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My only intention for this Little’s spotlight blog post, is to give our readers the chance to fall in love with the Darrow’s (George, Julie, and their kiddos), the way our Fort Lauderdale community has fallen for them.
Well, besides being totally adorable, their story is rich with change, illness, adversity and adventure.
What makes them unforgettable? The Darrow’s have proudly shared their struggles, victories, and especially their humanity in a relatable and authentic way. Their story reminds us to appreciate the simple joys of life.
As their story unfolded on Instagram and Facebook in early 2020, I found myself looking for updates. “How are the Darrow’s doing?”, everyone seemed to be asking. Once they were through George’s thyroid cancer surgery and his incision was healed, I invited them into the studio for a memorable family photo shoot. I had no idea how much they had actually endured until after that session. I asked Julie Darrow 9 questions about their ordeal. Her answers are below.
Q: What happened in the Darrow family last year in 2020?
A: 2020 was nothing short of an unexpected and unfathomable adventure. In March we got “stranded” in a spring break trip to Utah due to the onset of the Corona virus and chose to get our first family glimpse of RV life with a cross country trip back to Florida. We had an absolute blast.
In June, after months of nagging neck and shoulder pain, George was unexpectedly diagnosed with cancer that was found through a standard MRI scan. After 16 years working in the operating room, the radiation left its toll and he developed thyroid cancer that had significantly metastasized into his lymph nodes.
With this news, we capitalized on the good and spent the summer together with another RV trip – Florida spring hopping (highly recommend!), before gearing up for his cancer surgery. In August we packed up our lives for what would be 3 solid months of living in Oklahoma. Once there, George had a 12 hour thyroid and lymph node removal (44 lymph nodes removed), recovery and radioactive iodine treatment. It was a real doozy.
We returned home to Fort Lauderdale and back to school at the end of October. All was falling back into place until George was fired from his job in December – as a result of not being able to return to the the operating room and the radiation rich environment. At this news, I looked at him and said, “let’s sell it all and buy an RV.” The rest is history!!
Q: What was life like before George’s diagnosis?
A: Life was “normal” as normal as it can be with 4 active kiddos under 11 years old. George’s job was all consuming – he worked crazy long hours with days or weeks where we never really saw him. I worked from home as a Director of Marketing for a start up technology company. Our days consisted of school, work, meals, repeat…with an occasional family trip.
Q: What got you through it?
A: Putting one foot in front of the other…Being a close family unit and both of us being strong willed. There was never an option for him to be nothing but better in my mind. We hung close to each other and family and friends who created food delivery trains from hundreds of miles away. Thankfully, we stayed with close family friends for 3 months – they are saints in my book. We were clinging to silver linings and all the beautiful miracles and blessings that we found around each corner. There were really hard times and really beautiful ones. But saying goodbye to George as he was wheeled back to the operating room was gut wrenching. “Kick it’s ass and come back to us” … and he did just that!
Q: What is life like today?
A: Today life is a 180!… after transitioning our family of 6 and pup out of a 2500 sq ft house into 300 sq ft of living space. We purged and donated and will be purging some more. Now we are officially on the road and so freaking excited for the adventures and lessons to be learned!
Q: What have you and your family learn from all of this?
A: My favorite part of this entire experience is how we have been able to continue to reinforce our family motto of “teamwork” and show them how to be adaptable and persevere in the craziest of circumstances. We’ve laughed, cried, screamed and played together more in this past year than ever imaginable and I am personally thankful to have been able to show them what it’s like to process and persevere.
Q: What are you still afraid of?
A: George’s scans came back great in January at his first follow up appointment..so great in fact that they told us to not come back for a year! That said, there’s always a fear that the cancer will return, and that leukemia will appear BUT until then we will live and love it up together.
Q: What are you hoping for?
A: Incredible adventures, intentional moments together and when we’re done exploring finding a new place to call our permanent home.
Q: Are you open to people following you along this journey?
A: Absolutely! We’d love for people to follow our crazy circus! We can be found on Instagram @halfadozendarrows and on our blog at www.halfadozendarrows.com.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to say?
A: Thank you for letting us share our story and capturing our family and our personalities with such ease. This past year was unfathomable at the onset, for so many reasons, but we are just so thankful to be here and to be able to share our lives and experiences together.
We all know struggle and pain, but too few of us are able to turn it into something special. The team at Little’s Photography is wishing them a wonderful journey and many more happy and healthy years together. Safe Travels!
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Photography by Little’s Photography Fort Lauderdale FL