I know you’re curious.
I would be, too.
You’ve been so patient, and have accepted my lame attempts at a verbal description.
For some people, that’s enough.

Not for me. I need to see things, feel them if I can. I have to know exactly what it looks like. I have to know.

And then there are a few people who probably do not want to see it.
And that’s fine, too.

So here’s a warning for you.
If you don’t think you want to see what’s going on inside of Chad’s head, then don’t read any further. Don’t click this story, and don’t look at the pictures.

Now that I have all of that out of the way, I can show you something.

I can show you why I have been scared every single day since November 12, 2007.
I can show you why I remind myself to laugh as much as possible.
I can show you why I panic when the phone rings and Chad isn’t at home.
I can show you why everyone should be thankful for life, every second of every day — because you never know what can happen to change it in a moment’s notice.
I can show you the reason why you should be nice to everyone you meet. You never know what people are going through privately. Sometimes things just can’t be seen.
And also, I can show you that my husband is a miracle.
I can show you that he’s beating odds, terribly monstrous ugly odds.
And that’s all there is to it.

I’ve wanted to share these MRI images with you for a long time, but we decided against it.
Honestly, the prognosis was not very good when we started this journey. We didn’t share the images because we didn’t want people to feel sorry for us. We didn’t want to see that sad, pitiful look on people’s faces and hear it in their voices. We wanted to live and laugh and be ourselves; our happy little family for as long as time would allow.

We shared the pictures with our parents, but not all of them. It was hard to comprehend how Chad was still doing so well after seeing the tumor. It’s large, pretty “impressive” in size by definition of all of the doctors. The tumor is roughly the size of a grapefruit or softball – which is hard to imagine. How can something that large be growing inside his head? The simple answer is that the tumor is not a separate entity. It is growing slowly and replacing healthy brain tissue as it grows. There is no separate mass; simply put, his brain is the tumor.

I remember the first time I saw this devil of an image. The ambulance had delivered us to the hospital. The ER team was working diligently to figure out the cause of the seizures. We didn’t have to wait long. There was no mistake; there was a mass.
I asked to see it because I had to see it. The doctor prepped me and told me it was quite devastating.
It was. It is.
All I really remember is breathing slowly and repeating “Okay. Okay. Okay.”

Let me walk you through the images.
Take a deep breath.

November 13, 2007
This is the first MRI Chad had. A CT scan showed the mass, but not in such great detail.
You can clearly see the white infiltrating lesion crossing the midline of Chad’s brain.

November 3, 2008
Nearly one year later, and no real change.
It appears the tumor has grown slightly, but could be misleading.
We were always told there was no change. So we went with that.

February 4, 2009
This is the scan that we thought was changing everything.
It’s hard to see here, but there is necrosis and a few places of hemorrhage.
At the time, we thought the worst. We just knew that Chad’s tumor had been
misdiagnosed and we were dealing with something that was more difficult
to treat and harder to understand. We were sent to Wake Forest University
for a second opinion after this scan, which terrified us. We had no idea what to expect.

May 27, 2009

This is Chad’s most recent CT scan. I apologize that this image is a little less enhanced than the previous images.
When I receive a copy of a recent MRI, I will switch this picture out. MRIs are definitely clearer!
The two black “holes” in the middle are where tumor used to be! Spinal fluid now fills the voids, and the brain just floats happily around.
It’s amazing that Dr. Tatter was able to remove so much of it safely. He actually told us that a great portion of the brain is not even needed – isn’t that crazy to think about?!?
You can see the midline is no longer shifted slightly to the other side.
The necrotic (dead) tissue was removed,  and there were no active hemorrhages found – which is great news.

Here are all the images together, for a comparison.mri-images-complete

Now, you know what we’re dealing with. You’ve seen it, just as we have.
I cannot wait to share another image with you one day – a clean MRI with little to no tumor left.
I dream about that day.
I know Chad looks forward to the day where the majority of doctor’s visits, prescription refills, frantic “where are you?” calls from his neurotic-yet-well-meaning wife will come to an end. Or, at least, slow down so dramatically that his head is not the main topic of conversation.
It will.
We’ve come so far since this journey started. We still have far to go, but we can see a light at the end of the tunnel finally.

It’s hard. It’s dramatic. It’s terrible, as Carys clearly says.
But you know what else?
Chad is living with it.
He shouldn’t be able to talk coherently, walk a straight line or remember what he ate for lunch.
But he can.
And that is absolutely, terrifyingly, wonderfully, miraculously amazing. Awe inspiring, really.

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14 Responses to IT

  1. sip says:

    skye, again, amazing. thanks a lot for sharing.

  2. Candace says:

    Skye~ Thank you so much for sharing that very personal information with us. It is so much more clear what is going on with Chad now. We continue to pray for Chad and your whole family, I’m so glad that things are looking more positive now.

  3. Sarah Lackey says:

    This is amazing and fascinating and horribly scary all at the same time. I am in awe of you and how you’ve dealt with this so bravely and gracefully. I wish you and your family the best as your husband continues to recover.

  4. Melissa says:

    I don’t know anything else to say but WOW.

  5. Linda says:

    WOW! That is truly a miracle. I continue to think and pray for you guys every day.

  6. C. K. says:

    Please allow me to quote your words, “that is absolutely, terrifyingly, wonderfully, miraculously amazing. Awe inspiring, really”. This is what I really feel right now, with some tears in the eyes – happy tears for both Chad and you.

  7. Meg says:

    What an amazing post, Skye. It really helps to make sense of it all – and to make me realize how amazing it all is. I’m so glad that things are looking so great! Your family, as always, is in my prayers.

  8. Kelly S says:

    Hi Chad and Skye – I think about you guys often, and your story has reminded us all not to take our blessings for granted and to try not to sweat the small stuff. I admire your strength and courage through this journey. You are amazing parents and an amazing couple, and I too, can’t wait for the day you share the clean MRI with us.

  9. Heather says:

    Absolutely amazing! You guys continue to amaze me.

    So when you signing the book deal/movie?

  10. Carla says:

    I know God has been answering your prayers. He doesn’t always give us the answers we want when we want but that last MRI shows that Chad is a walking miracle.
    Your family is such a blessing to us!
    My prayers are constant.

  11. Jimmy says:

    I must say that it has been a while since I have checked your blog. I’m so excited that I checked it today. I sit here at my desk rejoicing in tears. I sit here knowing the devistation cancer of any kind can bring. I think back to the two times my mother dealt with it. I think about my uncles and grandparents who dealt with it. Then I think about all the trials that my son has overcome. And that leads me to think about how good God really is and that nothing is bigger than He is. We may never understand any of it. That’s ok. Its not our job to understand the “why’s” What we do have to know, understand and believe is the God is in control and he has a plan for each and every one of us. John 9 reminds us that sometimes things happen so the works of the Lord may be made known. They certainly are being made known with Chad and your family. Praise God from whom all blessings flow. I continue to be in prayer for you guys. Mad Crazy Love!

  12. Emily Mecham says:

    That was so neat Skye! I’ll admit, I was hesitant to read on but so glad I did. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Sabrina & Jeff says:

    Skye & Chad,
    Jeff and I have been amazed by your strength throughout this journey. You two are an inspiration to us and so many other people. The pictures are breathtaking! They have allowed us to have a better understanding of what you two have been dealing with. Chad, you are a miracle!!! The Lord has such a special plan for you and we are so blessed to know you and your family. Skye, your courage and humor through this has also been amazing. You have always juggled many hats, but in the past year you have worn so many more. You are an incredible mommy and wife!! We think of you two often and will continue to keep you in our prayers.

  14. Christine W says:

    Hi Skye and Chad- this is good news. I haven’t even seen the pictures of my brain because I am too scared, but I decided to look at Chad’s. I am so happy to see the spinal fluid and the black spot. You two inspire me and I am almost crying I am so happy for you!

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