I promised y'all that I would update regularly, or as often as I mentally am capable of doing, in regards to my dad and his progress. You should probably read the first blog now before continuing on, just in case you're a bit clueless as to what I'm talking about. Or if you're the sort of friend who hasn't bothered to ask what's actually going on in my life or how my dad is or ya know, how I may or may not be coping.
And yeah, that's fucking shade and you deserve it. I can't even feel a bit icky over this passive aggressive nonsensical bullshit because the amount of let down I am and disappointment I feel for some folks is utterly astounding. And distracting, so I suppose I should thank them for redirecting my thoughts away from my sick father and onto their stupid asses.
After the initial shock and the endless is this even real life moments following dad's diagnosis, he proceeded to go on a carousel of tests; a PET scan to definitively judge if the cancer has spread (it didn't), another Endoscopy with an ultrasound to see the exact size of his tumor and how to best help with his diet going forward (his tumor is IN his esophagus, blocking nearly 90% of the space needed for food to pass down and into his stomach) along with too many vials of blood to count. Protocol.
After the tests, he went on to meet his oncology team. Quick pause: He and Mom ended up scrapping University of Penn for Jefferson (hugely smart move for morale and compassion – same exact treatment plan). In this team are his oncologist, surgeon, radiation doctor, and chemo doctor. Along with a nurse navigator and a slew of hospital wings and buildings for this and that, these core four are what will see him through the medical end of this whole ordeal.
Once the tests were done, the conversations had and the treatment plan set forth – Radiation for 6 weeks/5 days a week, Chemo for 6 weeks/1 day a week, rest, recovery, PET scan, then surgery – we had a week of down time. It was good. We all got together for game nights and BBQs and hang time. We saw some movies at the theater and at home on my comfy-ass couch and just enjoyed the time before life would continue to get really real.
And real it did.
We are now one week and three days into dad's treatment and so far, he's doing well. We've all adjusted to what's happening and it's no longer this lead weight sitting in the base of our guts, pulling us down and down and down.
Of course it is always there on my mind and I think of it every day and battle the fear and doubt that always always wants me to believe something other than hopeful thoughts.
But I will admit it: despite all of my constant go go go and positive thinking, yesterday was hard. I went with dad on his chemo #2 treatment (radiation day #7) because it's a long arduous process with way more drugs and time spent sitting around than one person can do, or should do, on their own.
The radiation wing wasn't so bad. There were two older gentlemen who finished their treatments and rang the bells – that was joyous to see and hear! It inspires hope and makes it feel like all the time and energy and money is worth it. I liked that for dad.
But the chemotherapy wing was...well, that was something else. You see true sickness there, you glimpse death on the cusp and human frailty and fear so palpable it made me stop and turn away for fear of crying in front of dad (I refuse to do this because it will help NO one). But you also see resilience and hope and strength that are of a different nature altogether. This is the soul and the physical being battling to remain, the sheer will and fight within that demands respect and truly, truly, it took my breath away.
I don't think my dad noticed I was going through this; I can hide things very very well from the people I love the most and I was absolutely doing that then. But I was proud of him, too. He wasn't staring and thinking it'd be him – when it could be. He wasn't nudging my shoulder to make a comment about the negatives or to point out the obvious severity of someone's battle. He was just present and waiting for his turn and then it was.
And he did it with humor... humor. He was all but flirting with the nurse who helped him (he's a flirt...no wonder as to where I got that quality from lol) and making her laugh while she's inserting the IVs for this and that and the other. I loved seeing that. I loved seeing my dad like that.
That's who he is and who he's always been. A big ol' goof who fights like a bat out of hell and doesn't give up no matter how fucking bad the storm gets. No matter how much he may want to.
I've always felt a little too edgy for some people, too hard to love beyond the honeymoon phase of relationships and friendships, just too much to handle when it comes to emotion – a rough and tumble type. But I know now where it all comes from and I'm proud of it.
So that's where we're at for now. Not quite in the worst of the hurricane yet but he's facing it head-on and I? Well, I couldn't be more honored to be standing by his side.
** Dad is wearing binoculars in these photos because we were visiting the Cape May shore and he likes watching the big freighters go by out on the ocean (versus whales/dolphins lol). That was a fun day – me, Dad and Bella went down for a day trip just to get out and do something together. Maybe I'll take him again when he's feeling better after all of this. **