About four weeks ago, Tate came down with a nasty cough and was put on antibiotics for Bronchitis. He was feeling well enough five days later to rock out at his 60th Birthday Bash. A good time was had by all.
The cough wouldn’t go away and his throat was inflamed so he was put on steroids and an inhaler. His doc ordered a chest x-ray and it came back clear. Other than the cough, he was fine.
Then about a week and a half ago, while enjoying a lovely theater retreat in Putney Vermont, Tate had a small stroke. 36 hours of tests in the Brattleboro hospital confirmed this but could not find the source of the stroke. His heart for instance, looked perfectly fine.
We left the hospital and returned to Hartford feeling as though he’d dodged a bullet. The only remaining symptom of the stroke it seemed was that he could not move his left thumb (he complained that this put him one thumb away from being a Great Ape but really he felt grateful). He had an appointment with PCP and she made subsequent appointments to see a Neurologist and an Occupational Therapist. Alas the cough was still there and one doctor suggested it might be heartburn. A second chest x-ray showed nothing of concern.
Then about five days later, Tate woke up with a lump above his right clavicle. He thought maybe he had pulled a muscle. He had to go to NY to audition actors for Flipside but we he returned, Karen took him to ER just to make sure whatever this was was not related to his stroke. After many hours, he was admitted. The going theory was that he had pneumonia. A third chest x-ray was done and results revealed a “shadow.”
By the next day, still in the hospital, Tate’s voice started to get very hoarse and diminished to almost a whisper. Within that same day, his arm started to swell. They later discovered that this was due to blood clots. A ha! Blood clots has caused the stroke. But why the blood clots all of a sudden? And why the bump on this shoulder and why the hoarseness in his voice…and why the coughing.
I could not possible go over every single test he had over the next few days and every single theory that was thrown out. I will say that almost every hospital department was involved (okay Labor and Delivery never weighed in on the case but that was one of the few departments left out).
On Thursday night we found out it was a malignant tumor. On Friday we found out is was Adenocarcinoma – Lung Cancer, Stage 3. The oncologist said it was inoperable.
Today is Sunday. There are still many questions yet to be answered ie. are there more tumors elsewhere? etc. But the plan now is to start radiation and chemo on Wednesday. We want a second opinion but we need to blast this thing ASAP as it is growing very fast. He will get done with that first round on Friday and will go for a second opinion the following Monday.
One good thing we found out – we, as a group, have tremendous connections! Experts from Hartford Hospital, Yale, Washington University, the National Cancer Center and the White House have already been contacted. No doubt we are going get this man the STAR treatment. We are also already exploring integrative therapies – ways that he can empower himself to aide in his own healing and ways that we, his family, his friends, his community, can help as well.
I cannot speak for anyone else but I have never been so terrified in my life. It feels like nightmare I cannot wake up from. But I keep thinking of what the wonderful pastor said as she passed Dezi, Ashley and me sobbing in the hallway. She prayed with us (and anyone who knows me knows that this is not a usual occurrence for me but wow did it help). In her prayer she called on all the strength we had to “not get paralyzed by fear of the future, but instead to focus on what we can do in the present moment.” Writing for this blog is something I can do. And I will do it as much as I can so that everyone around the globe who loves Greg Tate can participate in his healing.
Please visit this blog as often as you like and/or set it up so that you can receive emails with new entries. My hope is that Tate will write often and so will others who are involved in his day-to-day care.
I don’t think I know anyone else who is loved so fiercely (and that is the key word) by so many people. We need to use that fierceness to get him through this.
And laughter – we need LOTS of laughter.