Sunday, April 7, 2013

Tess Force

Not everyone gets discovered by a plucky five year old, but it happened to Eric last summer. I was playing a match with a new mixed doubles partner, Brian. Eric came over to the courts to watch the match.   

At one point I looked up and saw a little girl sitting in Eric's lap. When I mentioned it to Brian he told me it was his daughter, Tess. She had just climbed into Eric's lap and sat there the whole time chatting with him and asking questions. Then and there they became buddies. 

Throughout the season we got to know Brian and his wife Maura. When the next mixed team started up Maura joined and played with Eric as her partner. The tennis was great and we played with them socially as well. 

It was a Wednesday in mid-January when we the four of us were sending emails about playing together on Saturday. Early the next morning we got an email from Maura saying that Eric's buddy was not well. She was at UCSF and they'd discovered a mass on her brain. 

Surgery followed the next day and a large, cancerous tumor was removed, but smaller tumors were inoperable. Tess remained in the hospital for the next five weeks. 

The surgery left her with weakness on the right side and speech problems. Rigorous cancer treatments and various therapies filled her days while all who knew her hoped and prayed for Tess. Getting strong enough to sit up. Relearning to walk. Tess is such a trooper. 

Tess stayed connected to her many admirers through the iPad mini given to her by her Dad's co-workers. Her mind has been so sharp throughout the many ordeals. One night we visited Tess at the hospital and she and Eric and her Dad played Chutes and Ladders in the playroom. Time after time Tess kept rolling ones. Finally, she shook her little head and said, "A parade of ones!"  

When it was time for Tess to return home to her new pink bedroom, big sister Kara made a beautiful welcome home video. Tess has a big Irish family filled with love. She and her three siblings have aunts and uncles and cousins galore. 

Now she's in between treatments and life is a little more normal. She's even been back to school a bit. I saw her on Friday and discovered she'd been suffering from a cold. When I made the comment that I'd wondered why she hadn't been around school she said, "We'll you should have texted me!" That's Tess. That's Tess force. May the force be with her. 

To support Tess and others Eric and I are walking in the Brain Tumor Walk in San Francisco on May 4th. Please donate if you can. The smallest contribution is appreciated. Please follow the link and click on my name.
Thank you for your support! 

Playing Chutes and Ladders at UCSF with Eric and Dad.