There is something about tears…a complexity to them. They make an appearance at the pinnacle of happiness and yet also at the darkest of times and still manage to be appropriate in both occasions. They have the ability to choke you and to cleanse you.
There is just something complex about…tears.
Travis and Carrie have had their fair share of tears over the past year. And the past few weeks has been no exception. For the past month Travis has started getting sick. And along with the tears that have flowed so have the excuses.
It’s probably just the cold we all have…
Maybe it’s his mind playing tricks on him…
Surgery. It’s definitely the surgery. That was a major surgery…
But the truth of the matter is…
Travis is getting sick…from the cancer.
And the tears flow…
Fevers at night… Extreme stomach pain from the large tumor pressing on his stomach organ… Night sweats… Weight loss…
No more excuses… but still lots of tears.
Travis. Is. Sick.
He’s still a fighter. Ask him how he feels…”I feel great!” He is definitely fighting it tooth…and…nail.
The trip to the NIH brought both good news and bad news.
As a reminder, the trial consists of the doctor removing a portion of the tumor so they could get to the T cells that were trying their best to attack the tumor (but failing on their own). They then try to multiply those T cells in a laboratory to re-inject into Travis to fight the cancer.
After the surgery, there were two major hurdles to get past. The first was for the T cells to grow. Because sometimes they just don’t.
Travis’ T cells are growing.
And the tears of joy flow.
The second hurdle is to find the exact T-cell that can fight the cancer and multiply that T Cell. This requires extensive genetic testing that can take 6 to 8 weeks.
But the doctors don’t think Travis will be healthy enough in 6 to 8 weeks to handle the trial.
Six to eight weeks…
It kind of takes your breath away. To think of Travis so sick… So weak… So close to the best option out there for this monster disease…and not be able to make it to it.
But there is good news…
If you remember there were two trials available that he was eligible for. The second trial is called the Mage trial. It’s very similar to the trial Travis was on but it’s done via a huge blood withdrawal instead of surgery. Not everybody has the Mage protein…but Travis does. The trial is still in its earliest of phases but it is showing some promise . And it is a treatment that Travis can do immediately…as in next Tuesday. On top of that, the doctors are still going through with the testing of the T Cells. So…just in case Mage stops working down the road. There is a backup plan for the backup plan.
Tears of relief pour down…
Next Monday, Carrie and Travis leave for at least a month. Travis will check into the hospital on Tuesday and have two days of testing. And then the countdown starts. Seven days of intense chemo. Chemo that will bring his immune system down to nothing. Chemo that will make him sick. Chemo that will do everything but…kill him. And when he gets down to day zero…they inject him with the “souped up” Mage proteins that they took from his own body.
There are tears of joy for the fact that he can get in and get treatment so quickly. But there are also tears of sorrow. Sorrow for being gone for at least a month. Sorrow for missing their baby Pippi’s end of school party. Sorrow for missing Jake’s third birthday.
Sorrow for missing Trey’s kindergarten graduation.
These are things that a parent should never be forced to miss. Things that so many of us take for granted. Some of them even seeming more like an obligation then a privilege.
But not to Carrie… Not to Travis…
And so tears flow. And as they flow they conflict. The tears of sorrow crossover with the tears of joy for being able to get into a trial at the 11th hour. For being eligible for 2 promising trials when time is running out.
And while tears of sorrow flow for the things they will miss over the next month there are no tears of regret. Because barring a divine intervention healing from The Almighty, they both know that these are the last options.
These trials have to work.
There are no alternatives and there are no other options. These have to be the ones that work…if he is going to be there for his family to one day
wipe away their tears.