• Hands holding newspaper like that written by DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley
    What Not to Say

    Trigger Warning

    Last week, I wrote this piece for the Washington Post on how parents can help children who are grieving. In case you haven’t read it yet, I introduced the piece by talking about how Claire was really missing her dad last summer at the pool, and then I discussed what experts say parents should do in similar situations. I did not describe Shawn’s illness or death at all. I posted the article in an online group, thinking maybe others would want to read it. Also, I was genuinely proud of the work I did and wanted to share it. A few hours later, I saw that someone had replied to…

  • Photo of Marjorie and Shawn held my DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley
    Things That Suck

    October 10th

    I heard the story so many times, I could tell it verbatim to the doctors and nurses who asked. Yes, Shawn went to a baseball game early in October. Yes, he had at least one hot dog. Almost immediately after, the pain started. We thought he had food poisoning at first, and then maybe an infection. But it was that day – the day the pain crippled him for the first time – when things became truly concerning. That day was October 10th. He had some small warning signs before that. An upset stomach here or there, a twinge of pain every once in a while throughout the few weeks…

  • Arial view of 4 doctors like those treating husband of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley
    What Not to Say


    There were so many questions after Shawn died. So many. Was there a family history of cancer? Did he exercise? What were the warning signs? Why didn’t you demand a colonoscopy earlier? Did he have a regular doctor? Did he smoke? Did the medical team try immunotherapy? Did he eat a special diet? Did he drink a lot? Did he have symptoms earlier in the year? Was he healthy otherwise? Those were just some of the things people asked me. Of course there were questions. Shawn was an incredibly vibrant 40-year-old. How could this happen, they wondered? But the big question was lurking under all of these questions, one that…

  • Image of herbs like those discussed in blog by DC widow Marjorie Brimley
    Things That Suck

    Asparagus Cures Cancer

    A few weeks ago, I got a private message on my blog. It was a letter from a reader who wanted me to know that she had used a special herbal remedy to cure her sister’s cancer, and it had worked. She implored me to spread the word about this herbal remedy since my own husband had died of cancer. Well, DAMN, I thought. Why didn’t I think of that? Herbs! I even have my own garden. And I actually grow herbs! Why didn’t I get Shawn to eat more of them? I posted this to Twitter and got a lot of responses. Oh, yes, there are many things other…

  • Stethoscope used by doctor of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley
    Family & Friends

    Heroic Work

    I met Reed, the man who would become one of Shawn’s cancer doctors, minutes after we first came to NIH. The days before we met him were a blur of horror: I had driven Shawn to the local ER and watched him curl up in pain, hours later Shawn had been admitted to that same local hospital and gotten a colonoscopy, and immediately after the operation we learned that Shawn had stage IV cancer. Then we sat in that local hospital from Friday until Monday and never saw an oncologist. It was one of the worst weekends of my life. Our friends showed up, including our pediatric oncologist friend Jason…

  • DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley's daughter Claire writes "I love you Dad" on memory board
    Family & Friends

    Colon Cancer Run

    “Looks like the date of the Scope It Out run has been set for March 31,” the text read. It was from my friend Ilan. After Shawn died, Ilan spent countless hours organizing the first group of people to run in this spring 5K to raise money for colon cancer. I knew he wanted to continue the tradition this year. I looked at his text again.  Could that date be right?  It was.  The colon cancer run was scheduled for Claire’s tenth birthday.  While I had a whole string of events planned for her, I knew that we’d also have to participate in the run on the same day.  I…