Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Shipping up to Boston to discuss Plan C

Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been clear. Here comes the sun, here comes the sun, and I say, It’s all right…

Shipping up to Boston to discuss Plan C

TJ plays at Boston Bay Beach with Josie and Tommy’s friends.
TJ plays at Boston Bay Beach with Josie and Tommy’s friends.

Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been clear.
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun, and I say, It’s all right…

It’s a perfect rainy summer Sunday in Boston, the kind of day that shorts and clam chowder exist in perfect symbiotic harmony.  Saturday night we spent on chores in muggy Ft. Lauderdale, and then on a delayed plane to Logan.  Monday we meet with Dr. Keith Flaherty at Mass General for a second opinion on the tentative plan to resect the adrenal tumor, and have it ready for TIL as a Plan C.  Today, though, is a great day.

On the surface, it is far from perfect; the weather is lousy for anyone with a boat, beach, or baseball bat.  While we get to stay with a good friend and her kids, it’s not exactly a social trip, and the one extra day we managed to squeeze in certainly is not enough to consider this a vacation.  I’ll get to see Mom and Dad, which is great, but they’re making a long drive up and back for a very limited amount of time.  We’re missing a friend’s 40th birthday bash, and the 3rd birthday of our friends’ son.  All of this is clouded by the reality of why we are here – the medication has become at least partially ineffective, and we are looking to stop the bleeding, so to speak.

So what made Sunday so great?  Nothing – that’s the point. There was nothing overtly special about Sunday.  There were some special things I suppose; a new city for Josie (we left Tommy at home with the in-laws), a trip to see one of her friends, a chance to see her grandparents, our friends from Fort Lauderdale, and another friend and her family (including my goddaughter Elizabeth).  So it’s not like this trip is lacking all moments of significance.

What it did have, in abundance, was little moments. Walking Josie across the street to look at the beach and out onto Boston Bay.  Driving through South Boston and hearing Adrienne tell stories of her family growing up there – this person lived here, this one lived there, here was my first place.  Sharing some chowder and a lobster roll with Jen sitting outside barely covered from the chilly drizzle. It was seven kids and an equal number of adults behaving well for an entire meal together, which is no small feat.

It was a picture of Josie and Jen taking a rainy afternoon nap (with one of Adrienne’s dogs tucked under the covers for good measure; a great shot I’d get in deep trouble if I displayed here).  It was watching the girls play Spot It, learning to match shapes and colors and seeing the wheels in their little minds turn. It was getting that lazy “it’s a perfect day for a nap” feeling as a nice breeze cooled just enough to make you take a deep breath. Sunday was great simply because we were there, able to appreciate them. 

Finally, the sun peeked out from behind the clouds. The days to come may bring some optimism, some unconsidered alternatives, or just some reinforcement. It might give us nothing. But Sunday brought the clouds, the rain, the damp chill – followed by the calm after the storm. It didn’t become a bright and sunny Sunday; the grey never really fully cleared. But the beautiful calm remained. And when I sat outside, on the porch overlooking the Bay, I couldn’t help but draw the analogy between the day and the last two years. We’re not here because one treatment may be failing – we’re here to figure out the next step I may need to take towards healing.  And maybe the sunshine will finally shine through.



T.J. Sharpe shares his fight against Stage 4 Melanoma in the Patient #1 blog. Read more »

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About this blog
T.J. Sharpe is sharing his fight against Stage 4 Melanoma. A South Jersey native and Bishop Eustace graduate, he currently lives in Fort Lauderdale, FL with his wife Jennifer and children Josie and Tommy. He was Patient #1 in a clinical trial at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa as the first person worldwide to use this sequence of treatments to fight melanoma, and is currently in a second clinical trial at Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale receiving Merck’s anti-PD-1 drug Lambrolizumab

The Patient #1 blog will update the progress of T.J.'s fight against cancer, and also touch on many cancer-related topics.

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