For example, had we both had insurance Brady would have made a visit to a doctor or a hospital much sooner. He was actually in a car on his way to an emergency room about some relentless pain he had been having the week before our wedding. He thought he had pulled a shoulder muscle while playing golf the previous weekend. With the wedding only days away I convinced him to come home. The only thing I can tell myself now is that they would not have found anything that day. He didn’t go to the emergency room because it didn’t matter. His fate was approaching him in a different manner and at least in this version Brady and I got to spend some carefree time together as husband and wife.
Getting back on track, Brady arrived home from work early just as he said he would. He seemed to be in more pain than usual. After a short phone call with his doctor he was told to visit an emergency room. Brady quickly signed up for some last minute insurance that would kick in within 24 hours to get by. The following day I got up to go to work and he later went to the emergency room with his mom. I had been texting him back and forth all morning in between teaching classes to see how everything was going at the hospital. During my lunch break I was waiting for him to tell me how his CT scan went, but I never heard from him. In my mind no news was good news so I continued on with the day.
Finally we reached his room. Our families let us go in alone, just Brady and myself. My moment came. I held him tightly in my arms and told him these words, “Brady, you are so brave and so strong and I love you”. I never expected the words he said in response. He told me that he did not want to be strong. I asked him what he meant by that and his response was, “Because this is the type of thing that happens to strong people”. My heart fell apart. I knew in that moment this time was going to be different. My undefeated superman had fought this too many times before and was ready to be done. He never told me that he would not try or that he did not want to fight, but in all honesty he didn’t have to. I knew him better than I knew myself.
In case you are wondering what all of that means, I will attempt to explain it a little more clearly. Brady’s second cancer diagnosis was in one of his major salivary glands, the submandibular, which is located under the jawbone. I never remember hearing it referred to as AdCC back then, but I’m told now that’s what it was. What this first means is that Brady’s current cancer was metastatic, which is the fancy word for explaining it had moved from its primary location (the submandibular gland) to a new location (the liver). He did not have liver cancer; he had a salivary gland cancer located within the liver. If you couldn’t guess, this complicated things. Any time the word metastatic or metastases is involved its going to be more difficult. Aside from that fact, when you look up AdCC you will see several words that do not tend to represent hope in any way. Rare, can spread to other parts of the body (none that I saw mention the liver), and can behave aggressively causing the course to be unpredictable are some of the words that stick out.
Only two weeks after Brady’s official diagnosis, on November 13th 2014, his parents, my parents, Brady, and I were back in a hospital room waiting for our meeting with an oncology team (aka cancer doctors). They walked in and told us there would be no treatment options available. Anything and everything they could attempt would immediately shut Brady’s liver down causing him to fall short of any time he had left with us. With tears in my eyes I laid down to hold my husband tightly as our parents continued to ask the doctors every question imaginable in search of any kind of solution for help. I closed my eyes and listened to the doctors explain that the tumor had no separation within the liver. It was weaving itself in and out of his good liver tissue the way that ivy does on a vine. Brady’s body had already been failing him physically up to that point, but that day and that information took his emotional and mental well being too.
I have to say, as terribly awful as my last month of time with him was, I am so humbled to have had it at all. Most people do not get the opportunities I got with my husband. Most people don’t get a chance to shower their loved ones with gifts, and affections, and family, and friends before their passing from this world. I got to have all of those things and I will forever be grateful for that.