The Big C

Monday, October 22, 2012

I have been a Daddy's girl my entire life 

Not that this picture really does it much justice...
(and on a side note I also went through a few years where I would only wear slips)

My dad and I have always been close
But when I went to college something changed
And our relationship just wasn't the same.
It pretty much fluctuated from average to good to bad
Until something terrible happened.

On December 23 2011 his doctor called him in to talk
It was about a mole that had come back weird cells but cancer free
except they weren't cancer free- he had melanoma.

He told me first when he got home from the doctor.
Apparently the tumor was pretty big and the doctors were all very confused
Crane Creek Vineyards, the place I mentioned last post has some memories too
The first time I ever drank their wine was sitting in the kitchen with my dad
Deciding what we would do.

On one hand if it came back terminal but he had some time
I would take some time off school and we would go to all the places he wanted to go
But never really had any "time" for
Or if he didn't have time for that 
I would just take time off school to get everything in order.
We decided my brother should stay with my mom full time 
unless he came to NCSU for school.
And I became the power of attorney in case I needed to pull the plug.

My family always makes the comment
That divorce was the best thing that ever happened to us.
And usually that is a true statement, all kidding aside
Except for when a 21 year old daughter gets to be in charge of pulling a plug.

For the longest time we joked that maybe he wasn't really sick.
He said he felt fine and we were pretty convinced it was a mistake
But after some more tests, etc
We found out the tumor was 20mm.

normal size from what I've heard is like 2mm. 
In February we took a trip to Disney for my birthday to spend some time together
And the next weekend he had surgery to remove the tumor.
Followed by another surgery to remove lymph nodes.

The tumor was indeed very large and all the way to the muscle on his back.
They found cancer in one lymph node.
Thus my father had stage 3b melanoma cancer.

He had a less common type of melanoma
That instead of spreading all over the skin
Tunnels straight down.
It's pretty fast acting but apparently not as prone to spread?
I don't know.

He began interferon treatment this may after everything had healed.
A month of high dose 5X a week
then 11 months of self injected interferon 3X a week.
I took him to his appointments
and flushed the IV that went straight to his heart twice a day.

As for now he is on week 22 of his low dose interferon
And having VERY mild symptoms to this drug.
But then I started noticing something else that finally worried me.

This is him THIS August.
Looking healthy. Getting his rock star on with his GF.
A little gray but still pretty close to that picture up top...
His skin looks healthy
He just looks like he has more energy

This is him a few weeks ago.
Hair very much gray and thinned out.
You can't tell as much as in person but its bad.
Skin seems to just not be very healthy looking.
I've been realizing over the last few weeks that he just looks sick.

Apparently its all the medicine 
and as soon as he gets off interferon he will return to normal
But for now its kind of scary to watch.
Personally I think I'm too young to not have my father
And far too young to be the head of a household.

I have heard some interesting rumors that I am overwhelmed with worry
And I think my dad's not going to walk me down the aisle at my wedding
Well, I'm not THAT worried.
I'm still an optimist. 
Just don't like that he's starting to look like some one with cancer.

His last few screenings have been clean
(and this is where my pessimism shows up sometimes)
But his best friend Riley Gray had similar presentation of his melanoma
A few clean scans then BAM cancer all over his body
He died a few years ago.

It's okay I'm still hopeful.
He's too much of a pain in my ass to let go this easily.

And as he tells ALL of his friends who ask what they can do to help us
Had he caught this creepy mole sooner he might have only needed surgery.

And don't forget to really cherish the people you love.
You never know when you won't have them anymore.

As I mentioned before our relationship fluctuated a lot
But when he found out he was sick he became a lot nicer
and it's like all the stress that caused him to change
Didn't matter anymore.

In some respects this awful disease has been the worst thing ever to happen
But in other ways it really brought us back to a good place.
So while I wish it never happened
I am also very grateful that something caused a change in both of us.

And although I don't talk about my beliefs or views very often
I do believe God had a hand in this.
And I thank God every day for helping our relationship
And keeping my dad healthy.

Okay well I'm sure that brightened everyones day

Promise the next post will be WAY less serious.


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