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I've been reading DK for year now.  I went to Netroots Nation last year in Austin and met a lot of great people.  I've read countless diaries, posted a comment hear and there, and written a diary or two as well.  I know the community and I know how genuinely compassionate you all can be.

And sometimes, like today, that's all you really need.

A week ago, I was checking my Facebook as I usually do.  I noticed the Birthday Reminders and realized it was my brother's birthday!  Man, I felt terrible that it took Facebook reminding me my brother was getting a year older. I'm 31, he turned 23, I could chalk it up to getting old and forgetful. I called him, we had a great conversation, wished him a happy birthday and that was that.  

The following day, he went to the doctor because of some back pain he was having.  They did an MRI and sent him on his way.  The following day, he got the bad news.  Herniated disc and some minor nerve ending damage.  If that had been the end of the story, we'd all be a little more upbeat.  The MRI also showed a 3cm mass near the base of his spine. There are several possibilities of what it could be, ranging from something simple to the dreaded c-word that I still can't seem to let myself say (or type).  Whatever it was, it needed to come out so surgery was scheduled for this coming Friday.  

After being pretty upset and down about this discovery all weekend, my brother seemed in better spirits on Monday (yesterday).  There was another doctor's appointment and a CAT scan done just to get a better picture of what was going on.  Well, unfortunately, the CAT scan found another mass on his lung.  All the results and scans have been sent to the surgeon so they can determine if my brother is still cleared for surgery on Friday to remove the original mass.  

So that's what's happened in the course of 7 days.  It seems almost surreal.  Thankfully my parents have been in Dallas with my brother for the last several days to help him through this.  Tomorrow, I'll make the drive from Austin to Dallas to help him out while they head back home to get things sorted out.  They'll be back in Dallas on Thursday.  They cut their vacation short when they heard the news so they haven't actually been home in almost two weeks.

The hardest part about everything is that we just don't know anything yet. What are these two little masses in there?  What are we going to do about it?  Even if this takes a turn for the worst and the c-word enters the conversation, at least then we will have a plan of attack.  But for now, nothing but our own imaginations and fears.  Not a great place for any of my family.  We're doing our best to keep positive!

I wish I could make this diary a little more relevant to the site by tying it to the debate over healthcare reform, but from the beginning, that wasn't my intent, nor do I think I could piece it together with any sort of clarity.  The ironic thing is that my brother is studying to become an actuary for the insurance industry.  ha!

For now, I'm off to the gym to help clear my mind.  I'll read through the comments a few hours from now.  

UPDATE - Just as I was about to hit publish, Mom called.  Nate's not been cleared for surgery.  He has an appointment tomorrow with an oncologist.

UPDATE Wednesday Morning - Thanks all for the comments.  They mean a lot.  Oncologist meeting this afternoon.  Hoping for news.  Any news at this point.  

Originally posted to Johntastic on Tue Jul 14, 2009 at 02:57 PM PDT.

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