Tuesday, May 3, 2016

"Andy - you there?"

This has been an incredible week.
Last Monday we celebrated our anniversary by going for a post-chemo check up scan.  Then on Tuesday afternoon we got some fantastic news that we weren't expecting.  But let me give you some background first for those that are not familiar with things.  
For the past 17 years of my professional career, I have administered and used products made by IBM namely the Lotus Notes/Domino tools.  Over my career I was fortunate enough to be able to attend a conference that was held every January and centered around those product.  Through that conference, as well as by blogging and participating in social networking, I have made a lot of great friends all over the planet. The people that I met in this community are some of the nicest people you would ever want to know.  Just regular folks with a passion to share their knowledge and love for the products that provide for them as well as a passion to just be excellent human beings.  It's hard to describe this group because in my journeys through life I have never met a group of people like this. They have always been there for me when I've been stuck with a problem or provided help through their own blogging and sharing of things they had come up against in their daily struggles.  Every year at the conference people would fly in early or stay after just to hang out with each other.  A year ago when I wasn't able to attend they had me come down with my photography gear and do headshots.  It's truly a great group, I can't stress that enough.  So I think you get the point.  Now back to our story.
Last Tuesday afternoon I was sitting in the living room with Denise when I got a message on Facebook from Paul.  Paul lives in Northern Ireland not too far from where my grandfather Patrick was born.
The elaborate ruse begins.....
So we jumped on Skype and Paul was telling me about a problem another friend of ours, Steve, also from Northern Ireland, was having with IBM Traveler.  That software is used to get email, calendar and contact information to mobile devices from the corporate backend.  One of the products I've spent a bunch of time on.  So Paul added Steve to the Skype video call and we started to troubleshoot the issue.
Paul recorded the conversation

It seems that Steve was having problems with people from the US coming over to visit his company's location and when they get off the plane they cannot access the servers any more.  The phones won't communicate with them, etc.  So I put my troubleshooting hat on and started giving suggestions on things to try, what I've seen in the past with my experiences with people going overseas, etc.
After about 10 minutes, Paul begins to ask me what my cell carrier is.  I of course start spouting off that information and then I'm asked what phone I have.  I tell him that it's an iPhone 6 plus.  He then asks about what Denise's phone carrier and type is.  I tell them.  I'm then asked by Paul, "Is there any way you can get your phone to us?"
That's a puzzling question.
"Um...no, I need it" was my response.
"What if you brought it with you" asked Paul.
"Those are the two phones we need to test" says Paul.  "So, why don't you and Denise come over and we can test those phones?"
The conversation then continued with talk about Denise's current health and when she could travel.  I told them that it's going to be a slow process likely and we just have to wait and see.
Paul then says, "That's what Molly told me when we talked earlier" and the conversation continued.  It took me a second to realize what he had said.  Molly?  Wait, my Molly? My daughter?
I called Molly into the room and interrogated her asking if she had been talking to these two.  I then reminded her of "stranger danger".
The gents went on to tell me that they have been conducting a fundraiser behind our backs.  It was called #supersecretsquirrel on the social medias.  It appears that they had set up a fund in Paypal and asked other community members to donate.  They did. Denise and I, to celebrate the many things we've gone through over the past several months, are the fortunate recipients of a paid vacation to Northern Ireland to stay with Paul and then Steve and then to Dublin with Eileen.  I called Denise into the room and they told her.
I love the look on Denise's face when she's hearing this
As you can tell from the picture above, Denise was in a state of shock.  We've always talked about going over there one day.  I had never met my grandfather as he had passed away before I was born. My dream was to one day go to Northern Ireland and see where he was born, baptised and raised. I've always wanted to have some connection to him.  Well, now I get to have that.  Holy crap, we're going to Ireland!
I again cannot thank the community enough for this blessing, because it truly is that.  You all are an incredible group of people that words cannot even come near to properly communicate the level of gratitude both Denise and I have for you all.
Yes, cancer has been a bitch.  Yes, the recent things that have occurred professionally have not been great.  But having something like this to look forward to has just been amazing beyond words.
Our sincerest thanks to Paul, Steve and Eileen for getting this thing together and for being our hosts. Our sincerest thanks to ANYONE and EVERYONE who donated to this in any way.
People have said numerous times in the community and it's held true, it's not about the software, it's about the people.  Well, thank you IBM for making the software that introduced me to these people and have made them a permanent part of our lives.  We are truly blessed because of it.
Now as for Denise, it appears the swelling that has been a parting gift of the chemo is starting to finally subside.  We also have to go back on June 6th for another scan and follow-up.  So hopefully this is a sign that we can soon board a plane and head off to what will be an adventure of a lifetime.  
Again, THANK YOU to everyone that is a part of this.


  1. Have a great time on a well deserved trip! Take some great photos!

  2. Having lost a number of relatives to cancer, I can only be overjoyed at your succesfull battle! Best of luck!