Tuesday, December 4, 2012

when life changes in an instant...

i've been drafting this post for some time now, but haven't felt ready to hit 'publish' until today. on october 24th, my life was turned upside down...my dad found out he has stage 4 lung cancer. lung cancer is almost never curable. my family is shocked, heartbroken and so many other emotions. my dad is only 57, and a non-smoker (i know that's the first thing people think when they hear lung cancer). he is a very active, healthy guy. he bikes or walks almost every day. in my eyes, he has always seemed invincible. do you feel that way about your dad too? 

earlier this fall, he had been complaining of a sore back, which was nothing out of the ordinary for him. he's thrown out his back plenty of times, but it wasn't getting better, so he decided to go to the doctor. on 10/22 he had a ct scan. the doctor called that afternoon and told him there were a couple things on the scan that they wanted to get a better look at and that he should come back the next day for a pet scan. my parents told me that night and i could tell they were worried. we knew cancer was a possibility, but hoped and prayed it wouldn't be. he went in for his pet scan the next day, and my parents met with a surgeon the following day to go over the results. luckily it was my day off, i know i would have been a wreck at work, waiting to hear. 

they came straight to my house after and i could see their tear-stained cheeks as they got out of the car. we all burst into tears and held each other as they told me. my dad had just learned that there is a large mass in his lung (that's been silently growing for some time). remember, the only symptom he had was a sore back. no coughing (up blood), shortness of breath, weight loss, none of the other usual symptoms. stage 4 means the cancer has spread (in his case to his shoulder bone and spine) and cannot be removed by surgery. instead they are having him do chemo treatment to try to prolong his life and suppress the symptoms for as long as possible. some people respond well to the treatment and can live a few more years, but others aren't as lucky.

i would give anything for this not to be happening. i feel like i'm living a nightmare, or one of those sad stories that only happen to other people. how can this be real? everyone hopes to live to until an old age and pass away peacefully in their sleep, but it's not a promise for anyone. not knowing how long he will be with us is hard to swallow, but it's a blessing that we are able to treasure every day we have with him. 

while it feels like my world is falling apart, i'm trying my hardest to focus on the positives. the doctors hope that because of his relatively young age, general good health, and lack of symptoms, that he will respond favorably to the chemo. while they claim that no one "survives" lung cancer, many people do defy the odds and live for more than a couple years. and i know that miracles happen every day. i'm also thankful that my parents are young retirees (with great health insurance) and plenty of time to take care of each other. we are doing our best to stay positive and take things one day at a time.

my dad has completed two rounds of chemo so far and both have gone well. some pesky side effects, but nothing unmanageable. he's lost most of his hair now, which is hard, but it's not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. he will go in for a scan on the 21st of december to see how well the chemo is working. he's working hard to keep his lungs strong, and his spirits (and his weight!) up. we have a great support system of friends and family who are invaluable.

this is getting long, but i just want to say... my dad is my anchor and my rock. he is the calmest, most grounded person i know. he always makes me feel better about anything i am worried about, no matter how big or small. he is the ultimate protector. i wish i could do the same for him now. i've had 28 wonderful years with him, and i hope i will get to have many more. But whatever the outcome, i will live the rest of my life with nothing but fond memories of my dad who never failed to put his family first. he has always had his priorities straight, and for that, i greatly admire him.

24 comments:

lo @ crazy ever after said...

Oh you sweet, sweet girl. I am so sorry go hear you're going through this...that your family is going through this. There's absolutely nothing fair about the prospect of losing a parent this soon. When I imagine saying good bye to my dad, I imagine It being years down the road. And after he's lived and experienced everything life has to offer. It pains me to think that you may be cheated of so many years with your own daddy. However, you can't put a value on a solid support system, and I firmly believe its through the support and love of others that terminal illness can be fought harder. I am glad you've got so many loved ones rallying behind your family. I truly believe in miracles, and I will keep your dad in my prayers, and hope that a miracle comes his way. But please know that my heart aches for you.

jess said...

My heart aches for you, too girl. I am so sorry your family is going through this. You are so strong, and you have such a close family - you'll pull through together. Lung cancer is an evil thing. My grandmother is also doing chemo right now for her second bout with the disease. I'm keeping you and your family in my thoughts and prayers. {HUGS}

Kelly said...

OH Melissa, I'm so sorry to hear this. I'm in tears at my desk because I feel so much for your family. Your family is on my heart and I will continue to pray and send good vibes to your father. I've been through a long, hard battle with my mom's cancer and it is not easy. I wish we could all take this away from you, but the least we all can do is let you know that we're here for you. You'll be in my thoughts and prayers, friend.

Bridget said...

I am so sorry Melissa! Prayer is a powerful thing and you are right, miracles do happen every day. I will pray that your family gets that miracle and that your dad will be around for many years to come. I can't even imagine what you are going through, but please take comfort that you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers!

Kelly B. said...

ughh.. as the epitome of a daddy's girl, the mere THOUGHT...well.. I can't think about it too long or I'd be in a ball on the floor. I can't imagine what you guys are going through. The knowledge must be weighing heavy. On the flip side, trying to see some small ounce of positive, the knowledge looks like it's made you appreciate every second. At the end of life, however long that may be..and hopefully years and years and years to come, I think it must be rare to be able to look at it with such perspective and positive attitude. I'm thinking of you and your family!

Becky said...

So sorry to hear this Melissa! I can't imagine how difficult this is for you and your family! I hope you all get many more years with your dad! Your family is in my prayers.

Carolyn said...

Oh my sweet friend. I'm so sorry to hear this! :( I can only imagine how hard this must be for you and your family! Please know that you're in my thoughts and prayers! Love you!

~Dawn~ said...

Oooh Melissa :( You know that your family has been in my thoughts and prayers. I can't even begin to imagine what you all are going through. Continue to stay positive and know that I'm here for you whenever you need.

Aileen said...

Oh my goodness Melissa. I cannot even begin to imagine what you are all going through. My heart is breaking for you. I will keep you and the rest of your family and friends in my prayers.

Miss Jewells said...

This seriously brought tears to my eyes. Please kneow that I'm praying for you and your family. I don't have a relationship with my dad, but have several people in my life who I've seen go through things like this and it is never easy. Like your title said - life changes in an instant. It seems so unfair! Just remember to lean on people when you need to, and to enjoy every moment together. Thinking about you!!

ajs {of MN} said...

melissa... friend... i am so sorry to hear this news. i will be thinking about you and your family A LOT- wishing good things and praying hard! i understand the whole "when life changes in an instant..." but i just can't imagine this. hitting publish had to be hard, but you have SO many people here for you if you need anything- A.N.Y.T.H.I.N.G! ((hugs!!))

Sally said...

I'm so sorry for all you and your family are going through. What a difficult time... you are in my thoughts and prayers.

Lisa said...

Melissa, I am so sorry to hear about this. My heart is hurting for you, and I just wish I could give you a big hug! I'll be praying a lot for your whole family, and for your Dad to respond well to chemo and for all good results on his next round of testing. I can't imagine what this must feel like, and like you said, I am sure it feels like a bad dream in so many ways. BIG prayers being sent your way, always!

hi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dannie said...

Melissa-

Your entry was the very last thing I ever expected to read after paging through posts of such adventures, awesome family photos, and happy times. But I'm so glad you shared. As I was reading the beautiful things you wrote about your dad, I couldn't help but think of mine. Since he is older than the average dad of any friend my age (hittin' 70!), I have always been paranoid of him going away. Years ago he was diagnosed with leukemia, and even though he is doing well today, I always have in the back of my mind to try to be in the moment and learn everything I can from him. It sounds like you have a very close relationship with your dad, and I hope the sweet memories of you two together keep coming. You are right, miracles DO happen everyday (I have a friend who is living proof of this!). I'm glad your dad is doing well with treatment, even though it totally sucks. Your dad is a fighter and we are all behind you, praying and sending you so much love! Big hugs to you.

~Dannie

Diana said...

I'm so saddened to read about your dad, Melissa. I can't imagine the pain you're enduring, but your post brilliantly captured how not only earth-shattering a cancer diagnosis can be, but also how hope and a positive attitude can bring some light to even the darkest of situations. You have an amazing attitude about the whole thing, and I hope that that, along with all the outpouring of love and support you've received in all the other comments (and I'm sure elsewhere!), will bolster you and your family in the days and weeks to come! Hang in there!

Durant Imboden said...

Melissa, your dad must feel tremendously proud and glad to have you as his daughter.

sjlily5 said...

Melissa,

I am so sorry to hear this about your dad. I can't imagine what you or your family are going through, but your dad is lucky to have you and such a wonderful family to love and care for him at this time. The going will get tough, but you will be there for each other through it all. If you need anything please let me know.
~Sara

Kris said...

I'm so so sorry to hear about this Melissa. My heart goes out to you and your family. Hugs and much love through this tough journey!

Syndal said...

thanks for sharing your story Melissa! I know this is incredibly difficult..and maybe being able to write about it will help you process a little bit. Always thinking of you and your family..I'm here for anything!

Sarah said...

I know we've already emailed about this but please know you and your family are in my thoughts. Let me know if you ever need to talk- i'm a great listener. Hugs!

Becca at One Girl said...

Melissa I'm so sorry to hear about this! Thinking about your family, you're in my thoughts and prayers!

Emily said...

Hi Melissa, I'm so sorry to hear this. I'm praying for you and your family for a wonderful holiday season together.

I haven't commented in a while, but I am still reading!

Leah said...

Oh Melissa. My heart goes out to you and your family!! Thank you for sharing.

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...