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6/15/2017 Latest post:
Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement. Thank you for visiting.
I'm starting this CaringBridge site to keep everyone aware of how my dad is doing. We've had a rough start to our year. Dad had been feeling badly at the beginning of this year, basically having a lot of back pain, leg pain, loss of appetite and other odd things that he's not experienced before. We'd been to many doctors seeking answers, but kept coming up empty handed. Medications were provided here and there, but nothing really helped him to feel better. In the last two and a half months we've been to the Emergency Room numerous times, about a dozen, for horrendous back pain, stomach pain, what we thought were painful UTIs, dehydration and other such things. Just a bit ago, we finally learned that dad's bladder cancer has spread to other organs and bones. Dad has had bladder cancer for about 14 years, but we've been able to keep it within the bladder. With regular check ups, we've been lucky to catch new tumors and have procedures to remove those spots that show up in his bladder. Unfortunately, he now has a few tumors in his spine, some cancer in his right hip bone, a few spots in his lungs and some in the lymph nodes near his neck.
With metastatic cancer (Stage 4), there is no cure, but measures can be taken to shrink tumors to reduce pain, stop the cancer from spreading, and possibly put it into remission for a period of time. We began radiation on his back immediately to reduce the pain in his spine. There were 10 treatments and they worked like a charm. His back pain subsided right as we got to the 10th treatment. We then began a chemo program with a drug called Gemzar. It is specifically good for bladder cancer, and is gentle in that it doesn't cause nausea or hair loss. Dad began these treatments three weeks ago. He had two weeks of chemo (just one treatment per week), and one week off of treatment which was last week. The side effect for dad was that he got bad sores in his mouth, which is a typical side effect. There is a "Magic Mouthwash" used for the sores, but it didn't do all that much for him. He then developed a blood clot in his leg and is currently being treated for that. It's a simple pill taken twice a day for 3 weeks, then one pill a day for a few months. Slowly, the swelling in his leg and ankle is going down.
We would have begun the second round of chemo this week. Two weeks on, one week off. But, dad has made his decision to stop treatment and enter into Hospice. My brother, Mark, and I understand completely and want only what he wants. It's been extremely difficult to watch dad lose weight, be in pain, not be able to do the things he loves such as gardening, golf, driving to the library, going out to dinner at Clayton's little downtown La Veranda Restaurant on his Sunday nights, etc. He's really only able to sit in his chair and watch TV. When he gets up, he is dizzy. Mostly from loss of weight, dehydration, and pain killers. Once in a while, he rallies and has a good day. But, most days are basically warding off the pain and trying to keep him hydrated and fed. He is very sleepy most of the time. He has no appetite and one of dad's favorite things is eating - hey, he's an Italian! Mangiare! Mangiare! Cancer is cruel.
I've been blessed to have been able to buy a house right across the street from my dad. I've had the pleasure of living across the street from him for 2 1/2 years now. In the past three months, I've worn a path from my front door to his front door. My brother has been up for a week at a time, every other week, pitching in. It's been quite a bit of caretaking for us. Today, the hospice people came to the house to discuss how it works, etc. My thought is that from this point forward, I would keep family and friends up to date via this wonderful website.
Some of you know my dad as a friend, some of you are family, some of you know him only as "Laurel's dad" or "Mark's dad," and some of you know him as "Grandpa Joe." But, you all have one thing in common - you care about him. So, I want to be able to let you know how he is doing as we move forward.
This has been an extremely painful journey, witnessing his slow decline. We try to take one day at a time and just soak in all that we can from dad while he's here with us. With the strength and love from family and friends, our journey is sure to be easier.
We love you all and appreciate your thoughts, hope and encouragement. Please visit the site often to hear how dad is doing - I'll do my best to keep you all up to date.