This week my daughter Katie and I attended a meeting at my local hospital called CLIMB (Children’s Lives Include Moments of Bravery).  The program is designed for children who have a parent or family member with cancer.  The program focuses on emotional support for the child by utilizing a group format.

Prior to my last scan, Janie and I noticed Katie’s behaviors changing surrounding the scan date.  We didn’t realize the change in behaviors were related to my scan.  Once we were able to connect the dots, we were shocked and worried.  We try to act “normal”, but Katie is very observant and can pick up on our stress.  Anabel is four years old and my sickness is all she knows and she’s unaware of the importance of scans.  Anabel believes everyone’s daddy goes to the doctor weekly and takes medicine.  She often tells me, “You put on lotion because of your boo-boos”.   She is aware I have boo-boos but can’t comprehend the severity of cancer.  However, Katie knows.

I am excited about Katie participating in this group, but I also feel guilty and sad.  As a parent, I want to protect her and Anabel from physical and emotional pain.  Seeing her emotionally hurt because she worries about me, crushes me.  I struggle with being the source of the problem.  I want to put them in a protective bubble.  The reality is, Katie and Anabel will have to learn to cope with my diagnosis and Katie is now riding the cancer roller coaster with Janie and me. Trying to look at this situation positively, I know personal growth comes from struggles and my children will learn to deal with adversity at a young age.

In the CLIMB group, I’m the “veteran” cancer patient.  Most of the participants are newly diagnosed and struggling with the reality of having cancer and raising kids.  My children were too young to participate when I was first diagnosed.  Katie, even though she’s the youngest in the group, is a “veteran” herself.  She’s seen me through colon surgery, brain surgery, five lung surgeries, multiple radiation treatments and chemo over the past four years.  Katie was telling me after the group, “most of the parents had only one surgery or none” and when it was her turn she told them about all my surgeries.  It’s funny because she was not acting as a victim, but was proud of all my treatments.  I explained to her that less is better in this circumstance, but honestly, I’m ok with her pride.  We talked about how through her own experiences, she can help others in the group.  So I believe the CLIMB program will be a great match for both of us.

Another example of the beauty of cancer was this past weekend.  My college roommate invited me to go to Dallas for the FCS National Championship football game in which James Madison University was playing.  After graduating from college, my college roommate and I drifted apart while we grew into our families and jobs.  Following my cancer diagnosis, we got back in touch.  The weekend and the game were awesome.  It was fun reliving our college days and talking about our current stage-of-life issues (i.e. having daughters and what are we going to do when they are teenagers?).  I was smiling and/or laughing the entire trip.  Thank you Yann Phung for helping me go on this trip.  I couldn’t have done it without you.  Thank you to Claiborne Johnston for organizing the suite and orchestrating an awesome day.

This weekend is the four-year anniversary of my diagnosis.  I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without God, all of your prayers, support, and your acts of kindness.  Keep them coming because on Monday the 23rd I have my body scan and get the results on Tuesday the 24th.


Yann, me and Craig enjoying the JMU victory



Me with the only five time Super Bowl Champion and JMU alum, Charles Haley



Celebrating the JMU victory

19 Responses to Climb

  1. Mary Birkhead says:

    Thanks for the update, Kevin! You are inspirational to all those around you and especially to your family. Your daughters, and all of us, learn so much from your example and your positive attitude. You will be in my thoughts and prayers on the 23rd and 24th. Sending love and hugs to all! Maridy


    • weinkp1 says:

      Thanks Maridy. Looks like you and the girls had a great time in Tucson. We’re all 40 now. I remember driving to your home in Middle Plantation as it was yesterday.

  2. Tina Krisak says:

    Mom told me today about the scan on Monday so I have already doubled up on the prayers. I will also ask Our Blessed Mother to keep watch on your daughters, especially Katie. Tina

  3. Sarah says:

    “I know personal growth comes from struggles and my children will learn to deal with adversity at a young age.”
    When you feel guilty and sad, remind yourself of this.
    ALL kids have to cope with less-than-perfect lives, in some form. It’s not our job as parents to shelter them from reality, but to guide them in how to deal with it. Your daughters will be stronger and more empathetic because of the way you and Janie have raised them throughout the process.

  4. sutimes2 says:

    Kevin, off on Saturday for 2 wks in deep Caribbean but our deepest thoughts/prayers r w u on the 23rd.  YOU are the very vessel that Christ has given  to demonstrate His message of hope, love and eternal life.  Praise His Name for Katie having been given His grace in not only following you thru this journey but His grace as ONLY His child can understand.  It takes a special child of God to not only participate but in child like image to understand even those things that as adults we struggle with.  I go away knowing you will beat all odds, my faith remains steadfast lo these many, many years.  Peace be with you all.

    Sent from my Verizon 4G LTE smartphone

  5. Mike Capehart says:

    I just referred a friend who’s mother was recently diagnosed to your blog. In doing so, for whatever reason, I went back and read your first few posts. This, from your first entry, jumped out at me: “That experience has led to the creation of this blog where hope, inspiration and positivity are the things I want to share with others.” Thank you. Well done.

    • weinkp1 says:

      Thanks Cape. If needed, feel free to give her my number. Hope you and the fam. are doing well. We would love to make a trip to Richmond sometime this Spring.

  6. Julia Strain says:

    Kevin, you are so awesome. Your post brought tears to my eyes….you have a special relationship with your girls that would not have happened without your experiences. You have a beautiful story to tell…..and thanks for sharing. Thanks for your strength and hope…..I will double up on prayers that your scan will be clear. God Bless all of you.

  7. Mary Benson says:

    No words for your bravery! I wonder if you realize the positive impact you have made on so many people. You are such an amazing witness to us all. Your girls will continue to grow into very special people because of your wonderful example to them. Praying for you always, and especially on Monday and Tuesday. Love to you and yours!

  8. Mary Benson says:

    One more thing. Katherine has a friend who was just diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. She has four girls. I hope Katherine will put her in touch with your blog. Her name is Jenn.

    • weinkp1 says:

      Thanks Mary. Please tell Katherine I would enjoy talking or corresponding with her friend. Gerrit has my contact information. Hope you and Big G are doing well.

  9. Lori and Family says:

    Kevin you are an amazing young man – you are in my thought and prayers daily! you are an inspiration to everyone……..praying hard for positive results. xxxx

  10. Elisabeth Gallaher says:

    Kevin you are a beacon of light and hope for so many people. Katie sees that and that is why she is proud of you. She has become a beacon of light and hope for others because of her experiences. Your story has become part of both your girl’s stories None of us knows what God’s plan is for us. Be assured that God has Katie and Anabel in his embrace so no harm will come to them. Cancer is such a horrible disease it is hard to see the positives that can come from it. Taking the trips to Europe with Jamie and then the whole family as well as your trip to Dallas with your college roommate are that much more precious because you have learned the secret to great life, live within the moment and celebrate the joy of every moment. Thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family for this upcoming test.

    • weinkp1 says:

      Thank you for such beautiful words Elisabeth. You know through your own experiences how cancer can impact a family. I love reading the words “God has Katie and Anabel in his embrace”. I hope you’re recovery is going well. God bless.

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