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Some Personal News and Giveaway Winners

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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Some Personal News and Giveaway Winners

This has been a long week. My father-in-law was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a few weeks ago and this past Thursday he had surgery to remove it. Thankfully, the tumor was located in the head of the pancreas which allows for a surgical procedure known as the Whipple. Without boring everyone with the gory details, it's an amazing operation that basically rewires the entire digestive system removing parts of the pancreas, stomach, and small intestine. For patients lucky enough to catch the cancer before it spreads, the Whipple is a life saving operation.

From my daughter's Christening.
I've spent most of the last four days at Johns Hopkins. I can't explain how blessed we feel to live 45 minutes from the hospital where this surgery was perfected. Dr. John Cameron, the man responsible for it, has done 2,000 of them himself. For a cancer as rare as this, that's a mind numbing total. Considering my father-in-law's surgery took nearly eight hours from start to finish, you can appreciate how staggering that figure is.

The truth is we won't know how successful it was for some time, but the doctors are optimistic they were able to remove all the cancerous tissue. My father-in-law is already up and walking, doing his best to recover quickly. Nevertheless, he'll be undergoing chemotherapy and radiation starting in a month or so, to give him the best chance of winning the battle. 

He's sixty years old, relatively young in today's medical age. It seems so unfair to strike a man so fundamentally good. He immigrated from Colombia when he was 18. Worked two jobs most of his life to support his family and put both his children through college. He graduated from college himself two years ago. I don't know that I've been prouder of someone. He's been my daughter's primary caretaker since the end of my wife's maternity leave and he's teaching her to become as good a person as he is. Something she's already trying to pay him back for.

I write this mostly as an exercise in reminding others, and myself, of life's fragility. We don't have nearly long enough, and too often we don't say the things we need to say to those we love until it's too late. My own father is sixty himself, and I can't imagine losing him. It's hard to even write it. It's a sappy reason, but I think it's a good one.

I also write it to remind everyone of the importance of early detection. My mother is a breast cancer survivor largely because she never missed a mammogram (she was only 45 when diagnosed). And now my father-in-law has a chance to survive one of the deadliest forms of cancer because he went to see someone at the first sign of stomach pain. So let's all try to be a little better about never missing our annual exams. I can't spare the readers.


On a brighter note, as if anything wouldn't be brighter, I've got some giveaway winners to announce! Last month I hosted a giveaway for a copy of G.J. Koch's Alexander Outland: Space Pirate. I'm happy to announce the winner of that is:

Eric Schwartz, Kentucky, USA

I also have the winners from the awesome giveaway of two full sets of David Anthony Durham's Acacia Trilogy courtesy of Random House. The winners are:

 Susan Meek, Oklahoma, USA
Andrew Stewart, Virginia, USA

Thanks to everyone who participated. Stay tuned next month because I've got some huge stuff planned that's hopefully going to knock your socks off.

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At June 24, 2012 at 5:57 PM , Blogger RobB said...

Very glad to hear the rough week ended on what seems to be good news.

BTW, great looking family.

At June 24, 2012 at 6:05 PM , Anonymous Tim said...

What a wonderful post. Thank you for the reminder to live life to the fullest and to let those you love know how you feel.

At June 24, 2012 at 8:15 PM , Blogger Barbara E. said...

All the best to your father-in-law for a full recovery. Thanks for the reminder that we should never ignore those little things that tell us that something is not quite right, better to check it out and make sure. The sooner we catch something, the better the chances of treatment and recovery.

At June 24, 2012 at 11:21 PM , Anonymous Jared said...

As above - all the best to your father-in-law and your whole family.

At June 25, 2012 at 12:44 AM , Blogger Mieneke van der Salm said...

I'll join in with the others, all the best to your father-in-law and your family. And I do have to say, your daughter is such a cutie!!

At June 25, 2012 at 6:05 AM , Anonymous Brad Beaulieu said...

Sorry to hear this news, but I'm glad things are looking up. Wonderful pictures above. It looks like you have a great family there, Justin. Best of luck to your father-in-law as he recovers fully.

At June 25, 2012 at 8:26 AM , Blogger Courtney Schafer said...

Hope your father-in-law recovers quickly and the docs give the wonderful "cancer-free" verdict. And thanks for the reminder on treasuring both life and loved ones - it's so terribly easy to take things for granted.

On the family pic, I admit my first thought was: "Good God, is Justin really that tall?" :)

At June 25, 2012 at 8:27 AM , Blogger Justin said...

I actually married into a Colombian family solely to appear this tall at all times.

At June 25, 2012 at 10:19 AM , Anonymous Jeff Salyards said...

Smart move!

Wishing all the best for your father-in-law--here's hoping for a speedy and full recovery.

And I agree, those are some fantastic pictures.

At June 26, 2012 at 12:05 PM , Blogger Emma said...

All the best to your father-in-law Justin - I hope he's well on the road to recovery soon.

At June 27, 2012 at 8:52 AM , Blogger Mazarkis Williams said...

All the best to your father in law. I'm glad to hear the outlook is so positive.


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