My eyes stung with tears.
I was quietly minding my own business in a local coffee shop when my phone rang. It was earlier than they normally call.
“Dr. Frasier would like to discuss the test results in person. Can you please return to the clinic?”
And just like that, I knew. Doctors don’t wait to give you good news in person. If it had been good news, they would have proceeded with today’s regularly scheduled treatment. But they wanted me there to discuss it.
As the tears burned and my face flushed with heat, I called Greg. I knew he was in a meeting; I called anyway. I felt so alone and — selfishly — wanted someone else to feel as scared as I did. He said to hope for the best. I smiled to no one and said I’d try. I packed up my things and drove to the clinic.
I might as well have had a scarlet letter on my chest when I walked in. The front desk people knew why I was there; I didn’t need to check in like everyone else. A doctor who often greets me stopped her conversation with another patient to let me know someone would be with me shortly. I didn’t even get the chance to sit down before a woman quickly ushered me to The Back.
“There are a lot of people in the waiting area. Let’s bring you to a room.” I took deep breaths and held back more tears. She didn’t make eye contact.
Dr. Frasier came into the sterile room and nodded, confirming what she saw all over my face.
Argus’ cancer has spread.
She very kindly explained the test results. In between medical jargon, she gave me many heartfelt apologies on behalf of the entire staff.
“Argus is everyone’s favorite.”
“He is such a dear boy.”
“We argue over who gets to treat him each time.”
“Argus is really something special.”
As special as he is, the chemotherapy was ineffective. She explained another study we could join, which might buy us an average of nine months. It would require at-home treatments that I would administer twice each week plus one injected all-day treatment every three weeks in Davis at a cost of $500 per treatment. There are many side effects to consider. And again, the purpose of this study is not to cure the cancer, only to slow it down.
If we do nothing, the cancer will continue to metastasize and they expect his quality of life will diminish to a critical point within two months.
The end is near. My heart is broken.