“Above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you
because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.
Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”
We are home in Boulder again, reunited with the kids, after a pretty outrageous 4 days in Houston at MDA. We had an incredible run of appointments with such very amazing doctors, and nurses, and technicians. Bar none, everyone we met and experienced in Houston had quite profound impacts on both of us. Perhaps, it is the current circumstance that is opening our hearts to the beauty all around us. Or perhaps it is being a part of a world renowned cancer treatment hospital and that everyone at MDA is united in love and a deep wishes for healing and curing cancer. Whatever it is, we were moved deeply (quite often to tears) by the depth of care and concern…across the board. When we walked into MDA on Tuesday morning at 7:45 am for Andrew’s first round of intake, two different greeters were at the sliding glass doors wishing everyone a good morning and welcoming them to MDA. It was simply surreal as we walked into this massive building amongst so very many others. We soon found out that MDA is supported by thousands of volunteers, who are all survivors or caregiver survivors. This is MDA – comforting, compassionate, understanding and empathetic.
Tuesday was a long day of appointments, tests, waiting rooms, exploration and even more perspective gathering. We walked in literally blind early in the day, and left at 5pm feeling like we had been given a big gift – a gift of clarity, a gift of perspective and a gift of shared love of each other. We had felt so much throughout the day. We met with the surgeon who will perform Andrew’s lung surgery, Dr. Stephen Swisher, and he confirmed that he is indeed a surgical candidate, which was GREAT news. We had met with different nurses, technicians, schedulers, administrators, etc. We felt held by all, and worked hard to make meaningful connections with each of Andrew’s medical team. Our last appointment of the day was with Dr. Swisher’s nurse practitioner, Susan Knippel. She is clearly the brilliant woman standing in support of Dr. Swisher’s surgical expertise. We had an informative and comforting visit with her and it was very clear that she was in our court, and already working hard on Andrew’s behalf. Again, such a gift.
Wednesday was a quiet day of absorbing all that we had learned on Tuesday, communicating with family and friends, resting, and even some poking around one of the largest malls in the United States. Random. (and again, confirmed, our dislike of malls.) Again, we walked around together feeling like this all must be someone else’s life. When you are a patient at MDA, you are given a white hospital bracelet that you need to wear to identify you as a patient and to get you in and our of your appointments. Andrew felt it was a bit like a scarlet letter. Yet, truth be told, everywhere you go in Houston, you see people wearing their white bracelets and rather than feeling alone with your scarlet letter, you are reminded that you are among so many others fighting cancer and part of a family of loved ones.
Thursday morning, Andrew had his Pet Scan and again was treated so well by his nurse and technician. We had a few hours to wait before an appointment with a Doctor of Radiation, that included a review of the Pet Scan. Again, a very positive appointment in which Dr. Gomez concurred that Andrew is an excellent surgical candidate and that his Pet Scan didn’t show any unexpected or metastasized cancer. GREAT news. We both breathed a sigh of relief and made our way out of the hospital, stopping to find and thank the very first person we spoke with on the phone at MDA. Lisa Turner, our kind and patient and gentle Patient Affairs representative, greeted us with gigantic hugs and a warm heart. Yet another example of the energy and feel of MDA, despite the pain and suffering that is so pervasive in all the buildings.
We left MD Anderson a bit lighter on our feet, and warmer in our hearts. We also left not only with a solid plan in place, yet also a date and time set for surgery. After next Tuesday’s interdisciplinary medical review of Andrew’s case and a collaborative agreement of his medical team, we will know for sure that we will be heading back to MDA on Labor Day for Andrew’s surgery on September 4th. We are so grateful to have a plan in place and be on the road to curing Andrew of his cancer.