Roller Coasters

If you know Travis you know that he is an adrenaline junkie.  He loves anything and everything that gets the heart racing…sky diving, driving fast, and of course, roller coasters.

On January 1, 2004 the GA Bulldogs played Purdue in the Capital One Bowl.  And, of course, Travis was there.  The Capital One Bowl is in Orlando so a trip to Disney and Universal Studios was inevitable.  While at Universal Studios, Travis came upon a roller coaster called The Dueling Dragons. Actually…two roller coasters. Two roller coasters built as one.  Two separate rides.  Two separate adrenaline rushes.  And…the best part? There was no line.

Travis was in heaven.

I believe Travis may have set the record for riding the Dueling Dragons the most consecutive number of times in a row that day.

Travis loves roller coasters.

But in the past year I would venture to guess that Travis’ love for roller coasters has weened. At least…the kind of roller coaster he has been on.

The emotional roller coaster.

For the past year Travis has gone up, and down, and up and down, and down, and down, and down, and down, and down….

For the past year, Travis has felt like he has been on the Kingda Ka, the longest roller coaster drop in the world, and there is no way off.

Today was no exception.

Travis checked into the NIH (National Institute for Health) at 8:15 AM.  He was placed in a room which he shares with another man riding a roller coaster. As expected, one of the first things the nurses did, was check Travis’ vitals.


101 degrees.

When a child runs a101 degree fever there is little, if any, concern. They tolerate it so well…..bouncing off the walls and having a blast.  When an adult runs a 101 degree fever…it’s not quite the same.  We seem to handle it the same way we would if we were hit by a dump truck.

Now imagine if someone who has been battling a deadly cancer for the past year runs a 101 degree fever.

Panic can set in.  “What ifs” run rampant.  The roller coaster speeds up. 

But…as many of you know…Travis is anything but the “typical cancer patient”.

When asked by the nurse, he simply told her “I feel great.”

Despite the fever, Travis headed off for the brain scan and then his CT scan, his chest x ray and his EKG. He and Carrie met with multiple doctors and surgeons.

And then the news came.

We may have to send you home. 

There is that point on the  roller coaster, when your stomach feels like it is in your throat, when you have to fight it back down.  Carrie and Travis were in that moment.

Their stomachs in their throats.  Fighting it back down to brace for whatever was coming next. Just like the fastest of roller coasters.

Travis is sick.

An obvious statement, I know, but I am not referring to the cancer.  He has a cold.  Just like you, me and anyone else can get….Travis simply has a severe cold which has caused mucus in his lungs.

Funny how something so small and simple…something that “the healthy” deal with every year as a “small nuisance” can send someone on such a ride.

But a cold for Travis isn’t a simple nuisance.

Suregons don’t operate on those who are sick with an infection or fever.  They wait for healing because they need the body ready to fight and recover from the surgery. In Travis’ case, they need the body to focus on healing the liver.  Not fighting a cold.

We may have you go home and come back when your cold is gone.

More waiting.  More doing nothing as this cancer has its way in his body.  More goodbyes to endure with their precious children.  More tough questions to answer. More waiting.

This roller coaster is getting out of control.

The CT scan came back and showed that the cancer has not spread.  Additionally, while the cancer has grown, it has only grown slightly despite the lack of treatment.

At least the roller coaster slowed some as surgery was contemplated.

Luckily.  The ride slowed down even more. The surgical team decided that it was more risky to wait than it was to proceed while Travis is sick with a cold and fever.

And so the surgery is still scheduled for Friday.

An intense surgery. Travis will have a 6-8 inch incision and they will take out a section of his liver that has multiple tumors.  From there…they will try to grow the cells. The cells that will work to beat this cancer.

The chance of success?  Not great…

Travis and Carrie learned, that while the treatment is showing great success in melanoma, it has only been done on 14 gastrointestinal cancer patients.  It has worked on one.


The roller coaster speeds up.

The good news? The “one” was a cholangiocarcinoma patient. The other patients had other GI cancers.

Will this surgery be a success on Friday? Will the cells grow? Will God intervene and provide a divine miracle or a medical miracle?

Only He knows.  I just pray that some day soon my friends’ emotional coaster will end. That healing will come and Travis will be able to enjoy something he has always loved….

A good old fashion…roller coaster. 




8 responses to “Roller Coasters

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