Colin Loves Tractors Follow Colin's progress through treatment for a brain tumor

August 14, 2017

The Future Awaits

The seasons have flown by in a time lapse blur, flashes of the momentous and the mundane gliding by with relentless speed. It should come as no surprise that Colin has continued to carve his own way in the wilderness, one that nobody did or could have predicted. Following the September news that the tumors had exploded and that his brain was swollen with edema, he continued to improve clinically. The police work seemed like a magical balm, and maybe it was, as the days and weeks slipped into months.

Colin Hayward Toland's 10th birthday party, Saturday at Stewart Park. Photo by Simon Wheeler

Birthday Party Silliness. Photo by Simon Wheeler


May 29, 2016

Same as it Never Was

Clouds ascend like sculptures, backlit by the setting sun. Wispy pink columns stand in dramatic array, the clump on top of one stack embellished with a viciously straight contrail that angles upward like a laser beaming from a cyclopean eye. It is a tiny thing but still audacious enough to pitch a galactic battle against an unseen enemy. The day closes over the Mississippi, with stormheads threatening their bounty of rain from the south. Colin and I have left the gentle wash of music and companionship of old friends on Mud Island, a sanctuary of gentile life only a stone’s throw from the urban grittiness that awaits patiently on the east shore of the mighty river.

September 11, 2015


The sky was muddy, a diffuse and dark reddish brown the disappointing color of light pollution, not an emerging dawn. It was no kind of sky within which to find clarity. Two days before, a sharp waning crescent hung in the sky, a cat’s claw poised to grab Venus, which hung like a winking fat jewel in the eastern sky. Then, Orion had greeted me abruptly in the south when I opened my door, the only constellation I could rightly make out in a tepid but clear sky. In the course of a short run, that bright figure faded into barely perceptible pinpricks, but the hunter still stood vigil. (more…)

March 10, 2015

Homeward Bound

Tomorrow morning, Colin and I return to Ithaca. A follow-up MRI today showed no residual tumor or suspicious areas: our first honest-to-goodness gross total resection.

His recovery has been nothing short of astounding. After walking out of the ICU 24 hours after entering it, they were ready to discharge him except he needed to start a medicine to prevent clots while in the hospital.



February 27, 2015

More Good Bad Luck

These past few years, we have done a poor job in updating on Colin and his progress. Though I can’t completely escape guilt on this point, I am happy to report that the reason is that we have all been busy with normal life and that he has been improving steadily. We moved to Ithaca, the boys have been going to the same elementary school together, and we all enjoy living in a neighborhood that is full of kids and friends.


June 8, 2012

Counting the Years

After the absentee winter thawed into spring, Colin returned to Memphis for his four-month check-up. This visit marked two years from the end of radiation and a juncture I hadn’t dared contemplate when we were still at St. Jude. We are also nearing his fifth birthday, simultaneously the third anniversary of his diagnosis. These milestones have snuck up on us, with the pleasantly mundane realities of daily life overshadowing the gravitas that cancer tends to impose. (more…)

November 17, 2011


Before launching into the latest long-overdue update, I want to post information about the 2011 St. Jude Give Thanks. Walk that is taking place across the country this weekend. We are going to New York City on Saturday, November 19, to support the hospital in a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. If anybody can join us or participate in one of 80 cities across the country, we encourage you to do so. Also, please consider a donation to St. Jude (our fundraising page). Not only do we know from personal experience what an amazing place it is, but independent research demonstrates that St. Jude is a quality charity. The hospital received a top rating on Charity Navigator because it has proven that dollars donated equate to dollars spent helping the kids. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming…


After getting news of another stable scan at the end of June, we returned home to start off a busy summer. (more…)

September 7, 2011

Summer Kick-Started with a Scan

Even on the cusp of summer, Memphis is unforgivingly hot, but the weather is nearly irrelevant when you’re back for check-ups at St. Jude, which we were at the end of June. (more…)

June 12, 2011

Full Circle

Colin returned home, nearly a year from the completion of radiation and two months short of his fourth birthday, with a good scan and no trach. (more…)

March 26, 2010

Reset Button

Colin’s second week of radiation was grueling: vomiting, utter fatigue, dangerous aspiration and an unexpected stay in the hospital. (more…)

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