He tried not to sugar-coat it, but he couldn't help but sugar-coat it.
We saw right through it nonetheless.
Dominic's acute myeloid leukemia is back. And all of the limited research that's been done on his rare subtype - the 7:12 chromosome translocation - shows zero survivors when it returns.
The doctor didn't quite say so, but it's a death sentence. Our son, our miracle after trying for years to have a child, is going to be ripped away from us.
Didn't we do enough? Then again, could we have done any more than four rounds of aggressive chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant? Every single test, from the simple ones to the super-sensitive ones as recently as June showed no sign of the cancer relapsing.
But that's what cancer does. It grows. All it takes is one cell turning to two, then four... eventually, it's detectable again.
We've failed. We've tried our best and it wasn't enough. And now we begin the process of deciding on quality of life versus quantity.
There is still a glimmer of hope. Given the choice of another six months of chemotherapy in the off chance it'll somehow work where last time it failed, Trish and I instantly decided to go ahead with it. He could also do another bone marrow transplant from a different donor in hopes something about another donor's blood is able to hold off the AML for good. There's also a type of T-cell transplant - the T-cells are the body's primary infection fighters - but studies show they're not too successful.
Before you go scouring the Internet, please know our doctor has already done that. The miracle gene therapy for leukemia that's being done in the U.S. is only being done with ALL patients, not AML. It's not an option. There are some experimental trials but they're all to test new drugs at the ground level - there's no evidence they might actually work.
So here we go again. Timeline-wise, it could be a mirror image of last year. Six months of chemotherapy, hopefully a few days out of hospital here and there, then a bone marrow transplant and another few months depending on complications. There's just a lot less hope to be had this time that it'll work.
At one point during our conversation with the doctor Dominic decided he'd had enough of sitting on the couch watching mom and dad try not to cry. A nurse came and took him for his umpteenth trip in the hallways.
My sister and her boyfriend came to visit. More crying. Then Trish left to go for dinner with a friend who we met because her daughter has leukemia too. I told Trish not to wear makeup.
That left Dom and I here in the hospital. And as I tried to read him a bedtime story, I just started bawling.
"I'm sorry buddy," I sniffled. I couldn't say anything else. I couldn't read the story, could barely stand.
He reached out his arms and hugged me.
My son isn't even two years old and he's the strongest person I know.
Maybe he will beat the odds. We will give him every chance, but if not, we have to try and enjoy every day he has left.