Monday, the day before the last treatment. Melissa is pretty tired. That walking in Virginia Beach wore her out. Today, I work out the kinks in my big plan. Because I am posting this after-the-fact, I can share some of the details that went into planning. So, I really has this all set up for last week, when her schedule was extended....but both Laura Geller (NBC12) and Brockwell Limousine were very cooperative. Today, I talked to both Laura Geller and Brockwell Limousine to confirm plans. Talked to Melissa's best friend to make sure she was coming, though later, I spilled the beans on her coming for the bell ringing, quickly follower by her re-convincing Melissa that she was in-fact NOT coming (though, she definitely was coming for the Limo ride).
I have never truly planned a successful surprise for Melissa. This was not due to a lack of trying. I tried...she is good. When not distracted by medications, cancer, and all that, she usually catches on that something is up. Just last week, she said, "I kind of want to make a big deal out of the bell ringing" (the bell ringing ceremony signifies the end of treatment and getting on with life). Be careful what you wish for...
Today started like any other work day for me....but it will be far from it. Today, my wife finishes radiation. We will not know for weeks whether she is out of the woods or not. Doctors say that this kind of brain cancer you don't cure, you learn to live with. Brain cancer has you constantly waiting...waiting for more treatment....more doctors appointments....more scans....more tests.....often leaving you with far more unanswered questions than answers. It is hard to "get on with life" constantly not knowing....but you just do. What choice do you have?
So, after a few hours at work, I headed home to help orchestrate my surprise. Then...I get a text from Laura Geller about filming in my living room....uh oh. See, cancer not only wrecks your finances, it gets up in the middle of the night, dirties dishes, spreads dog hair, and scatters toys about....oh wait, that's actually our fault (and the dogs)....haha....so I rushed, cleaned and got things ready just in time. Melissa's best friend arrived shortly afterwards to help as well. Then I rushed off to get Michael from school. When he walked in with me, Melissa knew something is up.
The news interview went very well. I chose Laura Geller to approach with our story, just knowing she would find the right angle to tell our story. I did an amazing job not talking over Melissa and letting her answer the questions. Melissa was kind of shocked about that. See folks, I do have self control. After the indoor interview, she wanted to tape outside (our cover for the Limo surprise)....I knew Melissa would not scream or cry (even warning the news that she would not be one of those crazy screaming happy people). Her initial reaction was as expected but she did seem more excited than I expected. Turns out, this was her first Limousine ride. Oh, that's a couple extra brownie points for me. The ride was cool, made even better by having a few of our favorite people along for the ride. After her treatment, we all got to come back to witness the bell ringing. It was nice...she cried. One nurse said, "We are going to miss you grumpy face around here." haha...I bet. She did not shy away from speaking her mind....think our Neurosurgeon took her governor out. After a nice ride home, we went to celebrate at Longstreet's. I took a detour to post pictures and email some pictures to Laura Geller...technically, my photo-journalistic works were publish on television....can I add that to my resume? Needless to say, my surprise worked out very well.
Here is link to the story!
Special thanks to Brockwell Limousine....those guys are class acts. Provided it free of charge today. If you know anyone with cancer in treatment, tell them about what they did for us....they would do it for them too. Also, please tell your friends and family to use them if they ever need Limo services. The also do group trips and have a larger van for those.
Special thanks to Laura Geller for doing a great job capturing this special day.