Cancer Sucks.

It goes without saying, but I feel like saying it anyway.

In December I lost someone important to me to lung cancer (she didn’t smoke).

Last Sunday I found out my Dad has either multiple myeloma or bone metastases (origin unknown) with a dozen lesions on his spine and pelvis.

People in my family live forever. My grandmother on my mom’s side, Rosalia Gagliano, who never really learned English and always sent birthday cards in Italian (buon compleanno, bella!), lived to be 107.

My grandfather on my father’s side, was a hard-drinkin’, goateed Democrat (the opposite of my Dad) and lived to be almost 90.

So my Dad, 74, thought he had another 10 years, or so.

“That’s just not in the cards,” he said matter-of-factly on the phone this last Sunday. My Dad’s a pretty pragmatic guy.

The only thing that worries him right now is that any of us might be upset. So, the goal is to be there for my Dad in the way he wants me to be there for him.

Like he was there for me.

One of my most prized memories: It was a sweltering July morning. I had just gotten home from the hospital after my double mastectomy and was in the bathroom cleaning my drains–one of which seemed to be held in place by barbed wire. Of all the people in my house that day, I asked my Dad to come help, because being a pragmatic guy, he could handle it.

While the Dixie Chicks played on the radio, he tenderly cleaned my drains with peroxide and tucked gauze under the barbed wire then taped it in place. Comforted, I walked around the house with my concave chest, watering the plants and opening mail.

“I cannot believe how she has bounced back from this surgery,” I would hear my Dad say. “It’s only been three days. I’ve never seen anyone recover like this.” It made me feel strong and resilient and maybe even a little powerful. I don’t know if he’ll ever know it, but it was incredibly motivating and healing.

Now it’s my turn.

My Dad is very private and very self-sufficient.  I need to strike just the right balance between being there and not being there. I have a feeling it might be a little tricky. My prayer is that I’ll instinctively know the right thing to do, just like he did.

I love you papa.

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13 Responses to Cancer Sucks.

  1. Carrie says:

    I am sure you will know the right thing to do…in fact, I have no doubt.

    XOXOXO

  2. Jenster says:

    I’m so sorry, Hon. What a sweet memory, though. And I agree with Carrie – you’ll know exactly the right thing to do.

    Jen

  3. I wish every family member and friend of someone with cancer could read your post.

    Your thoughts and actions reflect true love: You are focused not on your own pain but on the needs of your father. You are keeping your eyes and ears open, hoping your judgment and/or instincts will guide you to be there for your Dad the way that will help him best — even if that way is unpleasant or difficult for you.

    Please remember: We are here to help you help him. With respect and hope, Wendy

  4. Lahdeedah says:

    Thanks very much you all. Jen and Carrie, I wish I were as certain as you 🙂 Wendy, I don’t think we’ve ever “talked” before, but you articulate my hopes so clearly. Thank you.

  5. littledeet says:

    Your post really touched my heart. Sometimes little things people say to us can be so inspiring and motivating. I know that you will be a great comfort to your dad. Just being around him and being your positive self is gong to help. I am a colorectal cancer survivor nearly 24 years for me Praise God. I remember my daughters would write me notes when I was in the hospital and when I was a lone I would read them over and over again and it would give me strength to fight. Love is powerful! Thank you for your post. Everytime we share we may be helping others more than we realize. I too blog and share my survival story http://chatwithdeedee.wordpress.com/

    • Lahdeedah says:

      Dee Dee, how wonderful of you to still be educating us all 24 years after your cancer. Instead of just getting on with your life, it seems that you have made it your own crusade to get the news out so others may have better outcomes. That’s real selflessness. Happy to be in your company. And thanks for the very helpful words of advice.

  6. justenjoyhim says:

    I am so very sorry about your dad. When my dad fell ill with liver cancer many years ago, sometimes just spending time with him was enough. Your dad knows you love him, and I know you’ll show him in exactly the right way for both of you. Huge *hugs* to you and your family.

    And I hate cancer too. It truly sucks.

    • Lahdeedah says:

      Truly, Judy. I’m sorry to hear about your dad. Sorry, too, to hear about your week in the hospital. So happy you’re through that rough patch.

      Thanks for the kind words.

  7. Lahdeedah says:

    Final diagnosis: Stage IV lung cancer with bone metastases. Heartache. Going out to AZ in 9 days. I was able, from experience, to let my Dad know that with the right antinausea drugs (like Emend), chemo is not horrible.

    I pray for the day when people don’t have to suffer like this in their end days. No one deserves the kind of pain you experience from spinal metastases. Especially my sweet dad.

    Go give your dad a hug, or call him and tell him how much you appreciate his presence in your life 🙂

  8. Stacie Fitzgerald says:

    Jill ,
    My heart aches for your family. I fell more in love with your family than I did with any other family I ever dated. I watched my mom go thru chemo for the past 3 years on and off ( i asked her if I could bake her “special” brownies but she seemed to cope ok ( so I ate them—kidding ….maybe) – her neck is now has iron rod due to her crumbling structure, her spine now has 3-4 breaks and she has the light of a million stars in her eyes because she has enjoyed her life and she lights up my world with just a thought or memory.I know that this is likely her last year with us. She is less than a size 2. Everyday is a struggle and it just seems like it would be the humane thing for her to head for the light, but her fight continues and her laughter and love radiates. I love the Cancer Research centers tag line “I don’t see an date stamped on the bottom of your foot” . Go enjoy him, fill the home with the side splitting, pant wetting laughter only you Howard’s can summons. Be joyous, cry and breath in his love. The best healing power is watching the people around you that you love, loving you. That goes both ways….. He still holds a huge place in my heart as what a father should be. He exemplifies that model. Much Love to your whole family. God Bless
    Stacie,Lacy, Lucy….whats her face…..Fitzgerald

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