The door handle turns firmly but cautiously as the two doctors open the door and walk in. I am no longer feeling so inviting. I’m actually feeling quite sick. I carefully watch their expressions and movements. They both sit down and explain that they have the results of the CT.

I inhale as I listen closely.

The lead doctor looks at us and quietly says, “There is a mass in Gavin’s brain.”

For what seemed to be forever I replay that sentence trying to understand that he was talking about my child. This feeling is strangely familiar. Like when I was in a car accident and one second I was driving and the next I wasn’t. My brain could not gather all of the information to know what to do next.

I am suddenly lost somewhere in between knowing where I was going and being halted to a stop. After a few seconds, I begin to understand the world that has shifted around me.

I cannot breathe. There must be a mistake.

This five-year-old sitting on the bed next to us, playing with his new bunny? The strong little gymnast who flips, runs, jumps, climbs? Gavin, my son, has a brain tumor? I cannot accept those words. Maybe the scans are wrong. Yet, the doctor continues to move his mouth and from what I gather he is giving me more information. This is real. Gavin has a brain tumor.

It is incomprehensible. I hold back tears, while a lump in my throat threatens to strangle me. It just keeps playing “There is a mass in Gavin’s brain.” I cannot exhale this time. Things are not okay. I feel as if I am going to be sick. I somehow manage to form words but am not sure if what is coming out is comprehensible. “Where is the tumor located? How large is it? What kind of tumor is it? Is it treatable?” The questions all seem to come out at once, and I can’t process the answers.

I somehow gather it is in the pineal region (where is that?), that it appears solid and cystic (what does that mean?), and they will not know more until an MRI is done. I gather we are not leaving anytime soon.

I turn to Gavin and just cannot say the words to him. Thus far, he has been ignoring our quiet conversation. Steve manages to say “Buddy, there is something in your brain—some extra stuff that doesn’t need to be there.” His innocent reaction puts me over the edge.

Gavin looks at all of us and cheerfully says, “Mom and Dad, I knew I had a big brain!” He goes on, “I am getting so smart in kindergarten and I could feel my brain growing all year.” Thank God he doesn’t understand what this means. I don’t even know what it means. His interpretation brings about new emotions and I can no longer hold the tears. I can’t do this in front of Gavin, and Steve knows it. He offers to stay while I leave the room.


As I open the door, I already have blurry vision from the stream of tears. I don’t know where I am going, and all I can see is bright lights and empty hallways. I am searching for something but can’t think about what that is. My phone perhaps? A tissue? God?