Travis passed peacefully at 7 AM from the arms of the love of his life into the arms of his Savior. Funeral details to come.
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There is peace flowing through the Roberts’ household. A peace that surpasses all understanding. Even the understanding of those of us who know Christ’s peace.
On Wednesday morning Travis went to the emergency room. He just couldn’t breathe. Well…he could breathe. But his breaths couldn’t seem to get enough oxygen in them. Despite having been on oxygen for the last two weeks.
Travis was transferred to a room in ICU. His lungs were filling with fluid and blocking his ability to absorb oxygen. There were two possibilities…pneumonia or cancer. The hope and prayer was for pneumonia. 24 hours of treatment would determine if it was.
It was not.
CT scans and XRays did not show tumors so there was hope that it was not cancer. But as it turns out it is cancer in his lymphatic system. Not his lymph nodes…but his lymphatic system. Those small lymphatic vessels that run through his lung tissue are filling up with fluid being produced by the cancer cells and blocking the absorption of oxygen.
But ask Trav how he is feeling and the answer is always the same…
I feel good!
What an amazing man.
Travis gets to come home today and be with his family…surrounded by love. Hospice has been set up and Travis has everything he needs to be comfortable.
And I can tell you this…
He is so peaceful.
Carrie is so thankful for everyone’s support and love and she asks for your continued patience and forgiveness if she is slow to respond to texts, calls, and emails. Please respect this precious time for the Roberts as they ask people not to visit.
And so the prayer request is this.
Pray for peace and comfort for the whole family and for all of #TravsArmy.
Trav has touched so many. Changed so many in the past fifteen months. There are so many stories that will come out in the next several weeks of the impact Travis has had. But there are some who will have questions…doubts…confusion over the ending of this story. Trav would want you to pray for those and that his story would not add to their confusion or doubts but only help walk them through them. Because the peace that Trav has, the unexplainable peace that he is experiencing, tells him this.
This is not the end of the story. It’s only the beginning of the next chapter.
The clock is ticking. With each minute that passes another cancer cell grows… And another… And another… And another…
The sickness has set in. The symptoms are here. The fight has kicked into high gear. There are good days and there are bad days. But through it all… Travis fights.
It’s humbling to watch him fight. To see him lose a battle and continue on.
That’s what heroes do.
The week before last Travis lost several battles in a row. His surgery wound opened. Blood clots set in. He was removed from a trial. And, worst of all, a rare and freak contamination of his cells. The cells that were supposed to be his lifeline .
And yet… Travis fights. No thought of giving up. With a bold faith in the Almighty and the love and support of his soulmate and caretaker…Travis fights.
Because that’s what heroes do.
Four weeks from now Travis is scheduled for the MAGE trial.
Four weeks is a long time. A long time for any fight let alone one with a body that has been ravaged by cancer.
His odds are not good. But that’s how Travis likes it. That’s when he thrives. After all, Travis has faced odds like these his entire life both personally and professionally…and he always comes out on top.
That’s what heroes do.
So for the next five weeks, as Travis fights, there are two small requests.
First, give him the time and space to fight this battle. This request is hard for Travis. It almost goes against his nature. The Roberts’ home has always been the “gathering hole”. They have the most loving, caring, and giving friends they could ever hope for and their friendships are deep. But, for now, Travis’ focus needs to be on healing and Carrie needs to be there for him as she always is.
Returning phone calls and text messages are low on the priority list for now so please do not begrudge them if yours has gone unanswered. And please do not be hurt when Travis does not accept visitors. He is busy fighting.
Second, your prayers are coveted by Carrie and Travis. That’s how you can fight along with them. Carrie once said she doesn’t look for the “big miracle” anymore because she sees so many miracles every day. Those miracles are a direct result of your prayers. So please keep praying. Pray for the miracle. Pray for his healing. Pray he has the strength and health required for the trial at the end of the four weeks. Pray, pray, pray… Fight with them through your prayers.
The next four weeks will likely drag for Carrie and Travis. Travis will be fighting every step of the way as the minutes, hours, days drag on.
After all… that’s what heroes do.
What a ride this has been. Last Friday the doctors asked if we could get to the hospital in DC from Atlanta THAT day. That day is a lot to ask, but Travis made it happen and I followed close behind.
As the days went on we learned about blood clots, fluid around the heart and infection of the incision. We then learned that Travis’s body would not be ready to start the Mage trial as planned so they switched him over to the TIL trial. They said that we could start it in a few weeks, IF all of the ailments listed above look okay.
So we adjusted mentally to the TIL and were ready for them to give us the news about when we should return for the trial. The doctors came in and you know what we heard.
Your cells are contaminated. All of them.
The surgery that Travis is recovering from was a waste.
Then the news that Travis was probably a carrier of the contamination? A rare fungus. WHAT???!!!
This news came on Tuesday. Now it is Friday. Results are in.
Travis Does Not Have Aspergillosis.
The tests came back with no growth. Nothing. No bacteria. No virus. Most importantly… NO FUNGUS!!!
The team of doctors and nurses around here are so excited. Of course, they have fallen in love with Travis. The nurses told us that everyone deflated on Tuesday when the Aspergillosis news hit the floor. So as you can imagine, the news that Travis is clear of fungus has spread. We have had quite a few excited visitors come to the room just to give Trav a high five.
So what does this mean? Unfortunately, the T Cell trial is off the table for now. I will share that the lab had saved a section of the tumors in the freezer. They are still frozen. Our doctor has told us to assume that they will be contaminated as well since all of the other samples were spoiled.
The next thought is to go for the Mage trial. This is the trial that is done by using white blood cells from a huge blood draw.
Travis was actually supposed to start Mage yesterday. The Mage trial is new and the government regulations state that there is to be a two week space between each participant in the trial. The slot that Travis was supposed to have this week is now just an empty slot. The next slot is taken. That means that Travis will not be able to start Mage for about 5-6 weeks. The perks are that his incision will have time to heal and he will have more time on blood thinners. Also, this is a dosage trial so if Travis is forced to wait through one other participant he will get a higher dosage of cells which could be a good thing.
The negative is 5-6 more weeks without treatment.
What a ride. Ups Downs Tosses and Turns. We have ridden this ride like it is our job and well it pretty much has been.
No matter what… Our faith has not been shaken. Our faith is NOT contingent upon our experiences, no matter how ugly.
We do not know the plan and we can not try to guess. But this we know, we experience God on a daily basis. When we were talking today we both said that we would not trade our lives in for anything. We never wonder where God is in all of this because we constantly experience the peace that ONLY comes from God above.
So no matter what our situation is… even through tears and heart ache as it was on Tuesday, we will thank God for giving us THIS day.
Giving us this RIDE!
We spend our lives trying to prepare ourselves for different events. Tests…graduations…college…weddings…kids…a management position…a new job. Life seems to always be about preparing for the next thing. But there are some things you can never prepare for. There are some journeys that offer no map…no directions…no GPS. You simply put one foot in front of the other and hope you are going in the direction God has prepared.
This week was a week for which Travis and Carrie were not prepared. There was no map on how to navigate. No directions. No GPS.
Because the echocardiogram came back so strong their spirits were up. They needed something positive after all the blows they had received and they had gotten that positive news with the echo results. They were reminded that God was in control and things were looking up.
It was determined that the blood clot in his lung had broken off from the one in his leg. That alone could have been an instantaneous death…but it wasn’t. It went to his lung where it showed up on a CT scan. Clearly God’s hand has been upon Travis. Clearly God was with them.
They had tried their hardest to convince the doctors to let them stay and have Travis start the trial in a week. After all, the last time they went home Travis ended up with a blood clot and an incision that seemed to leak fluid endlessly. Going home was not appealing. But it was to no avail. Travis needed to go home and recover before they began the trial and return in two weeks.
But, despite that, overall things were good.
And then the doctor walked in. He walked in without a map, without directions, and without a GPS to help them navigate the news he had to share.
They were not prepared.
The lab had called. Travis’ cells were contaminated.
All. Of. Them.
The lab called and informed the doctor that his patient…Travis…had Aspergillosis.
Aspergillosis. A fungus. A fungus that is found in Georgia, among other places, that you get by breathing in. It infects approximately 1 in 100,000 people, typically those with a compromised immune system.
It chose Travis.
“Travis…it is insurmountable to get you into a trial. You are actually no longer eligible for any trial. There is nothing more we can do for you. I’m sorry.”
How do you navigate this news? Where are the directions on handling this? How do you prepare?
Carrie and Travis choked out sobs of desperation. They cried more tears than they knew they had. They held each other.
And then. One by one. They called their loved ones. They choked out the words and cried all over again with each call they made.
There was no map. There were no directions. This was new territory. Yes…they always wondered if this moment would come and how they would handle it. But just because you wonder if it will come doesn’t mean you’re prepared to handle it.
The sadness was enveloping. It was almost suffocating. Almost.
But there was still a peace. Because they know…this life is so short…so temporary…and that there is a bigger picture that matters.
The day drudged on. The thought of having to make it through the night there ,with no hope or purpose for being there, seemed overwhelming but so did packing up to leave.
They made some more phone calls…they wept some more…they did their best to prepare.
And then the infectious disease doctors walked in.
They knew that these doctors were coming but they thought that they were there to discuss treatment of the fungus.
But, that was not the case.
The infectious disease doctors introduced themselves and got to the point…
Mr. Roberts, we don’t think you have Aspergillosis.
Unbeknownst to Travis and Carrie, when their trial doctor left that morning after giving them the news, he didn’t stop fighting for them. He spoke with infectious disease who would be visiting Travis that afternoon, and he asked them to please prove him wrong. Help him determine that Travis did not have a fungal infection.
And they went to work.
They poured over his CT scan from last week. They looked at his medical records. They studied the puss coming from the incision.
The CT scan showed two spots on his lungs that could be Aspergillosis. But this was an airborne disease that had presented in his liver. For it to have made it to his liver it should be pretty apparent in his lungs.
When they examined the puss from his incision, it showed no sign of the fungus.
Thorough physical exams were given by both infectious disease and the pulmonary doctors. They both thought that it was very unlikely that Travis had this fungus. These visits were actually humorous for Travis and Carrie. Some of the questions that they asked were… Do you live on a farm? Do you work outside? Do you do a lot of yard work? Are you around chickens or birds? The thought of Travis in any situation like this is pretty funny. He really isn’t Mr. Outdoors.
But, most importantly, people breathe Aspergillosis on a regular basis. It is just in the air. However, healthy people can easily fight it off. Sick people can’t. People with compromised immune systems can’t. Travis has had countless blood tests over the past year and not once has it shown a weakened immune system. Not once. His blood test results have never been anything but perfect and his white cell blood count has always been within normal range…even with the infection in his incision.
The fungus is on the cells. No doubt. The only question is…how did it get there?
There are two answers…both are far fetched and both have equal chance of being true. Either Travis has Aspergillosis or the sample got contaminated. The lab has only had one other contamination in the past ten years. It just doesn’t happen. But…someone with Travis’ white blood count doesn’t contract Aspergillosis. It just doesn’t happen.
Yesterday Travis had a lungoscopy. They inserted a tube through his nose and down into his lungs and sprayed saline into the lungs. He says it felt like he was drowning. He was supposed to be knocked out, but his cough woke him during the procedure and they could not get him back out. They pulled the fluid back out of his lungs and sent it to the labs for multiple tests. They will watch that fluid in the lab to determine if he has the fungus.
They also did a special blood draw that was sent to the labs for testing. The infectious disease explained that there is no way to determine 100% whether Travis has the fungus or not, but these tests will give them a very good idea.
To recap, the CT scans appear to be clear of Aspergillosis, any slides that have been tested from the surgery are clear, but most importantly the experts who have given Travis physical exams do not think that he is a candidate for Aspergillosis. The tests that were done yesterday and the day before take around 72 hours to come back with findings of the fungus, but we have been told that they are already coming back clean from a bacterial or viral infections.
After all of this, if the fungus grows on Travis’s tests, there is nothing more the NIH can do for him… for now. The fungal infection would take months if not years to clear from Travis’s body and that is time that he does not have. If it doesn’t, and they all agree that he is not the carrier of the Aspergillosis, then he will be making new trial plans with the doctors.
How do you prepare for that?
The next few days will be emotional as they anxiously await the news. Any time spent is nerve wracking. After all, the cholangio is still growing inside of his body as these things are being sorted out. The Roberts are not sure when they will be sent home, because Travis is still healing from the lungoscopy. But whether they are in the hospital or at home they are waiting to hear what the next few weeks will hold. There is no planning for it. There are no directions for it. Regardless of what the news is…there just is no way to be…
Travis wanted to add Carrie’s quote… Through it all, God is Good!
The Cardiologist gave Trav an A on his heart function test today!
That means one thing fell in our favor. We still have a long road ahead to get to the trial but that gets us one step closer.
Thank you Jesus!!!
Also, a specialty wound nurse came in today and hooked up a tiny vacuum to Travs hole in his belly. It sucks up the fluid that is leaking instead of constantly soaking bandages, shirts, sheets… Not only that but it will keep his insides dryer which will help the wound heal faster. I can’t remember if we explained that a stitch popped open on Travs insides when he had a coughing fit. That is what caused the leakage.
The vacuum actually drives Trav crazy, but it’s a means to an end and he understands that.
That’s about all that we know right now. We aren’t sure when we go home? If we will go home? If we get a trial?
We spent a lot of time praying today. Especially praying for peace and patience. We are both struggling mentally and emotionally, but we are both Trusting in His plan.
As always, we love you #TravsArmy!
Love and Hugs~
This is what I have been told twice in the last few days. This phrase brought me to tears today in front of three doctors.
“Don’t Let Perfect Be the Enemy of Good!”
So as a reminder, Travis and I were supposed to travel back to DC this coming Tuesday to start a trial called Mage. This trial is not the trial that we originally wanted, but we were excited when the doctors explained to us last week that they would put Trav on the Mage trial to give the scientists time to PERFECT the TIL trial (that’s the T cell trial that I explained a few blog posts back in What a Guy. What a Trial.).
I can’t tell you how excited I was that we were going to get the “new and improved” TIL trial. All you have to do is google the name Melinda Bachini and you will see why I was so excited. She is the Cholangio patient and our friend who went through the TIL trial and she is kicking Cholangio big time!
She actually went through TIL twice. The first time was through what I call the “crap shoot” way and the second was what I call the “new and improved” way.
Let me just say that I am not meaning to insult this awesome trial in any way by saying “crap shoot”. It’s just what makes sense in my head.
“Crap shoot” means that they take a combo of any of the T Cells from the tumor that happen to grow well in the lab and inject them back into the body. Hoping that they put enough of the right cells in to knock the cancer back. Hoping that SOMETHING works!!!
“New and Improved” means that they send the tumors off for testing. Find out which T Cells might react well or kill the cancer cells. Then they specifically grow the “RIGHT” cells in the lab.
This way when they get to the cell injection part of the trial you KNOW they are putting the cancer fighters into the body. Raises the odds quite a bit.
Well, plans have changed and we were rushed back to DC this weekend. As Kristina wrote in the previous blog post, Travis has an infected incision, two blood clots (one in the leg and one that broke loose and made it to the lung. Thank you God for your protection over Travis with the blood clot. It could have been much worse.) Also, he has fluid around his heart and they are not sure why.
Today, three doctors came into our room and sat with us. They are amazing here at the NIH. The doctors apologized today for changing the plans constantly, but they explained that Travs case will have a moving plan depending on well… His body.
As of today the plan is… That Travis will have an ultra sound of his heart tomorrow. (Monday morning) Please pray that his heart function looks strong and that there are no other surprises.
They are going to continue treating his incision which is still draining. The infection is improving with antibiotics.
And, they are also giving him blood thinners through injection twice a day.
So, it looks like they will most likely send us home with blood thinner injections this week and then have us return in a week or two. At that time they will re check everything.
Also, at that time they will put a filter into a vein in his groin area that will protect his lungs, heart, brain… from that blood clot in his leg.
The reason that they have to do that is because Trav will not be able to continue with the blood thinners during the 3-4 week trial process.
If he looks good he will be put on the TIL trial. The bad news is that it will be the “crap shoot” version of the TIL trial.
Yes, his tumors are off being tested right now, but the testing will not be done in two weeks. Maybe not in four weeks and maybe not in six. Who knows when they will actually have that PERFECT cell determined? And then they have to have time to grow the PERFECT cell into billions of cells.
As we sat with the doctors today, I kept asking over and over in different ways if we could wait just a few more weeks and do the trial after the testing was done. If they could rush the testing. If there was any way that in two weeks the results would be in…
One doctor finally looked at me and said, “NO. There is no way that we will have the results in time.” Then Travis looked at me and said, “Carrie, let it rest. Burry the idea. It’s not happening.”
Tears burst and the idea of the perfect trial was crushed. The crazy thing is that we were excited about the “crap shoot” option just a few weeks ago. We are still excited about it. It’s the same treatment that Melinda Bachini was given her first go round. It worked well enough to get her to her second treatment where they had time to do the testing.
Its just hard because out of the 14 patients who have been through this trial, she is the only one who has had success with the “crap shoot” version. So you can see why I was excited about the other.
The doctor who boldly told me NO today is also the doctor who said,
“Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good”.
I get it Doc, If we wait for PERFECT Travs body may not be well enough to take the trial. If we wait for PERFECT we may have other unwanted surprises arise.
So…We are fighting for GOOD right now.
We are gladly fighting for this “crap shoot” option because two months ago we thought that we were out of options.
So my tears only lasted moments. We are so grateful for GOOD!
Now, we just have to get there.
Conviction is a funny thing. It comes at the strangest of times in the strangest of circumstances. Despite everything going on (and, as you will learn, A LOT has been going on today) I have had a strange, quiet conviction.
It began last night as I read the post Laughter to Carrie for approval. But I ignored it…
I have a tendency to read and reread blog posts…it’s the perfectionist in me…and each time I did that still, small conviction came back.
I kept pushing it aside.
What I didn’t realize was, at the same time, Carrie was experiencing the same conviction herself. But, like me, she tried to ignore it the best she could.
The fact of the matter is the Roberts household is anything but void of laughter. There is an upside to facing the darkest moments imaginable. An upside to dealing with raw pain that sucks the life out of you.
It makes the good times that much sweeter.
Even last night, despite the circumstances and in between the tears, we laughed.
Yes. There is unimaginable pain running through the Roberts family and their joy is no longer care free. It’s so much richer. It’s deeper. They are learning to find joy in all circumstances and to find laughter in all situations. And today that was put to the test as the news only got worse.
It does not look like Travis will start a trial this week.
Another blood clot has been found in his leg. Irony at its finest. Blood thinners are a life necessity for Travis now and yet they are blocking him from his life saving trial.
There is a chance they will switch Travis back to the other trial again. But, for now, they will monitor his blood clots for a week and then they may send him home. If Traivs gets back into the original trial, they would return to DC in a couple of weeks. But at this point…who know? Things don’t change on a daily basis. They change on a minute to minute basis…
This morning, when the news broke, all I could think was, “now would be a great time to show up God.”
That’s what my flesh kept saying. My spirit knew that He is here. He is in control. He has walked them through every step of this journey and has not and will not abandon them.
But my flesh is another story… My flesh was shouting…
“WHERE ARE YOU!?!?!?! Now would be a great time to show up….”
I thought about Kimberly, Travis’ high school friend, and the message she got almost a year ago. I thought about our Black Angel. I thought about how clearly we seemed to hear God. And I just wondered to myself…
“where are You?”
To be clear…these were my thoughts. Travis and Carrie have amazing strength and faith. When asked, “do you ever wonder ‘why us‘?” Their response is simple, “why not us? What makes us so special that this should happen to someone else and not us.”
As usual, I need to take a lesson in faith from them.
Carrie text me this afternoon and told me she was having her very first “blog regret”.
Keep in mind she has been away from her sick husband for 24 hours. They have gotten the worst news since hearing the words, “You have cancer.” It’s the first appointment, discussion, treatment, etc. Carrie has not been with Travis at. The times they have shared on the phone throughout the day have been filled with raw emotion and endless tears.
The day, in short, has been overwhelming…
And yet. Despite all that. Despite what she has been dealing with. She was feeling convicted about giving the impression that joy and laughter was lacking in their lives.
And just like that…
God answered my question.
My question of “where are You”, from earlier today, was answered in a simple text from Carrie as if to say “I’m right here. I’m holding them.”
Because that kind of peace… That kind of joy… A joy that allows Carrie to look beyond her current circumstances and see the joy and laughter in their lives is only available from one Source.
Conviction has a negative connotation. It’s a word that usually reminds us of the things we have done wrong and of our failures. You can choose to ignore conviction or listen to it and learn. I am grateful Carrie decided to listen to hers. I wish I had listened to mine a bit sooner. Because when you listen and act good things usually flow from even the toughest…
As I drove down the streets of downtown Roswell today I couldn’t help but notice the laughter. Coworkers relaxing after a long work week. Friends joining up to kick off the weekend. Happy couples walking hand-in-hand.
Laughter all around.
And as I drove to the Roberts house I couldn’t help but think how desperately they needed laughter. Laughter is a sign of happiness. Of joy. Of things going right.
Laughter has been missing from their lives for far too long.
Today, Travis took an emergency flight up to Washington DC. He lost out on the last four days he had to spend with his family before making the trip for his one month long treatment.
And that was probably the best thing that happened today.
It all started yesterday evening. Travis hadn’t been feeling well but still wanted to take his children out shopping for their Mother’s Day presents. So he and Carrie’s dad took a trip to the mall with the kids. He was still winded and had no appetite but felt okay enough to make the trip.
But while there he coughed.
That nagging cough, from what was thought to be the cold he had for over a month, had somehow…changed over the last few days.
And when he coughed… His incision burst open. So much fluid came out that his shirt was completely wet and drips of fluid fell to the floor.
Unnerving to say the least.
He quickly got in touch with the doctors at the NIH and they had him send pictures. An infection was their only concern and there did not seem to be infection. He was told he did not need to go to the emergency room and could just see his doctor in the morning.
The morning came with a special moment. When Trey’s teacher, Mrs. Decker, found out that Carrie and Travis would miss the kindergarten graduation she planned a private graduation for their viewing. The Roberts were filled with pride as they watch their oldest cross the stage. Tears of anguish and of happiness flowed simultaneously from their eyes.
There wasn’t much laughter though. Because that precious moment was overshadowed.
Overshadowed by an earlier call. The doctors had been reviewing his CT scan that morning to ensure there was not a tear underneath his incision. And they found none. But what they did find was far worse.
Pulmonary embolism….a blood clot in his lungs.
He was told to go to the doctor and get a shot that would allow him to fly, despite blood clot, and that they had already booked him on the 3:15 PM flight.
No time to pack. No time to prepare. No extra days with his babies before his month long journey.
It was decided that Carrie would follow tomorrow to enable her to get their things together for the journey ahead.
Upon Travis’ arrival to the hospital more issues arose. His incision was in fact infected. There is fluid around his heart. The origin of the fluid from the incision is unknown. And then, of course, there is the blood clot.
All roadblocks. Roadblocks to the trial.
Too many complications can make him ineligible for the trial.
But. As always. Trav had a surprise for the doctors.
His bloodwork showed a healthy, young man. His white blood count is perfect despite his infection. He feels better than he has in weeks and his appetite is returning.
All good signs.
At this point the doctor can’t comment as to if he can continue with the trial. It will require a team of doctors. A team of doctors discussing his future. A team of doctors deciding his future.
The biggest concern is the blood clot. Or, more specifically, the blood thinners for the blood clot. He can’t be on blood thinners while in the trial because of their impact on the platelets.
There is a tough couple of days ahead. Plenty of hurdles to overcome and roadblocks to get past. Prayers from #TravsArmy are needed more than ever.
Prayers to ensure this family can one day, once again, enjoy some…
This is not the end of this post. If you have just read this post for the first time please do not stop here. Please be sure to read Conviction which was written the next day to get the full picture of what God is doing in our lives…
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.