Henry's Blog

Friday, January 05, 2007

Lamar Strikes Back

At 3:30 PM on New Year's Eve, we went to the hospital for Henry's scheduled MRI. This scan was intended to be the final, definitive test confirming the post-operative scan taken two days after his second surgery. We went home, watched the New Year's Eve Disney Stars' Bowl-a-thon and some Hanna Montana reruns, toasted the New Year with sparkling pomegranate juice, and went to sleep.

On Tuesday, January 2nd we went to our appointment with Dr. T to review the MRI results. Henry was in a lively mood, and as Dr. T entered the exam room, Henry filled his hands with Skittles, and chatted amiably. Then, Dr. T Dropped the bomb.

"I wish I had better news to tell you," he said. "there is still tumor."

"...And it appears to be growing."

His words fell like cold sleet that clung but didn't soak in (a meager "Really?" was all that Dad could muster).

Dr. T himself clearly was blindsided; no one expected this. With only a few moments to review the MRI before meeting with us, Dr. T was unprepared to answer all the questions or present a clear treatment path he could recommend other than proceeding with radiation as planned. He did not feel comfortable with more surgery, given the positioning of the tumor and the extreme risk of serious neurological damage.

"Can we look at the pictures?" asked Henry.

We went into the office and looked at the pictures, comparing a film from right after the November 13 surgery to one from December 31. It was shocking to see the clear, bright image that looked at least the size of a quarter, sitting in the edge of the brain stem. Dr T said he was certain that it was tumor. Henry looked closely at the screen.

"Is it possible that you're wrong?" he asked.

"I wish I could say that," the Doctor answered slowly.

Looking at the film, Dr. T was processing what he was seeing and trying to develop options: gamma knife was still a possibility, although perhaps after standard radiation (Lamar might still be too big for that), and he would confer with Dr D (our radiologist); IMRI technology was discussed (pretty technical stuff, but apparently has little to offer us); further consultation with Dr. S at St. Jude in Memphis is warranted.

It was horrifying to learn how few choices we might have, but heartening (in retrospect) to observe Dr T in real time gather all possible resources to pursue in order to present a solid recommendation. He scheduled a full spinal MRI for Friday, 1/5, to determine, given the growth, if any seeds were sown in the spinal column. He would call us after his consultation with Dr. S. He said there might be an exam in Memphis.

As we walked out to the hazy, gray day, Henry insisted that we drive to River Street, not just for lunch, but to walk around and go to the Candy Factory. We visited a toy store and on the drive home, Henry was spirited and talkative, as usual.

As we drove on a side street, Mama said, very quietly, seemingly to herself, "Everything is going to be OK."


She pointed to a building being renovated on a corner lot. It was surrounded by the standard plywood safety fence painted white. And in big, bold, red letters eight feet high it read:


After we got home, Dad went to work to pick up some papers, then we all went out to Henry's favorite restaurant, the Crazy Crab. He ordered clam chowder and a huge seafood boil...and actually ate about half of it. He marveled at the gigantic salt water aquarium with the sea snake, starfish and sea urchins.

While putting the doggie bags in the refrigerator, Henry smiled and said:

"I had fun today!"

"I did too," Dad said, lying just a little.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Cermak's, I must admit that I have teared up again in reading the news in the blog today. I hope you all don't take this the wrong way, but I know with all my heart that this Lamar doesn't stand a chance. In a dream I had, the radiation worked and they were easily able to stop any further progression. So keep the faith and know that many people are thinking and praying for all of you everyday and night.
God Bless! JJC

9:39 PM  

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