As some of you know, but most do not, my father was diagnosed with lung cancer in early July, thus all my trips to California. Early 2017 my dad started having pain in his sciatica and pelvic region. He immediately went to his doctor and then to one of the top neurologists in Orange County. In no particular order his doctor sent him to a chiropractor, physical therapy, put him on steroids, and finally heavy duty pain killers. As months went by things got worse. My dad had an immense amount of trust in his neurologist, a man at the top of his field. Finally after the pain could no longer be managed, Dr. Boyd scheduled a CT scan which revealed a lesion. A lesion = cancer. That then led to a biopsy. My dad has a condition called Monoclonal Gammopathy, which can be a precursor to Multiple Myeloma. Given the pain in his bones and the lesion found, we thought it had progressed to MM. Very, very sadly, that was not the case. Instead the biopsy revealed lung cancer. It had already metastasized to his pelvic region. As the Pet Scan then revealed, it was in his left hip, ribs and spine, bilateral in his lungs, etc, etc.
My dad was a smoker. He quit 40 years ago. My dad is a heart patient. First open heart surgery when he was 32, the second when he was 45. Angioplasties, Atrial Tachycardia, the list goes on. Yes, heart disease runs on my father’s side of the family. My grandfather and his 3 siblings all died before 55. That is why I am so passionate about overall health and wellness. That is why my heart breaks when people I care for don’t care for themselves.
Lung cancer is the worst cancer out there. Why? By the time one finds out they have it, it’s too late. The oncologist told my dad with a combination of chemotherapy and immunotherapy he could have 12 to 16 months, without, 6 months. What the oncologist didn’t tell my father was how awful chemo would be. All my dad could hear was the amount of “time” he had. After two rounds of chemo he ended up in the hospital for 9 days. His blood pressure was extremely low, he went into atrial fibrillation, and his already existent edema manifested. Once things were somewhat under control he was released. He went home and the next day went into hospice. That was a month ago.
I would never have imagined how awful this would be. From the initial diagnosis and how the healthcare system “handles” terminal illness, to the heartbreaking decline of my dad’s health. My family has been through a lot over the years with my father’s heart conditions. But nothing had prepared us for this, nothing. It’s not pretty my friends.
For those of you who know me well, I’m very private about truly personal things. Stair climbing, working out, yoga, travel, cooking, my furry children & husband, that I’ll shout from the rooftop. Motivating and encouraging others to live the best lives they can, well, I’m all about that. But when it comes down to situations like this, I’ve always had this belief that you only share with those you are closest too or on a need to know basis. Even then I never want to “burden” anyone.
I’ve debated writing and posting this, but I’ve learned over the past 4 months that the more I keep to myself the harder it is. So, I’m letting go. I’m so incredibly grateful for the unconditional love & support that Jeff provides me and my family. And I don’t know what I would do without my dearest friends, both in Charlotte and in California. They have been my lifeline.
To embrace a full life we have to face all of it…the good and the bad. It’s how we face it that defines who we are and how we overcome things. Never judge someone by the smiles you may see via photos on social media, by the conversations or emails & texts you have. You have no idea what someone is going through and how they need to deal with it. I say this from experience on both sides. This journey of life continues to teach us lessons, the most important ones sometimes being the hardest.
I’ll leave you with this. “Lung cancer is by far the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women; about 1 out of 4 cancer deaths are from lung cancer. Each year, more people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined.” https://www.cancer.org/cancer/non-small-cell-lung-cancer/about/key-statistics.html