As we turned the calendar into January 2015, I was preparing for surgery, albeit confident. I was confident that this surgery would be the final surgery that I would need in this seven-year battle to rid the beast once and for all.
As I went in for my MRI this past Friday almost a year later, I wondered about my scans and the status of my brain. Had you told me at the start of 2015 that my follow-up scans would reveal that my brain was completely clear with no residual tumor and normal in appearance, I would’ve called you an eternal optimist.
However, after seven long years of my battle, aging me like a fine bottle of Merlot, I thought I was going to spoil as my surgeon walked into his office where Ashley and I awaited him. He came in with a look on his face that I’ve seen far too often (usually one with not so great news). Yet, that face quickly turned into a great big smile as he delivered the news:
“Chris, today’s scans are the best images of your brain that I have ever seen!”
YES! At that moment, I learned that my brain looked “as normal” as it can look, given all that it has gone through. Of course, me being the fanatic of the human brain that I have become, I asked to see the scans. He showed me several images, many of which were what he described as “normal” and unremarkable. This was, for all intents and purposes, the first time we have seen my brain that looked like one you would see in a health book of healthy, human brain. Let’s not mention the void of empty space where he said he had to remove a vein. But hey, I’m functioning, right?!
As he delivered this news, I realized that moment was the beginning of my “new normal”. I was so excited and relieved to hear this news. I prepared myself to hear that “while everything looks great, we want to watch this spot or that spot…”, or “we’ll continue to monitor this piece over here which we can radiate, if needed.” But no, none of that happened. So where do I go from here?
I’ll go back to Yale in six months for a follow-up scan, and then, if all goes well, we’ll try to push it to a year! Wow, to think that I’d be so excited that seven years out, I’m excited to finally get to scans once-per-year is a crazy thought, but it’s one I gladly accept.
Receiving this news gives me the opportunity for the first time in a very long time to focus on other things that exclude my tumor and health. I can focus on my family, myself and my career goals and getting to the point of where I’m comfortable in my life and have some grander opportunities down the road. I will continue to raise money and be an advocate for this cause that I care so deeply for. The possibilities are endless, but for sure, I will not have to worry about my brain tumor for a while. I can even look forward to going back here!