Friday, July 20, 2018

Cancer surgery #1

About 3 weeks ago, my dad went in for a surgical consult and to meet with the rest of his cancer team.  The simple consult turned into emergency surgery.  There was a second mass that had suddenly become life threating between the weeks of transferring care from one hospital to the next. 

We had decided to spend the 2 nights between appointments in Temple to avoid having to drive the 6-hour round trip between home and the hospital 3 days back to back.  As a result, my mom was at the hotel with my girls, while DH and I took dad to meet the surgeon.

It was a very scary time for me.  We walked in expecting to just talk and it turned into being admitted into the hospital and signing consents for surgery the next day.  We asked lots of questions and then we waited for the room to be available for my dad.  We were in the doctor's office about 3 hours.  After the consent was signed, DH left to go inform my mom what was happening.  As he was leaving he asked me to walk with him.  It was the first time I was able to show just how scared I was.  I don't remember if I cried or not at that point.  He hugged me tightly.  He was in charge of explaining everything to my mom and then calling my brothers.  I was left with my dad trying to stay calm and asking questions.

The entire staff at the hospital was friendly, professional, and most importantly helpful.  No question too stupid to ask.  Nothing too small to be unimportant.  Once they got my dad in his room, they began the process of inserting an IV.  This was the only time I got pissed at the nurses.  I know we were at a teaching hospital but the nurse trainee made my daddy bleed all over his pillow as she inserted the IV.  I had to step out as they did a full body scan of my dad.  This was when I lost my shit.  I just started crying not uncontrollably.  I cried enough to calm myself and get my face straight.  They had made my daddy bleed.  He was in so much pain from the tumor.  We had to talk about the possibility that he didn't survive and what he wanted to happen.  It was not easy.

Because both of my brothers live about 4 hrs away from us, I am in charge of all of the care.  Each time the surgeon called to give us an update, I was the one who had to talk the call and then translate the information for my mom and grandmother, aunts, and uncles who all showed up to be there with my dad. 

I was on the phone with the surgeon hearing all about there being a 2nd cancerous mass.  How this was a very rare presentation.  How this might change the approach to treatment if this cancer mass is different from the other cancer mass.  I was scared.  I knew I had all eyes on me.  My family watching my face for clues until I got over to them with information.  I cried while on the phone.  I know being rare in the medical world isn't good.  I was praying for a fat lump but no it was cancer.

Things we know 3 weeks later:  Dad would not have survived much longer with that mass in place.  He pain was a sign it was getting ready to perforate his intestines.  Once that happens, we would have had hours.  The cancers are the same type of cancer but are two separate occasions of cancer.

I can see now just how close to losing my dad we were before the surgery.  The surgeon moving quickly saved his life.  It is still not easy.  Next week, we should have the start dates for treatment.