Thursday, July 22, 2010

My dad

My father is currently in the hospital.  He is having issues with his breathing and the internist is having difficulties pin-pointing what is going on with him.  My father is 61 years old and is battling cancer for a third time within a 4 year period.

My father was first diagnosed with cancer in September 2006.  The cancer was in his bladder and his oncologist took out his bladder, building a new one out of a part of his intestine.  My father recovered faster than expected and his new bladder proved strong and stable.  We were all extremely happy and relieved.  After being on medical leave, he was able to go back to work in April 2007.  My father loves his job -- he's a pilot.  He flew in the Air Force for 20 years, retired and immediately went to fly for the airlines.  I'm not going to name the airline here, it's name isn't important.  What is important is that my father was living his dream and loving every minute of it.

So, in March 2009 my father felt some lumps in his groin area when he urinated and made an appointment with his doctor to see what it might be.  I have to admit, my hope was that it was just a build-up of scar tissue that could be removed and nothing more.  On my father's 60th birthday, he informed me that his cancer was back.  I was really upset by that news.  I had convinced myself that it was just scar tissue and had refused to even let the idea of cancer trickle back into my head.  So, his oncologist started him on chemotherapy and radiation.  This cancer was pretty aggressive.  It spread from his groin to his shoulder, spine and lymph nodes -- this usually indicates terminal cancer.  The doctor got more aggressive with the chemo and radiation and my father was at the cancer center 3 days a week.  He had side effects off and on during his treatment.  By June 2009, the tumors were completely gone but the oncologist had concerns about stopping treatment, so my father continued.  In February 2010, the oncologist decided that dad had been doing chemo and radiation long enough and the tumors had not returned so he stopped treatment.  We all thought dad was in remission and things would go back to normal.  During that treatment period, my father medically retired from the airlines, retiring from his dream 5 years before the mandatory retirement age of 65.

April 2010 dad's cancer came back.  This time it was in his liver and wasn't moving.  Even though the oncologist had stopped the treatments, he hadn't stopped the regular scans.  My father had a routine PET scan and that's when they found the tumors.  So, the oncologist and my dad started getting things set up for him to enter into a clinical trial for a new cancer drug.  My father was accepted into the clinical trial and initially had a really great beginning.  His 2 week check-up was really good and his bloodwork was really great!  Then, last week (the week of July 12, 2010) dad started vomiting.  He had some days where he kept stuff down, and he had some days where he didn't.  By Thursday of that week, he was feeling a little better and actually went to the movies.  But by late Sunday night/early Monday morning, he was in a lot of pain and having trouble breathing.  He had an appointment at the clinical trial center so he and my mom did their best to make him comfortable until his appointment time.  Upon arriving at the cancer center, dad was put on oxygen, checked by the oncologist and rushed to the ER of the nearby Presbyterian St. Lukes Hospital.  By 4pm Monday, July 19, 2010 my father had been admitted as a patient and was on 24/7 oxygen.  The ER doctors, internist and my father's oncologist all believed there was a blood clot somewhere in his body, which was causing the oxygen issues and the pain.  He was placed on Heparin and Coumadin to break down the clot.  He's been at the hospital ever since.

It's hard seeing my father struggle for air.  He's 61 years old and has always been a strong man and now cancer has brought him down.  I hate that!  I'm very angry over a lot of things with this cancer and am feeling extremely desperate.  I know that science and medicine make huge advancements every day.  I know that every day, new cancer drugs are tested and developed and put before the FDA for human clinical trials.  My father is in one of those.  Right now he can't continue in the trial until his oxygen levels are normal.  All of the x-rays and CAT scans show no clot, so why can't he breathe?  He doesn't have pneumonia, so why can't he breathe?  What the hell is going on?  Why can't he breathe?  I don't get it at all!

I haven't been able to sleep.  I went to bed at about 1030pm last night (July 21) and was awakened by a motorcycle revving its engine outside my building at 1230am (July 22), dozed off and was awakened again by the complex's sprinkler system at 230am and I've been awake ever since.  I decided to get up and try to workout but I couldn't focus so I half-assed a 20 minute Brazilian Body workout and did 15 minutes of yoga.  I haven't had a good night's sleep in a year.  I'd like to be able to go to bed at 9pm and not wake up again until my alarm went off, but for some reason that hasn't happened.  I'm troubled by concerns over my father, my disappointment with my job and a failing relationship with my sister.  Having my father in the hospital right now is not really helping my peace of mind or my stress.  Right now, I feel extremely low and extremely alone.  Cancer sucks!  I don't really think I can handle losing anymore loved ones to it so if there is a someone out there reading this, if you could add your prayers and positive thoughts to mine, I'd greatly appreciate it!
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