Waiting is the Hardest Part

My dad had a painful and persistent cough so he went to the doctor. The doctor told him he had Bronchitis and gave him a prescription for an antibiotic. When the antibiotic ran out and he was still not any better they gave him another prescription. After a few days he was worse, so he went to the doctor. The doctor thought he had pneumonia and sent him to another doctor for an x-ray. The x-ray showed fluid in his chest outside of his lungs (pleural effusion) so they sent him for a CAT scan. The following day they scheduled a Thoracentesis to drain the fluid. When the doctor came to speak with us, he explained that they found a tumor on the upper part of his right lung and 2 lymph nodes in the middle of his chest were enlarged. He also had what they call “trapped lung”, where the lung is collapsed a bit because of the pressure of the fluid around the lung and when they try to drain the fluid the lung doesn’t want to expand. Based on the “trapped lung”, as well as the distance the enlarged lymph nodes are from the tumor, the doctor (a lung cancer specialist) thinks we are looking at Lung Cancer, stage 3a minimum, but likely stage 4. They don’t do surgery on Stages 3 and 4 because they can’t get it all with surgery. I use short, choppy sentences when giving facts… forgive my grammar, please.

Rewind a moment. I was supposed to work Friday, Saturday & Sunday, but my boss cancelled my overtime work weekend Thursday night, after I rearranged my schedule to work. I was pretty upset about this at the time. The following morning, Friday morning, when my mother told me about the fluid in his chest and the procedure being scheduled to drain the fluid at 2pm, I felt the universe telling me to go to Greenville to be there for this procedure so I packed a bag and drove on up. I knew I had to be there to speak with the doctor. I cannot imaging not having been there for my parents on Friday and this difficult weekend.

Next step: the pathologist should have seen the fluids Monday morning. If there had been no cancer cells they would have contacted us. We were told that if they saw cancer cells they would cut it up & test it for presence of cancer cells from other parts of the body to see if this could be a metastasis or to see if this has metastasized. Since we didn’t hear from them yesterday or today (today is Tuesday) we can assume they definitely found cancer.

Waiting to find out what monster(s) we’re fighting is scary.

My parents have been planning the trip of a lifetime to Alaska. The doctors advise against going, but that’s just because they are supposed to. I asked the doctor to suppose they ignored his advice and went anyway. What precautions should they take? Best case scenario was that the fluid they drained stayed gone and he was comfortable the entire trip. Worst case scenario is the fluid returns as bad as it was the morning of the procedure and he will be in extreme discomfort while stuck on a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean with no hospitals around. Even the worst case scenario isn’t bad enough to cancel such a big trip. My dad may not be able to travel again for a very long time. They are going with 2 other couples, their very best friends. I hope they are able to set the cancer aside for these few weeks and enjoy this trip of a lifetime. My entire being hopes this isn’t my dad’s last real vacation.

I leave for OshKosh in the morning with a heavy heart.

Pay the Piper

Today I had my semiannual mole check.

I was one of those sun-soaking girls. You know, the ones that lathered on the baby oil and spent hours soaking up sun in my youth. By “youth”, I actually mean I continued sunbathing with suntan oil and no sunscreen well into my twenties. Heck, even in my early thirties I would lounge on the beach wearing minimal sunscreen, or I would go to a tanning bed.

The piper finally came around to collect his dues about 3 years ago. After going to the dermatologist for a few suspicious moles, one on my lower leg just above my ankle came back as Melanoma. It was only Melanoma in-Situ, but it was still Melanoma, and it still scared the crap out of me. When they removed the lesion they cut all the way down to my muscle, taking skin from my thigh to do a skin graft. My scar is about 2″x3″ and indented, it sort of looks like a shark bite. I now go for semi-annual skin checks and annual blood work, lung x-rays and optamologist appointments, because even though it was in-Situ it can still metastasize.

So now I look at my skin like it’s trying to kill me whenever I have exposed skin. Even after all this, I still enjoy the feel of the sun on my skin… with sunscreen… for a short time… in the early morning or late afternoon. Hey, I’m human.

Pale is beautiful. Why doesn’t everyone agree? Why don’t I truly agree?

 

Bragging Rights

Last week I flew up the coast to Myrtle Beach for a quick flight. I was expecting a little IMC along the way, but I was lucky and had IMC almost the entire way. I’ve flown IMC on a cross-country while alone before, but this was my first IFR approach since I got my ticket in April!

Granted, it was vectors-to-final…. but an IFR approach is an IFR approach, and I’m proud of myself just the same!