Update from Sam

Here’s the scoop…

29 Dec , 2014  

So in a nutshell, here is what is going on:


On December 1st, my buddy Christian Lloyd, a pulmonary specialist in Wilmington, went Gap Band style and dropped a bomb on me. I have Stage 4, non-small cell adenocarcinoma. Lung Cancer. The most common type. My first word was “Fuck.” Most likely a similar reaction you may have had when hearing that you, or someone in your world, had a serious diagnosis.  After some scans, it was determined it was secluded to my left lung only. All considering, this was good news.

On December 8th, I underwent a biopsy at New Hanover Regional, so they could send my tissue off for some testing, and a procedure called a Pluerodisis. Basically glued up the area where all this fluid was building outside my lung wall, with a form of talc powder. This fluid is what tipped me off that something was wrong. Was coughing and not feeling well for months. They took two liters of fluid out of me prior to this surgery. Still not sure how my skinny frame had that much floating around in my chest. Wild. Got my first experience of staying in a hospital. Order the salmon and broccoli if there! The folks at NHRMC took good care of me. Many thanks to Dr. Cortina and the team of nurses that cared for me.

Fast forward  – after getting some test results back, which determine what kind of treatment you can receive, and a few meetings at UNC and Duke, and I’ve decided to get treatment at UNC. Many reasons for this. To name a few…I really like the doctor there –  here’s a video of Dr. Stinchcombe. It’s also in the center of my support universe. Dad and JoAnn live in Chapel Hill, I have family in ATL, Pinehurst, DC, and a large percentage of my MOJO WARRIORS (will explain this big picture concept in a separate post) are in NC. I’ve talked to many folks battling cancer, all have said that being near your support is very important.

December 30 I am going to do one more biopsy at UNC to see if I can qualify for a drug therapy called PD1, a form of Immunotherapy. It basically jacks up your immune system to fight the bad guy cancer cells. It’s a pill, and doesn’t have the wacky side effects that chemo does. If my tissue doesn’t jive right with that, then I will start chemo. Either way, it will be sometime in mid-January. Planning on some homeopathic methods as well – diet, exercise, acupuncture, meditation etc. will be in the mix.

A MASSIVE THANK YOU to everyone that has been involved so far. I’m not going to name anyone just yet, but you know who you are. I can’t even explain the level of love and care that has come from my family and friends. My MOJO WARRIORS are what are going to help me, and others, fight and win.

Oh. To answer a few questions:

Can I just get my lung taken out? Nope. The  bad guy cells are outside of my lung wall and in fluid floating around in my chest. So that isn’t an option.

Why chemo? Because what I have is a lot of little tumors, kinda buttered along the wall of my lung. Radiation is very targeted, say to one big tumor. For the same reason, they can’t just take the tumor out. It’s not like it’s one big golf ball size in there.

Where did it come from? How?? Believe me, I wish I knew. Who the fuck knows. I don’t smoke. Never have. Have certainly puffed on a few things in my time, but nothing amounted to causing this. Cancer in my genes, my Mom and Dad are living examples of the good fight. I think it’s a bit of DNA, and a bit of shit luck. 

48 Responses

  1. Brandi says:

    Sam, that news sucks. However you are amazing. You have always been strong, smart and funny. I know you will fight this with the same humor and faith that make you the amazing man you are. Know my thoughts prayers love and friendship are coming across the miles to give you strength.

  2. jessie scott says:

    I’m with you Sam. In prayer, support and whatever you need my brother. I’ve Respected and admired you since I was in the 7th grade as one of the coolest dudes around. Call anytime you want to chat or eat some Great food my friend. (919) 259-1430.


    • Tabitha Spencer says:

      Jessie makes a mean Salmon and rice with green beans on the side that will make you forget about cancer! It did for us. And they deliver! Take him up on it!!

  3. Dana Brigman says:

    Sam, I was without words as I read your post, but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are an amazing warrior, friend, and brother and God has a plan for you! Tony and I believe in prayer and will be lifting you up each and every day! I was right beside my mom as she battled her cancer and will be there for you if you need anything! I know you’ve got an amazing group of family and friends that support you, just know I am praying for your healing and comfort! May God cover you with his love and Grace. Lots of love sent your way! Dana & Tony

  4. kristin kash says:

    Love you

  5. Jennife (Ballog) Mizelle says:

    Sam, I can’t even believe this. Your attitude and positive vibes will help you every step of the way. You got this! Kick cancers ass & I’ll be sending good energy your way. Love you!


  6. Regi Swicegood says:

    With you all the way my fiend!

  7. Matt Bowen says:

    The fight will be long and hard. Your warriors will be by your side throughout this journey. Please add me to your warrior list. Stay strong.
    Love, Matt Bowen

  8. Teri says:

    No. All I have to say is no. I have so many friends fighting this disease and I know we haven’t seen each other in a while but I’m taking advice from others that have been through this…I’m pissed. I will be keeping up with your progress.


  9. Wendy says:

    Big hugs and lots of love
    Wendy and randy

  10. Pedrina says:

    good luck today Sam! I hope all goes well and the outcome is what is best for you! I’m praying for your recovery daily!


  11. Sandie says:

    Sam, it’s amazingly courageous that you started a blog to document your fight and (soon to be) victory over that silly and weak coward called cancer. I am no stranger to witnessing the battle. I see you mentioned you are going to add some alternative therapies to your fighting arsenal! I think that is wonderful! You got this Sam! When you are back in Wilmington, let me know if there is anything Nicholas and I can do for you! I am sure Nick would love to see you!! 🙂

  12. Kristen Symons Beck says:

    Hey Sam,
    When I first saw your post on FB I thought “This is some kind of prank or something. If I open this link, my computer will probably get some sort of virus.” Oh how I wish any of that were true. … Anything but what happens to be true. I am so sorry. I love you.
    So, I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. We may not understand why things happen but there are lessons to be learned and shared. Everything will always workout, we just need to be open to things looking a bit differently than originally planned. Please share what you know to be true and all you have learned/will be learning during this journey. I’m sure your story will be amazing! As you have seen just from FB, you have ALOT of fans in your corner. You are loved!! Please let me know what I can do to support you. I know you will rise above this event in your life and be that much stronger because of it. You’ve got this!!! Healthy mojo coming your way!!! Love you!!!

  13. Kayla palm says:

    When I saw your post on Facebook I was hoping someone hacked your account and the news wasn’t real. Now after reading your blog I can see what scary reality you face. The Palms are all pulling for you. Keep up your amazing sense of humor and your positive spirit!


  14. Ash Ludman says:

    Sam, you are a warrior! You’ve got this, man. With this attitude, and the support and love from so many, you will kick this in its ass! Sending you big strength.

  15. Mary duke barnwell says:

    God speed… We went to UNCW together back in the day..you were a hoot to hang out with…be well! Keep your chin up!

  16. Leslie Smith says:

    Love this…I’m sure you are already blown away from the response. Keeping up on all levels…bugging Robert like crazy. Keep Humphrey close and I’ll know that I’m close. Thinking of you today, like everyday…will check in on that biopsy. Love you big.

  17. Heidi Paulson says:

    Love your mojo warriors blog Sam!! I know your warrior army is big and strong and is growing by the minute. Looking forward to reading about your kick ass progress as your journey continues….much love, good karma, hugs and peace are surrounding you!! Xoxox, Heidi

  18. Wendy says:

    hi rock star, contact me any time, I’ll see you soon

    • Wendy R says:

      I loved seeing you today- this weekend I’m buying a Shelby Snack “care package” to keep handy for all clinics involved. You are inspirational and positive (as always!) . I love that you are keeping a blog- but promise me you’ll rest some days-what you are going through stinks! Sean, Kelsey,Luke and I love you like a brother. prayers forward and contact any of us any time, both the Beach and the Hill love you !

  19. Leigh Ann says:

    What a great way to update everyone. As I have said to you before, if there is anything I can do….I hope PD1 becomes an option for you. Michael did something similar when he was first diagnosed…he is now doing a different type of “chemo pill” soon.
    I will check Mojowarrior daily and keep check on you

  20. Laura Jacobs says:

    Thanks for sharing, Sam. I started walking this path with a close friend in October. You will be in my thoughts and prayers. You got this!

  21. Jeanne Dollins says:

    SAM- our prayers are with you buddy! Can’t even believe what I just read- win the fight!

  22. wilton c mann says:

    I too have had to fight this fight. What ever you need when ever you need it. Let me know. Please let other people help you. You are a great man and always a great friend. Stay up beat and kick its fucking ass. Cancer hates you so hate it harder back. I will see you when I see you.

  23. Sheila b says:

    Sam, lots of prayers going out pushing for the immunotherapy option. Either way, tackle this you will, and with your army of Mojo Warriors rallying. Love you tons, my friend!

  24. Mike Minor says:


    So incredibly sorry to hear this news. We live in a world where we all are close to someone that has been affected by cancer. I’m inspired by your courage and attitude as you begin your journey towards overcoming this obstacle. My thoughts, and more importantly, my prayers are with you. I’m so glad that you have the support network and family around you. Please let me know if I can ever help in any way.

    Mike Minor

  25. Laura King says:

    Praying for you Sam! You got this!

  26. Kelly flowers steggles says:

    Mojo! Mojo! Mojo! As much as I can muster coming your way!! Xx, kelly

  27. Susan says:

    Mojo warrior! Wonderful, Sam! Clark and I are here cheering for you . let me know if you need anything in Wilmywood. Xoxo

  28. Hi Sam-
    My Dad told me about what’s going on and I just want to say I’m sending positive vibes your way. I’m sure everything is going to work out for the best. I love being sponsored by OLA and don’t want it to end! I hope to see you in North Carolina real soon!

    XOXO- Zoe B

  29. Chis Bellamy says:

    Hey Sam, Mam-0-Man…! Dude, I came home from Florida for Christmas and just found out about you being sick! You’re like a picture of health every time I see you! I read all your post and it looks like you’re going to whip this with out a doubt! My cell is 910-512-0055. You know how to reach me on facebook to. I leave to go back on the road around January 12 or so. What ever I can do if it ain’t nothing be me being some one you can talk to in the middle of the night, I’m here for you! You got this! It’ll be alright! Stay in touch! Sincerely, Chris Bellamy

  30. randy says:

    I am a few miles away when or if you need anything. Will see you next week. Look a on bright side most people’s top 5 concern with fighting cancer is hair and weight loss. Check those off your list.

  31. marny ruben says:

    Sam Shelby,

    Bryon and Amy and I have been thinking of you since we heard the news. I love the image of a mojo warrior and know that your strength, humor and positive outlook will get you through this. We have missed you over the years as we have all grown up and apart. We are here for you in any way that you need us to be.


  32. Andrea Taylor Arnold says:

    I’m still in shock after reading this. I hate that you’re having to go through this, but you’re in good hands at UNC. I’ll be thinking and praying for you.
    Let me know if you come to ATL. Would love to see you!

  33. Phillip says:

    Give it the fucking knuckle. I’ll be in touch.

  34. Amanda Carpenter says:

    My first reaction to your post was “oh no.” But after reading your blog-it’s almost uplifting! Not the diagnosis of course but your positive attitude and willingness to share your treatment with us. I don’t think there is one person that hasn’t thought about getting that horrifying news of cancer, praying that it will never happen and if it does how will we handle it? You are the poster child of bravery mixed with a good sense of humor and strength. I’m relocating to Raleigh this week so if you need company during treatments let me know. I’m filled with useless trivia and niko stories that could last all day!

  35. Shawn Vaughan says:

    Hey there my friend!
    You are in my thoughts. You have a lot of people who love you and are always here for you. Let William and I know the next time you are in Wilmington. We would love to see you!
    Since I’m not on FB, this MOJO Warriors website keeps me in the loop.

  36. Melissa Miller Stilwell says:

    Sam I can’t believe this and CANCER SUCKS, but if anyone can beat this you can. Remember 90% of it is mental so even when you get bad news keep fighting!!! I’ll be thinking and praying for you friend.

  37. Jenny says:

    They always say good news travels fast but in this case bad news has traveled fast. I know without a doubt you will beat this because you have such a passion for life and an amazing support system. Glad to hear that you will be surrounded by so many that love you during this difficult time. Since you are in the area you might want to check out Oriental Health Solutions in Durham. They practice holistic medicine and offer acupuncture. Ask for Dagmar Ehling. Kick cancer’s butt Sam!!!! You will be in my thoughts and prayers.
    Jenny from the block

  38. Carol says:

    I don’t know you, but I saw the post on the Surfriders FB page and I wanted to reach out and wish you luck, strength and love as you kick this cancers butt. My brother was diagnosed with this cancer Sep 2013 and my family lost him at the age of 61 on June 12, 2014. It appeared he had beat the cancer off. He was to go in June 11 for his last biopsy on the lung to be certain, but he had a fever that day and and he was in a lot of pain, mostly in legs and knees. And they postponed the surgery and sent him home with no further observation of why he had the fever or was in so much pain. He passed sometime that night or early the next morning alone at his home. There wasn’t an autopsy done, for reasons that still upset me, so we will never know the actual cause of his death, but the information we have leads to a blood clot that caused his death. We later learned that the treatment made him more susceptible to blood clots. We should have been paying closer attention to him, because he was tired and confused by all the changes his body was going through. It sounds like you have a great support group. Make sure you have an advocate that pays close attention to every little change your body is going through. Maybe keep a daily journal of your pain, physical well being and any changes. We learned so much after, that we should have known before. We didn’t know all the right questions to ask. We were so focused on just the cancer and not the possible side affects. I can tell by those who know you that you are strong and determined. You got this! Hugs!

  39. kate Staelin says:

    I just want you to know I’m thinking of you daily and I am sending positive energy your way. I also know you will squash this shit as well because you are indeed a mojowarrior! For some reason I still can laugh when I think about the time I mispronounced the word margarine in the 6th grade and you corrected me with your sarcastic tone and it made me laugh when I should have probably been embarrassed LOL. You are an amazing person! If you need anything let me know. Snacks,Duke gear to keep you warm while you bunk at UNC at times (hehe)… anything 🙂 I Loooooove you brother!


  40. Elise Matta Bruce says:

    Knowing it can’t be easy and hoping all goes well . Clearly you are loved. Wishing you peace in your journey.
    xo, Elise

  41. Matt Lotspeich says:

    Thoughts and best energy to you, Sam. Appreciate you putting up this MW website and sharing, as many have been thinking of you lots and want to know how things are going. Keep up the good fight, as we all know you will and do, and all love to you.

  42. Terry Scalzo says:

    Damn it! I just heard the news from Zal. Man, I am so sorry. You know the Phoenix Mojo Warriors have your back. I know we haven’t connected in some time, but you are never far from my thoughts. The good times in Phoenix were some of the best ever. Now the Scalzo family is sending you all the Nor Cal mojo there is. Sam, I will do anything – and I mean anything – for you. Just say the word. 503 475 3214. You know, I never liked the fucking Gap Band……

  43. Mandy melind says:

    Sam you are amazing! I am so sorry you are having to go through this. You are so funny I feel like you are right in front of me when I read your updates. You have so many people that love you such a strong support team. I love you too and sending some good mojo your way! Your the best I’ll keep checking in. Much love, Mandy

  44. Mary Rowe says:

    Hey Sam, Sending you much love and hugs.
    Quitting is not an option. Always loved to catch up with you. I hope to see you soon on Topsail.
    Call if you are up to some relaxation.
    Love you. Mary.

  45. Christ Kathy and Alex says:

    Sam – we hardly know you beyond cheering on the Seahawks for the last several years. We are somewhat connected through Mike and Cara Foucht but beyond that I’d say we are acquaintances. None the less, ever our short encounters have left us with the impression that you are once pretty cool dude. Alex always asked about you before games and was happy to see you when you were there (not just for the m&m’s) It is clear that you are a positive person and your smile is one that is contagious to those around you. We admire your continued positive outlook on the hand that you are being forced to play in life. We have have no doubt that you will play it well. Please let us bring you food when you are here. I don’t want to beg and bug you so text me and we’ll be there. Love, prayers and tons of positive energy coming your way.

  46. Yo shelby, just thinking about you. Hope things are going as well as they can be. …as you know, the beach house donates to different great causes each week. Most of the charities I do, the families come to me and many times I do not know them on a personal level. We are now putting together the outdoor band schedule and gearing up for special events. I would love to put my energy, hard work, and business to raising funds for you or simply have an oyster roast, pig picken or whatever you would desire. If you don’t want the attention, I def understand, in that case I can just name a spectacular shot after you and give you the proceeds. Think about it and let me know what you think. Any source and anytime of day or night you can call text message etc
    talk to ya late

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