Thursday, April 3, 2008

trying to find praise on a very bad day

yesterday was a horrible day for me. my dad has had a rough three years with several unrelated illnesses, surgeries, and prolonged hospital stays. truthfully, if i described the ordeal to you, you wouldn't believe that that much bad luck could happen to just one guy in this amount of time. he was recently diagnosed with prostrate cancer and underwent radiation therapy for it. two months ago, his psa numbers were 3.9 and they jumped to 13.1, so he had a bone scan and c.t. the bone scan revealed that the cancer has metastasized into his bone and become metastatic prostate cancer, which is incurable and fatal. a bone scan in june last year was completely clean.

i had a chance to talk on the phone with their oncology doctor. he was very straight-forward with the information he gave me, and talked to me and answered my questions for over 20 minutes. normally, he is not a fan of the hormone therapy treatment, but in this case, he really thinks it would be beneficial, not to prolong dad's life, but to make the quality of life better. the hormone therapy is a shot given every 3 months and slows the growth down because of the lack of testosterone, but loses its effectiveness after 18 months to 2 years. after that, the cancer will make up for the lost time and grow like crazy. the side effects can include pain, impotence and bone loss. chemotherapy is not really effective in this type of cancer and is likely to just make dad feel crappy. the radiation is pretty much only for pain management at this point and will not really slow the growth of the cancer; they will start that next week for 4 weeks. the cancer is very pervasive and aggressive, but it is not likely to spread to any soft tissue (brain, lungs, stomach, etc); however, it is in the ribs, spine, both shoulders, both hips, and left femur.

the timeline is one year. anything more is gravy. three years is an optimistic timeline of what we should shoot for. the average is 5-6 years and the longest a guy lived under his care with metastatic bone cancer is 14 years, but he thought that is was not likely that dad would make it that long, especially if dad does not do the hormone therapy. he is checking to see what clinical trials dad qualifies for today and is going to call them with that information, but is not confident that anything is out there at the moment. dad needs to stop his diet and trying to lose weight - it is important for him to maintain where he is at. the progression of the disease is that food will stop tasting good and dad will stop eating and start losing weight. that is the beginning of the end. also fatigue and pain. we talked for a little bit more and i have more info, but that is it in a concise nutshell.

so, virtually, my dad was given a death sentence yesterday and all of us are reeling. my dad has worked hard his whole life and is not going to be able to enjoy that in the end. i am sad that my grandparents will lose their son and mom will lose her husband and i will lose my dad, but what devastates me is that my children will lose their 'papa'. i was in third grade when my grandmother (my mom's mom) passed away and i only have very hazy memories of her (and she even lived with us). if my dad passes away in 3 years, my oldest son will also be in third grade and my youngest will be in first. i am in tears as i think about all that they won't get to experience with him - hunting, skiing, camping and boating, learning about tools and wood-working from a master craftsman, he won't see them to throw a baseball or be at their football games. it breaks my heart.

and yet, i know that God is faithful and he will mend my pain. it is going to be a difficult year, trying to keep my faith strong and lend my strength to my family. i am not sure i am up to it. i think the song 'i will praise you in this storm' by casting crowns is going to be my theme song this year.


  1. Oh sweetie, I am so, so very sorry. I can't imagine the pain and devestation your family must be going through. Please know you're all in my thoughts and prayers. Sending my love to you and yours.

  2. Sorry to hear of all your father has gone through...I know first hand the struggle as I have terminal bone cancer myself and I'm 28 years old. Scary? Totally! Knowing I won't hit 30 is overwhelming at times. I've went through 5 surgeries, both on my leg and lungs to remove tumors and have underwent 2 years of chemo and radiation as well - it seems to never end. However the love of family is all we have in the end - make the most of the time you have with your dad and know your family will be in my prayers. - Brian, Chicago, IL


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