Moms letter to the TODAY SHOW

Let me first start with saying my husband I watch the Today Show daily and have seen several heartwarming stories and wanted to share one of our own.

It is regarding our son Matt who is 31, single and living in Las Vegas.  He spends every day at the gym and eats extremely healthy.  Last November he was diagnosed with an Acoustic Neuroma Brain Tumor.  He called his dad at our winter home in Arizona and said, “Dad I have a brain tumor and I don’t know how to tell mom”.  My husband replied “I don’t either”.  After conferring with a friend he found the courage to deliver the news. That was the worst day of our lives when we heard those words: BRAIN TUMOR. 

As parents of an adult child, we found it extremely hard to let him make his own decisions regarding his life.  After meeting with 4 neurosurgeons the decision was made to have the tumor removed at USC in Los Angeles by a surgeon that has removed over 500 of these tumors.  The surgeon also studied at the University of Michigan and MI is where our son was born & raised.  At this point I felt very confident that he had made the right decision.

The tumor was removed on Feb 8th 2013. A case in point, all 4 surgeons said it was benign, slow growing and there was no hurry for surgery, but the tumor had to come out.  After surgery the surgeon informed us that it had grown 20% in 3 months and was the bloodiest tumor he had ever worked on.  He said with the exception of the loss of hearing in his left ear, he is expected to have a full recovery, but it will take a long time.

He was discharged from USC in a wheel chair on Feb 11th and was admitted into a Rehab hospital in Las Vegas.  His balance nerve was damaged during surgery and he had to learn how to walk all over again.  All his caregivers said being he was in such good shape physically, he would not be in rehab long.  His goal was to be discharged from rehab on February 18th so that he could go out to eat with his sister on her birthday.  He reached that goal and was discharged with a walker.  Dinner that night was so difficult for him with all the noise and commotion at the restaurant however, he remained positive & upbeat. 

Upon arrival at home Physical Therapy began, the hardest part as a parent was to sit there and watch him with a harness on learning how to walk again; all the while he never lost his sense of humor.

We (the other roommates) were all prepared to stay and help our son as long as he needed us.  However, knowing we had a Panama Canal cruise scheduled, and with the help of his sister & his roommate he felt he could make it without us.  To leave him in that condition  was another tough day for us knowing we would be miles apart.

This was his Facebook not minutes after we left:

 My roommates moved out today. :-( A huge thank you to my parents who have been taking care of me the last 3 weeks. Its been a difficult road of Recovery but each day I am showing progress. Thank you mom and dad for everything. Also a big thank you to my friends for all your support. I still have a long way to go. 1 day at a time!

Prior to surgery our son said, “Mom I have worked so hard to get in the best shape I have ever been and now I have this to deal with this”.  He has a long road ahead of him, as all the nerves on his left side have to regenerate. He has remained so positive throughout this difficult time and has been such an inspiration to all his family & friends.  For someone that couldn’t walk 9 weeks ago, his goal is to run a 5k on May 4th. Understand, just a few days ago he was only able to jog 1 minute on the treadmill and that was with a death grip.  His progress is slow and has to be measured by weeks not days. 

The following is an excerpt from an article titled,

Lost & Found: What Brain Injury Survivors Want You to Know

Don’t confuse Hope for Denial. We are learning more and more about the amazing brain and there are remarkable stories about healing in the news every day. No one can know for certain what our potential is. We need Hope to be able to employ the many, many coping mechanisms, accommodations and strategies needed to navigate our new lives. Everything single thing in our lives is extraordinarily difficult for us now. It would be easy to give up without Hope.

Matt sent this article to his family & close friends so that they would understand what he is coping with and as he refers to it “his new normal”.

The heartwarming part of this story is the love and support that has been expressed by all that has come in contact with him.  He has always been a hardworking young man and is finding it hard to accept help from his family & friends, during this difficult time of his life.

He is currently off of work on a Family Leave Act, not receiving any compensation and is required to pay his medical insurance.  -

His fellow co-workers are planning a Charity Golf outing on May 14th in Las Vegas to help defer the cost of his bills as he continues to recover.  The following is an excerpt from the flyer that was distributed to his co-workers and as I read great things about our son it just brings tears to my eyes. Just don’t know how many times we have heard you have raised a wonderful son.  Let’s not forget that we also have a thoughtful, caring and very giving daughter and son in-law. 

Hello friends, our good and dear pal Matt Crigger has come upon a very difficult obstacle that he needs help to overcome.  Matt is a very good friend and could use all of our help to hurdle this obstacle that he has already started to overcome.    Matt is a great guy and if you know who he is you already know this, but for those of you who don’t know Matt, let me tell you a little bit about him.  Matt is the type of guy that would give you the shirt off his back, if he knew you could make better use for it.  Matt is willing to help out a friend when the times are tough, and this is why we all need to help him out now.  He is an honest hard working individual that has a strong sense of family and moral values that we could all learn from.   Matt is an all-around GREAT guy and a friend in need is a friend indeed!

Our daughter & son in-law have been such a great help to him even extending the outing to their fellow co-workers.  Along with the golf, there will be shirts, food and as staying with the Vegas style a LIVE BAND.  I am flying to Las Vegas from Michigan to surprise him and golf in this outing; I would not miss it for anything.  The problem is it will be an extremely emotional day for me as I try to suppress the tears as I witness the abundant love and support.  Due to the expense my husband will not be flying out with me.

FYI: If you recall the prank that the Waterford, MI police department played on Katie Couric & Matt Lauer many years ago, regarding the Hi “Jack” story, at the Oakland International airport in Waterford, MI, my husband was a Lieutenant there at the time and was involved with that prank.