WACONIA, Minn. – You've heard the phrase a thousand times: "Minnesota Nice." Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield has a story from Lake Waconia that proves it's a real and beautiful thing.
Life can take you for a ride. Sometimes you catch a good day. And sometimes, a good day turns bad.
"I'll always remember it, Aug. 20th, 2020, one month after my daughter was born," said Lindsay Block, of Carver.
To understand how bad this day was, you have to know how good life was. In 2006, on her last week of college, Lindsay met Joe.
What was it that drew him to her?
"Kindness, she's just super kind, super selfless," said Joe Block. "I bring her out and she keeps me grounded. We work well."
A team, and a love that multiplied: Will, Andrew, and baby Olivia.
"I felt the lump when I was pregnant but I didn't think anything of it," Lindsay said.
But it was something: stage 4 breast cancer. It had spread to a lymph node, liver, and her bones.
"Well, right away you think 'death.' I had a 1-month-old baby and two little boys, and hearing I had stage 4 breast cancer at 36 years old was just quite a shock," Lindsay said. "It's still a shock, it's still kind of surreal sometimes."
Joe really had to live out his marriage vows.
"In sickness and in health, and I think about it a lot differently, and I've thought about it a lot lately," Joe said. "I never thought of it as testing my vows, it was never Lindsay was sick. We were sick, you know, we have to get through this."
"As you can imagine, being a caregiver is really hard," Lindsay said. "He takes care of me, but he also has to take care of the kids."
So she decided to take care of him, despite the mounting medical bills.
"Joe has been wanting a boat for, I mean, as long as I can remember," Lindsay said. "When you have a cancer diagnosis, it's one of those, I mean, maybe it's cliché, but it's live life to the fullest, right? I'm not gonna wait, because who knows what's gonna happen. So let's just do it."
Joe found a boat on Facebook Marketplace, listed for $27,000. It was over their budget, but still, he thought it was worth a call to the owner.
"He talked, I talked, we asked questions, and I thought, 'I want to sell it to this guy,'" Kristine said. "I just thought I want this guy to buy this boat."
Joe was supposed to go look at it in person, but suddenly canceled.
"I text Kristine, 'I can't make it, my kid broke his arm.' And then she's like, 'OK I understand,'" Joe said.
He sent her a photo of Lindsay, who was wearing a chemo cap, sitting with their son. Kristine showed it to her wife, Valerie.
"Valerie came into the office, I was sitting there talking to Joe when we first found out and we both started crying," Kristine said.
"And she called me back and she goes, 'Does your wife have cancer?' I said, 'Yeah,'" Joe said.
"When he told me she has stage 4 cancer, I thought, we lost our best friend to that," Kristine said.
Their beloved friend was also a devoted mother to three.
"Julie was, she was another gift. She made everything happen," Kirstine said.
Kristine and Valerie decided to give Joe and Lindsay their boat.
"I just knew it was the right thing. I said, 'Live life.' That's really all that mattered," Kirstine said.
"Both Lindsay and I were in tears, very excited. Happy, joy, can't believe it," Joe said. "And she goes, 'We just want you to take the rest of the money that you're gonna spend on it and go live life to the fullest.'"
"This was truly just amazing, and we'll never forget it," Lindsay said. "I mean, it's impacted our lives in so many ways just to be able to have these adventures with the kids."
And with each other.
"Strangers for a minute, best friends quickly," Joe said.
Bonded forever by a vessel of love. The families regularly have dinner together and are planning a group vacation later this summer.
Lindsay is committed to fighting hard as she starts a new round of radiation. She says she's focused on all the adventures to come.
Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield loves sharing the good news. She hosts a show on Sunday mornings based on local "positivity and empowerment," leading right into CBS Sunday Morning.