuroendocrine cancer). We will kick this sh*t to the curb and carry on. Cancer does not automatically = death. It’s 2017 and high time to move past that myth. Did you know my mom is a breast cancer survivor of more than 18 years? If you have friends or family who are cancer survivors, please share in the comments. We need to celebrate them!
3. You may not say “Everything happens for a reason” or “God has a plan.” It is our view that things happen. Period. God does not plan these things. They are part of being human and living on this Earth. Humans are fragile, life is fragile, things happen. What makes us strong, and stronger than yesterday, is how we respond to the stuff that happens. For us, this is where faith comes in. Our faith in God grounds us and offers strength and peace in the tough times. My faith has carried me through a few bites of the shit sandwich already in 47 years, and it will carry me through this. Same for Don.
4. When we need it, you may help. This might be driving the boys around or sharing a meal, or whatever. At this point I don’t really know what we’ll need, or when, but I will let you know. Please ask for what we need and make no assumptions. I will tell you what would be helpful and graciously accept whatever assistance you can offer. Y’all know that I strongly believe that it takes a village. Plus I’m really not great at planning meals.
5. Laughter is the best medicine. One of the things I love most about Don is his sense of humor. Please share anything that makes you fall on the floor laughing. We especially love SNL and blooper videos. Don and Sam like those crazy “don’t do this at home” stunt videos, but those are not for me. Please don’t blast our cell phones with text msgs, but you can send email comments, links, and stories to chandler.donw@gmail.com or chandler.steph0922@gmail.com.
At this stage of the game, we will be meeting with a local oncologist soon, and also hope to see a specialist at Duke. The near future might include some treatment and probably some surgery. We have told Colin & Sam what we know so far (the simpler, positive view) and they are being the amazing troopers we already knew them to be.
Thank you for riding this roller coaster with us. Stay tuned and Peace.
S
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