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.

18 Responses to “Stunned”

  1. blogenfreude says:

    Oh hell. What can anyone say? We’re here for you? Of course we are, but small consolation. Blog your heart out.

  2. mc1212 says:

    best of luck to your pop. sending good vibes your way from the left coast.

  3. actor212 says:

    Oh dear. Freude posted to me about this, and asked me to come over and lend some support.

    It’s never easy when a parent gets a serious illness, and I’m sad for your fears and concerns. The bright side is that it sounds like it’s treatable and if he’s in as good shape as you seem to indicate, he’ll pull through.

    For the kids, level with them. Kids can handle the truth on things like this better than we imagine they can.

  4. rlp says:

    I too learned about your father from reading Agitprop. My best friend’s mother has just gone through what your father is facing. She had a slow growing lung cancer and they found it early. It has been 8 months scince she began treatment and her follow ups have all gone well.

  5. K, I’m so sorry about your dad. I don’t know what else to say except that my thoughts are with you – and please, if you need someone to talk to, scream at, vent with, or a shoulder to cry on, I’m here. Anytime.

    ((((BIG HUG)))

  6. I’m sorry to hear the bad news, Kathy. I too will send you good vibes from the left coast.

  7. KathyF says:

    I’m so sorry to hear this. My brother survived cancer–in his lungs, but not lung cancer. Hang in there.

  8. I am so sorry to hear your news. I send many hugs, prayers and light your way. I lost my grandmother to Lung & Breast Cancer, over ten years ago when there were less options and treatments….This is not an easy path…But if they are offering surgery as an option that is a good thing… I am a nurse with alot of Cancer care experience, if I can be any help or you just want to ask some questions..or support or anything at all…my blog and email are always open..Definently Blog and write on it , it will help you during this time…

  9. Kathy says:

    Thanks, everyone, for your good thoughts and encouragement. I’ll keep you posted as we go through the process.

  10. Oh, Kathy, I’m so sorry to hear this. We’ll pray for you.

  11. Night Bird says:

    I am so sorry to hear about your Dad. As for preparing…just take one day at a time and just keep everyone informed. Your mom needs you more than she will ever let anyone know.

    I know what you are going through and I will keep you in my thoughts!!

  12. Songbird says:

    Kathy, I’m so sorry to hear this difficult news. My children lost both grandmothers to cancer. I think telling them is one of those instinctual things. You know the jokes about how parents try to explain too much about sex and the kids really wanted to know only one little thing? Illness and the possibility of death are pretty similar. Let them know what is going on; they’ll figure it out something is happening just by tuning into you most of the time, so there’s no keeping it from them. But trust your own instincts in terms of how much you tell them and when. I guess the thing I felt was important was to make sure there were chances to appreciate each other (for both the grandparent and the child) along the way.
    You are in my prayers today.

  13. Susan says:

    I’m so sorry for your news, Kathy. I’ll keep good thoughts for everyone involved.

  14. blogenfreude says:

    Please have a good Thanksgiving – you will be in my thoughts today.

  15. Kathy says:

    Thank you all – and I hope you have a wonderful holiday.

  16. Debra says:

    My thoughts are with you and his familial track record bodes well, attitude is one of the most important, there are many centenarians who have survived some type of cancer. My mom smokes so this is a constant I deal with, not pleasant but doable.

  17. I am saddened by the news you have received. I can understand how you must feel. My wife was diagnosed with the worst form of breast cancer in May of this year. She had her final chemo treatment this past Monday.

    I do hope and pray that your father’s cancer can be removed surgically and that no more is found…and that he will out live his mother’s age.

    You can have coplete confidence that we and many others shall be with you through this. You may not see us…but we are here.

    Our best to your dad.

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