Sunday, February 21, 2010

My Dad has Cancer

There.  I said it.  He has squamous cell carcinoma, which is a form of skin cancer that is growing on the inside of his body.  He had three lymph nodes taken out last summer, and we thought that was the end of it, but it came back around Christmas.  My dad had surgery to remove it, but the doctor was only able to get 98% of it out.  So here we are.  He starts his first round of chemo tomorrow.  From his description, it sounds very extreme:  3 x 96 hours of chemo every 21 days, then 7 weeks of radiation along with a cancer-killing pill.  But his doctor said that there's a  100% cure rate using this method, and he is supposed to know what he is doing.  My dad has hardly ever been sick, but he hasn't exactly been vigilant about skin cancer. He spent a lot of time outside in the sun with little or no sun protection, and unfortunately now he's paying for it. A while ago he had to start having stuff removed from his nose, and I was concerned, but my parents were very blase' about the whole thing, so I didn't think twice about it.

My dad has always been larger than life to me, but I guess that's how most people feel about their dad.  He's always been the one who took care of things.  If you need a lock installed, he'll take care of it. He's built us entertainment centers, bookcases, and other furniture.  And when there's been medical situations, my dad has always been my universal translator, since there isn't a doctor on the planet who can seem to speak plain English when you need them to.  Every time I've had surgery, my dad has been in there when I talked to the anesthesiologist and quizzed them as to background, education, and experience (In case you didn't know, the anesthesiologist keeps you alive while you are in surgery--so you should make damned sure they know what they are doing!).  Growing up, if I hurt myself and my dad told me to "walk it off", I knew I was okay.  In fact, the one time my dad said "we need to go to the ER", I thought I was actually dying, and all I had was a bad nosebleed.  

Sometimes the day-to-day prevents us from focusing on what is important. Both of my parents are very self-sufficient and independent, and they don't talk about themselves.  My mother is especially tightlipped about some things.  I joke that she would probably not tell me when my grandparents die until a couple of months later, but that's likely not far from the truth!   She's not being passive aggressive, that is just her personality. Also, I am an emotional person--I tend to cry.  This completely discombobulates both of my parents, and they tend not to want to tell me things when they know I'll cry.  I can still function, I just cry while I'm doing it.  And go through a lot of tissues.   But my dad has become more open to talking about his life over the years as family has become even more important to him, so if I remember to ask, then he tells me what is going on. 

I know that I am supposed to be scared or worried, but for some reason I'm not.  For some reason, I feel like everything is going to be okay.  Cancer is not going to kill my dad.  It may make him wish he were dead, but it's not going to actually kill him.  I have no idea where I get this feeling from.  Probably this feeling came from the same place that, when I was in the process of dying the last two times(2003/2007), told me not to worry.  I don't think of myself as any sort of holy person, but events have shown that God has a definite interest in my family.  That's pretty cool. 

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