It is with profound sadness that I share the news that Dad was diagnosed with Stage 4, terminal Lung Cancer 1 week ago today. The diagnosis came as a complete shock. We were all truly blindsided, his doctors included. A month ago he was playing golf with his buddies and two months ago we were all in Maui together as a family frolicking in the aloha spirit. In the short time since his diagnosis his condition has deteriorated rapidly. In addition to the shock of the diagnosis we were ill prepared for how quickly his health would spiral. The grim truth is that he is no longer walking, eating or taking fluids. He also has lost his voice so he struggles to communicate. He is still lucid and recognizes all of us and the loved ones coming by to pay their respects. I guess the silver lining in all of this is that we were thankfully afforded the opportunity to gather together to tell him how much we love him and how much he means to each of us. It also gives us some solace that he does not seem to be in any physical pain and that his suffering through the end of this won't last long.
Some have asked so I will give a condensed version of what we know... He has had a cough since the holidays that we attributed to the respiratory crud that was going around. We in fact joked about how the darn cough was so difficult to kick. About a month ago Dad went in and was treated for what they thought was pneumonia. After the first round of antibiotics the cough was still the same so they started a second round of antibiotics. Again, no change. Then on Friday, May 6th he was admitted to the ER with pleural effusion (excess fluid that accumulates in the space that surrounds the lungs). They did a CAT scan and could not see a mass, so they did not really suspect cancer. In all they drained more than a quart of fluid from his left lung and discharged him 3 days later on Mother's Day with a prescription for another months worth of antibiotics and the expectation that it would take a while to get rid of his pneumonia.
Fast forward to last week when mom and dad had a follow up appointment with his primary care doc. She was the one who shared the devastating news - they had tested the fluid that they drained from his lungs and it contained cancer cells. In retrospect it all made sense, the cough that wouldn't go away, the pleural effusion (a very common complication of end stage lung cancer). Of course hindsight is 20/20, but it is still frustrating that no one put two and two together earlier. Regardless, they got the diagnosis Tuesday and then met with his Pulmonologist on Wednesday. They patched me in on that call and then I flew in later that night. We thought we had an appointment with the Oncologist Thursday morning but unfortunately there had been a scheduling snafu the appointment was 2 weeks later. We were able to all meet with the Pulmonologist again however, and we got the ball in motion to help manage his symptoms with medications. By Thursday night we had requested hospice (Dad REALLY wanted to hold out for the Oncology appt), and by Sunday we were under hospice care.
Since then he has been getting weaker by the hour. He still has his spunk and spirit however, and he lights up when his loved ones have come to express their love. He is in there, but his darn body is calling it quits. He knows he is loved and we are by his side as he makes this journey. Everyone's call, texts, emails thoughts and prayers have been very much appreciated. I wish I had more hopeful news to share, but in the end life is not always fair. He has had a good ride and is loved and adored by many, and that speaks volumes. I will keep everyone posted as things progress. Much love and many thanks for everyone's love and support.
Love, Paige and Greg, Carolyn, Bob and Brian, and Cole and Kenzie