Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Brain Mets

That's cancer talk for "the melanoma has metastasized to the brain." I was expecting something "not great" today, but yet unprepared for Melanoma Man to have 2 new brain tumors that weren't there just 8 weeks ago.

I started the day sitting by the hotel pool with Butter and imac, stopped in the lobby for towels and overheard the receptionist say "Ninety percent of our business comes from Moffitt Cancer Center." More evidence poolside where I chatted with 2 sixty something women, both with long grey hair and glasses. I could just picture them at a Grateful Dead concert for some reason. One there with her husband, a bone marrow transplant recipient, the other there by herself for radiation of what she simply called "my tumor." She looked lonely and she had no teeth. I kept fighting with myself, should I engage in conversation or pretend I am wearing my invisibility cloak? The answer was clear. I asked her where she was from, when she was diagnosed with cancer. It was good that I did. She had been sick for awhile, but no health insurance. She had a job, but when her son got sent to jail the household income was cut in half. She couldn't afford to pay her car note or utilities on just her salary alone. Her car got repossessed. She couldn't get to work. She got fired. A neighbor took her in. The neighbor could tell she was in pain, that something was wrong. The neighbor took her to the health department. They said they couldn't do anything. The neighbor took her to a rural health clinic run by a charitable organization. Two weeks later Moffitt accepted her as a patient, knowing she has no way to pay them. The neighbor, Wow, that was just what I needed to hear. She enjoyed watching Butter and imac play in the pool and told me that she has an eleven year old granddaughter. We wished each other well.

An hour later Melanoma Man, Butter, imac and I were at the CRU(Clinical Research Unit). Then to Starbucks in the lobby until time to see The Weber in the Cutaneous Clinic. That's what Melanoma Man calls his oncologist, Dr. Weber. A minute before we got called back Melanoma Man leaned over and asked "What if the news is bad, what about the boys?" I had thought about micromanaging this issue, but realized that these oncology folks know how to handle this. We were escorted to an exam room, someone brought a gown in, Dr.Weber peeked his head in, then Jan appeared. "Dr. Weber has some things to talk to you about so I'll take the boys back to the waiting room."

Melanoma Man looked shocked, as if the possibility of bad news had been very very remote. He was speechless for a moment. The Weber came in and said: "Well the news is not horrible, but it's not good." He laid out a plan for getting a more detailed MRI and then a stereotactic radiation. 

I went out to the waiting room while Melanoma Man scheduled the MRI. I thought for sure Butter and imac would ask "Is everything ok? How's Dad?" Not a peep out of either of them. So we have a little time to digest the information before we tell the boys.

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