It’s been nearly 2 weeks since Angela left me alone to be with Summer and you know what that means… I have to do the laundry! Myself! I am running out of work clothes! I could have done them this weekend.. But I have a good excuse, I was in Carbondale for the SIU vs Bradley basketball game.
That’s not something you will ever hear from me during “normal times”. But these are extraordinary times and I am happy to be anywhere they support our cause even if that means standing on the stadium floor with a giant SIU Basketball player sporting my family name.
A few weeks ago, I mentioned that my fellow co-workers at Fort’s had been raising money to sponsor a player on the SIU Salukis basketball team for their “Black-Out” game. The Fort’s matched the total raised and that made us a top donating group which allowed us to pick a starting player. My co-worker, Chris, and his Wife Chrystal tapped a player they knew, Marcus Domask.
Summer was given the choice of what she wanted on the jersey. “Summer” or “Stahl”? After a small amount of discussion, it was decided that Starting Forward Marcus would be sporting a #1 jersey with the name STAHL across the back. It was a joy to see this as they were on the court doing their practice shots and running around… But I was super stoked when I saw this kid (he’s 22… kid in my eyes!) light up the scoreboard in an MVP performance later during the game. Chris and Chrystal said they picked Marcus because they had met his Mom at an event in Peoria a while back. I don’t think anyone knew he would steal the show versus Bradley University in a big Missouri Valley Conference Match. It was a lot of fun to watch STAHL play 90% of the game and knock down shots, lead in assists, and rebounds. He played a great game.
A halftime Angela and I walked out on the floor of the arena for the check presentation for the Coach Kill Fund. SIH was holding one of those giant checks that Ed McMahon and Dick Clark would carry around in their convertible while looking for magazine subscribers. This check was $17000 for Southern Illinois Health. Ang and I have some mixed feelings about SIH… We feel like they dropped the ball on Summer when she first started complaining about headaches last February. But, our local clinic didn’t observe any problems or make any more recommendations for diagnosis either. I don’t think a brain tumor is the first thing they are looking for when a young adult complains of headaches and blackouts. But, as you hear these stories over and over and they all seem eerily familiar… And you have to wonder if the protocol of further diagnosis needs to be changed. As it turned out, a SIH nurse was the one who advocated for us to insist that Summer get an MRI when we were in Carbondale on Memorial Day weekend. Ultimately, it helped them see beyond the x-ray that saw a small nodule at the base of her skull and found the tumor. Thanks to him, we did not end up leaving Summer back in her apartment for another week with possibilities of who-knows-what after we would have gone back home.
You might be wondering where Summer was at during this whole thing. Those who are following along closely will know that she has been in Memphis while I am home for a few weeks. We had REALLY wanted Summer to be able to come to the game with Nate to see this special event. But, we also knew that Summer’s second heavy chemo treatment would be getting over shortly before this game… That meant her immune system would be seriously depleted and she would probably feel terrible anyway.
Summer did manage to sit in the car and make the trip to Carbondale so Angela could join me at the game… But she stayed at Nate’s apartment and took a series of naps with Geno while the festivities carried on. Summer was in heaven while we were running around with Durands Saturday night and at the game on Sunday. Ang and I took a hike Sunday morning and gave her a call to join us. She declined (no brainer she was going to pass on that) and stayed in the apartment instead of making it to the game. All very smart because her counts were in the gutter and she needed to limit exposure.
When the game was over, Bradley had defeated the Salukis in a final seconds heartbreaker. This was tough because the game was so special to us… But it was tougher on these poor Salukli Basketball players. They had to come back to a SIH reception after the game and meet the donors of their black-out jerseys. Then, they all had to smile and take pictures with sponsors. I give Marcus credit for being a good sport and listening to us talk for a minute about who he was representing with his #1 jersey and how much it meant to us. He was super nice and cordial.
Summer and Angela headed back to Memphis Sunday after the game… I headed back north to Tremont. Angela will spend the rest of the week with Summer and then Nate heads back down for the weekend. This should give me enough time to get my laundry done before I repack the suitcase on Sunday!
Speaking of laundry… That #1 jersey that we were gifted from the fundraiser has been washed 3 times since its arrival in Memphis. Ang says it no longer smells like Marcus! (Or, enough that is acceptable!)