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Tyson

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[Jan. 19th, 2013|04:45 pm]
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My dad's dying from lung cancer. He was diagnosed 23 months ago, and he's been doing chemo and radiation. He was on his third round of chemo this past December, and when I went to see him for Christmas he had really declined since I'd last seen him in October. In October he was obviously ill, but he didn't look too different and he was mobile. We were on the roof working on capping the chimneys and he was able to putter about the house. My mom and sister warned me that he had declined before I came out for Christmas. He had lost about 30 lbs in the two months since I'd seen him, and he was bedridden and on morphine. He was hallucinating, moaning in his sleep, wandering the house aimlessly at times... well, if you've seen anyone go through it, you know what it looks like. He had just finished up chemo and they were waiting for a couple weeks to pass before another PET scan to see if it worked.

PET scan was 1/11, and we found out on 1/15 that it had not worked. At that time, the doctor estimated 2-4 months. The hospice nurse told my aunt she thought it was more like 2-4 weeks. My mom told me this on Friday, and I had to leave work. (Basically my manager sent me home when I was crying while explaining what was going on.) My mom asked me to come out next weekend - one way ticket, and pack for an indefinite stay. She called me this morning and told me that my dad is noticeably declining day to day, and she wants me to come out Tuesday. I bought a plane ticket for Monday, which gives me time to prepare for an extended absence (people to watch my cats, etc.)

So that's where we're at.

Emotions you ask? What are they like? Well, I'm not sure. For one, I've prepared for this for a long time. I know lung cancer doesn't have a lot of success stories. And when the cancer spread to his brain last December, I knew that meant about 4 more months, mean average (if the internet can be trusted). So I've accepted it to a degree. In fact, I often find myself thinking in terms of just me, my sister, and my mom. Then I'm surprised to remember my dad is still with us.

My sister and my cousin (who lived with us for awhile in the 90s) are devastated, barely able to function. My mom and I are holding strong. But we're very similar in that we put on a brave face and then fall to pieces in private.

And I'm having that same struggle everyone with a dying loved one has ever had - the conflict between wanting him to live forever, and wanting him to pass soon so he's not in pain and everything can return to normal, or a close semblance of normalcy. My guess is that he'll hold on until my cousin and I get there (my sister arrived today) and then he'll go soon after that. But who knows.

I told my boss I'd be out indefinitely, and I got FMLA paperwork all filed.

Right now I'm losing myself in small chores and tasks. Trying to clean my house, gather tax paperwork, etc. It's such a cliche to say 'take it one day at a time' but that's the only rational advice in this situation.
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