Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Somber Realizations

Got a bit of good news tonight. Turns out the spots (there are now more) aren't growing. They are stable for now. This is something good. I think we could all use some good news about now.

Chemo starts next Tuesday, right after my mom and dad's last trip to the shore for awhile (at least several months). It sounds like 3 days of chemo followed by 3 weeks of recovery. This is repeated over the next four months. The next few months scare the devil out of me. I cannot even imagine what its doing for my dad.

We've also made plans to head to Albuquerque in June for a long weekend. ES' dad is not faring well and we want to make a trip down to see him. I know how hard this will be for ES. His father was this larger than life man. I remember all the stories ES used to tell. This is not the man I know, and this is really tough for ES to see. Although I'm looking forward to seeing everyone in June, I think this is going to be a very somber trip.

This is a summer that I won't soon forget.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

ID, please

If asked to name one picture of themselves that never turns out well, 99.9% of people asked will say "my drivers licence photo." It's inevitable. A poorly trained "photographer" taking a picture in poor lighting (usually fluorescent) and with a digital type camera. Somehow the photos always seem to highlight the bags under my eyes, the wrinkles near my mouth, and the overall roundness of my face. In a word - awful. I once had someone tell me, "jeez, this doesn't look anything like you." Not sure if that was a compliment or an insult.

All that being said, as I came across an of ID that I actually like when I was fishing out my insurance card today. It's my old graduate school ID. In big letters across the top it still stays student. The card was never dated, but I think the picture was taken about 12 years ago. I love this picture. Perhaps it was the fact it was when I had great hair. Or maybe it was when I had those really cool glasses that I ended up leaving in Lord and Taylor dressing room only to find they'd been "claimed" by someone else when I traced back my steps a few hours later. Perhaps it was good lighting. Whatever it was - call it good lighting, being favored by the camera gods, or maybe just a good day - but I love that photo.

And I have to admit, yes, I still carry it about in my wallet.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

A Long Weekend At the Shore

ES and I headed to the Oregon coast recently to spend a long weekend with my brother and his family.  It was the first time in years (~20) that my brother and I had vacationed together.   The weekend consisted of lots of seafood (love Mo’s chowder), making sandcastles, and roasting marshmallows (my nephew’s introduction to s’mores).  All in all it was a great time at the beach with my family!

Cannon Beach, OR 

haystack rock

Sandcastle building

sandcastle before 1

Neighbor’s feeding the gulls

seagulls Wayside beach2 haystack1 haystack2

Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach

haystack3 haystack4

Easter Musings

On this holiday, I find myself reflecting (as I often do on holidays) about the importance of family. It's become ever so more important as both ES and I find our respective fathers struggling with disease, both of whom are effected in different ways.

I think for me, the hardest part is the feeling of complete helplessness. With ES' father, its not just the distance of over 1000 miles away, it's losing him to a disease that now matter how close we physically we, we're losing him to it bit by bit every day. It's so hard to watch him on the phone and realize his dad has trouble recognizing him and often is confused on the phone. Alzheimer's is a sneaky disease. One that robs a person of their dignity and steals them away bit by bit while those around them struggle to care and cope for their loved one. ES has an amazing family, who take extra specially care of my FIL by visiting often and posting updates to family blog.

While we've known about my FIL's illness for sometime and it's progression had only rapidly come on in the last year, my father's illness was rapid, unexpected, and very frightening. Cancer is such a scary word. Scary because, despite all the clinical progress that has been made towards a cure/treatment, there is still no much we don't know. My father's diagnosis came on Christmas eve. 3 spots. I wasn't sure what to think. Christmas was a bit of a somber affair this year, as we knew of the challenging surgery that lie ahead. Fast forward ~1 month. Surgery scheduled for early February. It was a sobering time, as my grandmother had just passed away and we were all preparing ourselves for my dad's surgery.

The removal of the right lobe of the lung revealed what we'd hoped wasn't true. Cancer. Malignant cancinoid. Carcinoid I thought. Hmmm. Is that like a little tumor? That can't be so bad, right? The surgeon explained it could be one of two types. One type equaled a much better prognosis. The other, much more grim. The surgeon, however, gave us home it was the former, as less than 5% were the latter. Unfortunately, the path report indicated it was the latter. Atypical. Plus it had spread. The current thought is that it has spread to his diaphragm. I remember talking to my mom when they found out the results. She said she and my dad had a good cry and vowed to forge on. I can only imagine how challenging this much have been. Thankfully my family is very close as well. I think knowing this is a fight we are facing together somehow makes it easier.

Being I'm a scientist and my brother a surgeon, we took to the clinical studies with gusto. What's out there? What is the prognosis? Treatment? The more I looked, the more I didn't want to keep reading. Not responsive to radiation or chemo. Treatment by surgical removal of the tumor and surrounding tissue. This is where the scary part comes. Surgery and more surgery to remove the tumors as they are found. Round 3 with the oncologist this week, who may offer my father chemo. Given the clinical results (or lack thereof) from treatment with his type of cancer will this work? Plus my father's heart isn't the strongest (which eliminates him from any clinical trials - found that out the very day we got the cancer diagnosis while I was on the NCI website), making chemo risky.

Now it is a matter of deciding what to do. Cancer/chemo or treating his heart. I can only imagine the choice that my father must be having to deal with. We often have this picture in our mind of our parents, which were made quite young. Invincible. Always right/had the answer. Made everything all better. It's hard when this picture changes and disease starts taking them from you.

Happy Easter to all. Hug your family, friends, and loved ones. Cherish every day with them. Let them know how important they are to you. Make every day count.