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We Still Do – Dave & Robin

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Meet Dave & Robin Dubin, the strong duo behind AliveAndKickn. They are one of the couples who signed up to renew their vows at our One Million Strong kickoff on March 3, 2014 in New York City. Here is their love story and why they’re saying “We Still Do.”  

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[Dave’s Story]

So I’m 29, new wife, first child, new house, new job, and I’ve got cramps and blood. My primary physician thinks it’s just the stress of everything, but we insist on seeing a specialist since the family history of grandfather and father with colon cancer is right on the chart. I’m diagnosed. Not shocked but surprised. We shift gears.

Surgery and a sizable scar later, it’s removed. Chemo’s next as it spread to the lymph nodes.

I decide to play soccer regardless. Every Friday is chemo. Every Saturday is on the couch or in bed. Sunday is soccer. My teammates have no pity. I eat a ton of mango sorbet (and won’t eat it since.)

When I’m 32, my older brother at 37, gets colon cancer as well. After his surgery, he doesn’t need chemo. Wuss. After considered NED for five years, I’m allowed to become a blood donor once again. Just before my 40th birthday, I go to donate blood. It had been several months since my last donation, and my iron count had dropped like a stone. They were going to give me a transfusion. With my GI on speed dial, I arrange another colonoscopy (it had been about a year since my previous scope) and sure enough, colon tumor number two had arrived. Surgery number two takes place, and thankfully it’s laparoscopic, and recovery is easier. I had no symptoms.

We have three boys at this time, I’m running a business, playing soccer and chasing anything that moves. All parties involved are freaked out, but genetic testing puts it into perspective. I have Hereditary Non-Polyposis Colorectal Cancer Syndrome (HNPCC), otherwise known as Lynch Syndrome. Lucky me. Some people inherit money.

I start seeing a high-risk oncologist, and we discuss the implications of the genetic syndrome. I start checking other body parts. Besides my colonoscopy, I get an endoscopy. I get a CT of chest/abdomen/pelvis. I get a cystoscopy. I get a mammogram. My oncologist won’t look at my brain as she says there’s nothing there.

Because of the battery of checking, I find a small tumor on my right kidney at 42. Once again, I have no symptoms.

The teenager disguised as my kidney surgeon uses his Playstation to remove 10% of the kidney (and I assume the tumor), and we move on. No chemo. No side effects. My surgeon said the third surgery was free. The fourth would be full price.

Robin and I have been together since freshmen year at Tulane. At eighteen years old, who knew? She has seen something in me that I haven’t figured out yet. We share everything. Business, foundation, life. We are best friends. I care more about Robin than I do myself. We dance, hold hands in public and have no secrets. We don’t celebrate cancerversaries, anniversaries, or even birthdays.

Every day is a gift and we treat it that way.

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[Robin’s perspective]

Dave’s an acquired taste.

His dry humor and delivery can be perceived as arrogance or indifference towards this, but it’s his way. Of course it bothers him.

Regardless, he keeps going, and going, and going. He tries to make himself believe that he’s taking it for the team, which isn’t so. I let him go, although I wouldn’t let him keep the name “Dave’s not Dead Yet” for our annual BBQ.

When he talks about finding me my next husband, I smile and ignore him. We both understand what it’s like to be a parent knowing that we potentially created kids with a high chance of getting colon cancer or more. We talk about cancer, as it’s a part of our lives.

The boys haven’t known Dave as anything other than a survivor, in both senses of the word. We put things into perspective. Good grades are fine. Straight A’s are nice, but not a priority in our world. Playing and enjoying sports is important. Being #1 on the team isn’t a big deal. I live in a house of soccer balls and fart humor. I read a lot of Jane Austen and drink Bailey’s in my home studio.

Dave has his demons at times, especially when he hears about what others go through, or die too early. It’s not supposed to happen. He doesn’t understand why he can continue to do what he does for an extended period of time.

When it’s time for testing, it brings its own stress as you never know what you might find. With each year of being cancer-free, it also gets closer to the next potential road bump.

I love his voice. I love how he treats me like I’m the only person in the room no matter how many people want to talk to him. I love how he is teaching his children to be gentlemen.

More…

Watch Dave & Robin’s Documentary Trailer 

Learn more about the vow renewal ceremony

Sign up to renew your vows

Learn about One Million Strong

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