What Could Have Been

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August 22, 2017 - Denton, Texas

My name is Tillman Milstead. I met a beautiful blond girl on August 7, 2014. Her name was Brittany Arrott. When she pulled up to our date in her white car and got out, I was speechless. She was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. I remember thinking to myself there is no way this angel is going to like me. Immediately I was blown away by her smile and her wonderful personality. We spent our date talking and getting to know each other. She was very shy about something though but wanted me to know something. The thing she wanted me to know was that she had brain cancer and that she was wearing a wig. She was looking at me to see my reaction to what she had just told me because I could tell she was nervous about telling me. It didn't matter to me if she had cancer or not. I told her I still look at you the same. I remember her smile and how she felt relief that I didn't look at her any different. We had such a great date a had to see her again. Brittany and I went out 2 days later and it was a great night. At the end of the night I just straight up asked if she wanted to be my girlfriend. She smiled huge and said YES! The brain tumor Brittany told me about was a Grade 3 Anaplastic Astrocytoma. She had gotten the tumor 2 years before I met her. She had surgery to remove it along with chemo and radiation. She was in remission but she still had what she and the doctors described as "fingers" of the tumor left. We dated and fell in love. I told her I loved her in November of 2014. She told me she loved me right back. I would go with her to MRI's and everything would be fine. Until late in June of 2015 when I couldn't make it to an MRI, due to having to work. I came home to eat dinner and she called me to tell me her cancer was back. I got in my car and rushed an hour to her house in Arlington to be with her. I felt helpless but tried to comfort her the best way I could. Brittany was strong though. She wasn't going to let this bring her down. I was so impressed by her strong will. She went back on chemo but couldn't do the radiation because she had already had it on her brain and couldn't do it again. I asked Brittany to marry me on July 2nd of 2015. 2 weeks after her cancer returned. She went about life normally. Continued to work as a pediatric nurse, planned our wedding and was still her wonderful self. We got married on March 20, 2016. The most wonderful day of our lives. We both laid in bed that night talking about that was the best day of our life and how happy we were. We had a beautiful honeymoon and we fell in love even more. I just kept thinking how lucky I was. We were married for a month and a half when it all changed. She had an MRI on May 4, 2016. I told her I was taking the day off to go with her and she said, "no honey. it's ok. we just had 2 and a half weeks off for our honeymoon. save your vacation days so we can go to the beach at the end of the summer. my mom will go with me." I told her ok I will go to work but I didn't want to. I thought about her all day at work and was hoping to get good news. I checked my phone at lunch and I called her but there was no answer. I called her and her mother repeatedly but no answer. I got a text. The text read --I have a new tumor--Brittany Milstead. My heart sank. The new tumor was the Grade 3 Anaplastic Astrocytoma but it wasn't. It had mutated into a Grade 4 Glioblastoma. She had surgery to remove it 2 weeks later. She would never be the same. She suffered from aphasia and I lost the ability to communicate with my wife. She then began to lose motor function. This beautiful girl who had been dancing with me at our wedding and on our honeymoon 2 months earlier lost everything. She was now wheelchair bound. She was still the sweetest person and it would show on her face when she would smile at me or how I felt it when she held my hand. We were hopeful she would get better but it never happened. November 29, 2016 we had her final MRI. I remember wheeling her back to the MRI room while she bawled her eyes out. It was heartbreaking. I picked her up out of the wheelchair with both arms and placed her on the MRI table. I told her I wasn't going anywhere. The people working the MRI machine told me I couldn't be in there while the MRI was in process. I had to leave her. I came back in 45 mins later to her still crying. I picked her up and put her back in the wheelchair. As we walked out of the MRI room I caught a glimpse of the MRI image. I'm not a doctor, but I knew what it meant. I wheeled my wife back out to her parents and told them I had to go to the restroom. I didn't go to the restroom. I ran up the stairs to the oncologist who I knew was about to deliver us the worst news of our life. I said can we please get this over with? Don't make us sit in the waiting room for an hour after what I just saw. I then had to watch the oncologist tell my wife there was nothing else that could be done for her. There aren't many things worse than that. Things got so bad over the next few days. She was suffering. I had to tell her it was ok to go to heaven because she was fighting to stay for us. Brittany Michelle Milstead died in my arms 13 days after that MRI. I felt her heart stop, I heard her last breath. 8 months and 3 weeks after we got married. 7 months and 1 week after that MRI while I was at work. My Brittany was the best thing that ever happened to me. I would have gladly taken the cancer for her so she didn't have to suffer. She had so much left to do. A GBM robbed my wife of being a mother and a lifetime of marriage with me. I constantly wonder what could have been. I miss Brittany every day of my life. I hope her story helps her live on. She will never be forgotten.