Friday, November 6, 2009


Over the last weeks I have been grappling with Dad's declining health, cancer diagnosis, treatment options and how and when to share this information with extended family. I took the plunge last night by sending out a prayer request to family. I must say I am overwhelmed with the responses I have received. Just when I felt like I must face things alone with only the support of my immediate family I have realized again that none of us are truly alone. All you have to do is reach out to those who love you. I am learning to do this and to ask for help. Responses started with a call from my BIL, T late last night and moved on to heartfelt emails and facebook messages from my 'big' cousins today. I also heard from my dear friend M. The thoughts and prayers of these dear people mean the world to me, more than they know.

Well today was our second consultation with Dr. Wein at Tufts Medical Center in Boston. Dad didn't remember that we were going into Boston. Thankfully my brother was able to drive us into the city. When I spoke with Dad this morning before our trip he was uncertain about the surgery. I tried to explain to him the implications of surgery verses the alternative-doing nothing. I told him we would support him no matter what his choice. He then said he thought he might not want to do the surgery. I told him how I reached out to family to let them know what was going on and that everyone is sending him prayers and love. He was speechless for several minutes; overcome by emotions I believe. It wasn't until I said "Getting old really sucks sometimes" and it snapped him back into the conversation. He asked "What did you say?" I repeated "Getting old really stinks sometimes" and our conversation continued. I think my bad language surprised him. :) So I went over to his house at about 10:30 to get ready for the trip. He spiffied himself up....with my help; beard trim, hair cut, sponge bath, clean clothes the whole nine yards. We were off and on the road by 11:00. He actually seemed a bit better and brighter than the last time we went out together on Monday. We were in Boston in no time, an hour early for our appointment so B took us for a ride around Southie and over by the waterfront and showed us all the buildings he had worked on when he was working with the Carpenter's Union. It was a good way to pass the time.

Even after sightseeing we were half an hour early to our appointment. We were called in right away. Dr. Wein came in and shared a lot of the same information as he had shared before. The tumor is a T4a. It can be treated for a cure with surgery. Unfortunately due to lymph node involvement(just 1) his 5yr survivability rate is at about 30%. The other do nothing is will result in death probably in 6 months. After listening to the doctor again Dad changed his mind and thought he should have the surgery. So for now we are going to go forward with the cardiac testing planned for next Wednesday and will use those results to inform our decision. Personally I just want to make a decision and move forward, but it isn't about just me so I will be respectful of the process and support Dad as he goes through the testing. It is so difficult because he forgets what the doctors say after he leaves the office to the point of forgetting he even has cancer. I feel like this is going to be a decision made by the family more than by him.


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