Monday, February 7, 2011

No Dice

A woman from NIH (National Institute of Health) phoned me a day or two after the appointment.  She needed the names and addresses of all Rick’s siblings.  A kit would be sent to each sibling; it would contain a vial for the blood sample he/she would have drawn.  Most of his siblings lived in the area so it was pretty easy for them.  His two other brothers lived in Kansas and North Carolina.  Each sibling was so willing and hopeful that he would be a match. 

The results came back slowly.  It was exasperating to have to wait until they were all in.  About a week after this started the woman called back with the results.  I picked up the phone and she identified herself.  “I’m calling with some bad news, not one of Rick’s siblings matched his blood.”  I was floored!  I was completely speechless.  I had not seen this one coming.  I hung up and began to flip out in my head.

I can't believe this.  I can't believe this.  I don't want to believe this. Seven siblings and not one match!  You can’t take him from me, God.  I need him.  Please, please, please don’t take him from me!

I went in to tell Rick in the den.  We cried together.  This seemed like our last hope and it was gone.  Rick could still opt to have the autologous transplant done at NIH; it wasn’t as effective but it could extend his life.  We were rattled but we decided to get the show on the road.  I called NIH back and told them about our decision and they said they would be in touch with us with the details.

Each of Rick’s siblings was dumbfounded when they heard the news.  I remember Rita, his baby sister, crying and saying, “I really wanted it to be me.  I really thought that it would be me.”  It was the kind of thing where  they cried or they wanted to punch a wall in frustration. The irony was that each of Rick’s siblings matched someone else in the family, just not Rick.

I felt sick with worry. I did not want to walk this part of my life.  I didn't have a choice.  My face couldn’t show it.  I had to be the one who would hold onto hope for Rick.  In many ways, I felt he was taking his lead from me.  I couldn’t control it; I couldn’t control anything but I could put a smile on my face and help Rick to see it was worth it to hold onto hope.

Rick was very reluctant to be seen in public.  He went  in our backyard with the boys and me but didn’t want to be seen.  I tried to convince him that how he looked wasn't important.  I coaxed him out of the house one day while the boys were in school.  We took a ride in the car.  It was a beautiful spring day; flowers were starting to bloom and everything smelled fresh.   “Janie, go slowly, we don’t need to go fast.  I want to enjoy it all.  I don’t think I went through life slowly enough.  We don’t need to be in a hurry,” he said as we drove along.

“Rick you can’t give into this.  You have to fight it.  Why don’t you want to be seen?”  I said to him.  “The chemo, I look awful.  I can’t, Janie,” he replied.  “You are beautiful, Rick!  Do you think Jackie cares how you look?  He wants you at his game.  He wants you, Rick.  Don’t let this cancer take everything from you.  I know you want to go to Jack’s game.  As soon as you can use the cane, we’ll bring you over to see him,” I begged. Finally, he agreed.

This was big for Rick.  Jack would be so thrilled to have his dad see him play.  The first order of business was to get him a lawn chair that would give his back support.  Next, I needed to get Karen and Paul to help me pull this off.  Their next game was the following Saturday and Rick was going to go if I could clear it with Doug, the physical therapist.

Things were beginning to seem brighter to me already…

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