Last Saturday I drove my brother up to Boston for what I believe is his sixth leg surgery over the past five years. Like me, he is a cancer survivor. He got the same kind of tumor in his leg that Ted Kennedy Junior had, but Mass General Hospital in Boston decided to make him a guinea pig by trying this revolutionary radiation back in 1982. The treatment worked and they were able to spare his leg from getting amputated. They also predicted almost 30 years ago that his leg would start to deteriorate from the radiation as he entered middle age. The complications started some five years ago right on schedule.
The doctors down here in Connecticut don't want to mess with his beaten and battle-worn leg anymore and all of them recommend amputation. But the team up at Mass General--who see tons of cases like his every week that hail from all over the world--feel differently.
His surgery lasted almost five hours on Saturday so I killed time by taking a tour of Boston, walking through the park in Beacon Hill and having a beer at Cheers. When the doctor finally called me on my cellphone, he said all went well. This is his last shot. If he gets just one more infection in his leg, it's a done deal and they MUST amputate his leg because he risks losing his life since the infection could travel swiftly through the rest of his body.
My brother's quality of life has been seriously compromised by his leg. Yet I have to support every choice he makes regarding what to do about it. I just pray to God this surgery will alleviate some of his pain and help him enjoy a few activities he's always enjoyed, such as golf. All I know it that when someone in your immediate family has a health crisis, you've got to be there for them. It makes all the difference in the world.