Chemo round 3 and other notes

Greetings from (finally) sunny and warm Alabama.

Today was supposed to begin another round f chemo, and mom and I went to the hospital fully prepared to tackle round #3.

Unfortunately, mom’s platelet count had other ideas.  In order to administer the chemo, her count had to be in excess of 100, but she came in a little too low, so they called chemo off.

Mom pressed the doctor if he had any idea for the reason behind the drop in platelet’s, to which he replied with a good natured chuckle.

“Yeah, I have a pretty good idea.  You’re on an incredibly intense dose of chemo, which can cause a couple of side effects.”

I was captivated while listening to Dr. Cameron explain different stats, readings, and medical jargon today.  He noted that he put mom on an incredibly vigorous round of chemo, one which he rarely uses on any patient.  He clearly saw the fight and the will inside of her and told us, “I decided to try this round of chemo on you, because you’re a marathoner* and I think you’ll be able to fight through it better than a lot.”

(*- OK, so Mom’s not quite a marathoner, but we’ve made an important family level decision to not try to correct the oncologist if he wants to comment on how tough he thinks mom is.  And let’s be honest,… even though she’s never run 26.2 miles, does anyone here think she couldn’t if she wanted to??)

With the low platelet’s throwing a wrench into the plans, we went home with mixed feelings.  Mom hates this chemo and was somewhat glad to avoid it today, but she had also geared herself up for the fight.  She was fully prepped for a battle which never came to fruition, and I think anyone can understand the sense of mixed blessings.

Mom and Dad got together tonight for their ritual with 8 new cards waiting in the mailbox to open and read together.  I took a stealth picture of the ritual tonight, and if a regular picture is worth a thousand words, this is worth the dictionary:


A couple notes before I sign off:

I know a lot of folks have emailed me with stickers, pictures or just generally supportive messages.  First of all, THANK YOU!  Secondly, I do apologize for not responding, but I’ve been spending as much time with mom this week as possible.  I will be getting to everything in the next few days.

We’ve blown through 150 stickers so far, so another order has been happily placed to make sure we get NSH out everywhere we can.  I’ll be sending out another batch when the order is in, so stay patient with me while we wait for another round.

Along those lines, there will be another post of pictures in cool places, so please don’t think they’re being ignored.

Thank you all again by the continued outpouring of support.  I’ve witnessed first hand how much an email, sticker or card means to her.  She continues to feed off the positive energy we see constantly, and we continue to need all the help we can get there.

Till tomorrow.


This is awesome!

The Breton/Sampietro clan are fully behind Team Nan Hinds…”Fight Like Hell!”

Love the support, guys.  It’s pictures like this that keep mom going.  It’s not always easy, but with more support and inspiration like this, she’s determined to live up her motto.

Thank you all.



The Basket of Cards

It’s been an interesting weekend in Daphne, Alabama and I have plenty of thoughts, observations and realizations that I’m sure I’ll talk about in the days and weeks to come.

I was fortunate to watch one specific event today which will stick with me for a long time.  In yet another overwhelming display of the love and support Mom and Dad have seen, I witnessed what’s become their daily tradition.  Every day, mom and dad are receiving cards and packages from across the country; from immediate family and distant relatives, from friends old and new, and co-workers from Bowdoinham Community School, BIW, General Dynamics, and Austal.

The two have worked out a very familiar routine, where dad carefully opens each envelope with his new letter opener, removes the card and hands it to Mom without ever revealing the sender.  Mom will begin to read the card as long as she can, and when emotion overtakes her, dad deftly picks up without skipping a beat or stepping over her while she tries her damndest to read the whole thing without starting to cry.  They read every word of every card, whether printed by Hallmark or written by the sender.  Mom finishes up by reading the signature, and the two will share a moment of reflection thinking about the card, the message and the sender.  There’s a level of unspoken tenderness shared between them in this moment which is truly touching to see, and an inspiring level of silent affection for a relative newlywed to aspire toward in his own marriage.

I was assigned the task of putting the cards back into the envelopes today, which was just a terrible choice for mom and dad to make.  Offensive lineman, and wannabe amateur boxers should not be assigned tasks requiring any level of fine motor skills!  Once Dad took over and put the cards back into the envelopes, they were neatly stacked and placed into the basket of cards pictured above, which is rapidly running out of real estate (but don’t stop sending, I’ll buy them a bigger basket!).

Every word of every card has been seen, read and genuinely appreciated by both Mom and Dad.  Your continued words of support, encouragement and love lift them on a daily basis.

Thank you all for helping to get everyone through this process, as the support from our ever growing network inspires us on every day.


More pictures (and keep em coming!)


I’m blown away by the awesome emails coming in showing the NSH stickers in various places.  People have taken the charge and come up with some fantastic places to show their support for mom.

I’ve put some of mine on three of the most important things I use on a daily basis:

My coffee cup,

My gym locker, and…

… the title belt I use to mock my boxing sparring partner.

Others have found creative places for the NSH patch.

Uncle Dan put his in an inspirational place:

This poster hangs in my office where I spend part of my day talking with God, and He with me.  Today, I added this sticker to this poster as a reminder to talk to God about Nan.  Not that I needed a reminder, but I figured God might like to see it.”

Bill and Mary Farrabee placed one on their car right next to a Superman logo, which I think fits perfectly for Nan

And finally, we got this picture from Lesley McMillan.  I’ll let her explain:

“I haven’t been able to check out the teamnsh site till today and I don’t have a sticker so I made one!  I had foot surgery last week I’m ready to get walking again and toss these crutches away!!  Maybe this silly photo will give your Mom a chuckle. I just want you all to know my support is 100% with teamnsh!!! I wish I could be there in person to be with your Mom but even from a distance love and prayers are being offered up and sent across the miles. She has been such an incredible support to me over these past 8+ years even though for much of that time many miles, up to half a world away, have been between us but it hasn’t changed the love I have for her. Whenever we get together the time and distance is melted away. I love her so much!  Love the site, the updates, photos and stories!”


Thank you all for the support.  Keep those pictures coming, as I know mom gets a kick out of seeing them.


Off week

This is a bye week for mom.  No chemo till next Monday and we hope for smooth sailing.  I’m flying down to see her Friday, and am excited to spend a non-chemo weekend with her.  Her counts are all up from last week, and according to dad, her white blood cells are “squarely in the normal range.”

Mom’s fighting like hell, and is certainly holding up to her reputation as a fighter with a never say die attitude.  It hasn’t always been easy, and she’s certainly had her moments where the battle is overwhelming, but she continues to come through the other side shining.

Mom, you’re a rock star.  Everyone is proud of you and continue to be blown away by your spirit, determination and resiliency.  You have a team behind you, who are now proudly displaying their support with stickers in some awesome places.

Pictures have started in, so I’ll put a couple in the posts for a while:

From one of my closest friends, and long time Nan Hinds fan, Cogswell:

“I put the sticker next to my most prized possession at work, my Schrutebuck!”


I got a great picture today from Yasmin Sanders, who works with Dad on the LCS project:

“I proudly placed my NSH sticker on my work hard hat to show support for Nan. I am fighting through bladder cancer now with my mom and I know this is difficult. But as I have told Dave, if you feel like you are going through hell….keep going…”

Great, great quote at the end from Yasmin, and great spirit overall.  Love the support.


We’ll continue posting pictures to show just how far her network of support extends.  Keep em comin, folks,

Thank you again… your support means the world to all of us,



Learning to Park

It hasn’t been the easiest weekend of all time for mom, so I figure now is the perfect time to share a funny mom story.

I’ve been wanting to find a way to get a perspective from Gram (mom’s mom) on here, and fortunately found a vehicle to do so (and yes, pun intended).  Thanks to Kim for getting and passing along this story from Gram…


When Mom was first learning to drive, she decided to practice by backing the car in and out of the garage; a good move for anyone looking to refine their driving skills.

The only problem there, is that her aim was just a little bit off.

Time after time after time.

Mom proceeded to hit the garage repeatedly in her best effort to get the family vehicle all the way inside.  Undeterred by minor body damage, or the threat of completely taking out the entire garage door opening, mom persevered through.  It took a few trips in and out of reverse before she finally successfully parked it, but she never gave up.  She triumphantly came into the house announcing that she had parked the car (though I’m guessing she chose to omit the part about almost destroying the garage).

To this day, Gram says she cringes when she hears that mom is out driving, knowing at the end of the trip she’ll probably have to pull into the garage.

All joking aside, it’s another shining example of mom’s refusal to give up, and her insistence on overcoming obstacles (or maybe driving through obstacles).


One final note to anyone who emailed for stickers:  They have been dropped in the mailbox and will go out tomorrow (Monday) morning.  Sorry for the delay, but they should be in your hands soon!



Bear Bryant


Scott sent this picture today with the following quote:

“When your house burns down and your wife runs off with the drummer and you’ve lost your job and all the odds are against you, what are you gonna do? Most people just lay down and quit. Well, I want my people to fight back” – :Bear Bryant.

That’s why I’m wearing the houndstooth. Consider us Bear’s people

– Scott
Dad got the same email and chimed in himself:

My explanation:
Bear Bryant was the Alabama football coach for decades and he always wore a houndstooth hat during games. In this part of the country, wearing houndstooth plaid represents Bear Bryant and more importantly his spirit. When Scott was here he bought a houndstooth cap and that is the significance of Mom wearing a houndstooth scarf with her Fight Like Hell tee shirt.
Mom was feeling better today.  She woke up to two glasses of OJ and an instant breakfast.  A few minutes later, she took a try at a blueberry muffin, and is definitely on the rebound. I spoke with her tonight, and she said that after breakfast, she felt a switch flip around noon and things have been even better since.   Tonight’s inspiration from a woman less than a day removed from 48 hours of chemo was this quote:

“If I can feel like this every time after chemo, you’ll never hear a complaint out of me again.”

She’s a tough chick.

Stand By You

For those that don’t know, I was lucky enough to marry my girlfriend of 6+ years this September.  Mom had very, very few requests leading up to the wedding, though I insisted that she had to choose the soundtrack to our mother-son dance.

She knew very quickly that she wanted to dance to I’ll Stand By You, by The Pretenders.  She ultimately settled on dancing to the Carrie Underwood version, thus breaking my only rule with the DJ, of “No County.”

I’ll admit that at first, I questioned the decision.  I didn’t love the song, and I really didn’t love the artist, but I told her it was her call, and I wasn’t about to turn back on that offer.  I listened to the song a few times, but never really put a whole lot of thought into why she’d chosen this song… I mean if she wanted a mid 90’s song, it should have been Jovi or Pearl Jam…

Now, I’ve done plenty of dumb things in my 30 years on this planet, and  yet I still didn’t quite get the significance of this song till recently.  She truly has stood by me even when my decisions are inexplicable.  She’s stood by me (albeit with eyes fully rolled) when I entered a high school talent show acting out a WWE wrestling skit involving me getting thrown off a stage and through a table.  And 13 years later, nothing has changed except that she continues to stand by me while I’m determined to enter a sanctioned boxing match.

She’s stood by me at my lowest, she’s stood by me at my best;  though I think what’s most amazing is that she’s stood by me when I’m in between.  She hasn’t just been there when I’ve needed her…. she’s always been there.  She’s there to let me bitch about the mundane of an everyday insurance job, or to really get ramped up about the Red Sox refusing to sign Roy Oswalt.  She’s there far, far more than my peaks and valleys, and that’s the most incredible thing about her.

This is one of my favorite pictures from our wedding last September and I think sums up our relationship until that point.

There I am, full cackle enjoying the endearing yet amusing emotions of a mother on her younger son’s wedding day, while mom takes it all in without giving me a well deserved dope slap upside the head.  With quiet confidence, she continued on enjoying a moment that was truly special to her without letting my somewhat misplaced chuckle steal her moment.

I didn’t get the song last fall, but it now resonates with me in a way now that I wish it had on September 4, 2011.

It’s now our turn, mom, and we will all stand by you.


The infusion pump came out today, and much like anyone would expect, she’s having a rough night.  I think 48 hours of straight chemo would knock anyone for a loop.  Last check she felt better than she did on the Wednesday night after round 1, and she’s determined to get through this round ahead of the last.  Keep her in your thoughts tonight as she could use all the well wishes and prayers we can muster.

Till tomorrow,….



Mom Fights Back

There’s nothing quite like getting off a difficult phone call at work to an email from dad with the subject line of:

Mom Fights Back

From Dad:

Here is Mom this morning in her Fight Like Hell shirt and her Bear Bryant houndstooth scarf. You can also see her pump in the fanny pack and the tube delivering chemo running through the neck of her shirt. This is one tough lady. -Dad

The scarf is a new addition given to her by the nurse inspired by mom’s shirt yesterday, proving  yet again that even strangers are immediately drawn to the inspiration she continues to bring so many of us.  While she continues to pretend that she couldn’t possibly inspire anyone, her influence is expanding.  This is a woman with supporters in Alabama, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Australia, and eight towns and communities in Maine.  She’s a woman who influenced the lives of children for her entire career, yet still denies the ability to inspire anyone.  This is a woman who brought various nurses (who see pain and disease for a living) to tears with her strength and determination… yet she doesn’t see anything special about what she’s doing.

Even if she doesn’t believe it, it’s true and every person reading this post besides her is nodding their head in agreement.

The infusion pump comes out tomorrow, which will officially put round 2 of chemo in the rearview mirror, and onto 10 days of well deserved chemo-freedom.


I’ve begun getting in some pictures of the NSH stickers in and on various locations.  I’ll be getting them together to create one, long running repository of the sticker images.  We’ve seen one hanging on a cubicle wall in Boston, and another stuck onto someone’s daily travel mug.  I have one of mine on the back of my Trailblazer, and another on  one of my boxing gloves (which is ironic considering how much she hates me boxing…).  I think this is going to be fun to see some of the various cities and towns, and different items these stickers are put on as a constant show of respect and support.  When you put yours up, send them over to and I’m going to put them up here.

Hot Dogs & Rocky

After a long day of chemo, how would you spend your evening?

Well, if you’re Nan, the answer is simple:

A Hot Dog & Chips.  Too bad it wasn’t a red hot dog because we all know those are her favorite.

While she’s definitely hurting some, Monday’s dinner selection would seem to indicate that the debilitating nausea from round 1 has subsided to an extent.  Dad has relayed that the doctors and nurses at both Thomas Hospital and University of South Alabama Mitchell Cancer Institute are blown away by her response thus far, specifically her white blood cell count for someone going through chemo.  Nan Hinds refuses to stay down long.

Mom’s refusal to stay down on the mat has me thinking boxing movies right now.  And while most of you probably rightfully skipped out on seeing the most recent permutation of Rocky, in Rocky Balboa, I was reminded of one specific speech in the movie that may have made by $9.50 worth it.  (Feel free to skip to the 1:00 mark)