This page will be for random thoughts, rants, and raves.
NEW BLOG: December 10th, 2020
PART 1: “Talk About Scary…”
So, if you’re visiting my website for the first time, welcome!! Have a look around, and feel free to drop me a line via the “Contact Mike” link.
If you’ve been here before, especially anytime in the recent past, you may have noticed that the last update I posted on my site was early 2019. And if you aren’t already following me on Instagram or Twitter (and please do!), you may not know the reason why. Well, it’s because not long after I posted that last update, my family would receive some news that would change our lives forever.
Back up a bit to Christmas 2018. That year, my side of the family decided to all meet at my sister and brother-in-law’s house. Not long after we arrived, we noticed my son Rhett (three and a half years old at that time) developed an unusual limp. He’s an incredibly active kid, so at first we weren’t alarmed, thinking he might have pulled a muscle during his constant running, or simply had sat in the car for too long on the drive there. Curiously though, the limp didn’t seem to improve at all during the course of our visit, and continued even after we returned home. Finally we took him to the doctor to see what was up. Initial blood tests didn’t provide any answers. X-rays were next, but still no conclusion. Our wonderful pediatrician just wanted to be sure it wasn’t anything serious, so she ordered a scan. Rhett was scanned on a Friday, and we were told we’d know the results in a few days. A few days came and went with no word, so we figured it probably wasn’t anything big. I had just finished teaching a drum lesson that following Saturday afternoon when I saw I had a voicemail from Kaiser Permanente, asking me to call back as soon as possible. When I called them, the doctor told me they’d found some “irregularities” in Rhett’s scan, and he needed to be brought down to the hospital immediately. Jenn and I packed a bag as quick as we could and headed to the KP hospital on Sunset in Hollywood. Once there, we were told that Rhett’s results indicated something potentially grave, but they needed to run more tests to be sure exactly what he had. A few days later we had a conversation with a Kaiser doctor that I will never forget.
Rhett was diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma.
The doc tried to be as encouraging as possible, saying that much progress has been made in Neuroblastoma treatment recently, and that a child’s odds had actually become much better in the last 10 years. But he also needed to tell us the harsh truth- that this disease could indeed take his life.
Treatment would being immediately. Rhett was to be cared for by not only the KP medical team, but also the pediatric cancer department at Children’s Hospital right across the street. There would be four main steps for him: chemotherapy, bone marrow transplants, radiation, and immunotherapy. The estimated duration of treatment would be 12-18 months. After getting the news from the doctor, Rhett’s first dose of chemo was given that same night.
“In a word, Overrun…”. —Pink Floyd, -Wearing the Inside Out-
Nothing can ever properly prepare you for this kind of news about a family member, much less about your own child. Rhett wasn’t even four years old yet, and he was about to endure what no child should ever have to go though. And with no guarantee he’d even survive, how was I to summon the strength to get Rhett, Jenn, and myself through this?
I remember standing in the hallways of the hospital in tears as I explained to family and friends over the phone what was going on. Everyone reacted pretty much how you’d expect them to. (What CAN you say when you hear news like that?) Most anyone I spoke to was quick to offer love, hope, and support. And everybody offered to help in any way they could.
What followed for the next year and a half is a mixture of very vivid and very blurred memories. Entering into Rhett’s treatment, my family got to know some of the smartest, kindest, most generous, most gentle people we’ve ever met. What’s more, it was not only family and friends that were willing to give us the shirts off their backs, but also people we barely knew and in some cases had never met at all. The kindness and generosity that people were so quick to offer absolutely floored us, and we are forever grateful.
In the next blog, I’ll talk more about the transition from “normal life” into this new situation. And if you’re one of the many, many people who reached out to offer help and support while this was going on, Jenn and I thank you from the bottom of our hearts!!