The last time Tate wrote, he was struggling with the word metastasis. Believe me, we were all struggling with it. But he made the decision to transfer his care to the Cancer Treatment Center of America and we put our hope and focus on that. The plan was he would fly out in time for his fifth (out of six) Chemo treatment. CTCA would not alter same chemo regimen, since you have to go through the whole cycle, but they would get him going on ALL of the other services as well in the meantime.
There are five centers around the country. The one he chose was, of course, Chicago (it’s actually one hour outside of the city in Zion Illinois but I’ve heard that anyone within two hours of Chicago will tell you they live in Chicago). The plan was to leave on May 17th. He would be there for about a week and then return home until round six. CTCA pays for the all of his flights. Pretty amazing.
We decided we wouldn’t tell St. Francis he was leaving until right before that so that we could assure that they would be available to him if he needed them. Also, there had already been an MRI of his brain scheduled for May 14th. The doctor said a brain MRI was standard procedure once cancer had spread to the spine.
Then about two weeks ago, Tate started having headaches. They came out of the blue but hit hard immediately and then became a daily thing. They were like migraines in that they were light sensitive, noise sensitive and completely debilitating. We told the doctor and the nurses. The nurses said it could be reaction to the pain meds, allergies, constipation, caffeine. The doctor said, “Lets see what happens with the MRI.”
May 14th came, a full week after he began getting the headaches, and Tate went in for the MRI. Within a matter of hours the doctor called with the results. There are multiple small tumors on both lobes. “Each about 7 millimeters” he said. “We caught it early” he said.
The next morning when I came into Tate’s room to give him his tea, I asked him how he was doing. For the past three and a half months I have been asking him this question at least 2 or 3 times a day. But that morning the answer was different. He said, “It’s hard not to be a little depressed.”
Once there has been brain metastasis, the person has to stop chemo and do brain radiation for about two weeks. Then chemo can resume. We discussed whether or not he wanted to stay in Hartford to do the radiation but Tate was clear; he was done with St. Francis. CTCA said they could take over right away but it meant that he would have to be in Chicago for about 3 weeks as opposed to 1 week this first time. It was longer than he wanted to be away from home he said, but he was sure it was the right thing to do.
Tate flew out on Thursday (May 17th). Dezi took Friday off to go through his first day at CTCA with him. Karen flew out to join him on Thursday. She will stay for four or five days and then return home.
The house doesn’t feel the same without him of course and I personally am struggling with having even less control now that he is halfway across the country. He already reports the CTCA is “so far so great,” and that gives me more hope than I have had in months. But it’s hard not to be a little…I don’t know – terrified, angry, depressed, lost.