#1 of 3 Letters
Hi beloved family and friends,
This is Patrick writing in the flesh — and I still have my hair, though not for long. I am thinking about heading over to SpokeSLO in the next week and requesting a mohawk and some San Luis Obispo colors (orange and black.) Or we will do a cross to glorify the greatest physician, Jesus Christ.
Here’s an update on our last couple of days since Jana wrote you to tell of our wild ride this week. As you now know, I was “struck on the road to Los Osos” by a blinding light (not unlike Saul, then Paul, of Tarsus.) Miraculously, I did not crash my motorcycle! This is truly a miracle. I felt a numbing in my left thumb and then tingling and knew I had to pull off of the road. I got my bike stopped, put down the kickstand and stood trying to get my gloves and helmet off. Before I knew it, I was pulling on my skin on my left hand thinking it was my glove… then desperately trying to unbuckle my helmet. Then, I was conscious that my left arm seized, and I passed out then and must have fallen to the ground. I awoke when CHP and CalFire were calling to me to “wake up!” I was totally disoriented, but would give big money to see a photo of myself lying on the ground being resuscitated with my beautiful pearl red Honda Forza bike perfectly parked next to the whole scene:)
I was sure that I had simply passed out once again, which happens to runners like me, but a ride in the ambulance, a call to an ambien-supefied Jana – sleeping off her last night’s shift and several tests later, we discovered bad news: I have brain cancer and likely a glioma (we don’t know what stage yet, but more on that shortly…)
Here’s where I have to plug each of you and especially Jana, my beautiful and faithful wife, who has been incredibly loving and supportive in this nearly unbearable experience. Jana clearly sensed early there was a bad component to the whole thing. She let me know there was a speck on the CT scan and then when the tumor showed up on the MRI, she put in the call to our local neurosurgeon colleague of hers, quickly got his advice and read on things and his immediate referral to Dr. John Park, who will do the surgery in Santa Barbara on December 14th, a week from Wednesday. Jana never left my side, and Jean Kokkonen and Matt, Mark and Rick Ernstrom, the nurses and Dr. Mroz, were incredibly supportive, upbeat, funny and encouraging. (And forgive me if I have left you out, but now I have an excuse:)
Jana had also secured an appt for the next morning with Dr. Park of Cottage, whom we saw the next day, Wednesday. Dr. Park’s warm bedside manner, impeccable credentials and kind, reassuring nature confirmed him as the one to help me. Dr. Park sees the importance of a conservative strategy when going after a tumor resection, and so he had already scheduled a diagnostic WADA test for next Tuesday, December 6th, at USC. Because I am a lefty, I have a 50% chance of my speech being housed in the left side of my brain, and 50% on the right. For all of you “normal” righties, your speech lives in the left, but in my case, we want to determine whether a more aggressive surgery may affect that area of my function if my speech is housed on the right where the tumor is. And that is the reason that the brain surgery, itself, is scheduled for a week and a day after this diagnostic test. We are very thankful for Dr. Park’s insight and foresight and caring.
Jana’s wonderful concern did not stop at Thursday, of course, not did her ER colleagues, who quickly and graciously ate up all of her needed shift coverages for the bulk of the month. THANK YOU!! Friday morning, with the help of Therese and Shawn Chan McNabb who had us over for dinner the night before, we had 3 appointments with 3 doctors scheduled. Therese texted a local oncologist friend, Dr. DiCarlo, and we met last with him. First, we had a pre-op appt with Dr. Osa who lovingly gave Jana and I a hug at the end of our visit though it was our first time meeting her; then, we met with a local neuro-radiologist friend, who was so encouraging, insightful and thoughtful. She gave us another opinion on the pictures – encouraging, overall and uplifting — giving us hope! And we ended the day with Dr. DiCarlo, the oncologist, who emphasized the importance of the follow-up care after the surgery. There will likely be 6 weeks of radiation and a year of chemo, and he stressed the pinpointing of the care using the latest technology and academia. Needless to say, we feel we are in great hands and are so thankful for all of these caring and capable connections.
In addition to the incredible outpouring of support from all of you in your prayers, the medical community has rallied incredibly for us. The insights we got today encourage us greatly. Experts reassured us that we can be hopeful. They outlined a sequence of care which helps us to see the way forward. And so we are praying that the tumor is a stage 2, that the resection can be complete and without complication, that my speech is housed on my left side, and that a full recovery and cure are possible. This is the prayer we enlist you to lift up to Almighty God. But most of all, we pray for God’s perfect will. For only He knows what we each need and only He is always faithful.
As I shared this information with my dad this evening, the scripture he read was right on:
“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5)
This week has been beyond comprehension and expectation. Neither Jana nor I could have imagined these events unfolding in the way they did over the last 100 hours. But the Lord has His way and we will trust him. And I know that so many of you have experienced weeks and days just like these in your journeys. All that I can say is that we can better identify with you today – and share in your sufferings – confident that the Lord has a good way forward. This week I became Keppra buddies with Max Collins and true soul mates with his parents Eric and Jen, and Jana and I grew closer than ever.
The Lord is good, all the time.
Thank you for standing with us – as we stand with you.
Love, Patrick, Jana, Lucy and Anja
PS – a quick note about our girls, Lucy and Anja. They are doing great. Listening, loving, persevering, hoping, and most of all TRUSTING IN THE LORD. Thank you for your outpouring of love in prayer for them.
I hope this message encourages each of you.
PS – PLease send this message on to any and all who will be encouraged. Thank you!