Fatigued. Nauseous. Watery mouth. Emotional. Shaky. Clammy. Tightness in chest.
No, I’m not describing dad’s symptoms. I’m describing the things I’ve been experiencing since we learned of dad’s diagnosis 18 days ago. I’m 99.9 percent certain mom and Kelly would agree. These symptoms subside, but they never entirely go away. And they most certainly increase in intensity whenever we go for an appointment or test. Fear does strange things to a person’s mind and body.
As for my dad’s symptoms, they are actually pretty similar. The majority of them are caused by the same fear, but he does have some discomfort in his abdomen and lower back that is managed by morphine. But for him, I’d increase ‘fatigued’ to ‘downright exhausted.’ This process – the diagnosis, the back-and-forth to the hospital, the waiting, and the unknown – has been mentally and physically exhausting on him. On everyone, really. Because we’re in it together, remember?
Today, however, we finally have answers. And a plan.
The MRI of his brain that was performed on Monday was negative. Hallelujah! The pathology report from the biopsy of his liver showed that the cancer type is small cell lung cancer with liver metastases. While more rare, aggressive and incurable, small cell is treatable. So, within 30 minutes of our consultation with Dr. Weiss, dad was in the infusion chair and treatment was underway.
The following medications are admistered via a port in his chest over a three-day period:
– Zofran to prevent nausea
– Decadron steroid to prevent nausea and allergic reaction
– Carboplatin and Etoposide chemotherapy to fight the cancer cells
The chemo meds aim to attack all cancer cells, in both the lung and liver and wherever else they might be hiding out. On day four, he will receive an injection of Neulasta, which is a bone marrow stimulant that helps the body make white blood cells that fight off infection.
He will go through this same treatment plan every three weeks for four cycles. In early August, they will repeat the scans, and hopefully we will see that the medications are giving cancer a much deserved kick in the ass!
He handled day one well, and the staff allowed all three of us to join him for today only. Kelly and Garett had shirts made for the entire party of 11, and we all wore them with pride. (FRONT: Hey cancer, you picked the wrong family to mess with! BACK: Team Chuck)
One thing that I have always observed about dad is that he treats doctors and nurses with the utmost respect and admiration. And they love him for it. He has always found a way to make them laugh, no matter the circumstance. And he’s still finding the humor in things today despite the challenges he is facing. For example, the nurse asked if he had any questions before she started the treatment. He said in the most serious tone, “Yes, can someone tell me what the heck these ‘jelly bean jackers’ are doing here?!”
Since my first post, The day life handed us lemons, we have been touched by the amount of support we’ve received from near and far – in the way of comments, cards, phone calls and care packages. So many people have simply reached out to say they care, and that they are cheering for Chuck. We are very appreciative of your love and kindness, especially dad. In fact, the other night when he saw all of the comments on the Facebook post and the number of views this blog had received, he said: “That Prince guy ain’t got nothing on me!”
He’s right. And it’s that type of attitude that will see him through this.
Tonight, he’s resting comfortably. Hopefully, a little more soundly than he has been. His heart and mind have been heavy. And while we know the road ahead won’t be easy, we at least have a map to start following. And for that, we are thankful.
Until next time,