Sometimes the passing of a year can feel like an eternity. Sometimes times it feels as if it took only moments to pass by.
For me this past year was a mixture of both.
You see, it was one year ago today that my son learned he had a brain tumor.
I'm sure he'll never forget the moment he was told the news. I know I'll never forget the moment he called me.
He had gone to the doctor because he was having headaches. They couldn't find anything wrong and suggested an MRI. As I settled in for a relaxing evening my cell phone rang. When I answered I heard him say "Mom. It's bad. It's really bad. I have a brain tumor. They put me on anti-seizure medication and are taking me to the hospital."
Thus began his year long journey. Not one I would wish on anyone.
A frantic trip to the hospital (me, not him as they had given him something to keep him calm). Learning he had a baseball sized tumor behind his right eye. Being told it was a miracle he hadn't suffered seizures or been brought to the hospital in a coma. Trying to make sense of what we were being told.
All the while watching him remain upbeat and positive. Watching his wonderfully supportive group of friends gather around him. Knowing the seriousness of the surgery he was about to undergo. And knowing he had no choice.
Talking about everything and nothing. Talking about life insurance policies "just in case". The conversations you really don't want to have with your child. Praying over him. Praying with him. Preparing for emergency brain surgery. Brain surgery!
Sitting in the hospital waiting room while he underwent ten hours of surgery. Fielding calls from family and friends. Passing on what little information we had. Praying and praying and praying.
Listening in disbelief as the surgeon tells us the surgery was successful with 99% of the tumor removed but is was likely malignant.
Going to see him late that night in ICU. Walking in expecting the worst, only to hear him cracking jokes with his nurse in between drifting in and out of consciousness. Knowing at that moment he was going to be okay.
Learning days later that his tumor was a grade three anaplastic astrocytoma. Being told the mean life expectancy was three to five years. Absorbing enormous amounts of information from doctors and specialists. Calls and emails keeping everyone informed.
Preparing a room in our home so he could stay with us while he recuperated. Carefully doling out the massive amount of medication he needed making sure it was taken in proper doses at the proper times. Spending time talking. Spending time praying.
Post surgery follow up visits. Preparation for radiation. Preparation for chemo therapy. Dealing with short term and long term disability insurance. Driving him to and from his daily radiation treatments until he was okayed to drive. Updating his caring bridge site. Working with his buddies as they planned a fund raiser to help him with the ever-mounting medical bills.
That period of time slipped by so quickly, yet so slowly. We learned so much about brain tumors. About radiation and chemo. About dealing with insurance and social security disability claims. Learning that there are patient advocates that will help you get what you need when you need it. Learning that this service is not offered to you - you have to ask for one.
Being brought to tears by the outpouring of love and support shown by his hundreds of friends. By family, friends, past co-workers, church family and many others I've only met through my sewing blog. The amazing number of prayer warriors who prayed for him - and us - through the many months.
His treatment consisted of six weeks of daily radiation. Followed by six months of oral chemo treatments. He was fortunate in that he didn't suffer too many negative side effects.
Ten months after this all began he was told "you're done." The MRI following the last round of chemo told the doctors that everything looked good. Praise God!
He was okayed to go back to work. Because he'd been let go from his job once his FMLA was used up he's been busy looking for a job. But, as he says, being unemployed and job hunting is nothing compared to battling brain cancer.
As you can see he's looking good. He's even begun to gain some weight back.
If you thought of him, prayed for him, made a donation, visited his Caring Bridge site, sent me a message of encouragement, gave me a hug, let me cry on your shoulder, or asked me how he was doing...with all my heart I say THANK YOU.