There’s a Russian proverb that I grew up hearing that loosely translates to: you can’t be in two places at once. Sure, common sense. Well, on May 2, 2017, thanks to modern technology—bluetooth headphones with a built-in microphone and an iPhone that fits into the pocket of my jeans—I did my best to prove that particular adage wrong.
Matt was meeting with the doctor early. His first appointment, for bloodwork, was scheduled for 7:50 in the morning, followed soon after by a meeting with the doctor to learn the results of the MRI and decide on next steps.
H’s event wasn’t until 9:15. I had high hopes of making it to the doctor’s appointment (via speaker phone) and H’s event. I could be there for both of them; it would be easy.
Or not. The timing didn’t work out quite as well as I would have liked. The nurse didn’t come in to Matt’s room to perform the initial exam until about 9:30, right about the time the first group of kids rolled into the room for the event I was helping to run. No problem. I plugged a headphone into my ear, placed my phone on mute, and listened to the exam while making sure all the volunteers were settled with their instructions for the day.
Apple, penny, and…Matt struggled with the memory and math portion of the exam. His physical exam revealed right side weakness. No huge surprises. I’d been calling with daily updates on these exact symptoms for the last week. The nurse left to get the doctor. I stayed on the phone, trying to focus on the event and H’s excitement that I was there, and not the feeling that the world was about to spin off its axis. After forever, the doctor came in.
I left the event to stand (pace) in the hall.
Matt’s symptoms were the result of swelling in the brain because the polio virus had activated his immune system to fight the cancer (great!), not tumor growth (phew!), and it looked like the tumor had shrank slightly (fantastic!). But…
But, that swelling. The severity and the speed of that swelling.
Matt’s doctor explained that Matt’s immune system revved up so fiercely because he may have one of the faster growing tumors. She suggested a chemo to control the swelling and we agreed. (That chemo, the choice we made, and the price we may or may not have paid, is a post for tomorrow.)
I remember being panicked when I heard Matt’s tumor was one of the faster growing ones, but not disheartened. The doctor had said (way back at our first meeting) that Matt would see his kids graduate from high school. And why would that change? The tumor was disappearing, Matt’s immune system was in overdrive fighting off any lingering cancer cells hiding in his brain, the doctors didn’t seem particularly discouraged, he still had all those favorable genetic markers. The tumor may be fast, but it was no match for the cure, or for us.
I hung up with the doctor at 12:45, about an hour after H’s event was over. I missed the end and proved you can’t be in two places at once.
Matt went for an infusion of his new chemo. And at 5:23 p.m. he texted me, his first text to me in days: Amazing! Tell you later.