Thanks and Prayers

Surgery is set for July 10th. Carl will be undergoing surgery with the most incredible team of surgeons. We cannot express in words the gratitude that we feel for all the support at The Cannery. The venue was gorgeous beyond words. The turnout was insane!!!! We felt so much love that evening, and so many of you telling us personally your positive thoughts and prayers for us was energizing in a way that I cannot describe. Yesterday we watched our two children fly off with their aunt and uncle, and this of course has been harder on us then on them. It has been oddly quiet in our house today, and I wonder how I am going handle not having them to buffer my fearful thoughts. They are off to vacation and Lego Land, and are happier then ever. Carl and I have quickly realized that our children bring forth a purpose in our life far beyond measure , and one which we never comprehended until they flew away on that plane. Below is the speech written by Carl, and read at the benefit. It is an attempt to represent our thoughts on being able to thank all of you supporting us. We are in fight mode at this point and gearing up for surgery. Carl had a recent PET scan revealing that his tumor has responded well to treatment,  as well as the positive lymph nodes. This news was so relieving to us. God is on our side, and we have felt his presence through all of your love, prayers, donations, and support. Today a special thanks goes out to The Loews Hotel, The Drew Rodrigue Foundation for their incredible push to create this beautiful event, Commander’s Palace for their intense marketing and amazing contributions, the incredible donations, and all of the amazing food/chefs at the venue!!! The list goes on and on!! We pray every night with our children for the day that we are cancer-free and able to pay-it-forward. The love, support, and philanthropic effort of this city is why New Orleans is so special. Please know how thankful and loved you have all made us feel. Together we know that we will Kick Cancer in the GUT!!!!!




Carl’s Speech June 28th, 2014:

Since the diagnosis that I received on April 1st, everything has seemed rooted in hyperbole. With a few exceptions throughout all my treatment of chemotherapy, radiation, and the poking and prodding of my great medical team, I heave felt pretty normal physically. I have not lost my hair, but have actually gained a few, most of which are either on my face or grey, of course. I stand in front of you a very sick individual by definition, but I feel mentally stronger than ever. Most importantly, I feel unbelievably loved.


To stand up and thank everyone who has contributed would not only take the entire night making the band quite frustrated and could not even be properly conveyed through simple words thank you. We have also given and received no shortage of cliches though this process. One of my favorites has been the old adage that my parents used with vigor as I grew up which is, “Actions speak louder than words.” We are here tonight because of the actions of so many people in this great community and across the country. They have been in forms of family, friends (both past and present), colleagues, and even total strangers. These actions for us have come in forms of prayer groups, cooking, cleaning, home improvement projects, baby holding, and financial support to name a few.


It has been with much reluctance that we have accepted this help. I feel that we are by nature givers, and are not used to, nor have ever thought we would be on the receiving end of this support. If you could think of anything a family dealing with this type of hardship could want or need, we have gotten it. For that, I will be forever grateful beyond words. Many people do not even have the opportunity to get proper health care in the face of death let alone have a support system as large, intense, or unconditional as ours. So often, people pass on without ever really seeing or hearing of the impact they made on people’s lives. It have been so humbling to see that what we have thought as simply living good lives and trying to be good people has affected so many other people who now want to return the favor. “Do unto others as you would have hem do unto you.” I promised myself there would be no bible quoting through all of this, but this golden rule has been key in my ability to accept much of this support, especially that coming in the financial form.


I feel that good people surround themselves with good people. I married an amazing woman, with an amazing family. I was blessed to be born in a loving home with great parents and siblings. We live in a city with friends that have a culture of unconditional love for our fellow New Orleanians. My colleagues and employers selected me and I them based on a culture of just being damn good people. That is why we are all here. These people by nature are good. They want to help those who need it. Just as I have and will continue to do. This is the love and support I hope to provide for the rest of my life for those living and dealing with cancer. Our battle is not close to over. In many ways it never will be. But I know for certain that I am surrounded by love and support for the rest of my life throughout this lifelong battle. It is a blessing to be enlightened to know that.

“Overwhelming” is a word we have used a lot and goes back to that hyperbole I spoke of earlier. I told a good friend after about a month of letters, stories, prayers, relics, meals, funds, and stories of encouragement that we have been overwhelmed more in a positive way through all the support that we have been overwhelmed in a negative way by the diagnosis and illness itself. And it is when the positives out way the negatives that victory prevails. And the imminent victory that will come our way after recovery from the surgery in a couple of weeks could not have happened without the love and support of so many people both here and all over the world. Thanks you and enjoy your evening.


Counting Down

So, time is slipping away until the day where everything changes. We are very hopeful that this change will be for the good. Surgery is set for the second week of July, about three weeks away. This is the day where we hope to hear that I am cancer free. After the removal of my esophagus, most of my stomach, and surrounding lymph nodes, the hope is that a new way of life will be for the better. The recovery will take anywhere from 1-3 months, varying amongst patients due to potential complications. I have been blessed up to this point to have done very well with treatment, and my body and mind have been strong. Chemotherapy and radiation were not too bad for me. I hope this is an indication about the success of the recovery from this very intense six hour surgery. Smaller meals and more attention to what I intake will be crucial to the way of life from here on. It will be similar to someone experiencing a gastric bypass if all goes well. We will not talk about worst-case scenarios, although there are a couple. We will remain positive, as we have done thus far.


The struggle for me more than anything has been to keep those around me whom I love unaffected by all of this. This has been a very hard feat. My attitude and well being directly affects them everyday. Typically, men deal with emotions not by crying, but by getting angry. I have been no exception to this. Anger surfaces over the smallest things when you least expect it. It sweeps through a situation and then passes in an instant. I must always remember that the people that are most affected are the people helping me the most. My wife, Alix mainly. She is dealing with this in ways I cannot relate to, and the difficulties for her are much different as the caretaker. We push on, however, and her support is everything to me. My son has been a huge part of our concerns as well. He is a smart, inquisitive three year old. He will be four in August, and he is at the age of inquisition. He questions everything. He wants to be independent, yet is even more emotionally attached to us since he has seen tangible signs of his father’s illness. We told him early on exactly what was happening. Superheroes, robots, good, and evil are the things he knows, part of his fantasy world. We told him, “Daddy has a bomb in his tummy. It is making him very sick some days. He may have a green flag some days, and a red flag on others. This is a sign of how good he feels. But it is going to be okay, because the doctor is going to use a robot and get the bomb out. Everything is going to be fine. He is just going to have to rest for awhile.” He is fascinated with the robot, so much so that he wants to see it in real life. Maybe we have a future physician on our midst. It would not be much of a stretch given the extensive family medical tree from which he is rooted. Cate is 13 months old and unaffected, of course. Her perpetual smile and ever-evolving bag of tricks keeps a smile on my face daily. It has been a blessing to watch her grow up before my eyes.


Personally, my biggest obstacle has been remaining driven in my craft, passion, and career. The first thing that the doctors made me cut back on was work. Okay. My job is my livelihood, my hobby, my craft, and my passion. To ease up on that means I no longer have any of those in my life with the vibrancy I once did. Alix has planned a trip for me to help justify this problem. We will have more on that to follow. I want to fuel my passion again and restore some of the lost time in the kitchen. I want to get the spark back.   Once this surgery is done, the hope is that the doctor tells me the cancer is ridden, and it is time to recover. This recovery will be mental and physical. The idea is to make myself better in every way. I want to be a better man, human, father, and chef. Our mental attitude determines our opportunity for success in anything you do, everyday, and we are the one in control. Although I have been given this terrible diagnosis and have a long road ahead, I have seen the true good in this world. The support and prayers of thousands to help me and my family recover is more than I could have imagined. This is a blessing in cancer, one that I hold dear to my heart. For this enlightenment, I will be forever grateful and must drive on to make a better life for me, my family, and perhaps those unmet persons in need. For now, we are counting down the days until the second week of July.