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Joe’s Story

I had noticed and began watching a small lump on my left shoulder blade area during the summer months of 2008.  I was under the impression that the lump was only an innocent lipoma.  Later in the year, while getting some Christmas decorations out of the attic the weekend after Thanksgiving, I scraped the lump on the attic floor, sending what felt like electric shocks through my back.  After the "attic bump," the lump began to grow and became painful.  On January 8, 2009, I saw an Internist who told me I indeed did have a lipoma that was beginning to show infection and needed immediate surgery.  My wife and I consulted a local surgeon that afternoon who, after a thorough examination, CT scans and a biopsy, diagnosed Merkel Cell Carcinoma, a very rare and aggressive cancer.  A few days later the diagnosis was confirmed and, because of the rarity of the disease,  the referral process to M.D. Anderson began.  My case was accepted and we made our first trip to Houston on February 2, 2009.  The two oncologists we saw that first day both diagnosed our case as Advanced Stage 3.  I began chemotherapy the next evening in an effort to shrink the tumor for surgical removel.  The original measurement of the tumor inside my shoulder was 17.5 cm from side to side. 

Joe took his last breath on earth and his first in heaven on October 8th of 2009........9 months after his diagnoses.  His life affected many and he will be missed.....but we feel he accomplished his mission on earth and many came to know the goodness and faithfulness of God because of his story.
You may still contact the family via or visit  Thanks to the many that prayed and upheld us in our battle.
Kathleen Maxwell

Latest Journal Update


I know this email might come as a shock to you and that is certainly not the intention.  Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of when Joe left this earth.  As his wife I knew him quite well and as each of us remember him and the part he played in our lives as a coworker, friend, father, son, patient, family member, brother, etc. I feel Joe would say these things to each of you. 
"Thank you for the part you played in my life.  Thank you for what you gave to me and the love you showed.  Thank you for all your help as I battled for my life and for all the prayers and gifts for me and my family.  I appreciate each one.  And I really thank you for helping my family in my absense.  They have needed you as the pain has been great.  And thank you for how you have helped them to go on in life without me.  I am having a blast in the presence of God and am waiting to see you some day. Make sure you know Jesus so you can join me.   Press on and keep getting to know God more!"
Love to all,

It has been a year of wonder for me and the kids....some days we have wondered how we would survive the pain.  Other days we have stood in awe and wonder of the goodness of God to us.  It has been a journey with God for each of us and we have learned so much...we will never be the same for the road we have traveled. 

It has also been a year of joy as our family has changed again.  Mallory got married in July and I now have a wonderful son-in-law named Rob Williams.  We had a wonderful wedding celebration and we have learned to walk on and find joy in the middle of tears.  Today is Mallory's 26th birthday!  Austin and Laura are stationed in the Annapolis area and Price is a junior at University of Texas.

For me personally, I have learned so many things!  I did not think anyone 50 years old could learn so much.  I have learned to lean on God and learned that he is the best husband ever.  I learned of his faithfulness as I have walked thru the valley of the shadow of death. I have not run from the pain but have embraced it and for that I am a better person.   I have not felt alone although I have been lonely at times.  ! I have learned to enjoy single life, quite nights alone, made many new friends and have even learned to swing dance...Joe would have wanted me to keep dancing! I have learned the trashs fairy does not visit my house anymore and I have to take the trash out!  I have learned to oversome in this season and most of all I have learned the art of letting go.  Change has helped me grow.

Many of you have called wanting to know the blog address.  I have journaled about the walk thru grief and this past year on if you are interested.  I plan to write on more topics this next year. 

If you are fighting cancer right now...don't ever give up the battle!  Fight hard and trust God...Oh My...overcome in the battle!  Life is worth fighting for!

Blessings and love to each of you.  Thanks so much for all you have given to help our family.  We wouldn't be where we are today without your love.  Keep in touch via

Letting go, celebrating Joe's life, stepping forward and discovering new life,