Thanks to everyone who has called, texted, emailed written prayed for my bride. I have been trying to put a message here for 2 weeks but life has not cooperated. Today we are home. We are rested and resting. Here is what happened to us and where we are today And as Sgt Joe Friday would say, "Just the facts ma'am".
October 24 - Everything was perfect. She taught all day and played tennis at night. But her buddy teachers noticed she forgot a word and said something is not right. That night she mentions it to me at 10pm and we agree to call Dr jeffry Winters in morning. October 25 - Dr. Jeffry Winters does not like the symptoms and wants to see us ASAP in his office. By 9am he orders a CT scan. By 10am we are headed to Rhode Island Hospital (RIH) with a tumor in the front lobe of Rita's brain. By 4pm we are admitted and have completed a contrast MRI which confirms diagnosis and we are scheduled for brain biopsy the next day. October 26 - Rita has a brain biopsy which is a significant surgery. Doctor Cielo confirms the diagnosis. October 27 - We are sent home. We are in a complete fog. Rita is recovering, I am calling the family. October 28 - Sunday. Our daughter Elizabeth arrives and the first Angel appears. I call Mary and Bob Fortuna in Portland, OR just to let them know. It is 9pm their time. By 11pm they had spoken with a dear friend of theirs who is an oncology doctor at Dana Farber (DFCI). October 29 - DFCI calls my cell at 9am. We schedule a meeting with the preeminent neurological oncologist with a specialty in this brain tumor. Dr Wen. Friends and prayers. October 30 - Dr Winters and Dr Ciello have encouraged us to get a second opinion on surgery and oncology. Pathology is not ready until Monday Nov 5 so these meetings need to wait. October 31 - RIH is set for Nov 8th but I am trying to get DFCI to provide a second surgical opinion. The day is not going smoothly. Enter Angel #2. Our dear friend Nancy Forte who is a patient advocate. Her card should just say Angel. I meet with her a 3:45 Wednesday. She says you need a second surgical opinion. She says what are you doing about that. She says what you need is an appointment at Mass General Hospital MGH) with a Dr Nahed who is world renowned surgeon with this type of tumor. Nancy asked if it was ok if she called. said yes. She said good because I already did and we have an appointment tomorrow at noon!!! Friends and prayers. Nov 1 - Nancy, Rita, and I are sitting with Dr Nahed. He believes surgery is the right answer but he defers to the MGH tumor board. Who knew such a thing existed. He was confident but said he would call us Friday. We were hopeful but measured. Nov 2 - Dr Nahed calls me personally. Tumor Board has said no. They do not want to delay treatment until 2 to 3 weeks after surgery. He said the next move is to get to Dr Wen but he wants to be kept in the loop. He asks us to tell Dr Wen to call him after our consult. We went for an Expresso Martini. Bad, bad day. Nov 3 - Michael McGoff arrives. He is working on his mother's cell phone and fixing one thousand little things that has bothered his mother for years. The McGoffs, Harts, Carrs and Smiths have dinner. Best friends for 35 to 50 years. Awesome night. Nov 4 - Sunday RIta is resting. We are getting ready for Dr Wen. I meet with Rita's dear friends from Tennis. Tough 1 hour cup of tea. I should note here that Rita's only symptom is the inability to retrieve words. She cannot have a conversation but is perfectly healthy other than that. I go to Pats game. They win! Nov 5 - We head to Boston and hotel. We stop at Patriot place for grandchildren gifts. We are laughing and having fun. Check into hotel next to Fenway and head to dinner. Nobody slept that night. Nov 6 - We meet with Dr. Wen at DFCI. May you never meet him, but he is a beautiful soul. Check out his 2 minute video on DFCI web site. We are there for 1 hour and then he walks in. He walks over to Rita and looks her in the eye and introduces himself. His first sentence is , "Surgery is the first and only option in your case". Nancy Forte, Rita McGoff, Michael McGoff and I are stunned. We said what about the tumor board. He said they did not have the final pathology and I do. You have a Metholated tumor and it will respond nicely to treatment, but you need surgery first. He says he will call Dr Nahed. I am sitting alone in the family room at 9pm. Phone rings. I hear a voice say, "Frank, this is Brian Nahed. He said if Rita is ready we can schedule surgery on Monday. Nov 7 A good day. We went for a walk. Nov 8 - Rested. We are on Offense and we need all the prayers, energy and rest we can get. Nov 10 - Lots and lots of test at MGH. All done and we go home and collapse. Nov 11 - Rest. Prayers. Love.
So, at 11:45 Monday we are at MGH undergoing brain surgery. MGH and DFCI all agree that oncology treatments are best done back here in RI. Circle complete. 6 weeks of radiation is standard protocol. And then we hope for the gift of windows of Quality Time. But as Nany Forte has said multiple times...right now it is 5 days at a time. 5 days at a time...
Keep those prayers coming because clearly they work.