Monday morning, December 1, 2001, my 16 year old son was curled up in a ball on the coach, then started moaning and crying out in pain. He had an odd rash on his torso, and his abdomen grown over the course of the previous two months. He now looked 5 months pregnant. We had been to a variety of specialists, who did all kinds of tests to rule out a list of potential diagnoses. The week prior, a bone marrow biopsy to rule out lymphoma. We were waiting for the results. It had been a very long frightening holiday weekend.
Panicked over his quickly worsening condition, I called his physician. He told me over the phone that the bone marrow test was positive for lymphoma, and that I should get Iggy to the hospital for further tests. I was terrified, but I knew I needed to stay calm for my son. I took 3 deep breaths, sucked in the tears and tried to help Iggy to the car. At that point he couldn’t move, let alone walk. I called an ambulance, and then his father.
Over the course of the following week we learned he had a very rare, fast growing and lethal lymphoma called Gamma Delta Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Out of the 60 known cases there were only 2 known survivors. In our darkest moment, I prayed. I asked the Lord for the strength and wisdom to get through this. I asked for the right words to say to my son. When I spoke to him, I focused my words and intent on the positive. There were survivors.
His father and I researched what key differences among the survivors vs. the other patients. We sought out the best medical team and advice possible. We decided the team at Dana Farber in Boston offered the best hope, and followed their protocol for care. We worked as a team to save our sons life.
We also had a strong faith in God. I mentioned to Iggy research that had been done on positive medical outcomes and prayer. With his permission, I called upon everyone we knew to pray for him. I also invited them to share his name with any prayer group or spiritual person to pray for him as well. We never met many of the people that prayed for him, but they included pilgrims to the Wailing Wall in Israel, a Shaman in Arizona, and he was prayed for at an Ordination Mass for Catholic Priests.
After a rigorous course of cancer therapy, many complications, and a few close brushes with death, nine years later he is cured and finishing up college. I am very thankful for my son. I am thankful to all the people who helped and supported us along the way. I am thankful for my family, our ability to persevere when going through hell, and our deeper appreciation and love of life.