Colin Loves Tractors Follow Colin's progress through treatment for a brain tumor

December 19, 2015

O Tannenbaum

Filed under: Death,Local Color,Uncategorized — Mom @ 3:23 am

Colin squints in the sunlight posing next to his brother in front of this year’s Christmas tree, which towers many yards above them. This behemoth dwarfs our house, but we will only bring the very top inside. It’s an absurd way to pick a Christmas tree, trying to determine from far below whether it has appealing proportions and density, but that’s not the point this year. Colin later declares that this Christmas tree farm is “be-au-ti-ful,” and this is all that matters, that and our experience here as a family at the Christmas-tree-farm-that-never-was but is now part of Greensprings, a nature preserve and cemetery.

December 4, 2015

The Magic in the Mundane

Filed under: Death,Local Color,Perspective on Cancer — Mom @ 10:37 pm

Sunlight glimmers on imperfections in the plane window. I call them imperfections, though I suspect they are fractures in the plastic from the stress of flight, the long parallel tracks streaming down at an angle in silver lines like incandescent rain drops. There is no rain, of course, high above the field of white puffs below, in what is someone else’s pale blue sky, dotted with clouds on a bright day. (more…)

November 30, 2015

Never Give Up

Filed under: Death,Decisions,Radiation — Mom @ 1:06 am

When we finally arrived in Boston to start proton therapy for Colin, the branches were already bare in Ithaca, but many of the trees along the Charles were still holding their color. The ginkos are just now releasing a carpet of yellow fans on the sidewalk. The night before we left Ithaca, the sky was crystal clear and full of stars; celestial bodies struggle to emerge above the cityscape, though Venus is tenacious in shining through the urban smudge. (more…)

September 25, 2015

Of Mice and Little Boys

Filed under: Decisions,Perspective on Cancer,Radiation — Mom @ 12:11 am

A few weeks ago, I heard the first doleful honks of Canada geese overhead, a broken vee portending the migration towards more temperate weather. This spurred me to mourn my loss of the change of seasons and a move into the crisp air of fall that is so invigorating, brightened by the cascade of brilliant leaves. Color has barely begun to kiss the tall, verdant maples in the neighborhood, a transition we would lose with our decision to migrate, like those geese, southward to Memphis. (more…)

September 11, 2015


The sky was muddy, a diffuse and dark reddish brown the disappointing color of light pollution, not an emerging dawn. It was no kind of sky within which to find clarity. Two days before, a sharp waning crescent hung in the sky, a cat’s claw poised to grab Venus, which hung like a winking fat jewel in the eastern sky. Then, Orion had greeted me abruptly in the south when I opened my door, the only constellation I could rightly make out in a tepid but clear sky. In the course of a short run, that bright figure faded into barely perceptible pinpricks, but the hunter still stood vigil. (more…)

September 4, 2015

Autumn’s Arrival

Leaves are starting to fall off the yellow poplar in the back yard, a tree I love for its huge waxy-plastic seeming flowers and the wide tulip-shaped leaves. The season is starting to turn gently, the weather still summerly but the yellowing leaves around the neighborhood serving as a reminder that school starts next week and life returns to that normal cycle. Except that it doesn’t, not for us. We are currently on a decision making hold, but the cascade of events that will follow looms ahead heavily. (more…)

August 30, 2015

Plans and Perseveration

Saturday morning was a lazy one, but I determined to hit the loop inside of St. Jude’s campus before it got too hot for this Yankee girl to even consider it. The sun was already insistently warm before 9 am, but I figured I had enough time to squeak in a reasonable run before it became unbearable to my delicate constitution. The previous 24 hours had been full and draining, leaving me an exhausted heap curled around Colin in the blessedly comfortable bed at St. Jude’s Tri Delta House on Friday night. He had asked me to snuggle with him and I happily obliged, but in the morning I woke up still wearing Friday’s clothes. (more…)

August 28, 2015

Declaration and Decisions

Going into surgery, we knew that we would learn valuable information that would drive treatment decisions. The surgery itself promised to be rather ho-hum, endoscopically performed through either one or two holes, and resulting in a very modest recovery time. The anxiety wasn’t about the procedure itself but the findings. (more…)

August 27, 2015

Memphis Sunrise

The day before neurosurgery is a frustrating combination of interminable waiting punctuated by the frantic urgency to act, all conducted without benefit of even the vaguest structure. It stands in sharp contrast to the dense scheduling of one of our typical days at St. Jude, spent shuttling from one meticulously scheduled slot to another (minus E Clinic, the clinic for brain tumor patients, which is beholden to no clock born of human devising), and it is endemic of the inpatient environment we have encountered at any hospital. Already in the system, it is a simple matter to add another test or procedure through hidden incantations conducted in the obscurity of the famed work room. However, this comes with a price; upon admission, the patient becomes the sworn legal property of the hospital and therefore liege to its whims of timing. (more…)

August 24, 2015

Progress(ion) Report

I realized, after finishing the last very long post, that I didn’t actually go into my originally planned description of the Augusta trip. However, I began writing it in the days leading up to the second on-treatment scan. In the gap between working on it furiously on the plane en route to Memphis and being able to return to it, the scan itself took place. With a lot of anxiety around this milestone, Dr. Gajjar was quite careful in showing me two areas on the spine that might be of potential concern and that he had brought up with the radiologists. These were nothing worrisome, one being clearly a blood vessel (even to me), but he wanted to make sure I saw them before I went on my merry way. With some relief, we started disseminating the news of the all-clear and Colin and I returned to the Tri Delta House to relax before dinner with friends. However, the phone rang in our room and I was met with the familiar voice of Katie, a nurse who had taken care of Colin often when he had inpatient and now works in the brain tumor clinic. We needed to return to the hospital, which meant only one thing.

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