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How it All Began

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago we decided that we would love to return to the Boulder, CO area. Then at the end of 2020, an opportunity to buy a small chiropractic practice arose. And we jumped at the chance. Shane moved to Boulder at the beginning of January, got things settled and the kids followed soon after. I joined the crew in February after wrapping up my final clients in the Bay Area.

One of our favorite spots in Boulder, Chautauqua Park.

About two weeks after arriving in Boulder, Shane noticed that he was having a tough time falling asleep, every single night. This is not a typical pattern for Shane. He's a head hits the pillow and he's asleep kind of a guy. Very strange. But even stranger were the symptoms that developed soon after: nausea, digestion troubles, extreme fatigue, difficulty regulating temperature, night sweats, lack of appetite, food no longer tasted good. I didn't really believe him at first, instead I chalked it up to the stress of the previous weeks. After all, a cross country move, being a single dad for several weeks, starting a business.... all that adds up to some major life upheaval. I'm also from the school of, "tough it out and it will get better." But here's the thing, he never got better. My sweet husband went from the man who played multiple sports a day: swimming, soccer, tennis, road cycling, mountain biking, running, hiking, golf, kayaking, nada. He couldn't even muster the strength to complete more than one lap around the block. He had to lie down after adjusting each patient. He would sit in the house, head resting on a table, expressionless and silent. He alternated that with resting in bed or sitting. And, meanwhile, he was trying to help me with homeschooling the kids (I was running BORN doulas from afar and gearing up to start Part Deux in Boulder), taking care of his practice, and trying to be helpful around the house. Knowing what I know now, I marvel at the grit he had to press on through the physical misery. One day in April, Shane had a thought to call a mold specialist to test the house. The expert came and within a few days gave us the results---toxic mold present. His suggestion was to move out until the mold could be remediated. We left that day and spent a week in an Airbnb, then decided to return to CA to get Shane better. It had been a cold, arduous winter for Shane and he wanted sunshine, family, friends, and familiarity. I thought we would stay through the summer, get Shane healthy, and then decide whether to return to Boulder. After all, Shane had every classic symptom of mold toxicity and we could treat that. It would take time but we felt assured that he would heal and recover. So, at the end of April, we found ourselves packing up yet again (I don't recommend two moves in 4 months!) and returning to sunny CA. Shane had a blood draw and labs in early May. Our doctor alerted us to one suspiciously high number (alkaline phosphatase) and said the only time he's seen it that high was in a patient who had cancer (it's indicative of tissue damage). He recommended a CT scan ASAP. Shane obliged the next day, and two days later we had the results. Not what we wanted to hear.

1. Innumerable small tumors in his liver, plus an 8 and 9 cm tumor. 2. Possible adrenal tumor 3. Possible metastases in the bones (or it could be the other way round---metastatic to the liver)

The grief for me, upon hearing the news, was deep and almost paralyzing. In the days immediately following the scan Shane was also in a very low place physically (the very lowest he had been yet); his night sweats (also known as tumor sweats) and insomnia kept him from truly resting, a deep and pervasive cough made it difficult to speak, and he was barely eating or drinking. I began to wonder if he was dying before my eyes. The tears flowed freely and often for both of us, and the prayers were constant. And God was there. He offered His comfort and love and we made it through those first difficult days.

Today, a week and a half later, Shane is still exhausted and skinny (he's lost nearly 20 pounds in the past month) but he rarely coughs, with the help of medical marijuana he is eating again (though it's still a chore for him), and he is sleeping for longer stretches. All of his testing (bloodwork, liver biopsy, and more detailed PET scan) is complete and now we await an official diagnosis, then on to treatments whatever they may be!

Lest you think it's all been rough, I want you to know that tender mercies have abounded. Some examples:

  • As soon as we got the scan results I called my sister-in-law, Shannon, shared the news and we sobbed together. Once the crying subsided, I asked if we could send our children to her that very day. Within three hours the kids were on a train speeding toward Sacramento where they have been homeschooled, well-fed, and loved by the whole Draper family.

  • Literally two hours after Shane told me it would be comforting to have his mom here, I received a text from her telling me that she and his Dad would be arriving the next day. We are so happy/relieved/grateful to have them here with us. They've supported every need both physical and emotional for both Shane and I.

  • Shane's sisters, Melissa and Shannon, have visited already and brought so much love and cheer, and delicious carbs (always a necessity when times are hard).

  • The kids took the news splendidly, and though there were tears (I wish you could have seen Micah's eyes fill to the brim with tears before he finally let them spill over), within 20 minutes the littles were happily playing in the pool. The resilience of youth!

  • Friends have brought food, called, visited, and offered to fly here immediately and do anything and everything.

We are humbled and overwhelmed by the generosity.

Shane and I will continue to regularly update this blog and let you know what's happening.

xo Alicia

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