Two years ago, on a beautiful day, when COVID was keeping us all in quarantine, I was on a walk with my family. A few days before the walk, I had felt a lump in my neck and had it removed. My family was waiting for the pathology report.
As we walked, I logged into my patient portal, and the pathology resorts results were back. Thank God, I thought. I was sure it was some COVID-related issue and I could tell my wonderful wife, Katie, that everything was good so we could all stop worrying. I opened up the document and kept scrolling through, looking for the words I knew as a doctor were good. “Viral,” “COVID,” “benign,” but I couldn't find any of these words. Instead. I saw in bold, all-capital letters “metastatic cancer of unknown origin.” Uh oh. So the next step was a pet scan, and this really was a final exam for me. This was the test that would tell whether I had weeks, months, years to live. (Now, you all know why I'm so happy to be here tonight.) The deal with the pet scan is that after they shoot you up with a nuclear cocktail, they tell you don't move a muscle for the next hour, or the test will be useless.
That left me with a lot of time to think in a tube. I tried to distract myself. I thought, Hey, I've seen the Caps win the Stanley Cup and the Nats win the World Series. But that didn't help. My thoughts quickly turned to my kids, Lauren and Connor. Connor was finishing up his B Form year at St. Albans and, strangely, I felt a sense of relief wash over me, which was weird because I was so, so scared. But I knew at St Albans Connor would build a foundation for a successful life, even if I could not be there. He would develop his character—and his sense of humor. He would make great friends, and he would discover the value of hard work.
The sense of relief I felt was because of the amazing faculty and staff here at St. Albans who turn boys into men. I knew that this community would take care of Connor, and that comforted me during one of my hardest and darkest hours. In that tube, I realized how much St Albans meant to me. Fortunately, I was diagnosed with a treatable cancer, but there was one little footnote. And Donna Denizé taught me in English class to read the footnotes.
The medical team was going to pump me full of chemo for eight hours a day for five days straight. And then they would send me home with the worst hangover that you could possibly imagine for five or six days. And we’d continue to do this at least three times for the next three or four months. The summer of 2020 was miserable. But Katie reminded me when you're going through a storm always look for the rainbows. The St. Albans community was the brightest rainbow we saw. Food, letters, and texts poured in. We would be here until midnight if I described every act of kindness that came our way. The love that this community, my St Albans family, showed me, was humbling. In retrospect, this community not only supported me and my family, but pulled me through one of the most difficult times in my life.
I am so thankful to be part of this community and we should all be very proud of the people around us here. So let's celebrate, Let's celebrate this school, this community, and our friends. We are back together again, and we are not going to take it for granted.