31 March 2009

I'm Just Burnin'

One of the many fascinating things about Chad’s recovery has been his ability to recall certain memories in the most minute detail. It is as if the removal of the tumor cleared pathways to parts of the brain that normal people – mere mortals – cannot typically access.

Several weeks ago he remembered a detailed scene from Don’t Tell Mom, the Babysitter’s Dead, which no one (including Chad) has seen in at least 15 years. Immediately after surgery when it was difficult for him to remember his own name, he remembered the names of obscure species of fish, information no doubt accumulated throughout his nearly two-decade career with PetSmart.

He laments that it is all of the useless stuff that comes back so easily, like the names of Christopher Cross songs and vulgar quotes from the Howard Stern Show. (By the way, I am thrilled about his ability to reference the latter; Shannon is not so thrilled.) But regardless of which memories and skills return and how fast, he is continuing to make progress on all fronts. He works diligently each day to bring his new and improved brain back up to speed.

Chad also remembers that his favorite Pointer Sisters song is “Neutron Dance,” which I must admit is a sound choice. Except he remembered the video as well, which is nothing short of superhuman. Now you can remember it too:

Weren't those the days, when you could just dance around in a movie theatre and call it a music video?! Good times.

And Chad starts treatment today. Let’s wish him well.


27 March 2009

An Open Letter to Chad and Shannon

Dear Chad and Shannon,

This blog was conceived in an effort to centralize communications just after Chad’s initial diagnosis and surgery, when you were being inundated with calls and texts and visits. We wanted you to focus on healing and not feel like slaves to the phone.

From the beginning I never doubted that you both were loved and admired by many, but the readership of this blog has still been surprising.

Were you aware that you had friends all across the country, and indeed all over the world? Hundreds of people are reading your blog each week, from such exotic places as Canada and the US Virgin Islands. One very strange dude checks up on your progress from a far-off and olde tymey land called Windsor, England. And you have friends and family checking in from Florida, New Jersey, Colorado, Texas, Oregon, North Carolina, and surprise! Um... Surprise (Arizona).

You are so loved. Many prayers are being said in your honor, all over the world. So let’s beat this thing, okay? I think we can.



26 March 2009

Radiate This

Chad was scheduled to begin chemotherapy and radiation on Monday, but the start of his treatment has been delayed to early next week. There is no negative reason for this; Chad’s doctors simply want to be certain that the treatment will be focused for the best possible result, to arrest any possible cancer regrowth.

Shannon says that the doctors are spending quality time with Chad’s MRIs to make sure that when radiation is ultimately administered, it will be focused at the best possible angles and from the most effective directions.

In the meantime, Chad is busy retraining his brain and watching Anchorman.

More soon.


25 March 2009

For Those About to Poke(r), We Salute You

Do you love to gamble your money and your pride, but your paychecks are signed by someone other than PetSmart? You too can participate in the Chad Fights Back Poker Tournament!

But. It is extra important that Amber has the registration forms of non-employees well in advance, so they (we) can be on the list to be allowed into the building on a Saturday.

You know you want to.

24 March 2009

Do Not Delay

I’m sure many of you plan to participate in the Chad Fights Back Poker Tournament but you’re so super busy you haven’t yet completed a registration form or sent in your entry fee. Or you’re waiting for payday. Or you think you might be able to rig up a hot date for that afternoon so you’re leaving your options open.

Help a brother/sister out and register today.

Registering early ensures your butt has a place to reside during the event. Your confirmed registration also allows the crack team coordinating this effort, led by the superindustrious Amber, to effectively plan for maximum poker fun.

Amber tells me there are some fabulous prizes, by the way. Everyone’s being very generous. I’ll post information about the prizes later this week.

As a reminder, the event takes place Saturday, April 11, 2009 from 2pm to 5pm at the PetSmart Corporate Office. The flyer and registration form can be found within the post from March 22, 2009.

Do it.


22 March 2009

Commentia II

Several of you have asked how to leave a comment on this blog:

This blog allows for anonymous comments, meaning you don't have to have a googlemail or blogger account to post a message to Chad and Shannon.

After an individual post, you'll see a link that reads: "0 comments" or "14056 comments" or whatever number represents the number of comments people have left thus far. Click on that link and any post-related comments will be revealed.

At the end of any previously posted messages, you'll see "post a comment" with a box underneath. Simply type a message and click "post comment."

Voila. :)


Register Today

Said I would post this on Friday and didn't... I even promised! Sorry, here it is.

Amber and the PetSmart team have coordinated a fantastic event, to take place Saturday, April 11, 2009 from 2pm to 5pm at the PetSmart Corporate Office. Please participate if you can.

Anyone interested in playing poker or serving as a dealer for the event should return a completed registration form as soon as possible. Same goes for anyone who isn't interested in playing the game but who might like to attend, or for anyone who'd simply like to make a donation - this form is for you as well.
Please contact Amber with any questions about the event, and thank you for supporting our friends Chad and Shannon!


Click on either image to load it in its true size.

20 March 2009


My dad, who is following the blog, asked yesterday why I keep asking (read: begging) for comments. I suppose I never really explained, so here we are: Shannon and Chad read the comments and have said they find great comfort in all of the support. If Chad feels unwell at any point in his course of treatment and is unable to engage with a blog, Shannon has read and promises to continue to read your comments to him.

Life has changed so much for our friends over the last three weeks, it is useful for Chad to know that family, friends and colleagues are thinking of him and encouraging him to press on with his fight.

So show a little love, yo.

This blog allows for anonymous comments, so you need not have a blogger/google account to post good wishes. But please leave your name so Shannon and Chad know who you are.

I promised to post some information about the poker tourney, and will do so at some point later today. Promise.


18 March 2009


Many of you know that Chad and Shannon were planning to commit their eternal souls to one another in Las Vegas in May. Immediately after Chad’s surgery there was some question about whether the happy couple would go ahead with their plans.

Chad and Shannon knew they would get married of course, but with the knowledge that Chad would be in treatment (or possibly just completing treatment) at the time the wedding was scheduled, it was unclear whether he would feel up to either traveling or marrying. So they questioned whether they would keep the date and the location, or change the location, or postpone the date.

At this time Shannon and Chad are moving forward as if they will still marry in Vegas in May. They will see how they are feeling as the next several weeks progress, and will make an ultimate decision about their Vegas wedding one month prior to their planned wedding date, Saturday, May 09, 2009.

We’ll keep you posted.


Now give C and S some sugar:

17 March 2009

This Is Not Chad

But he did get his sutures out today.

If all goes according to the current plan, Chad will begin treatment on Monday, to include radiation, chemotherapy and medication as a part of a clinical trial. These therapies will likely be administered in stages rather than beginning all three at once.

Because Chad is young and healthy and because he has recovered brilliantly thus far, his doctors feel confident about his ability to cope with these post-surgery cancer-fighting therapies. And of course we know that Chad is a fighter and a sass. Nonetheless he’ll need all of our prayers, good vibes and support as he embarks upon these treatments. Maybe together we can affect the cosmos such as to mitigate any potential discomfort or unease. Let’s try.


Send a shoutout to C and S:

16 March 2009

Sleeping and Sutures and Snark (oh my)

This weekend I asked Chad how he’s been sleeping. When the tumor was first discovered I was a bit haunted by a conversation we’d had two weeks prior, wherein he said that, though falling asleep had never before been as issue, he was experiencing a great deal of pressure in his head every time he “went horizontal.” He assumed it was allergies.

He affirmed that Night is once more a comfortable affair and that he no longer finds sleep difficult to achieve. He said he tires earlier and more easily at the moment, but perhaps that is to be expected following a major surgery and after long days of focused brain-training.

If all goes as planned, I believe the sutures will be removed from the back of Chad’s head on Tuesday. I do hope Shannon took a picture of his hairiness for posterity. If she did and as soon as I get my hands on the shot, I’ll post it here.

And if any of you were worried about whether Chad had sustained any personality changes, do not fear: the snark is back. Damon was really worried there for a moment after the surgery, that Chad would be so nice that he wouldn't like any of us anymore. But I think it is now clear that you can’t take the sass out of our Chad. He invented sass, and cheekiness too.

I just can’t overstate how hard our friend is working to regain his ability to process information. Both Chad and Shannon come at this work with intense motivation and focus. They will no doubt bring the same intensity to the forthcoming fight, where they will beat a nefarious illness into submission. Remission.

And they love each other, so much.


Bring on the comments, yo:

12 March 2009

Chadlington Bear

Today Chad had his first day of speech therapy. Most of us imagine that speech therapy is for people experiencing trouble speaking; which Chad isn't, he speaks very clearly. For Chad, the speech therapy is a part of the comprehensive treatment to rebuild those vital information highways within his brain.

But it must be said: he is making incredible progress at home, outside of any expert-led therapy. Shannon and Chad are coming up with all sorts of exercises to heal and strengthen Chad’s brain, and the therapist assured our dear friends that they are doing all the right things at home.

In other important news: Chad is very beardy right now. Not sure I've ever seen him so hirsute! He’s not feeling the need to shave until he can shave his head, which he’ll do after the sutures are removed sometime next week.

Yesterday marked Chad’s final day of meds. Isn't it amazing that he was only prescribed medication to reduce swelling post-surgery, and that he required almost no pain meds? I think I remember that the day after the surgery, they were giving him Tylenol in case he developed a headache. It is rather astonishing I think, that you can have surgery on your brain and that all they’re giving you is a steroid to manage swelling and Tylenol like I have in my medicine cabinet.


What say you, Chad and Shannon supporters?

10 March 2009

The Latest

So many people have visited this blog over the last 48 hours! Thanks for joining the Chad-love network.

Chad is still staying close to home, completing his exercises and forging new information routes within his brain. Shannon is doing everything she can to facilitate his return to health. They are both trying to rest.

Shannon’s dad is in town now, and her mom will be back within two weeks. Chad’s mom and dad have been highly participatory throughout the surgery and subsequent recovery. All of the siblings – Shannon’s lovely sister Tori and Chad’s millions of siblings – have also been on hand to supply loads of love and support.

Many of you have wondered how you can help, and those of you who work at PetSmart (there are a lot of you!) will soon have an opportunity. Please mark your calendars for Saturday, April 11, 2009 from 2 to 5pm, and stay tuned! As soon as I get the word from Amber, I will post more information.

For friends and family not employed by PetSmart, there will be other opportunities to help. Someone suggested a topless car wash, for when Chad is feeling better. But Shannon thinks we might get arrested.


* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Feel free to post additional ideas to help Chad heal, and please post more comments for Shannon and Chad!

08 March 2009

Weekend Update

Chad was released to go home midday Saturday after only a few days of in-patient therapy. Evidently the doctors were pleased with his progress and agreed he could go home and continue outpatient therapy three times a week, until the team decides to change frequency or course.

He is so pleased to be home. Delighted to be out of the hospital, with access to his own bed and all of his own stuff, and with Shannon and the pets close by. The pets are thrilled to have Chad home as well, although Shannon said the dogs didn’t make a fuss upon Chad’s arrival. It wasn’t until they left to run a quick errand and came back a short time later that the dogs lost their minds. :)

While home Chad is working very hard relearning all of the things that don’t come easily at the moment, with homework provided by his team of doctors. He is willing to put in long hours with his exercises, with great focus and attention, which is to be expected by anyone who knows Chad. He is so goal oriented, and such a worker, that he will no doubt press on with all of these therapies and make swift and surprising progress.

So for now Chad is enjoying resting at home and training his brain to recover from the trauma of surgery. Shannon is supporting this training in every way and – it must be said – is doing a fantastic job managing all aspects of Chad’s recovery.

Thanks for staying abreast of all-Chad news.


Please post comments to C and S!

Introduction and Background

Dear Chad and Shannon fans, friends, family and colleagues:

We’ve created this blog in order to better distribute information about Chad’s recovery. In the messages we will post here, Damon and I will try to keep everyone current on changes in Chad’s treatment and therapy, but we will also try our best to honor Chad’s and Shannon’s privacy.

We will not post every day, but hope you will check back often to post messages to Chad in the comments sections. Or if you have a story or longer comment you’d like me to post as a blog message, feel free to send an email to
chadfightsback@gmail.com with your name and how you’re connected to Chad or Shannon and I’ll post on your behalf. Guest bloggers are welcome!

Similarly, if you have questions about the wonderful Chad and Shannon, about Chad’s treatment or how you can help, please send an email and we’ll do our best to respond.

As Chad’s treatment progresses, we hope Shannon or Chad might want to post their own updates. In the meantime, Shannon has vowed to share any and all messages with Chad as he works to heal his brain and all of its related equipment.

Let’s use this blog to create a network of support and love for our dear friends, so they can use all of their energy to heal and beat back this bitch called cancer.


As background, these messages come from emails sent over the week, and have been posted in reverse chronological order:

Message from Thursday, 05 March 2009

Dear friends,

Not a lot to report today… but I’ll tell what I can. Today Chad started his occupational therapy, which includes exercises for his body, to deal with mobility and balance (which Chad isn’t having too much trouble with), and exercises for his brain, to deal with “connectivity” and memory. I hear that the first day of therapy was good and that Chad is looking forward to the work of getting better. A little better each day!

Thanks for keeping up with the Chad Recovery. More soon.


Message from Wednesday, 04 March 2009

Dear all,

We hear Chad had another good day.

He was released from the hospital to the in-patient therapy area on the eastern side of the Barrow/St.Joe’s complex. He will receive care in this area for about a week, maybe more. Once he arrived at his destination today he was checked into a new room, which unfortunately is not private. Evidently his new roommate is a decrepit old man whom we hope will not desire smalltalk or intimate chats.

In in-patient therapy, Chad will receive up to three hours of focused occupational therapy each day. The doctors and therapists that work with him will lead him in exercises to try to fast-track the re-training of his brain, so it can make all of the connections that a healthy brain makes without effort. Because of the trauma of the surgery and the resultant swelling, Chad has to work to heal both physically and mentally. But everyone who knows Chad knows that he is certainly up to the task and will no doubt make significant progress this week.

Shannon brought him some Chipotle for dinner, and when she left tonight, he was resting contentedly and listening to his ipod. Shannon is not allowed to stay overnight in this area of the hospital, so she will leave when Chad goes to sleep and return in the morning. This will be the first night in a week that she will sleep in her own bed.

On that note: Shannon deserves a supersized shoutout. She is doing an amazing job managing all of this, and somehow, she is maintaining a sense of optimism and calm most of the time. Not that any of us doubted her strength or grace, but you know, this is one of the most challenging situations many of us could imagine, and well… she’s remarkable. We love her very much.

Reporting the news,


Message from Tuesday, 03 March 2009

Hello all,

I’m told Chad had a good day. No headaches and he got to wear his own clothes. He is working hard to reconnect all of those many tiny brain pathways, so he can soon recapture some of his snarky smart-assedness. We’re all praying for that along with good health and a great response to treatment.

As you know, last night Chad’s doctors decided that instead of releasing him to go home today, they would transfer him to an area of the hospital where he would receive in-patient occupational therapy. Evidently today there was a disagreement between the doctors and the insurance as to whether the therapy should be in-patient or outpatient, so while they sorted it out, Chad spent some quality time in his room with Shannon and his family. As of tonight I think it was decided that in-patient therapy would work for all entities, but by that time, there was no room at the inn. So I think they are now going to see if a room becomes available tomorrow. If not (and maybe no matter what), the doctors will reassess the situation tomorrow.

All in all though, it sounds like it was a fairly relaxed day for the happy couple.

I think there has been some confusion about visits and I just want to make sure everyone is aware that Chad is not being visited by some friends and not others. He is not quite ready for steady streams of visitors because he is still tired from his surgery, and the work to re-learn and remember certain things is exhausting as well. But Chad is not alone either, and hasn’t been alone since he was transferred to Barrow. Shannon, Chad’s mom Jeannine, his dad Rex, and various siblings are with him throughout the day. Shannon has been with him during the nights.

Finally, I’m thinking of starting a simple blog to provide updates, so everyone else can post their own updates and messages for Chad, and maybe when he’s feeling better Chad can participate as well. I’m going to chat with Damon and Shawnee about it.

Oh and one more thing: so many people are asking what they can do to help, besides all of the “assignments” Damon will soon be delivering. The wonderful Amber is working on a few ideas, and we’ll have more info for you this weekend. If you have a brilliant idea to share with her, email her directly or email me and I’ll pass the message along.

Thank you for your good vibes and good wishes for Chad.


Additional Message from Monday, 02 March 2009

As of this afternoon, Chad was supposed to be released to go home Tuesday, but the doctors have decided to get a head start on his occupational therapy. On Tuesday he will be moved to another area within the Barrow/St. Joe’s complex for a kind of in-patient rehabilitation treatment, where he will likely stay for about a week. Because there is swelling from the surgery and the surgery in itself can “injure” the brain, the doctors are going to work to train the injured part of Chad’s brain to make all of the connections it used to make. They will also work with Shannon so she knows how to best help the process along.

I was thinking that it might be super weird for Shannon just to stop hearing from everyone. How about if when we text her, we don’t ask a lot of questions, and don’t expect a response? But maybe we can still send a little love and support through the phone.

I’m hoping no one is feeling left out of the helping process. There will be lots of ways everyone can help. More on this soon.

Prayers and good vibes for Chad,


Message from Monday, 02 March 2009

A few things we want to share with the friends:

The pathology reports came back today and the doctors confirmed that the mass that was removed from Chad's brain was cancer. A grade four astrocytoma.

Chad will be going home for about two weeks to rest and heal from his brain surgery, and then will embark upon about six weeks of treatment, to include radiation, chemotherapy and medication as a part of a clinical trial.

The doctors encouraged Shannon and Chad (and all of their friends) not to get too wrapped up in the information that is available on the internet, because every case is different. They are hopeful that Chad will respond to treatment because he is young and healthy, and they reinforced that the future is less about the type and grade of cancer and more about how his body responds to the treatment. So we'll all have to pray that he responds well to treatment.

Also everyone should know that Chad could not be in better doctoral hands; the doctors at Barrow are among the best in the nation.

Shannon sounded upbeat today. At least she knows what they're up against now, and knowing is better than not knowing.

The effectiveness of the treatment is going to be heavily related to whether Chad and Shannon are able to rest, eat well and maintain a healthy and positive attitude. So many friends have already pitched in in all sorts of helpful ways, but let's please cease calling, texting and/or dropping by unannounced until further notice. Shannon and Chad appreciate all of the good wishes but because they are loved by so many, just managing the calls and texts can become overwhelming. We want them to be able to focus on healing.

I spoke to Shannon today about a "distribution system" for information related to Chad and his health, and this is what we came up with: If and when there is news, either Karie (Shannon's mom) or I (Jaime) will serve as "spokespersons" and will receive and distribute information. You may be called and asked to call others. Damon will continue to update his facebook page, and in fact the Chad-related information might take on another format, so everyone can check in online for updates.

Damon will also be in charge of organizing assignments related to Chad’s and Shannon’s home, to include a calendar of some pre-made ready-to-heat dinners for the recovering couple, for maybe every few days or so. Maybe that can be a part of the facebook deal.

Shannon also mentioned that Stef and Amber can feel free to share information with Chad's and Shannon's coworkers, and that if she needs any specific information or help with work, she'll let the two of you know.

And she said that if and when Chad is ready for visitors, she'll let me or Karie or Damon know and we'll pass the word on to everyone else. He loves having visitors, but at this point whether he is feeling up to having visitors changes throughout the day.

Most of all she thanked everyone for their love, prayers and willingness to help. She sends love right back to all of you.

More soon,



Shannon and Chad have been happily committed for 8 years, and have lived together for about 6 years. They own a lovely home in Phoenix, which they share with two Springer Spaniels and a Cornish Rex cat. They have both worked for PetSmart in many different capacities for the duration of their working lives.

At about 5pm on Thursday, 26 February 2009, Shannon took Chad to the emergency room as he was experiencing blurred vision and difficulty comprehending written text. After several tests and examinations, it was determined that Chad had a mass in the left side of his brain.

He was immediately transferred to Barrow Neurological Institute, where he underwent surgery to excise the mass the very next morning. Fortunately, Chad and Shannon live only a mile or two from Barrow, and the neurologists and surgeons there are among the best in the nation.

Immediately after surgery the doctors delivered a preliminary judgment, that the surgery had gone brilliantly but that they suspected the mass was malignant. Samples were tested and results were delivered three days later. Chad rested and began treatment to heal from the surgery.

What seems like thousands of family, friends and coworkers prayed and looked forward to a speedy recovery.

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Please post comments for Chad and Shannon!