An unfortunate discussion

A routine physical exam turns out with some questions– those questions turn into an MRI to check my pituitary gland.  Did you know that they pituitary gland is in your brain?  Did you know it contains a lot of functionality that your hormones use– ?  I didn’t until they went in and had a look.  That turned out to be perfectly normal… No issues– but while they were in there, they decided to have a poke around and they found a small tumor.  A TUMOR?  What?  Yeah, you are going to need to get that checked out.  He referred me over to Swedish Hospital, Cherry Hill Campus.  I called for three days straight and didn’t get anything– no calls back, nothing.  Then I tried one last time and I got ahold of a “Pam”, a nurse with the IVY CENTER FOR ADVANCED BRAIN TUMOR INSTITUTE.  Not really a name you ever want to hear.  She said she would get my MRI reviewed by a doctor and she would get back to me in a couple days…
“It can go one of two ways– either the doctor will review and suggest you make an appointment or the doctor will want to see you right away.”

She called back three days later– “Yeah, so the doctor wants to see you right away.”

Shocked, she quickly schedules an appointment for the next week– mid-week.  May 18th.  1pm.  The time trickles by like sand in an hourglass.  When we arrive at the IVY CENTER FOR ADVANCED BRAIN TUMOR INSTITUTE, I am one of the youngest people here, but not the only younger person.  The doctor is running at least an hour late.  More waiting.

When we finally do see him, Dr. Cobbs– he is bright, smiling– he wants to get to know me before running through the medical chart.  We talk for a few moments, I tell him my story– no symptoms, we were looking at pituitary issues, we did an MRI– standard and with contrast.  He nods– starts going into pituitary tumors– oh, those aren’t much concern– people have tumors there all the time, yada yada yada…. I gulp.

“I don’t have pituitary tumors– all clear there.”

His look changes from happy to concerned, off base. “Oh.  Well, we should look at your chart then.”

Silence.

More silence.  Scratching of the brow– confusion over the MRI images– there appear to be lots of them.

“Oh yes.  I recall this subject now.  Yes, this is not a Pituatary Tumor.”

In the end, a lot of scientific terms to describe one thing: unknown tumor.  Unknown what kind, what grade— everything… unknown… So many questions, none of them making it out of my mouth.

In the end, we need to schedule a biopsy to extract a small piece of the tumor to send to pathology for review.

The words just keep spinning by– my head is spinning.

Tumor, Tumor, Cancer, Cancer, Fuck, Fuck….

But look, enough agony here…. Today it’s June 22nd and I am still here right now.  I will be here for quite some time if this tumor has anything to do with it— the Pathology report is back and we met with Dr. Graber yesterday, one of only four Neuro-Oncologists in the region.  They have a weekly “Tumor Board” and he was happy to report that my tumor has the lowest score of any of the tumors recently seen– it is considered a very low grade Oligodendroglioma… Still, its a serious issue, but it’s not something that is going to kill me in the short term.  It’s so low grade that at this point, it’s not going to be treated and we will watch it with brain scans until it begins to show some changes.  Then, we will look at a number of very minor options == the expectation is that this could remain dormant for a number of years.  Once it does start to grow, the general life expectancy is about 13-15 years.  Most dogs don’t even live that long.

Life.  Here it is.  Like a ticking time bomb. Time to get living.

Here is a picture:

The white cloudy area on the right side is the tumor area– it is located deep in brain tissue and doesn’t respond to contrast, which means when it has an active bloodstream, its doesn’t light up, which is a very good sign.. More on this later.  Don’t worry.tumor

 

It’s a boy!

Dear (Son):

Your mum and I have decided that we are going to call you Prince William until you are born (we have several names picked out for you)… This is because today, we discovered that, as rumored, you are, in fact, a boy.  This morning we had the ultrasound that we were waiting a long time for– your mom woke up earlier than usual with such a big smile on her face, she was very excited to go and see you from the ultrasound.

I cant tell you how amazing it is to see your future in a doctor’s office, but there you are, growing each moment inside of mama’s belly. 

I hope you don’t mind the world seeing your private parts! 

Love, Dad.

It's a boy!

Dear (Son):

Your mum and I have decided that we are going to call you Prince William until you are born (we have several names picked out for you)… This is because today, we discovered that, as rumored, you are, in fact, a boy.  This morning we had the ultrasound that we were waiting a long time for– your mom woke up earlier than usual with such a big smile on her face, she was very excited to go and see you from the ultrasound.

I cant tell you how amazing it is to see your future in a doctor’s office, but there you are, growing each moment inside of mama’s belly. 

I hope you don’t mind the world seeing your private parts! 

Love, Dad.

March 27th, 2011

Dear (potential) Son:

We have started to gather some items for your arrival.  Today we hit up a “consignment expo” and bought some sweaters and of course, your first baseball cap.  It’s a Mariner’s cap, the local hometown team.  We also picked you up a nice little sweater to match my dude sweater.  I shouldn’t talk too much about all of this, it really is too early, but I do want to tell you about things that are happening and it’s days like this, inconsequential in the grand scale of things, that have the most meaning.  Underneath everything in the world, your story is starting to come into it’s own.  While you are hanging out in Momma belly and growing, we are always on the other side talking and planning on your behalf.

 

The Future…

There is this thing, growing in my wife, that is going to change everything.

This is the first picture of what I should say, is my offspring.  The moment that I think at the heart of all this madness we walk through in life, this is what it is all for.  A week after turning 38, I discover that soon enough, I will become a father and that makes time move even faster than it was before this moment happened.  Now, everything that I needed to do before I took that next step is going to have to be split into the next 7 or so months, if everything goes according to plan.

That’s not much time until my life changes yet again.

Fatherhood.  A new chapter, a much needed new chapter.  I am still playing catchup from the last big lifechange, when Lili and I met in China and began the long, slow process of getting her to the states… Now she has almost been here for 2 years– and where has our life gone?  A busy life if I look back at the Facebook– a good life… which is why I think we have been so lucky, so blessed.  But, I must not jinx our fortune.  A lot can happen in the coming months– but, if there is something that I can offer this being, is this blog– an opportunity to communicate to this person the story that is about to unfold…

…This is for you…