“One of the things you learn when you’re dealing with glioblastoma is you don’t think too much about it and you take the days as they come,” he said. “If we’re going to play father-son tennis, let’s play father-son tennis.”
Father-son tennis is not where Feldman’s doctors originally predicted he would be 18 months after his diagnosis, his wife said. renowned sculptor and artist Janet Echelman, 56.
The median survival for cancer is 11 to 18 months, and the cancer is rarely cured. Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Senator John McCain, and Beau Biden, son of President Joe Biden, all died of cancer.
Feldman was diagnosed in late December 2020. He noticed a change in his peripheral vision and called his cousin, a doctor at Beth Israel Deaconess, who told him to immediately go to a hospital equipped to provide high-level care. The family, who lived in Florida at the time, drove an hour to the emergency room at Tampa General Hospital. There, doctors discovered that Feldman had a large mass in his skull that could kill him. After a day of testing, Feldman’s doctors operated on him on December 31.
Since then, Feldman has been working with doctors at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, participating in experimental treatments and doing everything he can to stay healthy. The tumor is his first cancer recurrence, he said.
The cancer does not cause him pain because there are no pain receptors in the brain itself and he has no other symptoms. He said his surgeon told him, “You can play [Tuesday] – just don’t get dehydrated, then come see us on Wednesday.”
The family has been a “tennis family” since Sam Feldman, 19, started playing at age eight. Sam now plays for Brown University where he is a sophomore. The elder Feldman hadn’t had the opportunity to play in a father-son tournament with his son since Sam was 10 years old, as the national singles tournaments always overlapped in subsequent years.
Although the pair reached the semi-finals of the back-draw group, where competitors are relegated if they lose their opening matches, Feldman will not play on Wednesday as he said he wants to get the surgery right. He can’t eat or drink anything until he goes under general anesthesia – which isn’t conducive to playing tennis.
Feldman almost didn’t make it to the semi-final round.
Marie Collyer, the tournament referee, helped set up a special match on courts where club players usually play. The match will be just for fun as Feldman planned to forfeit as his surgery would prevent him from advancing beyond Tuesday.
The semi-final round was also special due to its pairing.
The Feldmans competed against Howard Schwartz, 56, and Zach Schwartz, 19. Zach and Sam grew up playing against each other.
“It’s kismet,” Echelman said.
Kate Selig can be reached at [email protected].