SUV Assassins and the Scan Collision


Getting a cancer scan can be like an unexpected collision, two moving objects smashing together violently and suddenly. You settle back into life but the digital images and doctor’s prognosis quickly jolt you back to reality like a triple strength energy drink.

Which is why when I approached scan number six or seven recently (I’ve lost count), I didn’t need to experience a literal collision, too, in the same week. That just seemed redundant.

So, here’s the story.

I decided to go on an evening bike ride, a few days prior, to enjoy the cooler temps and work on my conditioning. I remarked over the weekend how great I had been feeling—other than some lingering foot pain and fatigue, my body felt as good as it has in more than a year.

So, I reached for my roadbike, and started riding. As I peddled on 26th Street in Sioux Falls near McKennan Park, a vehicle turned abruptly into the lane behind me, lurking like a great white shark in the wave of my periphery. Following road biking protocol, I stayed to right of the lane, nearing the curb. I waited for them to pass, but instead they veered right—right for me! The vehicle’s fender tagged my bike’s handlebar, sending me summersaulting , somehow not under the vehicle’s axle. A split second before hitting concrete I thought, “Wow, this is going to be bad.”

As I sat there in a heap, dazed and disoriented, the vehicle kept speeding away. Another car pulled over, and asked if I was ok. I said, “I think so,” but urged them to call the police.

A cop, firetruck and even an ambulance came within minutes—quite an impressive showing from our friendly Sioux Falls first responders! I was pretty scraped up, growing more sore by the minute but unsure if I broke anything. I declined a ride in the ambulance. Honestly, I was worried that the words “cancer patient” would keep me overnight at the hospital, and I’ve had my fill of that.

Witnesses described the vehicle as a late model Chevy Traverse, or maybe a Dodge Durango, maroon in color. Yet this SUV Assassin escaped, and the police said with so little to go on, they would probably never catch them.

As this reality sunk in, I reassessed the damage: an abrasion on my shoulder, scraped wrist and elbow, and a heck-of-a-lot-of rib pain. Fortunately, I barely hit my head, though my dented helmet was now destined for replacement. My bike was no longer rideable, which was a bummer.


Old Red lives to fight another day.

The next morning, I was so sore I could hardly move. The silver lining was I am well stocked with prescription painkillers, so sleep wasn’t too much of a problem.

Besides lingering physical effects, there were also psychological. Having someone hit and run me was unsettling, unthinkable even. Who runs away after they have clearly hit someone? Especially a cancer patient? I’m guessing they had something to hide—texting and driving, drinking or maybe the police were already looking for them. Maybe all three.

I like to think it was a scared teenager, or maybe even a sweet old lady, blissfully unaware. But I wanted to tell them: “Ah, that bump you just heard and felt, that was no raccoon. That was person!”

This is how my already-crappy scan week started. I still had the actual scan a few days later. As you may guess, if I wrote this much about the bike hit and run, clearly the report was good? Indeed.

As the doctor surveyed the images, he said everything continues to look “stable.” While they can’t say this because I don’t fit the textbook, I believe God has me in remission, and has for several months now.

Honestly, I expected this news, as it seemed consistent with where the Lord seemed to be taking things. But one never quite fully knows until you get the official word, right?


Elizabeth, Pippa and I wasted no time celebrating the good report, dining at our favorite local spot with my parents.

I will say this, getting the scan results quickly put my bike accident into perspective. It was more like a 3/10 on the scale of life trauma, compared to an “8” or “9” for stage IV cancer. It’s not that a hit and run isn’t traumatic, it all just depends on your scale.

So, what the heck was the bike collision all about? Honestly I have no idea. It was super random. I’m an experienced road biker, and have ridden a lot in urban settings, in places far more dangerous than Sioux Falls. In fact, I got into the sport when I lived in Florida, which is the most dangerous place to ride a bike in the U.S per One of my buddies was hit and run twice there. South Dakota innocuously sits at number 38, with about 1/5 the accidents per capita compared to the Sunshine State.

However, my time in Florida was before the smartphone era. Today’s driver seems more distracted then ever. In my shock and anger, I wanted to generalize that people in South Dakota don’t watch for bicycles because it not as fitness minded as some states, but that was probably just residual PTSD talking.

One thing is for sure: coming back from cancer, only to be hit and killed on a bike seems like a lame ending to my story. So, I’m thankful that didn’t happen.

I’m also glad a quick doctor visit revealed that I did not break any bones. Shows me how far I’ve come, that my body is durable again after all the chemo. This pain is temporary, and will heal in a few more weeks. Hopefully even sooner.

All in all, I find the experience rather humbling and gratefulness-inducing. God has been so good to me and my family: the treatment he provided, our new house, not to mention my eternal redemption bought through Christ’s sacrifice. As Bill Murray said in the movie Caddyshack. “So, I got that going for me…which is nice.” As a believer, as one loved by God, I certainly have a lot going for me!

But maybe I was due for something unexplainable?I’m not sure. I don’t understand many of God’s ways, or why he allowed this crash, but I resolve to be content not knowing. I’ve reckoned much worse. The following verse seems appropriate: “God is in heavens and you are on earth, so let your words be few.” (Ecclesiastes 5:3b).

I don’t have to know or understand—just trust. So, on that note, I’ll take the good scan report and mostly-minor bike accident. These, too, were graces for me. Not to mention that the damage on my bike turned out to be minor—some scrapes and scratches, but a new tube and tires were all it took to make it usable again.

I think I’ll be even more thankful when my ribs stop aching.


Some residual bruising on my left arm…




South Dakota Locals, Colorado Commuters


While the pumpkin pushers pounded the hardwood of the NCAA tourney, Elizabeth and I endured our own kind of March Madness, followed by an Angry April: packing, moving, packing and moving some more.

That’s right, we recently made the decision to move from Colorado to South Dakota. It proved a simultaneously difficult and easy decision. Difficult, because we love Colorado and had no intention of moving. Easy, because medically it makes sense that we live in Sioux Falls for the forseeable future. I’ll explain more later, but when we visited Colorado in March, we actually started the packing the process and then returned in early April to finish the deed.

Here’s the crazy part: we ended up buying a house in Sioux Falls from a distance while we were packing up our belongings in Longmont. No kidding. We consider this house a miraculous provision from God, and the timing of the purchase helped take the sting out of the move. Check out Elizabeth’s blog for the full story.

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So why did we move? As you may recall, I have been receiving experimental treatment that has given me amazing results in my cancer journey. Here is the crux (to borrow a climbing term): I cannot get the same treatment outside of Sioux Falls—maybe not even the rest of the United States, or the world for that matter.

Cancer treatment approval can be an extremely slow-moving and political machine—it takes an average of 17 years for a tested treatment to be approved by the FDA—and people like me simply cannot wait that long. Fortunately, there are people fighting for urgency within the machine, like my genomic oncologist, Dr. Leyland-Jones. If you have a second, you should watch this video about him. His research is changing the way people fight cancer, and God has used him immensely in my life.


Pippa surveys our Crabapple Tree in front of our new house.

And so we are now officially Sioux Falls residents. I actually haven’t been one since shortly after college. We have plenty of reasons to be happy about being here—family, friends, a ski area 10 minutes from our house, to name a few. I would not say we love the long winters, but then as my dad would say, “the rocks come with the farm.”

Lest you think we won’t be seeing the mountains of Colorado anytime soon, in June we head there for six weeks to work on a Lifelines Summer Mission and attend part of the Cru conference in Fort Collins, along with a quick return trip in between for treatment. And even after that, we will have plenty of reasons to go there both personally and professionally.

And so we are embracing our status as South Dakota locals, and Colorado commuters.

Back to our moving madness, it was utterly brutal—brutal because I relearned just how difficult it is to try and get work done with a near-two-year-old and also because my energy has not returned to full capacity—and probably won’t for a long time. Most days I’m at 65-70 percent of my normal energy. With bad sleep, it can be even less.

I hit a breaking point at several different points on our moving day. One was when the transport truck company called me at 4:55 p.m. on a Friday afternoon (they were scheduled to ship it Monday morning) and said they couldn’t ship my Tacoma to South Dakota unless I paid double, even though we had a contract! The other happened because we underestimated the job—we thought we would finish by 2 p.m. but as the clock neared 7 p.m. we weren’t even close! Soon Pippa started wailing from being hangry—hungry and angry—meanwhile twirling a wet toilet bowl brush in her hands that we had failed to put out of reach. Yikes!

We somehow survived the chaos of that day, and those weeks. Seeing a lot of our friends helped buoy our spirits. In fact, one of those days I skied at Loveland Pass with a good buddy, and that was definitely a highlight. Yet, saying goodbye to our friends and Colorado was as mixed and bittersweet as you can imagine.

Logistically, the silver lining was we were able to schlep our stuff directly into our new house—it was already vacated and the sellers were willing to negotiate the closing date. This proved a huge blessing.

And so now we now live in our new home—new to us that is (actually built in 1940). Pippa loves to say the term, “new house.” And so do we.


I’ve already been researching some local adventures in South Dakota. Palisades offers climbing a mere 25 minutes away, and the Needles is world class climbing in the Black Hills.

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Elizabeth and I spent a weekend climbing the Needles a few years ago including Tent Peg, but felt like we barely scratched the surface. We look forward to exploring there again soon!