Sunday, May 3, 2009

A little help from our friends

One can never really plan for a life changing event, one that involves your partner, lover, best friend being diagnosed with cancer. You always think it is something that happens to other people, but that it will never happen to you. In my case, I never in a million years thought that something like this would happen to Chuck. Chuck has always been the healthy one, the one that everyone else can lean on - our rock, or as I lovingly call him, my ox. So I was very unprepared for this diagnosis. Working so closely with the animals at Farm Sanctuary, Chuck and I are very familiar with life, death and illness. We have nursed countless animals back to health, like our precious little goats Summer and Skye, and have provided hospice care for others, like our beloved baby lamb Joy, who passed on before we were ready to say goodbye. So Chuck and I are probably more familiar with life and death than the average person. Yet Chuck's diagnosis caught us all off guard, and took our breath away. But through it all, we have been able to stay strong, thanks to the love and support of our family and friends. Tonight, I would like to write a few words about some very special people.

On the night of March 23rd I rushed Chuck to the hospital just after midnight. At first they feared that he was having a stroke, or that a blood vessel had burst in his brain. They then performed a CT scan, and we learned that he had a massive brain tumor. It was a frantic, terrifying time, and I felt like I was underwater or in a dream. I was all alone and knew I needed someone with me - so I called our dear friend Susie, who also happens to be Chuck's boss at Farm Sanctuary. She rushed to be by our side and spent the night with us in the ER and ICU, helping me to comfort Chuck, and to give me a shoulder to cry on. She was my guardian angel that night, and is the reason I was able to stay so strong for Chuck. In the morning I wrote down notes on scraps of paper for her, instructions on how to feed and care for our 19 animals at home. She drove out to our house, fed our dogs, cats, chickens, turkeys and goats - and made sure that they were comfortable and taken care of. She then came back to the hospital to sit with us. Susie has always been an incredible friend and mentor to me and Chuck, and this experience has tightened our bond even more. We love you Susie.

While Chuck was in various hospitals and we had to be away from home, our other close friends Karen and Chris came to our house daily to care for our animals, and to give them extra special love and attention. We were able to sleep at night knowing that our critters were safe, happy and loved, which was such a gift. After Chuck came home from his first operation, Karen and Chris had lovingly filled our fridge with groceries and had a delicious pot of soup waiting for us on the stove. We could have never done it without you ladies, and are forever grateful for your help and support. We love you Karen and Chris.

Our good friends Natalie and Bryce have supported us in so many ways - Natalie has been helping me with work so much, and Bryce has been helping me with my various computer issues... but more than that, they have been there for us since day one - helping Jenn and Casey get our house and barn in order, bringing comedy CD's for Chuck to listen to in the hospital, and welcoming our beloved chickens Mama, Feather, Messy and Moxie into their home. Thank you so much for everything Natalie and Bryce, we love you guys.

At Farm Sanctuary we are like a big family - and never before has this been more clear to me. The farm has been so incredibly supportive of both me and Chuck, and we are so thankful for everything that they have done for us. I especially am thankful for the support and love I have received from my team - they have made this stressful time easier to bear, and have all helped to lighten my burden. So thanks to all of my friends and colleagues at Farm Sanctuary, and especially to my staff, who has been holding everything together in my absence - thank you from the bottom of my heart Annie, Shannon and Zoe. And to Samantha, for all of the love and support you have shown to us.

And now I come to two very special people, the kind of friends most people only dream of having. Never in my life have I met two people who are as giving and compassionate as this couple - they have completely rocked our world, and have kept Chuck and me afloat during this difficult time. Jenn and Casey have sacrificed so much for us - they have cleaned our house, taken care of our animals, made our meals, acted as our "secretaries", slept on the couch with our dogs, you name it, they have taken care of it for us. And now they are planning on walking 300 miles for Chuck, which is the ultimate show of love and devotion.
Jenn and Casey - we owe everything to you, and love you both so much.

And I can't leave out our family - the love and support they have shown us knows no bounds. They have sacrificed for us, cried with us, laughed with us, and loved us beyond reason. We love you all more than life itself.

Finally, I want to thank every single one of you - for reading Chuck's blog, for your support, and for caring. We could not do it without you.


  1. You're a rock star, Jen! It is an honor to be able to help you guys in any and every way we can. We love you!

  2. The love you two show for each other and express so freely to others makes my heart sing (and my eyes leak - every damn time I read your postings even if I've read it before). You are very special people and I am honored to know you.

  3. We would all do much, much more if we could. And we will do anything and everything that we can. You take care of Chuck, and we'll keep you both sane with our love and support. :)


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