Island rallies for the Moores
In the spring, when Shannon Moore's 47-year-old husband, Jim, thought he had just gotten off the ferry, and in actuality he had not, Ms. Moore realized something was wrong. The problem soon became more obvious, culminating when Jim became lost on his way to West Tisbury - a routine trip. Finally on May 19 of this year, Ms. Moore brought her husband to the hospital's emergency room.
Within hours, he was on the ferry in an ambulance heading to Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston. The only thing Ms. Moore knew was that some type of mass was near her husband's brain. "They were vague with me and it was a good thing. I knew what a mass in the brain meant, but I didn't want to go there," she admits.
Ms. Moore, an Island native whose family, the Dowlings, operate a surveying company, met her husband in 1993. He had just moved to Martha's Vineyard after working around the country in the service industry. They both worked at the Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown where for 14 years, Mr. Moore was the food and beverage director. Earlier this year he joined the staff of Island Food Products (IFP).
Photo courtesy of the Moore family
They married in 1997, and over the years managed a busy family life, raising three sons, Matthew, Michael and Cameron, ages five to eight. The couple supports each other's interests and appreciates each other's talents. Their family dynamic has helped them to get through the information they received at MGH in May: Mr. Moore has brain cancer.
This Friday night at the Harbor View Hotel is An Evening to Benefit Jim and Shannon Moore, another example of the community pulling together to help. Amy Coffey of the Harbor View, Shelly and Bob O'Neil - the owners of David Ryan's, and Natalie Krauthamer, a teacher at the Tisbury School, are among those organizing the event that includes an auction and raffle of items ranging from restaurant gift certificates to plane rides, health club memberships, and artwork. Trip Barnes will be the auctioneer, and Paul Donnelly will be serving as the disc jockey.
Ms. Coffey says, "We started out doing a fundraiser, and while that remains our goal, we're pleased that it's turning into an evening with the added benefit of friends and fun. We're expecting a night where we not only raise some significant funds for the Moores, but also get together people from all over Martha's Vineyard who all have something in common - truly great friends. Jim and Shannon are wonderful people. They are the neighbors you would love to have, the co-workers you are happy to work with, and unsung heroes to many." She adds, "It never ceases to amaze me how generous people are here."
In the meantime, Ms. Moore says, they are just "trying to keep the same routine." It has been a difficult process. "At Mass General the wait was long. We waited 24 hours and finally at night, he had the MRI. We had the results in the early morning, and met with the surgeons the next day. At noon they decided to do an emergency biopsy, because they thought it was one thing, but wanted to make sure," Ms. Moore remembers.
After her husband was moved to the recovery room, his wife met with the Neurology Team. This team, Ms. Moore explains, "made them feel like family." She says, "The hospital staff was amazing. We are so fortunate to have this hospital close to us, as well as the close connection that the Martha's Vineyard Hospital has with Mass General."
Ms. Moore finally got the news. Her husband has a very aggressive type of cancer in his brain: primary CNS (central nervous system) non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
One bit of encouragement is that the cancer started in Jim's brain, which is rare, and has not spread elsewhere. Mr. Moore is considered young enough to combat it well.
"He was injury prone as a kid," says Ms. Moore, "but he was basically very healthy. With the cancer he started to loose even depth perception. It is amazing what the brain does. I have learned a lot in the process, even from the beginning signs, the night sweats and headaches, eye pain and his uneven gait, but we are fortunate that this is treatable."
Mr. Moore, who is unable to remember anything from the early stages, was put on a steroid to shrink the tumor and treated with three types of chemotherapy. He has a year more of chemotherapy and MRIs to endure. His condition will need to be closely monitored even after the treatment is completed.
"The IFP has also been great. They are family-oriented," Ms. Moore says of her husband's company.
While things have been hard, friends and family have filled the void, doing everything from helping with the Moores' three children, to being with the family in Boston, to loaning an off-Island car.
Ms. Moore adds, "It is amazing to be on the receiving end of all these stories that I have heard about how great this Island is. It has been hard to accept and I am not good at asking for help. But I just have to say yes, and my friends tell me to 'just be happy and say thank you, because every little bit helps.'"
"An Evening to Benefit Jim and Shannon Moore," Friday, Oct. 24, 6-9 pm, Harbor View Hotel, Edgartown. Hors d'oeuvres, auction, cash bar. $30. Proceeds go to the nonprofit You've Got a Friend, designated for the Moores. For more information and to donate, call Amy Coffey at 508-733-2388.