When FIL finished his treatment for prostate cancer over the summer and came back with a clean bill of health, we were relieved. The doctors did their scans to ensure the cancer wasn’t just gone from the prostate, but that it hadn’t spread anywhere. It hadn’t. FIL was feeling well and was back to his old self. Midway through the summer though, he started having horrible pain and an odd numbness in his hip. He went from chasing the kids around the yard to being able to watch them from a chair, to not being able to sit or stand for long periods of time at all. This occurred in a matter of weeks.
So he did what anyone would do, and called the doctor. They ran some tests that were inconclusive and began treating him for arthritis. There were pain pills and he now had a cane and walker. Still though, the pain worsened. And back and forth he went from doctor to doctor, from test to test, with nary a diagnosis. Finally, his primary doctor called in the oncologist. A biopsy was done on the hip. They found cancer in his bone. It wasn’t bone cancer though; it was coming from someplace else. Which warranted a PET Scan. Which showed lung cancer that had spread not just to his hip, but to an arm and his back as well.
Then there were pain patches so there was a constant stream of medication in his system. There were calls to the pharmacist to talk about the pain patch and how it might affect his COPD. There was the draining of his waterbed and buying him a new mattress. There was a trip to Target to get new bed linens and pillows. There are now daily trips to radiation, shuttled by Hub or me because he just can’t do it on his own. We are fixing his meals for him and delivering them to his room because walking to the kitchen and carrying a plate takes too much effort; hurts too badly. We find him slumped over, sleeping with his head on his table because he’s too tired to make it to the bed.
He still makes it down the stairs to go outside for a smoke though.
When Hub’s mom was sick, it was different. It was in her head more than it was in her body. Even as I saw her in the hospital on the day of her death, I never believed that she was actually going to die. She had acquired an infection while in the hospital. Treatable, if they got her breathing under control. But, she chose to stop all treatment and died in Hub’s arms within a matter of hours. Still, until it happened, I didn’t believe it could.
This is different. When we read the literature about prostate cancer, it spoke to how it was hard to gauge recurrence over a 5-10 year period because men were typically older when they were treated. Often, they died of other causes before the 5 or 10 year mark. This really made us think, you know? FIL is 69 and not in very good health to begin with. How long does he have left?
Now especially, who knows?
We have 12 more days of radiation and then he starts chemo. I hate to think what effect that’s going to have on the kids, who are so eager to spend time with Grandpa, even if he can’t make them snacks, or take them out in the yard or to McDonalds anymore. It’s going to be worse before it is better. And what if it doesn’t get better?
I don’t think I can even think about that right now.
We all know that we’re going to die someday. We know that we’ll lose our loved ones. But there is no way to fully prepare for it. Or to prepare your children for losing, really, their 3rd parent.
So what do we do, besides press on? Keep on keeping on, right? We’ll do everything we can to help him get better and keep things as normal as possible. But damn it sure does suck.