In my last post, “Treatment is (finally) underway,” it was made clear that our family was ready to begin treatment. We were well versed on the side effects that these chemicals have on one’s body. We knew what to look out for, when to call (and when not to call) the doctor, and when to seek medical treatment. Or so we thought.
Dad handled round one of chemo, which started last Tuesday, very well initially. He even cut the grass on his riding lawn mower and rode his scooter to Laina’s softball game. But come Monday, his health and state of mind began to rapidly decline. We called his doctor’s office twice on Tuesday to describe his symptoms and hung up with the understanding that what he was experiencing were all common side effects of chemo but to monitor him closely. I spent the day with him yesterday while my mom went to her office in Conneaut to do some work. My one-on-one experience with him was what I needed to realize that things weren’t right. We called the doctor again and were told to go to the ER immediately.
Dad was diagnosed late last evening with Tumor Lysis Syndrome, an extremely rare and dangerous outcome of chemotherapy. Essentially, the chemo did what we asked – it kicked cancer’s butt. But it did so at a rate so rapid, that the cancer cells exploded in his body and released toxins that his body couldn’t process quickly enough. His kidneys were failing. They began a three-hour emergency dialysis around 2 a.m. His uric acid and potassium levels have improved, and the team is cautiously optimistic that this is an acute situation, meaning he will not need to continue dialysis once kidney functions return to normal.
Thankfully, dad has no idea what he’s going through right now. But we cannot wait for him to come to and to share this experience with him. I’m sure he’ll get a kick out of some of the funnier things he did during a very scary and uncertain time.
It’s rather ironic that the treatment we wanted to begin so badly to fight these cancer cells is having such a positive yet negative impact on his body. Now we know why people have a love-hate relationship with chemo. There is no doubt that we will need to revisit our plan of attack once things normalize.
I recently read a friend’s blog about her husband’s journey with cancer. One of her entries referenced that her life sometimes felt like a “shit sandwich.” I remember chuckling when I read this, and relating. Right now, I couldn’t say it any better. It’s been a rough couple of weeks for all of us, me included. From our cat passing last week to Braden’s hospitalization to this latest development with dad. Until now, I couldn’t find the words or strength to share an update. I was completely lost. I found myself asking “Why me? What did I do – what did my family do – to deserve this?” It’s now that I have to remind myself that this – the good and the bad, the ugly and the beautiful – is life.
And along every step of the way, I’ve never been alone. The support I’ve received in just the last week alone is overwhelming. I am so grateful for so many family members and friends that I’ve reached out to with questions or a favor or an ear. Especially those that have been served a “shit sandwich” of their own but have been willing to help in any way or give answers despite their own struggles and loss. It’s the selflessness of others that gives you the strength to keep moving forward.
So on behalf of my family, I thank you for taking the time to read these updates and offer your love, prayers and good vibes. We are grateful that so many people are cheering for Chuck, including long-time loved ones from our hometown of Conneaut to new and dear friends in our home of Twinsburg. Please, keep on cheering. It’s a long road ahead, but we’ve got this together.
Until next time,