So a couple of days ago, I started this thread about my little brother (14)'s voice problem. He’s not in pain, but he’s had a horrible sore throat and sounded like something was very wrong with his vocal cords.
After the usual stuff didn’t work - he used up all of the rest of my honey lo quat, not that I mind - and nothing improved in a few days, the doctor suggested allergies and told him to take Claritin. It wasn’t allergies, I kept telling my family something was obviously wrong with his vocal cords.
Then we found out one of his vocal cords and a few nerves connected to his tongue, were paralyzed. The word “neuropathy” came up, and we were told it might be a virus. But at least there weren’t any tumors on the vocal cords, hoom, said the ENT. It wasn’t a virus.
My brother had an MRI and some other tests yesterday. First he told me it was some kind of growth, but no, he’s got a tumor on his brain stem. At least it’s benign, I said. He should be able to have it taken out and that’ll be that, since benign tumors rarely grow back, some fuss and trouble, but he’ll be fine.
It’s not benign.
Little bro knows he has a tumor and knows about the three surgeries he’ll need, just after the first of the year - one through the back of the skull and another through the mouth to get the tumor, then another the following week to put a titanium plate in the base of his skull; after that he’ll be in a halo brace for some time - and although he was a wreck when he found out yesterday afternoon, by nightfall he was able to make jokes about dying and puns about “two more” Hanukkah candles, and enjoy the ice cream I bought him. He just hasn’t managed to connect the concept of “tumor” and “radiation” (he’ll need some in the following months) to “cancer,” which is obviously what is going on. Or maybe he’s pretending; he’s already made some unnecessary efforts to spare my feelings. Even if nothing has spread, the doctors aren’t sure that his voice will ever return to normal because of the nerve damage. That seems the iffiest part of the situation; we don’t know what will be possible with speech therapy.
All of which is details and window-dressing, I guess. He’s better today than he was yesterday; I’m worse because yesterday I was sure he didn’t have cancer and, beyond any rolls of the dice that might be involved in brain surgery, was likely to be okay once they went in and got this thing in a few weeks. I’m more than a little lost. I don’t know what to think or say, and I thought I had a handle on this yesterday - now I won’t know what’s happening for weeks, at least, and it’s already worse than I thought.