Have you ever found a stray animal and not wanted to name it because you couldn’t keep it and naming it would make it yours? It would make you own it?
Well, it has a name.
We own it.
The Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke University Medical Center
What a lovely place. What a big place. What a very easy to get lost and walk five miles in, place. I wondered as we rushed in, who is Preston Robert Tisch? He was clearly someone special. Clearly someone who made an impact with his life. I thought Mr. Tisch probably had no idea the impact that just his name would mean to so many people for years to come. And then I thought that Mr. Tisch probably would never know. Mr. Preston Robert Tisch is most likely dead. Forever associated with the very thing that took his life, but forever associated with the ray of hope that thousands of people seek out during the scariest, most uncertain time in their lives. The time when they hear the words, “You have a brain tumor.”
Dare we think positive? Dare we think the word benign? Dare we doubt the best neurosurgeon in the world’s preliminary diagnosis? I’d be lying if I didn’t say that a tiny, itty bitty part of me still believed in a miracle at this time. Naivete! But, nonetheless, a woman, in love with her husband, who wanted an answer that I knew wasn’t going to come.
Oncologists are like robots. They have to be, I guess. They can’t care too much about each and every patient they encounter because the nature of their very discipline has a high mortality rate. They try things on patients that work and then they try things on patients that inevitably shorten their lives. It’s all the nature of the beast. The beast called cancer.
Chris’ doctor is matter of fact, but with the information she had to relay, matter of fact was welcomed.
Brain tumors are measured in Grades, not Stages.
Chris has Grade III Oligodendroglioma.
There are only four Grades.
His cell proliferation index shows a high level of tumor recurrence.
He will be monitored with an MRI every two months for the next year.
At any point, during that year, the tumor recurs, repeat crainiotomy, chemotherapy and radiation will be discussed.
The chance that it will regrow or reappear is high, as some of it still lies in wait, deep within his brain.
Some people live for 15 years with a tumor of this magnitude.
Some people last only a year or two.
Genetic markers in Chris’ tumor suggest he lies somewhere in the middle of the life expectancy range.
He will continue on an anti-seizure medication to stop the “episodes” he was having, were they to somehow come back.
Chris agreed to participate in a clinical trial for a new medication that’s being developed.
He donated his tumor and doctors will use it to see if the drug will kill the cancer cells and at what rate.
All in all, a close eye is what they want to keep on him and MRI’s will be very important in the next few months.
Any proliferation of cells by the first MRI in two months is something that could potentially kill him in less than a year.
Non-growth shows the potential for many more years of a happy life.
Only 34% of patients with malignant brain tumors live past FIVE years.
And that’s it. I have feelings about this list, but as of now the thoughts in my head are so loud that not a single, solitary emotion can be heard.