MEMORIES OF KIMBERLY ANN SHANNON 1973 - 2018
Kimberly Ann Shannon arrived right on schedule – March 30, 1973 – the day before labor was to be induced. Weighing in at 6lbs 4 oz., the staff of St. Louis Park Hospital in Minnesota swaddled her in a fleecy blanket and handed to Mom, Judie F. Shannon. Proud Dad, Timothy W. Shannon had witnessed the birth. Back in the double occupancy hospital room they struggled to find the perfect name for their one and only; on the other side of the curtain divider, a couple with seven children tried to find a name they hadn’t already used for their newborn.
The Shannons brought their bundle of joy to their brand new home in Chanhassen, MN. Judie remembers the ride home as being purely euphoric… no thought of dirty diapers, late nights, a bad case of esophageal reflux that were to come later. Having just moved in and with snow banks still lining the streets, the family had yet to meet their new neighbors. Within a week, the weather warmed and the doorbell began ringing…neighborhood children seeking a new playmate. Very soon it was discovered that two “Kimberlys” lived nearby. Hence, the change of name to Kimmer and later her choice, Kimber.
When Kim was a toddling toddler, the family moved to the St. Louis area due to Dad’s promotion with Marion Laboratories, but also to be closer to her fraternal grandparents, Helen and Wilber Shannon. Dr. Shannon was at the time Superintendent of Kirkwood, Mo. Schools. As terrific as it was to be close to family, Kim’s dad went to work for Medtronic which resulted in the family’s move to Arlington, TX. Judie tells the story of their first experience with snow in Texas (a relative oddity). “We lived in Wimbledon, a new development south of Interstate 20. The neighborhood was packed with young children who were experiencing snow for the first time. Most had plastic bags tied on hands and feet to keep them dry as they timidly tested out this new phenomenon. Kim, dressed in her Minnesota snowmobile suit and boots, marched happily into their midst and proceeded to give lessons on ‘how to build a snowman’.”
Kim, in her heart, became a Texan and attended Key Elementary, Gun Jr. High, and graduated from Martin High School in 1991. During this time she played a variety of sports including soft ball, basketball, volleyball, and track. Along the way she discovered cheer leading and that became her focus until she graduated. She attended Tarrant County Jr. College and UT Arlington. As her maternal grandparents both at one time were librarians, it was inevitable that she became an avid reader and an excellent writer. Her various apartments were always stacked floor to ceiling with books.
After her parents divorced in 1989, her mother remarried James Dollar in 1991. “Pops” as she called him became her “rock.” What follows is Kim’s story about her battle with cancer and her bond with her pops:
Kim Shannon’s Tribute to her “Pops” – Jimmie Dollar March 2018
When people ask me what living with cancer is like I talk mostly about the big surgeries, the chemo and radiation treatments, the ups & downs, ins & outs, days with & without spoons*. Sometimes I talk about the doctors and nurses, the incredible teams that work from hospitals & offices, the amazing people I’ve met in waiting rooms and while kicking back, soaking up that good chemo juice. But there’s one story I only tell a few people that I’m close to. Because I didn’t want to embarrass him. Because for some reason we’re hard-wired as human beings to accept shame but downplay goodness. To say that It’s no big deal or that anyone would have done the same thing. Not because it’s somehow less of a story but because it’s something more.
It was right before Christmas 2007 when I was told I had Cancer. I went home & cried. The hardest part was phoning parents. I remember Pops, my step-dad picking up, and I tried to hurriedly tell him to keep Momma off the phone, that I had something to tell him because I thought he might be better at helping me break the news. But he’d already handed off the phone to Momma & I had to ask her to have Him pick up a second phone. And I told them. I had Squamous Cell Carcinoma, skin cancer actually, but instead of staying in my skin it had spread in to the bone of my jaw. It was Stage IV and very likely to spread quickly. I had a few weeks to squeeze in the eight or nine doctor appointments they required and then January 14th I would check into the hospital for a minimum of a month. One surgery would remove my jaw. The next would replace it with a piece of rib & the small bone of my lower leg. My parents told me not to worry & they’d call back ASAP with a game plan. A little later they called to tell me that Jimmy, Pops, would be down the week before surgery & we’d go from there. A few days after New Years he was at my door.
I’m not going to say those first weeks were easy. I was scared, angry, cranky & had quit smoking cold turkey. In other words I was a bundle of joy. And Pops? A lot of you know Pops. It’s his way or not at all and no ifs, ands or buts about it. Needless to say we bumped heads. But when they rolled me into surgery he was there holding my hand & when I came out, in a world of pain, he was holding my hand still...and he had Carmex. I don’t remember a lot about ICU. I know that my parents were in and out. I know my mom had to go back to work. I know Pops slept in the waiting room and I know they both stood beside me as wails rose from outside the door, as a family lost a son and a father and the three of us stayed silent behind my curtain door, holding hands.
I was in the hospital for six weeks. There was a 95% success rate on my type of procedure. Guess who was 5%? Me, I’m always finding ways to be special. So we had a surgery every Monday and recouped for the rest of the week. i say we because Pops was with me, sleeping every night on that pitiful fold out chair they call a cot, taking naps on the benches in the big waiting room on the fifth floor, walking rounds with the other patients, winning over all the nurses, telling everyone, “Can you believe it? I just turned 70! Don’t look a day over 68, do I?“ & charming the entire staff. Even when he fell ill near the end. They tried to make him go home. I’m still convinced they discharged me just to get him home to recover. A week later everyone in my surgeons office was sick. They still refer to that illness as “The Arkansas Flu”.
By the time Pops was better, after a week of us both throwing up anything we ate, me from chemo, him from superflu, we’d bonded in a way that would continue to cause My mom to shake her head and mumble something about not getting it. Eventually Pop realized he had to leave or I wouldn’t let him. I had to learn to do all the chemo/radiation/checkups on my own. After a celebratory doctor approved ice cream and Diet Coke at Braums & a night where both of our heads were shaved, Pops headed back to Arkansas for a well-deserved rest.
He drove back down for all my subsequent surgeries. The big one that July where they finally successfully replaced my jawbone to the one the next June where they removed half of my left lung. All the way to 2014 when I had a stage 3 throat tumor removed and started my five year countdown once again.
The receptionist at Baylor knows me by sight & asks after Pops every time but even she could see that in 2014 he wasn’t the same peppy Pops he’d been before. They diagnosed him with prostate cancer, he had his turn at chemotherapy and did not like it but it seemed to work. In typical Pops fashion he decided to hike The Appalachian Trail with his buddy Jay not even a year after chemo. They did great at first but a nasty bout of wet weather put an end to Pop’s part of the trip. He came off the mountain with pneumonia and then they found a heart problem while he was hospitalized. He had heart surgery at Duke University & travelled around with Momma doing visits after that. He couldn’t do as much as he wanted to everyday but he still got more done than 90% of other folks that work days. A while back he got the news that the prostate cancer was back, it had spread. It was stage IV.
So now I’ve told that story bout my cancer, what a help and support and inspiration and hero he was to me during that time and it isn’t enough...it feels like there is so much more to tell. I haven’t even told you the story of how we met. On my 12th Birthday. When he pulled up at the beach with the engine smoking on his rebuilt ‘56 Porsche Targa to “court” my mother. I looked up at the sky that day. A leaf fell in my eye, scratched my cornea & my mom had to cut the date short to take me to the hospital, thereby beginning our long relationship of he & my Momma putting my needs before theirs. Every time.
And now we don’t know how much time is left. I’m driving up to Arkansas on Thursday to spend what time I can with him before we take him to hospice care. My mother has been his hero this time but she can’t make him eat and she can’t make him drink & she is beating herself up that she doesn’t have the skills to do it for him. And I’m just worried that by the time i get there he wont be able to understand what I want to tell him, what I want to say. I know that deep down he knows this already but I want to lay down with my head on his shoulder and tell him how much I love him & how little the word step is when placed next to the word dad & how much he means to me & how he is my hero & I want to tell him while holding his hand.
Kim was able to fulfill her wish. When Jimmie was admitted to Hospice Care in Bentonville, Arkansas, a dear friend drove her from Texas to visit with him during his last days. She spent the last two days of his life holding his hand, stroking his head, and telling him how much she loved him. He died this year on Easter Sunday.
In her ten year battle with cancer she has been sustained by the “love of her life,” Pete Martel of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. He asked for her hand in marriage even though he understood her cancer battle. Pete and his two sons, Tyler and Brandon, have loved, watched over, and sustained her. What follows are Pete’s words about his relationship with Kim:
Peter Martel is feeling broken with Kimber Shannon May 22 at 3:13pm
A decade ago, after being diagnosed with stage four cancer, Kimberly Shannon was given a choice by her doctor, Dr. Ducic. He told her outright “ It is your choice, you can live, or you can die” For those of that know her, we knew she fought, and fought hard. She ended up being the strongest person I will ever know. Yesterday morning my heart and life were shattered, I received notice from her mom that Kimber had passed away in her sleep at home in Fort Worth.
Kimber and I have been together for 8 years, engaged for many of those years, tho' we lived miles apart, she was always there. She loved my boys like her own, and they loved her back just as much. It has taken me almost an hour to write this much, so I will stop for now.
I miss you Kimber and will love you always.
What follows is one more post to her FB page from her cousin, Drew Fowler, of Sacramento, CA:
My cousin Kimber passed away in her sleep this weekend at her apartment in Texas. For the past decade, she’d been battling stage four cancer... and in the process had to endure a seemingly endless series of operations, doctor visits and more. She is the strongest person I’ve ever known, but she never let the battle get the best of her. The last time I saw her, at a family reunion, she was meeting my kids for the first time. Five minutes after introducing them, I heard a big “bang”.. and ran to them to see what was wrong. Turns out.. Kim has decided to suplex my son and was in the process of carrying him around the room upside down by the ankles. He was laughing, she was laughing... it was a perfect moment, that in the midst of all she was going through... I knew that Kimber was still her old self: funny, fun... and just a side of joyful sass. She was my cousin. My friend. My liberal tag team partner in more Facebook debates than I can count. I’ll miss her. Prayers and peace to the whole family and in particular her Mom Judie, her fiancée Peter, and Peter’s boys.
Kim was preceded in death by her maternal and fraternal grandparents; her birth father, Timothy Wayne Shannon; and her step-father, James Robert Dollar (Pops). She is survived by her mother, Judie Dollar; her step-brother John D. Dollar, wife Amy, and their children James, Austin and Caroline; and her step-brother Patrick Shannon. In remembrance, donations may be made to the American Cancer Society.
Kim had an extensive library. At the service, the family asks that you take home a few of her treasured books that will be displayed in the lobby of the funeral home. She would like that!
Wade Family Funeral Home