Page 2 of 8
But last April it was as if time had stopped and the surreal took over.
Nick's story is as much Bill and Lisa's, as together the three-some delve into the account of the last year, finishing each other's sentences, correcting faulty memories, sharing laughs at the ridiculous, nodding quietly at the horrors.
Their collective patois is peppered with what has come to them to be everyday words — platelets, transfusions, oncologist, chemo, transplant, remission.
The language of cancer.
Lisa watches her son as he tells his side of the story.
Does she see the tall, tanned, confident, eloquent young man relaxing on the couch, eating an orange, talking about the statistics of his survival?
Or does the ghost of Nick eight months ago, in the darkest moments of his young life, haunt her still? His already slim build 30 pounds lighter, a shiny bald head where blonde curly hair used to be, a swollen face, light blue eyes sunken with pain, vomiting, helpless — her little boy transforming into a sick old man before her very eyes.
It's hard to tell what Lisa sees now. Her view of the world is forever altered.
"I used to think that I lived with gratitude," she says quietly. And she did. She knew she had a blessed life — beautiful children, comfortable home, a Whistler lifestyle. Health.
Just before diagnosis she had been thinking about Nick's upcoming graduation, about how quickly the last 17 years had passed, about how time with him would be changing as he moved on to university.
"But you can still take things for granted," she says. "I will try never to take things for granted again."
From early 2011, Nick wasn't well. There was the stomach flu, an ear infection followed by a ruptured eardrum, pneumonia.
"Obviously it made sense once I was diagnosed," says Nick.
Even though the end of his skier cross season was a write-off, he had high hopes for his mountain biking season in 2011.
That April day a year ago Nick was competing in Monterey's Sea Otter Classic, one of the first mountain biking competitions of the season.
He crashed in the dual slalom finals and was taken to the local hospital following a minor concussion.
A routine blood test changed everything.
"The oncologist did say that the crash was obviously a blessing in disguise because Nick would have maybe gone a week, maybe ten days without feeling really sick," says Lisa.
And by then the cancer would have ravaged his body.
As the minutes ticked by in California the cancer was ravaging his body — quickly.