meeting Henry

christopher william holt bio photo By christopher william holt

A couple days after meeting with Dr. Gaynor, he called Henry to let him know about my situation. The reason to include Henry is that he is at the forefront in the field of Brain Tumors.

That same day I had travelled back to Chicago with my NYC roommate and long-time friend Jack to clean up my apartment and some paperwork regarding moving back to New York, also mainly to drive my car back to New York. Henry called me and spoke with me the entire ride from ORD to my aparment in the south loop. If you’ve ever been in traffic on 90/94 you know this can take a long time. We spoke for an hour about what I’ve been going through and about visiting him in Durham, NC the following Monday – this was all on Wednesday, October 2nd. He needed my pre-op and post-op MRI, as well as my pathology slides from New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell fedexed to him by that Friday so that he had material to go off of, and so that – most importantly – he could do his own tests and come to his own conclusions about my diagnosis. I was able to get in touch with NYPWC and organize to get all of the materials made available, and my wonderful sister Cristina fedexed them down on Thursday. Surprised that all worked out, was impressive turn around time by the hospital (it was estimated to take 5-7 days).

My sister Cristina would be joining me for the trip to Durham, NC – Specifically, the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center, of which Henry is the Deputy Director – and roundtrip flights were more than $900 per person. Whoa. I checked out amtrak and discovered a $100 per person 10-hour amtrak train. Then, I discovered one way first class return flights from Durham to LGA were only $250 per person, making the entire travel relatively cheap. Booked.

I got back to New York on Saturday morning after stopping off in Washington, D.C. to see a Middle Distance Runner show (first show in 4 years, and they played a lot of new music). Sunday morning 7AM we left for Durham, NC. The train was amazing and went by very quickly.

I took a photo out the window:

out of train

Besides closed down businesses, that’s what it looked like most of the time. We got into Durham around 5:30pm, arrived at our hotel, went on a 3 mile walk on a loop around the Golf Course, had dinner at Bull Durham Bar, then off to bed.

The next morning I met Henry at the Brain Tumor Center. What I was wearing: Hoodie, Jeans, Sneakers. What Henry was wearing: Hoodie, Jeans, Sneakers.

This is great.

Henry explained what he could offer me, mainly being my authoritative source on everything anaplastic astrocytoma, keeping in close contact during my treatment, monitoring my MRIs and checking that all my proteins and mutations are correct to confirm that my treatment is working correctly. What a blessing. Henry wants to be the person that stares down each and every single cell of cancer in my head until it dies. He says I’m at a fork in the road, and that I have a decision to make.

“Would you like me to be involved?”

My response was straight forward. This is not a fork in the road. You are saying I have two options, include you in my life, or don’t. I was not able to see a path that did not involve Henry, so the choice was obvious.

He asked me to stand up, we hugged, and off he went back to being a cowboy, finding new therapies and cures for Brain Tumors that are much more serious than my own condition. Before leaving he made sure I had his cell phone, pager, e-mail, and let me know I could call him any time I wanted.