Thursday, March 5, 2009

I medicate, therefore I sleep

I join with Nick and Sandra in thanking everyone from the bottom of my heart for their love and prayers sent in Nick's direction. Your calls, emails, visits, food, childcare offers... have all been so appreciated.

Our mom was visiting me in Philadephia last Friday when Sandra called us with the results from the CT scan. I am very glad that I was with Mom when we received the news. We immediately arranged to fly home the next day.

As luck would have it, my best friend from medical school, Richard Ha, happened to be in Seattle for the weekend. (He normally resides in NYC and pretends to be a radiologist.) But instead of visiting friends, Richard and Bryan Benson spent their Saturday at the UW emergency room, making sure Nick was seen by the right people, handled with care and entertained appropriately. :) His biopsy procedure was then arranged for Monday.

In typical form, Nick has charmed everyone in his path during these appointments, procedures, blood draws, and scans. I was able to be in the room with him during his biopsy (which - by the way - he did under local anesthesia only, because he hates IVs). I held his hand and kissed his forehead, while he maintained a witty banter with the radiologist and rocked out to Enya. The ultrasound team all seemed to linger, even after it was time to go.

As Sandra mentioned, preliminary biopsy results were given to us yesterday by the surgeon. The tissue they removed from the liver appears to be an "undifferentiated" cancer. So, they cannot tell us yet if the tumor began in the liver or the gallbladder or from somewhere else in the body and traveled to the liver as a second home. Nick will be having a PET scan Friday morning at Skagit Valley Hospital, which should help us sort some of this out.

It is still unclear if surgery or chemotherapy will be the next step. But, we are all extremely anxious to get treatment started. As many of you already know, I have one year left in my oncology training. It is ironic, yes. It is both a blessing and a curse. And if I never practice oncology after all of this is over, my training has already been worth it - simply because I can translate this medical information for my family right now, explain the fine print, and hopefully be somewhat useful in navigating through the complicated and crazymaking worlds of cancer and hospital systems.

Lastly, I wanted to let you all know that despite his discomfort, Nick has been exactly the same old Nick. He is as hilarious as ever.... loving and gentle.... full of musings about the world, about life, about our family and our bodies. I know that we all love Nick. But my heart is truly bursting at its seams with love, respect, and admiration for him right now. You all would be so proud and amazed at his ability to take all of this in, with such grace and dignity and calm.

It goes without saying, that my heart is absolutely broken.

With much love,



  1. Michal,
    You have such a way with words. Although I've never met Nick, your description makes me feel like we would be great buddies!

    Nick, I'm sending good vibes for your continued strength, sense of humor and grace throughout this process. And I'm so glad that Michal is there to be your doc!

    ~Mary Dismukes, Philadelphia

  2. All of Philadelphia (and esp. Darien Street) is rooting for Nick. Let's not forget, we are the city that gave birth to Rocky who always managed to win in many adverse situations. I have a feeling - and many prayers - that Nick will find the same (without having to combat the Russians in Rocky 3.)

    Lots of love,

    Jen Tucker

  3. Hello Nick, Michal, and Patsy

    We are all praying for you Nick. I am so happy that my friend Bev Dimock told me about this blog. That way all of us can keep up on your progress. We love you all and we are here to do what ever you need done. We are only as far away as the phone.


  4. Hi to Nick, Michal, & Patsy,
    You have no idea the number of people that are praying for you and thinking about you all...Nick, you are amazing--always have been and always will be. You have the fortitude and bravery of a lion, with a soft and hilarious heart. Everyone is here for you guys in ANY way that becomes evident....
    Anne Clark

  5. Nick: We are all blessed by your friendship and will do whatever we can to help you and your family. We are glad to know that Michal has been able to lend her expertise. Let us know if David or I could be of any help with medical stuff, child care, house work, etc. We love you.

    Jenny and David Benson

  6. Nick, Please know that Rodney and I will be praying for you and you'll be in our thoughts often. We're glad you're doing the blog so we can keep up with your progress and will be sure to check it often. Much love to you and your family, Karee Blunt

  7. Nick and family - - -
    Prayers and hugs to you all!! Nick, you have such amazing spirit and humor which is such an excellent blessing at a time like this! xoxoxo - Kristen Warren and family

  8. Nick and family,
    Reading Michal's note I am not one bit surprised at how Nick is taking all of this in stride. As long as I have known Nick, which has been a LONG time:), you have always been such a breath of fresh air and has always demonstrated such an incredible spirit in any circumstance, a great example to us all. I am saddened to hear of this and I want to remind you of all those you have touched and how we are all in your corner. You do have endless love, friendship, support and prayers.
    -Connie Larson (Constance:))

  9. Nick, Michal and family--Our hearts are broken as we hear about what you're going through. Know that you have always been members of the Bakke clan and we love you very much. Our prayers and hugs are with each one of you. Thank you for this blog. If you need anything, just let us know. -- Tiffany (& John and Kit and Melissa)

  10. Nick and Sandra,

    Not sure if you will remember me, but I went to school with Nick our senior year. We have gone through a similar situation in my family recently so I am truly sympathetic to what you are going through. You are all in my prayers. I am not sure what help I can be of from the Puyallup area, but we can certainly provide a nice room to stay in if you find a need to be closer to the Seattle area for anything. Please, just let us know:

    -Scott Richter

  11. Nick,

    Our prayers are with you.

    My heart stopped for a second when I saw the e-mail from Anne in my in box with your name as the subject line. It wouldn't open fast enough.

    If there is anything you need done around the place let me know. Remember I fix things, anything you need. I'm just up the road.
    ~Fred and Rhonda

  12. Nick, please remember as you go through all this that we love you very much.

    Our thoughts go back to your recent visit along with Sandra, Libby, and Darien. You are our favorite hockey goalie and didn't mind being bombarded with slapshots.

    We look forward to seeing you soon.

    Uncle Will, Auntie Barb, Cousins Jake and Russ

  13. To my other brother....

    Your butt looks fantastic. And if your gallbladder tells you otherwise, it is a damn liar. You've got the very best & biggest posse of love & support around you - west coast, east coast & s. pacific. Clearly it has no idea with whom it is messing. You are truly amazing & I love you.

    With much aloha - d'neka

  14. Nick,
    I've thought of you so often since you left the ranks of IA'S here at Bayview. Please know that you are missed by many and we love you and are praying for a speedy recovery. Give our love to Sandra and the kids. Steve (my husband) says hi to your mom too. Love, Chris McKee

  15. Nick,
    Sending you a huge hug, one that goes on and on and on...similar to the road to Hana! We've got more memories to make, so hurry up and kick that crap to the curb and get that cute butt of yours back in action! My love goes out to you, Sandra, the kids and the rest of the family!
    Love you guys,