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Lung Cancer: My father's story

Billy'sDaughter
Posts: 5
Joined: Mar 2003

My beloved dad was admitted to the hospital in early february with pneumonia. Despite the regimen of antibiotics, it was very hard to treat. He then had a bronchoscopy and biopsies which showed lung cancer. A CT scan that followed showed mets to spine, hip, liver and spleen. He was very physically deconditioned from his pneumonia bout and was becoming increasingly short of breath from the tumor. He was discharged to his home with my mom last week. I went to see him, with my two year old son, husband and two week old daughter last saturday. I gave him a back and neck massage, got him to a chair with Oxygen in tow and washed his hair and face for him. The activity was way too much for him to handle it seemed although his will to fight it was so strong. As we were leaving I knew that there was no returning from there. His Cancer was stage 4, T3, N2, M1. He lost his candidacy for chemo with the quick demise of his physical health. I knew when I left him that night that he approached a point of no return, he knew it first and foremost but didn't want to give in. Last night, he was taken to an emergency room accompanied by my mother and brother for respiratory distress. The 24 hours preceding that was awful. He swelled up in all of his extremities, they were cold and hurt, his breathing became increasingly labored and he had that croupy, rattly cough. Once in the ER, the nurse quickly had a DNR for my mother to sign and administered my father morphine. One and a half hours later he passed. I spoke with my dad early in the morning that previous day, told him how much I loved him and how bitterly angry I was for him, that he was being robbed of sweet years with his grandchildren and they are being robbed of him. He seemed resolved to the idea that the end was coming, he told me to always listen to what your body is telling you.
My dad was to turn 60 on 3/11. Because it was a little more than three weeks since diagnosis and his death, Myself nor my family has had time to process any of this, it's so bizarre and surreal.
The only thing I can draw from this that is positive is that he was spared days and weeks or months of an agonizing existence.

I want to express my deepest empathy, love and hopes for anyone who is losing or lost someone to cancer. It's ugly, unfair and uncompromising in it's end stages. I never ever would have imagined this as no one does for their loved ones.

In loving memory of my father William.

His daughter,
Jennifer

Donna
Posts: 23
Joined: Dec 2002

Jennifer,
I am so sorry that you lost your Dad. I just lost my Dad, age 56, to non-small cell on 1/24. I agree with you that cancer is ugly, unfair, and uncompromising. It makes you see life differently. I used to have this idea that there would always be a tomorrow--a future. Cancer steals that away from you. Now I know, anything can happen and anyone can be taken at any given time. Your Dad went fast from the time of his diagnosis. My Dad also went quickly but not as quickly as your Dad. The tough part for us was that we weren't told he was terminal. Dad didn't know either. I have to tell myself each day that this was a blessing because my Dad was an optimistic person and it would have crushed him to know he was dying. Dad was diagnosed in Nov 2002 with Stage 3 and told by his doctors that he had a good chance of beating the cancer. We know now the cancer was further advanced than what the doctors thought. He went into the hospital on 1/18 because he was dehydrated and had turned yellow. He never came out. The last week of his life was hell. He had to go to radiation each day by ambulance and they ran 7 tests on him in 4 days trying to determine if his cancer had spread to his liver. We know now that he was in renal failure and his body was shutting down but none of his doctors knew or at least they chose not to tell us or Dad. My Dad couldn't figure out why he felt so weak. The last time I talked to him he told me he hoped they figured out what was wrong with his liver (all tests ran had shown nothing conclusive). My Dad swelled up also and he had the rattly cough. He quit breathing on 1/23 and they resuscitated him. He died on the ventilator 10 hours later. It was horrible. I am married but have no kids. I regret very much that my Dad didn't get to be a grandpa. I hate it that he didn't get to enjoy any of his retirement. He didn't retire until he got diagnosed so what little time he had left was spent going back and forth for useless radiation treatments each day. Chemo was supposed to start but never did because his oncologist forgot about it. I won't go into how this happened. Anyway, I just wanted to respond to you and tell you how sorry I am for you, your kids, your Mom and brother. Cancer is so cruel to the person who has it and to those who love them. It's a horrible way to leave this earth.

debjones
Posts: 6
Joined: Feb 2003

Jennifer,
So sorry to hear that your father passed away so quickly. I know that you probably didn't have to time to spend with him that you would have liked. But in all honesty I am glad your father didn't have to suffer. When I read your story the lump in my throat got even bigger. My father went to the hospital in Oct.12, 2002 with what we thought pneumonia. While there they told us he had congestive heart failure, and a spot on his lung. He spent 2 weeks in the hospital with all kinds of tests and just plain care to get rid of the pnuemonia. Once the pnuemonia was cleared up then they officially diagnosed him with non-small cell lung cancer, stage 4. The only option was chemo and no radiation. But my father has so many health problems with his heart and blockage in his heart and legs, the odds were against him. So he opted for the quality of life, rather than being sick. Well he had somewhat of quality of life for about 4 months, but since then he has went down hill. Within the last 2 weeks he has stopped eating, he is on morphine for the excurating pain, can't walk cause he is so weak, lost 15 + pounds and doesn't even know us. It is so hard to go home (that is where he wants to die)to see him. It just makes me feels so helpless and all I can do is cry. I pray to God and ask him each and everyday to just take my father home. My father is not afraid to die, but how he will die. Sometimes for my father's sake, I wish that my father would have died sooner, just so he didn't have to go like this. He didn't want to be like this and to be on the morphine. A week ago last friday was when he decided the pain was more than he could handle and gave in to the morphine. It is not a pretty site to see him this way. Now we are just spending that last moments with him as we know the day will be here soon. They say he is in the last stages before he dies. I am so scared, I feel for you with this happening so quickly. Just remember the good times you had with him before he got sick and let your kids know what kind of guy he was. I feel that it is very important for them to know. Also be very proud of your dad as he seemed to be a fighter and told you to listen to your body, that is because he loves you and will worry about you.
Sorry I am just rambling on and probably not making any sense. I am so nervous right now that I am just typing and keeping busy. So take good care of yourself and I will keep you posted on what happens here. By the way, my father is 71 and was never sick a day in his life until this past fall. I am 48 and the oldest of 6 kids.
Take care and may God guide you each and everyday as you grieve for the loss of your father.
Debjones

metvan
Posts: 3
Joined: Mar 2003

Jennifer,

Sending hugs your way. I lost my mother 3 months ago on Thanksgiving day. While the rest of the world was sitting down to eat dinner, I was saying my last goodbyes to my mom. She had an 11 month battle that was brutal so the fact that your father went so quickly is possibly a blessing in some respect. I guess there are pros and cons to both situations.

My mother's birthday is coming up 3/18 and I know it is going to be difficult. Last year I threw her a big 50th birthday party never thinking it would be her last (she had cancer at the time, but I thought we at least had a year left with her.

One thing I would recommend is reading a book called "Final Gifts." Anyone who has lost someone to a disease like this should read it. Especially if they were at the bedside at the time of death or closely involved with the care of the loved one. This book really helped me understand those final days. Certain things that haunted me about that time were put into perspective and I can actually find beauty in her passing now.

Please feel free to e-mail me if you need to talk.
Michelle

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