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Chamber Made Column
March 18, 2017

Seeing the True Heart and Kindness of the Kingdom

For a person who has penned thousands of articles and hundreds of columns in my time, the piece I am about to write is the hardest one I have written in my life. Some of you may have noticed my column has not appeared in this paper for quite some time, and it is for the most personal reason. I lost my husband.

It was the beginning of February when my strong-as-nails husband finally admitted to me he had a stomach ache that would not go away. He was in so much pain that I immediately drove him to Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital, and although he received stellar care, the emergency room doctor was baffled as to the cause of the pain.

Days later, we found ourselves at Dartmouth, where Doug underwent an endoscopy, a scope that examines one’s digestive tract. The procedure took much longer than expected, and it was then I experienced this sense of dread I could not shake. I was right. The doctor came in soon after and informed us that my dear husband had pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest of cancers.

Later tests and blood work would reveal he not only had pancreatic cancer, but it had spread. We were told it was untreatable, uncurable and terminal. The words were so final. While I had promised myself I would be strong, no matter the prognosis, I failed miserably at that task. I put my head down on my husband’s lap and cried like I never have before. He mouthed, “I’m so sorry,” as if it was his fault for the diagnosis. I marveled at how courageous and brave my husband of 30 years was being while I was a puddle.

While originally told Doug might have four to six months to live without treatment, a year with chemo, that prognosis never transpired. Twelve days after his diagnosis, my husband passed away peacefully, surrounded by our family, his mom and sister. Although hard to process, as it all transpired within days, I was grateful he was taken so quickly. I found myself praying that my soulmate and best friend would pass away, as I could no longer endure seeing him in such pain.

In the almost three weeks since my husband died, our family has received an outpouring of support that has warmed our hearts during our darkest hours. From the students at Burke Mountain Academy, where he worked, who told me of his great food and stories, to complete strangers sending cards and offering hugs, I feel I have been truly embraced by the Northeast Kingdom during the most difficult days of my life and at a time when I needed it most. I cannot put into words how much these actions have touched me, as I now face a new normal with my dear husband now gone from this earth.

Although I never envisioned nor desired such a future, I have come to realize that I have much support as I walk this next path of my life.  I have learned, in fact, that I may not have to venture this road alone, as so many have offered to help me during this time of transition. I have seen so many sides of the Kingdom in my many years here, but none so caring and embracing as these past weeks, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your kindness.

Darcie McCann is the executive director of the Northeast Kingdom Chamber.)

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