Around the end of January or the beginning of February, Dan went profoundly deaf literally overnight. An MRI test at the Fargo VA and a consult with a neurologist revealed a brain tumor. At the time, we were not sure if the tumor was cancerous or benign, new or metastasized.
Dan visited his oncologist in Fargo last Wednesday and the news was grim. She told him he is out of remission and the cancer has spread to the lining of his brain, taking the form of leptomeningeal brain disease, a fancy way of saying cancerous meningitis. Needless to say, as a deaf patient he had a difficult time getting information about his condition, but I was able to speak to her by phone on Monday.
What is so ironic is that the original tumor at the juncture of the esophagus and stomach, after being shrunk by chemo, has not grown. It did not spread to the liver or lungs or anywhere in the chest or abdomen. Instead, in a very, very rare occurrence, a few cancer cells escaped into his bloodstream, went into his spinal column, and traveled to his brain. If this had not happened, he might have enjoyed the 4 or 5 years of remission that his oncologist had suggested might happen.
In addition to being deaf, he now experiences trouble with his gait. He shuffles when he walks and needs to grab onto things for support. All kinds of other neurological symptoms may develop. He is not, however, in any pain.
It is very likely we will not see our 39th wedding anniversary at the end of June. We have done a lot of crying, and then we went on to taking care of finances, getting paper work drawn up, talking about palliative care and hospice, etc.
All through this time (he was diagnosed on Dec. 9, 2011, five days after I started), work has been a respite for me, a chance to forget things for a while. But now things are horrid at work so there is no release for me, anywhere.
Life is hell for us and our daughter. Kristen is coming home on Thursday. She had plans to come home at Easter but the oncologist advised her to come now, because, she said, with a brain tumor, "there's no telling when."
Please keeps us in your prayers, not for a miracle, but for the most pain free, easy passage we can give this dear husband and father.
PS - I'd better not hear from anyone accusing me of feeling sorry for myself. You will get an earful, and your sorry comments will not be printed.