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Help Macavan Baird Fight Cancer

$106,850 of $150,000 goal

Raised by 294 people in 10 months
Created August 29, 2018
December 12, 2018

Macavan A. Baird

January 22, 1976 - December 10, 2018

Macavan Alexander Baird, 42, of Burlington, North Carolina passed away after a 17-month battle with lung cancer on Monday, December 10, 2018.

Macavan is survived by his loving wife Shannon Lundeen and their sons Paxton, Harlan, and Phoenix Baird-Lundeen, parents Macaran and Iris (Kris) Baird of Minnesota, sister Trina-Marie Baird and her husband Todd Gutmann of Oregon.

Macavan met Shannon at Colgate University, where they both studied philosophy. Their story is one of strength, growth, compassion and of course love. Macavan was an inspirational father whose natural instinct, thoughtfulness and intelligence brought wisdom, guidance and humor - and a deep love of all things superhero - to every facet of his boys’ lives. Macavan’s presence was understated, but was a source of strength to both his friends and family. Those around him felt safe. He was always willing to explore both the lighthearted side of life, as well as the deep feelings and emotions that we feel when contemplating our existence. He was a fierce friend, father, son, and husband.

Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, Macavan spent his early years in rural Wabasha, Minnesota and three years in Edmond, Oklahoma before enjoying his middle and high-school years in Syracuse, New York. He attended Colgate from 1994-1998, graduating with a B.A. in Philosophy. In 2000, Macavan pursued a dream of continuing his formal studies of Eastern philosophy and moved to Honolulu, Hawai’i where he earned his M.A. in Comparative Philosophy at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa in 2002. He then decided to pursue a career in law and moved to Philadelphia in 2003 to begin law school at Rutgers University, Camden. That same year while Shannon was pursuing her Ph.D. in Philosophy at Stony Brook University, Macavan and Shannon reunited and eventually married in 2006. After graduating from law school, Macavan served as a clerk for a magistrate judge and then worked in corporate litigation before joining the employment and labor law firm of Littler and Mendelson, P.C. where he worked as an attorney on the CaseSmart team until his passing. From the time they were married, Macavan and Shannon lived and worked in Philadelphia until 2013 when they moved to the Cleveland area for two years before settling in Burlington, North Carolina in 2015.  

To celebrate Macavan's life, there will be a Gathering of Friends on Elon's campus in the Sacred Space of the Numen Lumen Pavilion, at 2 pm EST on Saturday, December 15th. The Numen Lumen Pavilion is located at 301 E. Haggard Avenue in Elon, NC. A reception will be held at The Oak House following the gathering.

The Baird-Lundeen family would like to extend their sincere gratitude to the medical teams at the Duke Cancer Institute and the Hospice and Palliative Care Center of Alamance-Caswell.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to https://www.gofundme.com/helpmacavanbairdfightcancer  to support Shannon and Macavan’s family or to a charity of your choice in honor of Macavan.

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____________________
August 29, 2018


I am writing to you all from my new home base in Burlington, NC where I have moved to help Macavan and Shannon care for their new baby, Phoenix Madison. It’s been more than 40 years since I last cared for an infant around the clock, but I’m relearning the ropes and am enjoying this special time with my newest grandson!


I think many of you know what Macavan and Shannon have been going through over the course of the past 13 months, but here is a recap for those of you who are just learning about their ordeal: After weeks suffering from a serious cough, and being incorrectly diagnosed as having pneumonia, on July 15, 2017, Macavan was at the pool with his family when he coughed and sneezed simultaneously…and cracked a boned in his spine. At the ER, they didn’t like his X-rays so did a CT scan of his chest and found a large mass that turned out to be adenocarcinoma – a lung cancer that had hit stage IV and spread to his spine, weakening it and leading to him cracking a vertebra with a sneeze and cough.  It may be an understatement to say it has been a very rough road since then, as you might imagine, and also complicated by the fact that Macavan and Shannon found out Shannon was pregnant with Phoenix 8 days prior to his diagnosis. (Phoenix joined the family on March 15th, just three days after they learned the clinical trial drug was no longer effective.)  Fortunately, they are made of tough stuff, and they have a lot of support. They have great friends from college who have helped them in every way imaginable and that’s made a huge difference.  And, Macavan's colleagues at Littler, Mendelson as well as Shannon’s work community at Elon University have been models of a supportive circle.  Add to that the support of all of us—family, friends, and acquaintances from all phases of their lives—and they are hanging in there.


Macavan has been through 3 different treatment plans, each of which has failed – meaning that his disease progressed despite the treatment.  So, they moved past each of those and Macavan is now doing immunotherapy, the goal of which is to both boost his own immune system to fight the cancer, and help his system “target” the cancer.  The side effects are much more tolerable than those of his prior treatments (2 separate chemotherapy regimens and a clinical trial drug that was very tough on him and even left him with lots of scars).  For now, the immunotherapy leaves him very tired and causes some swelling in his ankles. Other than that, he’s feeling pretty decent these days. He has a scan in early September to see what’s happening in his lungs after being on immunotherapy for 2 months.  It is quite a challenge, mentally & emotionally, waiting to get such important news and knowing that things could change radically depending on what the scan shows.


In the meantime, Shannon and Macavan try to have a sense of humor about nearly everything, especially cancer, because there’s nothing much else to do AND because it really does help. They are wired to be irreverent and sarcastic, so they do laugh or at least chuckle often.  Their new, deliciously fat and happy baby boy along with their older kids’ resiliency and spirit sure do help.


Please continue to support this family in any way you can. Regardless of what next week’s scan shows, there will still be a long road ahead and they need as much love and support from us as they can get.


Love,
Judy (Shannon's mom)
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Dear friends and family,

Shannon here. It is with a mixture of deep sadness and great relief that I write to let you know that Macavan's struggle with cancer has ended. He passed away peacefully this morning shortly before the sun rose to reveal a winter wonderland here in North Carolina.

To celebrate Macavan's life, we will be holding a Gathering of Friends on Elon's campus in the Sacred Space of the Numen Lumen Pavilion, at 2 p.m. EST on Saturday, December 15th. The Numen Lumen Pavilion is located at 301 E. Haggard Avenue in Elon, NC. A reception will be held at The Oak House following the gathering. You and your loved ones are all invited to the gathering and the reception. (Children are welcome.)

In lieu of flowers, please consider contributing to this gofundme campaign or make a donation to your charity of choice in Macavan's honor.

Wishing you peace and love,
Shannon

Please see the official obituary here: https://www.omegafsc.com/notices/Macavan-Baird
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Dear family and friends of Macavan and Shannon,

I write to share a difficult update. Macavan has elected to not pursue any further treatment for his cancer. He received brain radiation yesterday to alleviate the symptoms of his brain metastasis. But, he will not receive any additional anti-cancer treatment. As I type this, Macavan and Shannon are going through the process of in-home hospice admission. He will continue to receive excellent care through the Burlington, NC-based Hospice of Alamance Caswell and his oncologist will stay in close contact with them and serve as the attending physician for Macavan. The family’s goals now are to reduce if not alleviate Macavan’s physical pain and suffering through symptom management and in-home care so that he can spend the time he has left living and so that his death is a peaceful one.

At this point, Macavan wishes to spend the coming days and weeks with his immediate family and so he will be limiting visits with friends and family to those that have already been planned. Reaching out to Macavan through email and phone/text is welcome as is adding stories and photos to the shared google drive or sending stories/photos you wish to remain private directly to the macavanmemorial[at]gmail.com email address. (See details for how to contribute to the google drive folder in the previous update posted by Shannon.) Macavan has really enjoyed spending time reminiscing, thanks to the photos and stories many of you have shared already.

In addition to contributing to the collection of memories in the living memorial, please consider contributing to this gofundme campaign if you are financially able. All funds raised beyond medical and posthumous costs will be going into the trust that Macavan and Shannon have set up for their three boys.

I will continue to keep you all posted. We all—Shannon, Macavan, their parents, and their siblings—appreciate your continued love and support for their family.

With love,
Judy (Shannon’s mom)
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Dear friends and family,

Shannon here, with another update to share on Macavan. After conferring with other lung cancer experts, Macavan’s oncologist determined that Tagrisso is not worth pursuing given how Macavan did on a previous drug that is in the same family as Tagrisso. In the meantime, Duke determined that his lung tumors have grown enough to try to get a biopsy and so Macavan was looking forward to participating in a clinical trial sometime in the next week or so. However, Macavan had a brain MRI yesterday evening that revealed the cancer has spread to his brain (they found two 9mm lesions on the left side of his brain). They have to treat the brain lesions first (with radiation) before starting him on any systemic anti-cancer treatment and so the trial (along with the biopsy required for it) and chemotherapy are all on hold for now. The next available appointment for radiation is at least two weeks out. And, after receiving radiation, Macavan will need to wait at least one week before starting chemo and anywhere from 2-4 weeks to start the trial. So, in the meantime, we will be managing Macavan’s symptoms at home with morphine, steroids, and oxygen. During that time, it’s possible that Macavan may decline enough that he will decide to not pursue additional treatment given the potential treatment side effects and their impact on his quality of life at that point.

As my mom had mentioned in her previous update, I would like to invite you all to contribute to a “living memorial” that Macavan can enjoy over the coming weeks. I have set up a google account specifically for this purpose so that you may share your thoughts, photos, and/or videos with him. The google drive folder is: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/14gaUfvAgjmgh4XgXM-BDxJLVzcXeEfRL?usp=sharing.
It’s most helpful if you name any file uploads--whether video, photo, or word--with a title that includes your first and last name. Alternatively, if you do not want others to be able to see what you’d like to share with Macavan, please email your thoughts along with any file attachments you’d like to share privately to this email address: macavanmemorial@ gmail.com.

Some notes about what to share:
You don’t have to write something in order to contribute to this living memorial. Photos capture and trigger memories on their own and are a wonderful way to share with Macavan memories of time you’ve spent together, regardless of whether they are accompanied by written words. If you choose to write something or record yourself saying something, please don’t feel burdened to be profound in what you say or what you write! Short and sweet stories even about the most superficial things you and Macavan shared together are just as welcome as longer, deeper reflections on life and what Macavan means to you.

Please be aware that everyone who has a link to this google drive folder has the ability to add, edit, and delete content. So, be careful so as to not accidentally edit or delete someone else’s files!

Thank you for taking the time to share your memories of Macavan with him and for continuing to support us in so many ways. Much love to you and yours.

Love,
Shannon
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October 25, 2018
Hello all,
As many of you know from my last update, Macavan started a new chemotherapy (gemcitabine) on September 12th. Over the course of the past 6 weeks, Macavan has become increasingly short of breath and has had suffered multiple coughing fits. Ironically, two of the side effects of this chemo include coughing and shortness of breath and so it has been unclear whether these symptoms have been related to the treatment or to cancer growth. Macavan and Shannon were at Duke Cancer Institute yesterday where Macavan received a CT scan. After reading the scan, Macavan’s oncologist shared the disappointing news that the cancer was growing and not responding to the current treatment.

The doctor presented four options for moving forward, one of which was stopping/not pursuing additional treatment. For the first time since the diagnosis, the oncologist was willing to offer an estimate on how much time Macavan would have left if he elected to not receive additional treatment. He told them Macavan would likely have weeks to, best case scenario, two months left to live. As you can imagine, this news was hard for Shannon and Macavan to hear, but not unexpected as Macavan’s overall well-being has been rapidly declining over the past couple of weeks.

At their visit with the oncologist 6 weeks ago, they were told gemcitabine (the chemo he was just on) was the last treatment available. At this visit, however, the doctor gave them three treatment options to pursue: 1) a phase I clinical trial that he may be eligible for if the radiologists think his tumors have grown enough for them to get a sufficient tissue sample (required for the trial); 2) off-label use of a drug (Tagrisso/osimertinib) that is currently approved to target another form of non-small cell lung cancer with a different mutation; and 3) a different chemotherapy. They can pursue getting Tagrisso while Macavan is either in the trial or on chemotherapy, but Macavan cannot receive chemotherapy of any kind at least three weeks prior to starting the clinical trial.

So, here is their plan: the oncologist is currently consulting with the radiology team at Duke to determine if Macavan is a candidate for a biopsy now that the tumors in his lungs have grown. If he is, he will consider having a biopsy next week and then see if the tissue sample is sufficient to join the trial. If so, he will likely pursue that option. If he is not a candidate for a biopsy, he will start a different type of chemotherapy next Wednesday. In the meantime, Duke Cancer Institute is beginning the process of working with Macavan’s insurance to see if they will cover Tagrisso. Again, Tagrisso is not approved for use with his particular mutation and while there was one patient with EGFR+ Exon 20 insertion (Macavan’s mutation) who responded to Tagrisso in an early clinical trial of the drug, the patient responded only when the dose was double what it is currently approved for. If his insurance approves the use of Tagrisso, Macavan can use it if/when the chemo and/or clinical trial drug prove ineffective.

None of these options is great and Macavan and Shannon know that the time Macavan has left with family and loved ones is all-too short. For this reason, Shannon will be working in the next week or so to put together a digital “living memorial” for Macavan where friends and family can upload photos and share their thoughts and memories about Macavan. Rather than saving all of these things for us to share with each other after Macavan passes away, Shannon wants to make sure we can share our love for Macavan with him now, while he is still here to benefit from it and appreciate it. So, she will be reaching out to you soon with an invitation to contribute your thoughts and memories to this digital memorial. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Macavan and drop him a line. You can post a message here on the gofundme page or reach out to him directly if you have his email or cell#.

Thank you for your ongoing support of Macavan, Shannon, and their family. You are the reason their spirits soar high despite this latest news.

Much love and appreciation to you all.

Judy

(pic of Macavan w/ Phoenix in Sept '18)
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$106,850 of $150,000 goal

Raised by 294 people in 10 months
Created August 29, 2018
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