Our Battle with Cancer. Chapter 2.

It’s confirmed. Dad has Stage 3 Large Cell Lung Carcinoma (Lung cancer).

It’s still inconclusive if the cancer has metastasized to his bones and lymph nodes. A previous biopsy done on his lymph nodes done last week turned out negative for carcinoma, so we’re still a little bit hopeful that the Stage 3 is not yet leaning towards the bad Stage 3.

I’ve been spending a lot of time online, reading up on anything possibly related to dad’s condition. From emphysema, to lung cancer treatments, to large cell carcinoma (as opposed to small-cell carcinoma), to the definition of Stage 3 cancer, to alternative medications, to anything else that might actually help in some way.

Here are a few things I learned today:

1. There’s a wealth of medical information about cancer, in general. Anything you may need to know about the condition itself is all online.

2. There’s also a wealth of information about the different treatments for cancer. From the traditional chemotherapy and radiation, to alternative medication and herbal cures. But I’ve yet to see any sites that compare both. And I have seen no sites that compare the different alternative medication options. What makes it even scarier is that you sometimes would find yourself doubting whether or not what’s written is a legitimate product/ review; or just a product of a scam or quack doctor.

3. Since my brother and I are the ones who need to raise the money to fund dad’s treatment (whether out of our own extremely shallow pockets; from the pockets of loan sharks; or from ‘generous’ relatives who will finally pay their debt back), I googled “cost of chemotherapy treatment in the Philippines”. The search did not yield any substantial results. I wonder about this. I know that all things considered, we’re still in pretty much good shape compared to 90% of the country’s population…. but really, in the Philippines this would be the first question out of most people’s lips: how much will it cost to get treated for cancer? I need to know how much we need to raise. But I’ve yet to find any information online that answers this.

4. One of the hardest changes I’ve had to make in my life since this all began (aside from the quitting smoking thing) is acknowledging that I can’t ignore my family anymore. And if it means having to go beyond my usual EQ levels, it’s not really an option not to do it. This extends to being able to stomach talking to relatives I haven’t spoken with (for good reason) for almost a full decade now.

These are very trying times, and this is just the beginning. I worry a lot these days about many things. I guess that’s natural. How this all unfolds, only God can tell.

But I continue to pray for strength and courage enough to endure; and patience and love that this crisis won’t spell the end of a conflict-less relationship with my siblings.

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Our Battle with Cancer. Chapter 1.

No one ever told me it would feel like this.

I’m not the one with Cancer.

But when it hits someone in your family, it hits everyone in the family. No matter how tightly you hold on the one another’s hand, at the end of the day, you deal with the news in your own way.

I’ve always felt that among my siblings, I’ve always had to be the emotionally stronger one. The one who can make swift decisions even when everyone else can’t. The one who can hold back the barrage of emotion that’s always threatening to unravel. The one who can put on a strong front and inspire strength in everyone else.

It’s the loneliest, gloomiest place to be in.

—-

My father was diagnosed with Pneumonia last week.

3 days later, the doctor said it was emphysema.

2 days later, his CT scan results revealed that he already has lung cancer.

Based on the same report, there’s a possibility that the cancer has already metastasized to his liver, lymph nodes and bones.

I was with Mom and Dad last Saturday when we found out the news. Actually, the doctor wasn’t inclined to be brutally honest when face to face with my folks. So he asked me to call him when I had gotten home. When I called him, his prognosis was much worse than it was when we were in his office.

On the one hand, maybe it is easier hearing the worst news you could possibly hear from your own daughter… rather than from a doctor.

On the other hand, being the bearer of bad news is not the best role in the world.

When I was around 13 or 14 years old, I buried my 2 grandfathers, two consecutive months in a row. It was the first time I’ve ever encountered death at so close a proximity. My paternal grandfather died of Cirrhosis of the Liver (although he already had previously suffered multiple strokes, and had emphysema). My maternal grandfather died of lung cancer.

Around 2 years ago, one of my best friends from College passed away from Pneumonia, as a result of complications associated with a Kidney transplant. He was 32 years old.

Those were the 3 instances in my life when Death became a little bit more personal. I shed a couple of tears, and spent many nights worrying about everything.

But facing a slow, silent killer when it already involves your own parent, regardless of your relationship…. well, no one ever told me it would feel like this. How could they have told me, when I myself don’t even know how to describe how it feels now?

What I do know is that lately, I find myself gravitating towards people who’ve already buried a parent; or who like me, have a parent battling a terminal illness.

I now understand what a friend of mine told me a long, long time ago when she buried her father when she was only 13 years old. She said something to the extent of – the words ‘i know how you feel’ don’t mean anything coming from those who’ve never buried a parent, or who’ve never had a parent with a terminal illness. The death of a grandparent, an aunt, an uncle… that’s nothing compared to the pain you feel when it starts happening to your own parent.

Anyway, we’re far from done.

Dad needs to undergo a biopsy this week to get conclusive results on what stage his cancer really is in. We’re still hoping that contrary to what the doctor told me, that he isn’t at Stage 4 yet.

Mom also knows a doctor, an oncologist and cancer surgeon who, without a biopsy, is able to diagnose the cancer stage and can appropriately and quickly recommend the best treatment.

This week, we’re seeing all the doctors we need to see. And trying to raise the funds we need for cancer treatment.

At this point, it’s too early to conclude anything.

We continue to hope and pray for the best.