September 3rd – September 13

The last 4 years have been an amazing journey.  Kat and I got married 3 years ago in a small ceremony with my Mom Charlene, brother Joe, my niece Sarah and Jan and2014-08-22 13.16.55 Albert my sister and brother-in-law.  We surprised everyone with a secret ceremony set up in advance with the help of the Staff at Treyton Oaks, the place my Mom lives.  The family thought it was a tour until we went into the dining room and Brian Ebel, Joe and Mom’s minister, was standing in the room.  Jan and Albert were transformed into the best man and maid of honor and the rest is history.  It was a lavish affair with the rehearsal dinner held at White Castle, for you southerners that’s the northern version of Krystal, and an exciting afternoon of zip lining in the Mega Cavern. The cavern is an old underground limestone cavern that has about 15 mines of arteries under a suburb of the city – very cool! And dinner at Café Lou Lou provided by my long term brother and friend Coleman Hulette.  Kat and I have explored, paddled, put on roofs, taken classes, raise children, laughed, cried, struggled and triumphed.  God blessed me when he put this woman in my life.

Okay, so we left off at Labor Day.  The following Tuesday the 3 of us sat with Doc Ilene and discussed the diagnosis and possible treatment and she was in agreement and hopeful.  I felt pretty good until she ended the appointment with a flu shot to help protect me during treatment.  The surgery with Dr. Moy was scheduled for Wednesday September 13th with a pre-op exam on that Friday the 8th.

Oh by the way….that was the weekend that a chick named Irma came to party!  We spent Friday afternoon burning the burn piles from Matthew and getting the house ready for 2017-09-24 16.57.08the storm.  Jan and Albert had previously scheduled a trip to New York so we ended up with Finn the wonder dog and the three of us settled in for a stormy weekend.  Finn is the ultimate ball chaser and we laughed our asses off Sunday as he chased the ball through 8 inches of rain!

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Monday morning, we lost power about 2am and were awakened at 6 am by our Sister-In-Love Amy McCall and her husband Keoni Switzer.  Their house off Halsema Road had flooded from McGirk’s creek and when they left the bathroom was 4 feet deep and the rest of the house was about a foot deep.  They had their 4 dogs a great dane Kalua, golden doodle Koda, presa canario Lena and a pres -doodle mix, Tonka not to mention Lucy the pig!  We ended up with another 7 inches of rain that night bringing the total to 15 inches.  Monday Keoni and I spent the day moving 3 horses and a 700-pound pig to a dry farm and gathering up some of their belongings.

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McSwitzer House

We ended the day bumming showers and handing off Finn to Will, Jan’s son to get him out of the kennel because we had no power and our house that means no water due to the well.  It was a comical couple of days, Tuesday our friend and lawn guy Tony Twing, got power and gave us his generator to use and as a result didn’t lose the refrigerator and freezer.  It was kinda nice being disconnected living on the patio with friends enjoying the sounds of nature if you

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Our Yard

could ignore the hum of the generator.  Phone calls were exchanged, friends checking on each other and help was given and received. It was heartwarming to see people coming together to help each other any way they could.  Generators showed up, Keoni and Amy got loaned a 5th wheel, trees were cut up, animals sheltered, families fed, love and caring were shown by most.  Kat and I are so blessed to be surrounded by a community of friends who truly care about each other.

Wednesday morning came before we knew it, so we packed up and headed to Jan’s to clean up before surgery.  While we were there Dr. Terk called to check on me and to schedule a consultation after we got the results from the biopsy. The biopsy went well, hell I guess it did I was so whacked out I barely knew who I was!  Dr. Moy took 20 biopsies from the tonsil area and base of the tongue.  Afterwards, Kat dropped me off at my sister’s house, who had power, under the care of Will my nephew and Jessa his wife the nurse.   Friends and neighbors, it only took one night under the influence of severe pain killers to bring me back to the reality of why I surrendered my right to consume alcohol 19 years ago.  I wanted to drive, make drunk phone calls, and eat ramen noodles and peanut butter.  I jabbered incessantly and probably drove Will and Jessa to drink!  They did admit the next morning that I was pretty comical, but I don’t miss it one bit!   Oh, and by the way I found out my wife was having me held hostage until we got power and she got things picked up because she knows me so much!  Told you I love that girl!

LESSON OF THE DAY – Thank you is a perfect response, nothing else is needed.

Author: Don

Hi my name is Don Penny I am a professional woodturner in Jacksonville, FL. I was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic squamous cell carcinoma in 3 lymph nodes and the base of the tongue and this is my story of day to day life while fighting cancer.

8 thoughts on “September 3rd – September 13”

  1. Hi Don, we both really enjoyed reading your blog! Larry says “hey, he is a really good writer” Have you started any treatment yet?


  2. Don,
    Love You Brother! I write this with tears in my eyes, because I know you are blessed with a god of your understanding! He gives you grace, strength, peace and humor beyond your human abilities. I pray for you every day.


    1. Thank you my friend. God brought this to me and He will bring me through it, and I know that something wonderful will come from the journey. Love you and having you in my life!


  3. Sir Don Penny; thank you for lighting up my life. I have spend some time semi- retired from work due to retinal detachment surgery, cataract lens replacement and second surgery on same right eye. You blog has kept me optimist and positive that I will get well.
    Thank you


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