The first miracle

When facing cancer, I've learned you look for every angle, every bit of hope, every sign that everything will be all right.

The third day after my first chemo treatment, I received a ray of hope.

Up to this point, the only visual evidence of my cancer was a growth on the left side of the base of my neck. It was hard and stuck out noticeably. According to my first CT scan, it was nine centimeters in size. My wife, Melissa, thought it was about the size of a grapefruit. That seemed about right. Frankly, it was the most disconcerting part of this entire ordeal, perhaps because I could see the cancer.

When I told family and friends that I had been diagnosed with cancer, I invited them to put their hand on my neck - or at least look at it - to gain an understanding of what was going on.

On the evening of Dec. 15 - just three days after my first chemo - Melissa came home from work with our daughter. Once she got had the chance to take off her coat and put down her briefcase, I asked her to come over and feel my neck. She gave me an odd look but complied.

About two seconds after she put her hand where the growth was, she exclaimed, "Where did it go?"

Indeed, that grapefruit-sized growth now felt like a table grape. By the next day, even the grape disappeared.

We decided to call our dear friend and neighbor Vanessa, a scientist at the national lab in Richland, who has been a major part of our support network since I was diagnosed with lymphoma. Vanessa happened to be in San Francisco for a conference, so I called her cell and left a message. She called back Tuesday morning, and I told her the news. Almost immediately, she began to weep with joy as she walked to the Moscone Center. When she returned to the Tri-Cities later that week, she said she ran into a friend who happens to be a geneticist who studies cancer (if you know Vanessa, you understand she has friends like this). She relayed the story of how this growth in my neck virtually vanished in three days, and even the geneticist was awed by the speed with which the medicine seemed to be working.

My oncologist, Dr. Rado, was equally amazed and pleased when I met with him a few weeks later.

Time will tell, but this first miracle is a good sign of things to come.