Thank you all for keeping up to date with Gabe's story. Let's get started from the beginning. Gabe was diagnosed with NF1 as a child. The conditions presented its own set of unique challenges as he grew up. MRI's, chemo, surgeries. No one expected his next big diagnosis to be cancer.
August 5th, 2016 7pm: Gabe and I (Kristen) went to Abington Memorial Hospital's ER. Gabe didn't have insurance. We were worried about even getting seen by a doctor. The ER staff took immediate compassion on Gabe. They urged us to stay even if Gabe was offered the option to leave. About 3 hours into the ER visit is the first time we heard the word cancer. We cried as we notified our families. Gabe's parents rushed to meet us there and stayed until we knew Gabe was going to be admitted.
August 6th 1:30am: At this point, all tests are pointing to testicular cancer and we are waiting for a urologist to tell us what will happen next. Finally the on call urologist comes to see us. He is visibly shaken after looking at Gabe's CT scans. Over and over he tells us hes not qualified to look at the scans and that he is going to admit Gabe over night until the Head Urologist can look at Gabe's case in the morning. 3:30am: Gabe's parents have gone home to get some rest and we are finally on our way to a room for the night. As I walk along the halls next to Gabe's bed, I never thought I'd turn the corner to see the sign "Rosenfeld Cancer Center". Being wheeled into the cancer wing hit us like a ton of bricks. This is real, Gabe has cancer.... 8:30 (ish) am: Gabe's parents are back and we wait for the doctor. With no real idea whats going on, we wait. And wait. And wait. I don't remember exactly when the head urologist finally came in but it was sometime after lunch. The look on her face was one of shock, a little terror, and "how do I tell them hes dying" Gabe's CT scans are...shocking...to put it lightly. The doctor saw the massive tumor masses in his scans and thought they were all cancerous tumors. Gabe's parents tried to explain that they were benign NF tumors but with blood test coming back elevated for cancer proteins the Doc was not convinced, she thought Gabe had lymphoma. Gabe's dad, Angelo, said he was going to get his old scans from 10 years ago to disprove that diagnosis. After striking out at Penn, he called CHOP and was able to get a copy but its now 3:30pm and he needs to be there before 5pm. God's hand was upon that trip. Angelo and Barbra raced downtown, the records associate they had spoken to made a copy and met them in the lobby. The whole exchange happened so quickly that they did not even have to pay for parking!
August 7th: Since it was the weekend, everything felt like it was moving at half speed. The doc came back in the morning after comparing the old and new scans. She still thinks Gabe has lymphoma but wants a radiology technician to make the final call. We wait all day with the weight of the lymphoma diagnosis, but God met us there. Gabe's siblings came to visit, then his highschool friends came. Before long, Gabe was the butt of many jokes and embarrassing stories. Time flew by and neither of us had a chance to worry or even think about lymphoma. Gabe's nurse came in amidst our laughter, "radiology determined there is no change between scans, no need for a lymph node biopsy, it's not lymphoma". The sign of relief was audible!
The next few days move pretty slow. Gabe stays at Abington and waits for a surgery date and time. Over the previous few days, the family thought about our upcoming vacation to Emerald Isle, it was always an after thought but we all wondered if we were going to make it. Gabe's surgery gets scheduled for Wednesday August 10th. Everything went well and they sent the tumor out for testing. Gabe FINALLY came home after a 5 day hospital stay! Another blessing, Gabe gets the ok to go on vacation. Emerald Isle here we come!
Gabe's unshakable positive attitude strengthened me, his parents and everyone he was connected to through this tough time. A warrior child turned amazing man. This is just the start of his journey. Please read the journal entries for more stories of Gabe's Journey to Kick Cancers Ass!