Monday, November 29, 2010

What would he say right now?

"I just don't feel like I can handle much more of this."

"I know, Brian, but you are doing a good job, and nobody said this would all be easy."

"I just feel like crying or screaming or teeing off on someone right now...like I am going to lose control."

"Take it from someone who has been there...it will get easier. You have a lot of good things going for you; you are a handsome young man, you are hard working, and you will appreciate it all so much more when you get there...and you will."

"Thanks, dad. I love you."

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Trail-a-Sean


Trail-a-Sean
Originally uploaded by daddyisaninja.
Holy Crap, I was just importing some songs, and while awaiting the burn process to finish, fingering my way through my flickr photo stream and came upon THIS little ditty.

Have I ever talked about how rad Sean is? Well, maybe once or twice, but just in case:

This kid was 2 years under the age limit to be allowed on this guided ride down a volcano...he was definitely not tall enough to ride this ride...but he had that eye of the tiger, and no bus driver or tour guide was about to question him or me...he was rolling with his dad that day. And we took shortcuts, skid out, and blazed trail. He had this smile the whole time...even when he was scared.

I get it.

In a blaze of glory


Pops had this picture hanging up in his office since I can remember.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thank You


@ Thomas Maher's w/Dad
Originally uploaded by daddyisaninja.
For everything.

I wasn't ready.

I am still in disbelief.

I'll do my best.

I miss you so much already.

I love you.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Rest In Peace


Austin O'Malley once said, "The worst misfortune that can happen to an ordinary man is to have an extraordinary father."

That's pretty funny.

But I disagree.



Wednesday, November 17, 2010

One day at a time

It's hard to update on my dad when there isn't a positive spin on it. And the truth is that he's still fighting this battle day-to-day. We are all waiting, watching, wishing...and feeling pretty helpless right now. We know that he is in good hands. The doctors are on top of their game, and everyone there...hell, everyone I know all wants the same thing. We know that this longed-for recovery is going to take a while.

But he's no stranger to distance...he's a marathon runner.

Spun.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Disclaimer

I've had a large amount of hits on this blog over the last couple of days, and some commentary outside of the online discussion from my family. I think my favorite was a text exchange with my brother last night:

P: Hey man- well written blog! Seriously. Just a little constructive criticism (i hope you don't mind)...I just thought the profanity was unnecessary, It was so strong without it. Again- It's your blog. Just wanted to tell you how good it was and what I thought.

B: What the fuck are you talking about, man?

P: Have it yer' way dude...


Classic.

For those of you who are making your first trip to "The Evolution" via the post below, be warned: I tend to drop an F-Bomb here or there, and the occasional other vulgar reference. That's just me. Sorry, mom.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Where to begin

It's hard trying to figure out where to start this story, and I have hesitated even beginning the process, because I feel like this blog post is more worthy of a short story or even a book. The truth is, as I have said, Pat Egan is a book to be written. Well, here's a little intro to that book.

The new year rang in with a shock January 1st. I'll never forget waking up after a fun night out and getting the worst phone call of my life. My dad's wife, Beccy, was on the other end of the phone from St. Mary's hospital, telling me that my dad needed to see me immediately, and that he had just been diagnosed with brain cancer.

Fuck.

Everyone had been worried about my dad through the previous few months. He wasn't talking to anyone. He was quiet when he came to work. I was pretty sure he was either pissed at me or depressed, but since Pat Egan doesn't get depressed, I figured it was the former. Well it turns out that there was actually a big tumor in his left frontal lobe, which was pushing so hard on his speech center, that he couldn't talk! The relief that came with the knowledge that his behavior had a logical explanation was not bittersweet...it was painful and real, and woke me up to the fact that everything I had been a cry baby about for the last 34 years was unimportant now; tragedy had struck and put everything else into perspective for me.

For my dad, the journey had just begun. After several meetings with numerous doctors, we found ourselves sitting in the house of my mom's boyfriend, Paul, who is the head of neurosurgery at UC Davis in Sacramento. Paul was generous and thoughtful, providing more information than most people in this dark place normally get. He offered to do the surgery, too, but a few day's later, Dad and Beccy had decided that they wanted Dr. Berger from UCSF to perform the massive resection, and we all headed down to San Francisco to get it on.

We didn't really know what to expect, but everyone had primed us for the worst. We all knew that he might lose a lot of his functions, including walking, talking, etc, but it could all come back. We were told he would be in ICU for up to a week, and then maybe longer in recovery at UCSF. We braced. We tried to breathe. Dad went under the knife, and when I went up to see him 15 minutes after the operation was over, this is what greeted me there:





Un. Fucking Believable.



Except it was believable, because it was Pat Egan. He was back. He was talking more in that first 15 minutes than he had in the last 3 months, and his pose was perfect. I couldn't agree more: "Fuck you, Cancer"! In true form, he excused himself from ICU the next day...and then when they moved him to another hospital room, he decided he was feeling just fine and the hotel sounded better. We grabbed an Car Bomb at the Irish Bank, and he stayed another night, but decided to head back to Reno the next day so he could catch the Wolf Pack game...3 days after brain surgery!! Yep, just throw on the hat and grab his seat in the front row. No way he was going to let a little thing like this slow him down.

He had been told that he may not have much time. That the chances of him being around for his baby daughter's wedding in June were pretty slim...and if he was, it would probably be in a wheelchair with a feeding tube. Grim. But he recovered, struggling daily with steroids, chemotherapy, radiation, and everything else that comes along in this process that so many people go through every day.

I considered that a lot more. How many people out there go through this? How many people that I meet with face to face every single day are dealing with something like this in their lives. I need to be more kind, I thought...and I still do.

Around the time of his birthday, as part of his follow up, he had another brain scan, and just about the worst possible thing that could happen to him did. He had another tumor. It was in his brain stem. It was "inoperable". It would be the one that kills him.

Tears flowed. From everyone. Including my dad, who I had only seen cry one time in my life: after his father's funeral. This time he was crying mostly because of the emotional roller coaster that the steroids had him on. But he was doing it, and I was proud of him for it, for communicating, for dealing with it all the way he was. He is so fucking strong. And strength was in and around him. In his children. In their mother. And in his wife. Beccy had already been down this road before, losing her first husband to cancer...and here she was again, walking back into the hospital she promised herself she would never step foot in again. For him. Amazing.

The prognosis was not good. With additional chemotherapy and radiation, we were told that he might make it to Mo Mo's wedding in pretty decent shape. Well, in true Pat Egan form, he made it alright...in great shape. It turns out that the treatments seemed to be working, and when we got the news that the tumor had actually shrunk by over 40% we got pretty excited.

It's a tough emotional journey, this life. We get beat down so hard some times that we fear celebration of the joy almost like we are goingto jinx ourselves or something. Like we can manifest bad things by not keeping our head on a swivel. It's hard not to be a cynic sometimes. But successful people don't allow cynicism in their lives. My dad never has. He refuses to be defeated. He never quits. He never says die.

When the news of his tumor growing again came, it wasn't actually a surprise. He had been struggling through the fall. His right side was slowly becoming paralytic. He took a spill in the doctor's office and rolled his foot pretty bad. He had a seizure. Then he had a heart attack. The news wasn't getting any better. In fact, it was just plain bad: his doctors from San Francisco decided that based on his deterioration they were not going to treat him any more. They told him to get hospice.

Fuck that. You don't tell Pat Egan to roll over and die. This was not an option. Ever.

It was a little over a month ago that Paul got more involved. He had an idea. It's an idea that he has had for many years, but he hasn't been able to prove. He told us his idea: there are a significant number of people that have lived with brain stem tumors for much longer than they were supposed to. There was one thing about these people that Paul thought was a common denominator: they had infections at some point in the process. Could the infection in some way be the very thing that was helping these people? Paul thought so.

He had been talking about this idea for some time. He even had his partner, Rudy, grow the gram negative bacteria in the lab at their hospital to be prepared to infect someone should he ever get the opportunity. He had wanted to test his theory somehow, but regulations and approvals had never been given. A willing, consenting patient had never been available. Until now.

The thing about the Irish, as I'm sure my dad would tell you, is you don't want to back them up against the wall. There's only one direction to go from there, and if you are in the way, you're probably going to get run over.

With absolutely no other options, my dad decided that he was going to be a part of Paul's experimental treatment. Paul made the arrangements and told Dad that he could get in as soon as "next week", but Dad said he wanted to go now. No use waiting. In fact, when I drove him down to the clinic for pre-op procedures, (which included signing the most real and eye-opening consent form I have ever seen), Dad was getting worse by the hour. I was lifting him in and out of the car. I talked him into letting me put him in a wheelchair to get him around. He said to me "I'm glad we didn't wait to do this." I agreed. And it turns out that it's a good thing he didn't wait...they did another MRI that night to map out the surgery, and in the 10 days since his last one, his tumor had more than doubled in size.

Have I mentioned yet that Cancer can lick my balls? Seriously, what the fuck is that? Why does it creep into so many people's lives? Why is there truly sometimes no rhyme or reason to it all? Why does a man who ran more than a dozen marathons after his first heart attack at age 43, who has never smoked or used drugs, who was an athlete his whole life, a total stud, GET CANCER!? None of it makes sense.

So I got dad checked in at the hospital. It was all happening so fast. The family descended on Sacramento. We all realized that this could very well be "it". We didn't want to talk about it too much. But we were there, and he was not alone in his journey into the operating room. Ultimately, we are all alone...a thought I am sure he has had many times over the past few months. This time, however, there was someone else out there on his own, right alongside my dad, and he just happened to be my mom's boyfriend! What a trip, right?

And Paul finally got to do his procedure that he has been talking about with other neurosurgeons for so long. He talked about it to several of them at a conference he attended the week before the procedure. About half of them agreed with Paul that they would want to do it, too, if it were themselves in this position. The surgery involved not only injecting the bacteria into the tumor itself, but soaking the bone flap that they take off to get in there in the bacteria too. The goal was to give Dad a chronic infection, meningitis to be precise.

After a few hours we got to see dad post-op. He was responsive to us a little bit. Wiggled his toes, squeezed his hand for us. Not much, but he was there. And then the fever kicked in that first night. The infection, we thought, would take a few days to develop. We were wrong. That's the thing about pioneering, groundbreaking experimental surgery: it's the first time it's ever been done, and nobody can truly predict what will happen...it's science. But the two MEN involved were just right for their respective jobs. They were and still are the Men in the Ring. They had to treat the infection pretty quickly, which wasn't the game plan. The plan was to let it go as long as possible and hope that something good would happen.

Days went by and dad was in ICU. Some days he would open his eyes. Some days he wouldn't. When he did, the first time, it was one of the best days of my life. I had been pretty emotional that day, listening to old Loggins and Messina songs that he used to play in the house when we grew up, when he would pick us up in his arms and dance around the living room with us. I got a couple of little speakers and plugged them into my ipod and set them on his bed next to him. Beccy was right next to me and his bright blue eyes opened up and he was there for us for a few minutes. It was amazing. This continued, on and off, and he even tried to talk a couple of times. He let us know he was not in pain. He let us know he was fighting. That's what he does.

But weeks have gone by. He was on and off with breathing tubes. We watched and waited, hoping the infection had time to develop, but not knowing for sure if having to treat it so soon was counterproductive to the plan. But the MRI's showed that at the very least, the tumor had stopped growing, which in and of itself was amazing.

Then last week we finally got news that something was happening. The fact that they can even track white blood cells and their path in his body by injecting radioactive dye into them is mind boggling to me. Science is amazing. And his body was producing white blood cells to fight the infection. We didn't even know if the infection was in his tumor, since spinal taps showed no evidence of it being there. But it didn't matter. Those little white blood cells were raging and attacking not only the infection on his bone flap, but they were attacking the tumor itself, as well as the spot where the first tumor had been removed!! This was good news. We waited.

And then yesterday, something else happened. Paul ordered another MRI...he had waited as long as possible to get the most accurate reading he could. He called in a specialist for the job this time. They scanned his brain. They got the results. They were in shock. They looked at them over and over.

The tumor was gone.

I got the phone call. I am still, as I write this post, in total shock. I can't stop thinking about it. I am torn, in that place where I want to shout for joy, but nervous to jinx it. I want to celebrate but I am frightened that it will be premature. I know that there is still so much more to come. He needs to be "rescued" from the place that he is in. It may or may not happen. He has a long recovery ahead, more procedures to handle, and we hope that he can recover completely and get back to doing everything he loves so much. Hanging with the grandkids. Going to Wolf Pack games. Hunting chukkar up and down the Nevada mountains. Getting back to work. Whatever the hell he wants to do. I want to be there with him. I want this journey to continue. I want the good fight to go on and on in a natural way. I want to celebrate. And I'm enjoying this moment right now, for what it truly is: a miracle. And just so I don't forget who I am, or who he is, and I get that feeling like I shouldn't be allowed to enjoy this fucking amazing thing that is HAPPENNING RIGHT NOW,

FUCK YOU, CANCER!

You may have just met your match.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I needed that

I just got back from my first parent/teacher conference since Sean started first grade. To say it went well would miss the mark by so much. It was awesome. It filled me with joy and pride. It made me emotional. His two wonderful teachers were glowing to talk about Sean, who they couldn't take their eyes off of the whole time during the meeting. His report card was completely perfect.


His skills are above and beyond, and they have methods of challenging him, which makes me happy. He is actively participating in everything, the first to raise his hand, and according to the teachers, a natural leader who all of the other kids just love. They said that they "aren't supposed to say stuff like this, but he is just perfect, and he is our favorite". They blushed.

I get it.

I love him.

Monday, November 8, 2010

12,747 days

That's how long I've known him.

Every one is a gift.

Even the ones where we screamed. Those ones we learned the most from.

Today was roughly punctuated with the reminder that as much as I wanted to believe otherwise, he's the only one who understands, trusts, and believes in me the way I need. The way that keeps me fighting and going at this fucking thing every day.

Now I pay a therapist to bounce deal points off of...to help keep me in check from blasting people whose personality and character flaws don't measure up to the way I think we should all be...the way he is.

An important piece of me is missing.

I am not the same.

Friday, November 5, 2010

This Girl Makes Me SMILE

She likes to move it from Brian Egan on Vimeo.

Feeling heavy today

When you are sorrowful,
Look again in your heart
And you shall see that, in truth,
That for which you are weeping
Has been your delight.

---author unknown

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

What can you do?


Grow out your beard. My dad can't shave, so his beard is growing. Uncle Mark and I decided right at that moment of realization that we weren't going to shave until he does. Then we realized that the month of November is now called "Movember" by a bunch of dudes who grow their moustaches out for cancer awareness and fundraising. So we decided to raise the bar, and we call it "Beardvember". Paddy got involved immediately. As did Uncles Brendan, Mike (although I hear he is pussing out and doing the goatee thing because he doesn't like the grey...sack up dude, you think my dad likes the grey?), good friends Scott, Kevin, and many more. The more the merrier. If it's white, shine your light...I call my uncle Mark "Hemingway", which I personally think is pretty fucking righteous.

Solidarity rocks.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

7


I remember when I was 7. It's still a pretty fresh memory, to be honest, which is why it totally melts my face off that 7 years of Sean's life have flown by so fast.

What a fucking understatement.

As are the words "I love this kid."