Let me set the scene.
Its July 2009.
Tanner is 15.
Tammy and I are waiting nervously for a phone call from the Doctor. Tanner has complained about double vision in his left eye. Just to be sure, our family doctor (who sent us first to an optometrist, who then sent us to an opthomoligist, who then sent us to McMaster for an MRI "just to be safe") is promising to call us when he hears news.
The phone rings, and the Oncology Team at McMaster schedules an appointment to talk to us. They don't give medical information over the phone despite my pleas. The receptionist reassures me this is just a formality, and doesnt mean bad news. I want to believe her.
Tanner is diagnosed with a brain tumor. They tell me its in the central part of his brain, pressing against his optic nerve. They tell me they cant tell from the MRI what kind of cancer and they need to biopsy the tumor. They tell me 95% of biopsies in this area of the brain are successful, and I realize this means 5% arent. The Doctor explains they cant treat the tumor if they dont know what it is, and brain tumors are tricky. He needs a piece of it. I sign the papers, and tell the Doctor I don't like his odds. This aint poker. I'm scared shitless.
Four hours in surgery, and the surgery is a success.
I do not need to tell you how long those hours felt, or how the next 4 weeks felt while the results were being analyized. Anyone with an imagination knows how long each second seemed to last.
Its a germinoma tumor. Tanner needs aggressive chemotherapy. Radiation afterwards. Multiple painful spinal taps to insure it hasnt spread along his spine.
Twice Tanners immune sysytem crashes during chemo. He has to be isolated in Macs ICU unit one of those times. I spent the night worried a common cold might kill him. When I finally was allowed into his room fully scrubbed and masked just like the Doctor, (because at that point a common cold could kill him, similar to an advanced HIV patient), one of the first things he asked me was if the Cats won last night.
For the first time in 20 years I forgot the Cats were playing that night. Tanner didn't.
The TiCats aren't just a football team to Tanner.