Eventful week: Sold house, new job, new surgery

Wow, what a week.

As discussed here, Amanda and I are heading to London, Ontario to be near family and pursue treatment. We know ovarian cancer will end her life, and we want to be around the greatest support. Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto also has more clinical trials available in the event the current trial proves unsuccessful in holding back the growth of her tumors.

Just a few of the improvements visible from outside.
Our realtor came on the long weekend to take pictures of the house. It was listed on Monday. Monday night, the agent called to say we had a viewing scheduled for Tuesday morning. We reviewed an offer on Tuesday evening and wrote up a counter. Before we even got to bed, the buyer agreed to terms and we had a deal. Now it's down to conditions and we head toward a closing date near the end of May.

Yes, the house sold in one day. There wasn't even time to put a sign on the lawn.

We were afraid of a long process, as we'd bought the least expensive house on the street and listed it five years later as the most expensive house on the street. The house across the street sat on the market for months.

It looks like all the hard work we put into improving the home has paid off. Really, aside from the downstairs bathroom, every room in the house has undergone significant improvements since we moved in. We put a lot of love into this place. Amanda had the vision. We both did the work. It finally got to a point where the home had become what we'd hoped for -- and now it's sold.

Now comes the part where we have to pack, buy a new house and get two adults, a baby, two cats, houseplants and all our stuff across the country without anything or anything getting lost or broken. I honestly can't wrap my head around how we're going to get all that done in just a few weeks.

Going to Ontario means I also had to find work.

I've spent twenty years with Rogers Broadcasting -- 12 in Toronto at 680News and eight here in Halifax at News95.7. Rogers has been good to me, and I've been good to Rogers. I've had the opportunity to explore the medium. I've learned so much. Two decades is a long time, so I was reluctant to leave. Unfortunately, Rogers does not have a lot of radio properties in London. There wasn't anything for me to do, so I had to look elsewhere.

At the same time, an opening was posted at the Bell Media news-talk station, NewsTalk 1290 CJBK. They were looking for a Program Director. People who know me professionally encouraged me to pursue it. I knew it would be a challenge, but I've reached a point in my career where big challenges were becoming fewer. I applied, interviewed, and this week we agreed on terms. So, I'll be the new PD at CJBK in London.

I'm looking forward to meeting the team and learning all about what makes each of the hosts go, so we can all work together to drive the station's success. News-Talk radio is one of the remaining shining spots on the radio dial, and it's going to be exciting to work with another group of smart, talented people who want a big audience.

I start at CJBK on May 19. My last day on air in Halifax will be in early May.

Then my car started stinking like gasoline and making crunching noises, so I had to take it into the shop. It needs a new gas tank, left front wheel bearing, belts.... $1200. BAH. It's going to take several days.

Amanda had a minor surgery yesterday to help her get chemotherapy with less difficulty. Her veins are messed up from all the chemo last year, and now she's in for up to three doses in a week on the current clinical trial. They've had to poke her up to three or four times to find a usable vein. Yesterday she had a port-a-cath implanted near her collarbone. One end has a reservoir that's buried in the chest muscle. That feeds a catheter that's threaded nearly all the way to her heart. So, instead of digging around for a vein in her arm, they'll numb the skin with some cream and jab the port-a-cath to deliver the drugs. That should save wear and tear on her arms.

Also this week, I learned that the Twin City Wrestling TV series I produced for Eastlink will be airing starting May 22. Very exciting, but I won't be here to see it! Details on the Halifax Wrestling blog.

So, in one week: Listed a house, sold a house; Got a brand new job, resigned from a place I've been for 20 years; Amanda has multiple doses of chemotherapy, Amanda has surgery to implant a device in her body; My car betrays me and forces me to take the bus in the rain.

Can't win 'em all, but I'd say we had an above-average week overall. The disturbing thing is that our life has been so crazy for so long that this almost feels normal. It's not.

There's so much "good news" in this that I'd love to tell you that we cracked the champagne, yelled and whooped and yee-hawed. Actually, we hugged and cried. This is not "climbing the house ladder" or "moving up the corporate food chain" at all. This is having to leave the place we love because someone is terminally ill.

As happy as some of these developments are, I feel like there's little room for joy. There's satisfaction and relief. My eyes are misty as I write this, because this is all a bunch of change we didn't seek.

I'm glad it's turning out well. I just wish it didn't have to happen. I miss our boring life.

Remember the Ancient Chinese Curse: "May you live in interesting times."

Thanks, everyone.

A good friend will be pounding the pavement to help us out

It's been an eventful few weeks.

Amanda's begun the new chemotherapy trial and the side effects haven't been too bad so far. Certainly not as pronounced as they were from the carbo-taxol combo last year. Her veins are pretty bad from all the chemo last time, so they've been having to poke her so many times to find a good place to infuse the drugs. Tomorrow she'll go in to have a port implanted near her collarbone, so the nurses will be able to just stick the needle there instead of having to fish around for the vein.

Amanda gets her first dose of the mystery drug....or a placebo.
There's some other big news that I'll hold back on for a bit, but it's good stuff. Not cancer stuff, but Big Life Stuff.

I want to tell you a bit about something some good friends of ours are doing.

We met Greg and Suzanne Morrow when Greg worked with me at News95.7. Greg's a talented broadcaster and one of those superbly nice guys everyone should get to know in their lifetime. The two of them have been welcoming and generous at every turn, the whole time we've known them, even as they've faced personal tragedies in their own lives.

A few years ago, they moved to another part of the province, but we've kept in touch.

Amanda and I have seen them every year when Greg has run the Bluenose Marathon. Every year, he says it's going to be his last time, but he keeps coming back to do it again. I don't know how he does it. Well, part of it, he says, is that each year he runs for someone close to him, usually someone who's died in the past year. Too many people in Greg's life have died.

This year, he's running for us. And he's raising money.

Greg talked about it on the radio station where he's News Director, 101.5 The Hawk:



We still feel kind of weird about fundraising. We're proud, hard-working people and have never felt like charity cases. But we know people really, really want to help, and this is one way for people to help. It's certainly not something we'd ever *ask* for, and we've even turned down some offers.

"Initially, this made Scott and I uncomfortable and honestly, it's still quite overwhelming," said Amanda on Facebook. "We've always been very independent and believe hard work pays off. My career has often had me working with people living in real poverty, unable to feed their families. So, to accept other people's monetary support is still very new and strange to us. We've opened a special bank account and have been setting all funds raised aside for Gordon, hoping we won't have to dip into it to fund the next year or so. My wish is that this fund will allow Scott and my family to further enrich Gordon's life with activities, travel, education, etc.."

Some great people have raised funds for us -- my co-workers had an event, Halifax photographer Shannon Bower and her clients have been overwhelmingly generous, a local cloth diapering group raised money last year, my sister Shannon has been doing a Tupperware fundraiser in Ontario ... and now our friends the Morrows are giving 'er.

We've stashed the funds in a savings account. Gordon's life is going to be different. His mom's going to die, probably before he's even able to talk. The money is intended to help give him some memorable experiences and round out his young life. We've been treating those funds with great respect. We know people have given with their heart.

I invite you to head to the Giv'er for the Simpsons Facebook page to read more from Greg.

We thank them, and you.

Happy birthday to Gordon, and good news for Amanda

Our little boy Gordon is now a year old. He continues to impress. We had a party for him on the weekend and lots of people came out to see him demolish and consume a cake. I think he's finally burned off all the sugar.

Scott Simpson, Gordon Simpson and Amanda Simpson on Gordon's first birthday.
Me, Gordon and Amanda at G's first birthday party.
In some much-needed good news for Amanda, she found out on the morning of G's birthday that she's been accepted into the clinical trial! She's in the PROCEED trial we wrote about here recently. This comes after an extended series of blood tests, CT scans, further imaging and a whole lot of anxious waiting.

CTV News reporter Amanda Debison met up with us yesterday to do a follow-up to the story they did about us last May. You can see the report about Gordon's birthday and Amanda's clinical trial at CTV News.

Thanks to everyone who's been helping, visiting, emailing and otherwise being awesome in recent weeks. We feel your support.

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