08 March 2009

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!


  1. Jaime... this comment is for you. Thank-you for taking the time to create this blog. You are amazing. <3