We spent most of the day angry. Yelling at doctors. Trying to impart our sense of urgency in them. Begging for tests, for answers. We yelled. We cried. We pulled all the strings we knew. And none of it matters.
The only thing that matters is the news. We got the MRI. James' tumor is back. All the way back. It's filled the space left from when we removed it, and spread like tendrils from a wildfire through his brain, coating the top of his brain, clustering around his brain stem. The images are vivid and terrifying. And it all happened in two weeks. Two weeks ago, James had a successful surgery. Today we learned in the time between that surgery and the date scheduled to begin his chemo, his tumor has not only returned to full strength but actually become worse.
Rhabdoids are extremely aggressive tumors. James' tumor exists in the most aggressive category of rhabdoid tumors. Our oncologist was genuinely surprised by how quickly this happened. You could see it in his eyes. This changes our landscape, and our world. We now have two options. The first is to take James home, to make him as comfortable as possible, and try to show him just how much we love him in the time we have left. For that, the timetable the doctors are talking about is expressed in days and weeks. Eventually the tumor will damage his brain stem sufficiently that he will simply stop breathing. The other option is to immediately begin chemotherapy- another surgery to remove the tumor would be pointless, as during James' recovery time the tumor would revive itself completely as it just has. Our oncologist expressed extreme skepticism about the usefulness of chemotherapy at this point- given the aggressiveness of the tumor, any gains would likely eventually be erased. Of the children he has treated with tumors similar to James', none have survived.
They asked us for a decision. We couldn't make one. We asked for the night to decide. It's the longest we can wait to begin chemo if we are going to do that- every hour, every day matters. On one hand, for James in his current condition chemo means chemo in the PICU, remaining on the ventilator, and getting sicker. Possibly sick enough to where when it becomes clear that the chemo isn't even buying us time- the most it could do- we won't be able to take him home. We'll lose him here. Home means we'll watch our son die in the room we decorated for him less than a year ago, in the convertible crib that never made it to the a toddler bed stage. There is no right decision. There is no wrong decision. We're beyond that duality.
We don't know what we're going to do. We feel like we're being forced to choose between making James suffer and giving up. I abhor both. We were prepared for a war, for a marathon of chemo and a devastating year of trying to make James better. But we never even got to fire the first shot. James is our perfect angel, he was born perfect in every way, and he remains perfect. Even now, with everything he's been through, his natural resilience remains. He holds on tight to your fingers. He's so far away from stable- so far away from three weeks ago or even Friday. His breathing remains in doubt. His heart rate is irregular.
Please don't tell us what to do. We don't need opinions, or second guesses. Please just pray for guidance and that we have clarity for our decision. Pray that it brings us peace, either way. Pray for James, that he not suffer, whichever course we choose. You all have walked this far with us and we thank you. We will certainly need all the support we can get moving forward.