Cancer, Death and My Father – Part 2

CANCER, I HATE YOU!

Yes, I know, who loves cancer right? Of course we all hate cancer. We click like on all those “Support Cancer” thingies on Facebook, retweet the Tweets on Twitter when the celebrity of our choosing is doing a fundraiser. Heck, some of us may even donate to various, or one particular, cancer research company or charity.

Most of us usually go about our daily lives not thinking about those who have or are suffering from cancer. No, I’m not trying to guilt anyone. I know how it is, I was that person. That is, until about 3 years ago when my Daddy was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer.

THE BEGINNING TO DIAGNOSIS

My parents were (and I still believe are, even though Daddy is gone) each other’s best friend. There was no one else in the world they wanted to spend their time with. They married at 19, and had me and my brother in their late 20’s.

After my brother and I graduated high school, they decided they needed to take yearly “gallivants” across the western part of the United States. I know what you’re thinking, HOW DARE THEY DECIDE TO GO ON VACATIONS! I mean… THE NERVE. It isn’t like my brother and I had expensive hobbies as teenagers! Pffff.  /major eye roll

Fast forward a *cough* few years, and it’s late June 2010, they return from their gallivant across the Eastern Sierra’s ( and I believe that was the year they went into Eastern Oregon, but I’m not positive on that note ), because that’s where they loved to spend a lot of their vacation ( Mono Lake is my Mom’s favorite place on earth). Mom is home for the summer and starts in on her summer projects (she works for a school district) and Dad returns to work.

Mid-July, he actually comes home from work and stays home for a few days because of back pain. Now let me explain something here. My Daddy, NEVER, I mean NEVER unless he was on his “death bed” either came home sick or stayed home sick. His job would usually have to send his tush home because he was too sick to work.

Another example. When he was working on a farm as foreman when I was only about 7 or 8, he had come home from work and told my Mom that maybe he needed to go to the doctor now because the cut on his hand, that he had wrapped up, hadn’t stopped bleeding over the last few hours. Yes, you read that right, HOURS! So of course, Mom drags all of us to “Doc N’ the Box” and they break numerous needles because the callouses on his hands are too thick.

Back to July 2010. After a few days, he finally goes to the doctor, because well, if he never stayed home, that should give you an idea of how often he ever went to the doctor other than his yearly checkups. They run a few tests, and give him some antibiotics thinking it is a urine / bladder infection. He takes his meds, and when things still don’t get better after a few weeks, he goes back to the doctor.

Over the next month or so they do more tests, which come back negative. Somewhere down the line, I’m not sure when, they determine there are problems with his Prostate. His Prostate – Specific Antigen (PSA) levels are way too high. Normal men have a PSA level of around 4. This indicates he most likely has a healthy Prostate. My father’s on the other hand, were much much higher.  They decide they need to do a biopsy on his Prostate, to see if there are cancerous tissue, and if so, what stage it is at.

For those of you who don’t know much or anything about Prostate Cancer, one way they determine at what stage cancer you are at ( Stage 1, Stage 2, Stage 3, Stage 4 ) is by doing a biopsy of the Prostate and measuring the amount of cancerous tissue by using the Gleason Score. They take 10 samples, and then rate each sample on a scale from 1 – 10. 1 being no cancer and 10 being full cancerous. Typically, most people who have cancerous tissue will have only a couple or in much rarer cases, a few samples pop up as cancerous.

Gleason-Score

So, they take the biopsy, and then we wait. I really tried not to hound my parents for information. As my Mom once told me, that they won’t call us right away because well, they need time to process it, before they can tell us about it. I understood that, but still it was hard. After waiting, patiently as I could, my Daddy calls me with the results. I told the husband unit I was going to take the call outside because we hadn’t told our daughter much of anything really, and I didn’t want her to overhear something and not have the full story.

So I went downstairs and across the street and stood in the church parking lot and readied myself for whatever my Dad was going to say.  I don’t think anyone could ever be “ready” for what he told me.

Out of all 10 samples, ALL 10 CAME BACK POSITIVE FOR CANCEROUS TISSUE.  This is about the time I stop breathing. I can’t believe anything else that he tells me could be much more soul crushing that this.

Only …. It does.

Not only did every sample show cancerous tissue, but every sample came back with a 10 rating. He said that they were working on getting an appointment with University of California, San Francisco’s Cancer Center to see what they could do, and if surgery to remove the Prostate was an option. I told him to keep me updated, that I want to go with them to the appointment and so to please let me know when it was. He said he would and I told him that I loved him very much.

As I hung up the phone, I collapsed to the ground and fell apart. I cried, sobbed, and gasped for air.

My Daddy, at the age of 58, had gone from being FINE in June and tromping all over the Eastern Sierra’s with my Mommy to Stage 4 Prostate Cancer in September of that same year.

My Daddy has Stage 4 Prostate Cancer.

I am going to lose my Daddy because of C.A.N.C.E.R.

 

*What is Prostate – Specific Antigen ( PSA)? http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/detection/PSA

*What is the Gleason Score? http://gleasonscore.net/

3 thoughts on “Cancer, Death and My Father – Part 2

  1. Thanks for this posts. I’d been meaning to check out this part of your site, but hadn’t gotten around to it (probably because I didn’t want to check it out sooner on account of having lost my own mother to cancer less than a year ago). First of all I am of course very sorry for your and your family’s loss. I am glad you found the strength to share your experiences here on your site. I guess you’re right in the sense that most people go through life not really thinking about cancer a lot, but on the other hand I think all of us know someone who’s been affected by cancer at some point in their life. We can’t always get to choose when our lives will end, but we can give meaning to our lives as much as we can. In my opinion you do a great job giving meaning to your father’s life (not to mention your own;)) by writing about him and his illness, as I’m sure it’s a bit of human history many, many people can relate to. So I guess I’m trying to say ‘thank you’.

    • I will simply comment… Your Welcome.

      ( I keep meaning to get back to this subject, it’s just painful and with the 3rd Angelversery coming up in a few days, it’s even harder )

      • Good luck with the Angelversary (I like that word!)…I figured, on account of the dates of these posts, that this project has spent more time in your mind than online so to speak. I didn’t mention it, because I wouldn’t want to push you to share your story of course. I guess you’ll know when you’re ready to pick it up again, if ever. Either way, thanks again for sharing your story, whether you’ll ever get back to it or not;)

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