For many years, Ann Dow dreamt of sailing the world with her husband, Dan, on deck the Morning Star, their 25-ft. Coronado wooden sailboat. In 2006, they were forced to put that dream on hold when her safety line failed and she fell 55 feet, straight down to the deck, breaking her ribs, shoulders, back, hips, and fingers.
After several weeks at the Kaiser Permanente Santa Rosa (Calif.) intensive care unit, Ann began to regain some mobility, with great support from her care team and Dan by her side. One day, after dropping Ann off at a follow-up appointment, Dan visited his physician to check out a recurring sore throat. A few tests and biopsies later, it was discovered that he had Stage 4 throat cancer.
“I was literally barely on my feet with a cane when everything came down to us that, now, the roles had been reversed,” Ann recalled.
The Dows received full support from their Kaiser Permanente care teams, who went above and beyond for them. Upon learning about Dan’s severe milk allergy, his care team placed a special order of soy-based feeding tube food, which is typically made from milk, to ensure he received sufficient calories and nutrients while receiving his cancer treatment. During Ann’s recovery, her physical therapists built an apparatus to help her move around the dock and get back on Morning Star, where she felt most at home.
Now that Ann is fully mobile and with Dan’s cancer in remission, the Dows have revisited their dream and their love of sailing. In the spirit of the new year, they have embarked on an adventure south toward the Panama Canal.