Saturday, October 01, 2016

An Update - Part 2

Sorry it's taken me so long to finish this story. Thanks to Polarimbi for her message which made me remember to finish this.

 As I wrote earlier, my son's cancer had spread, and the necessary chemo left him infertile. They had been trying for children for a couple years before his cancer diagnosis, so this was bad news. But they had frozen some sperm before his surgery, and after his chemo and the initial diagnosis that he was in remission, they decided to undergo fertilization. They tried a couple times without success. They're a young couple, he was a small town newspaper editor, and fertilization is expensive. They'd try, save more money, and try again. They tried in vitro, which has a higher success rate, but that was much more expensive, and they struck out there also. Someone told them about a third method, which was almost as effective as in vitro, but much less expensive, and they tried it. Success. They went in for a check up not long after the good news, and the doc said "you better sit down." The baby didn't make it. They were crushed, but still determined. Saved some more, and did it again. Success. They were having twins. They were floating on cloud 9, and we were all elated. A couple weeks later they went for a check up, and the doc said "you better sit down." They lost one of their twins. I can't imagine the roller coaster those kids were on over those 2+ years. So 2 weeks later they went in for their next check up. Once again the words "you better sit down." The doc explained that the embryo separated. They were puzzled, until she told them they were having identical twins. Twins are common with fertilization, but identical twins happen at the same rate as regular conception. The embryo splits, and it's a rare occurence. They are now almost 3 years old, and are 2 of the smartest, sweetest, cutest boys ever.

 But there's more.

 My youngest son and his wife had also been trying to conceive, but without success. Greg told them about this fertilization method, and they tried it. Success. Things were looking good. Then a couple weeks later at a checkup they got the dreaded words "you better sit down." The doc explained that the embryo separated... You guessed it - 2 more identical twin boys, 9 months younger. They're smart, loving, and absolutely adorable. My wife and I went from zero grandkids to four in 9 months. What are the odds? It's mindblowing. And it's all Ryan. Not only did he possibly save his brother's life, he set in motion the events that led to these beautiful children. And I don't believe for a second that 2 sets of identical twin boys came about without intervention of some sort. It's just too freaky.

 But there's more.

 Greg and family lived several hours away, where he was a small town newspaper editor. As is common in a smaller town, he got the pitch about becoming a volunteer firefighter. Wanting to become an active part of the community, he agreed. He discovered a passion. It didn't take the town long to offer him a paid position, and he left his newspaper job. Soon after he took a career firefighter position in a nearby larger college town. Shortly after that he was hired by the fire department in our city, a larger city, and his hometown. They found a house 6 blocks away from his brother. So we now have all our grandkids 10 minutes away, and the brothers and all 4 boys are living only a few blocks apart. They'll go to the same school. Can you imagine? I'm not sure Ryan orchestrated this part, but he would be pleased. His family was important to him, and he was very close to his brothers. He would have loved his nephews, and been a great uncle.

A few months ago Greg had a check up, and they declared him cancer free.  No more regular checkups.  No more extended warranty.  He kicked it's butt.

 I try to wrap my head around all these events, and look at things logically. But it just doesn't work, there's nothing logical about anything that happened. I know Ryan would have given his life for any of his family or friends. But his passing was an accident, a true fluke. There was no way he could have orchestrated that for the purposes of saving another life. But yet...

Monday, February 15, 2016

An Update - Part 1

(Cross posted to Bipolar Support and Living With A Purple Dog)

I haven't updated this blog since Ryan passed, but it's time to come back and tell a story of events that only Ryan could orchestrate. This is a story where, if you aren't familiar with Ryan and his life, might sound like random events. We know better.

Ryan and his older brother, we'll call him Greg, were only 19 months apart, and were very close. They did everything together. After Ryan passed, on the anniversary of his death, Greg decided to honor Ryan by stepping outside his comfort zone and doing something he wouldn't otherwise do. Ryan was a fearless free spirit, and it was a fitting tribute. One year he went skydiving, another year he ate Chinese food. Then the third year...

On the third anniversary of Ryan's death, Greg went horseback riding. He'd been on trail horses at camp, but never wind-in-his-hair, exhilarating riding. It was the great experience he hoped for. Another fitting tribute. The next day he was sore - that's to be expected, right? Except it didn't go away. After several days he decided to get it checked out. His doctor got somber and told him to run, not walk, to the hospital. There they diagnosed him with testicular cancer. They scheduled him for surgery the next day. Not to minimize any cancer, but testicular cancer caught early is rarely life-threatening. A lot depends on when it's caught, and the particular situation.

Taking a slight detour here. Testicular cancer usually involves removal of the affected testicle, and after a period of time, fertility returns to a normal level. But we encouraged him to freeze some sperm before the surgery, and he said they'd consider it. Well, they did. Can you imagine a young couple trying to produce sperm after being diagnosed with cancer, knowing surgery was early the next day? My perverse sense of humor makes me chuckle every time I think about it.

Surgery went well, but after a CT scan they scheduled him for aggressive chemo. It was miserable, but successful. Except the chemo left him sterile.

Over the next year or so he underwent numerous examinations and scans, which eventually led to a clean bill of health - he was in remission, and they had no reason to suspect the cancer would return.

End of part one - if it wasn't for honoring his late brother, it's possible Greg's cancer wouldn't have been discovered soon enough for the positive outcome he received. I truly believe Ryan orchestrated this. And since he went that far, watch for part 2 of this post...