On Monday, August 24, 2020, our entire lives changed. My husband and I are both physician assistants practicing internal medicine. He had just finished seeing a patient and was in his office when he had a focal seizure affecting the left side of his body. Once at the ER, he seemed fine and was almost discharged with the diagnosis of seizures. Luckily, a CT scan was ordered, and there it was: a 5 cm left frontal lobe neoplasm. Shock. Disbelief. Grief. Anger. After 24 years of marriage, three of our four kids were in college and we were almost “empty nesters.” Now was our time to travel and enjoy life and do the things we had put off until tomorrow. God had other plans.
The next few days were crazy. I was on the phone calling every local institution and trying to navigate care. It was overwhelming. On one of the calls, I was directed to get in touch with the Brain Tumor Network. It felt like our case navigator, Kelly, was holding my hand.
I was in a constant “fight-or-flight” mode trying to figure out if we were doing the right thing. Even as a medical professional, I didn’t know. Knowing that Kelly is on our side, reviewing medical records and pathology reports and staying up to date with my husband’s GBM feels like my caregiver burden is just a little bit easier. Our conversations give me hope.
We are only three months into this cancer journey. My husband has already had to have two craniotomies and had a recurrence while waiting to start treatment, but I remain hopeful. I know I can pick up the phone and call the Brain Tumor Network at any moment with any question about next steps.
It’s amazing to feel the power of love, even from people you have never met. I’ve learned a lot about brain cancer in the last couple months, but I’ve been learning even more valuable life lessons too.