My father has lung cancer. I’m still trying to get my mind around those words. I came home on Saturday from a quick trip to Montgomery to the news that he had a mass in his lung. Both doctors who had reviewed the CT scan were convinced it was a tumor. The diagnosis was confirmed this afternoon.
Daddy is 78 years old, but you’d never know it by looking at him. He has always been fit and active. He smoked as a young man, but he quit at least thirty years ago. I guess I knew that something would get him eventually, but lung cancer wasn’t even on the radar.
And I thought it would be a long time before we would have to face this. His mother died just two summers ago at 103. One of her sisters is still living at 100; another lived to 101 and another to 99. Seventy-eight is young in his family.
There is a lot we still don’t know. The cancer appears to be confined to one lung, and it is the slow-growing kind (all good). He needs surgery to remove the tumor, but right now his lung capacity is so low that he may not be a candidate (very bad). He faces more scans to determine whether the cancer has spread anywhere else in his body (not fun for someone with claustrophobia and a general dislike of doctors). He is prone to depression, and I worry that his attitude will adversely affect his chances for recovery.
My mother sounds exhausted. She’s a surgical nurse, and she has a good idea of what they’re up against, but she’s so shaken that she isn’t even asking the questions she needs to ask. On top of this bad news about Daddy, she found out a couple of days ago that her younger brother is undergoing the same tests to determine if he, too, has lung cancer. He’s a lifelong smoker, so we’re not expecting good results on that front.
I’m not sure what to tell our girls. They adore their granddaddy. There is no way we can hide this from them indefinitely, but I dread bringing this pain into their lives. They have been blessed with four relatively healthy grandparents. I don’t know how to prepare them for what may come. I don’t know how to prepare myself.