They took x-rays and blood tests and quizzed him on a few things and said they couldn't find anything wrong with him. He went home mystified. What was causing this? He went back to the doctor and they said, "perhaps we should run some more thorough tests."
So they took a tissue sample of his lung. And then they made a terrible discovery; and they ordered that he get a full-body scan - an MRI I think it was. Then they all sat down with the charts and the scans and spelled it out:
He has dozens of small, deadly cancerous tumors spread throughout his chest, head, and brain. Most of them are inoperable. He may die in three weeks.
Or in a few months, or in a few years. Perhaps five years on the outside. That shortness of breath? Not going away. Also, the tip of the iceberg.
Nobody can yet figure out where or how the cancer began, or how slowly or quickly it is spreading. In the meantime, he is rolling with the punches. He and his wife are contacting every specialist who may be interested and he's beginning a round of chemotherapy soon. He's carefully focusing on the things he can control, and banking on the odds to work themselves out. No one knows how fast the cancer grows, or how it will respond to treatment yet.
It bears repeating that no one knows what caused this cancer, or when it started. Everyone else in his house - his wife and another friend of mine included - must also consider their possible exposure to the same unknown carcinogen, and must all undergo testing.
Summer 2006 has been a firestorm around us. Three families we know are in the straits of divorcing - all of them with children. One of them due to drug abuse. Now this.