Apr 22, 2003 - 7:17 pm
It's something you never, ever expect to hear. Especially when you're only seventeen. My father was diagnosed almost two years ago, but he didn't tell me or my brothers until November of 2001. He had always been healthy as a horse, until the summer and fall of 2001 when, more often than not, he couldn't come down to visit (my parents are divorced and he lives a few hours away) because he 'didn't feel well.' It never, ever occured to me that it might be anything other than a bad flu, until he told us.
I was seventeen. Things like that aren't supposed to happen to people my age, you know? I was in denial for a long, long time...sometimes I feel like I'm still in denial. I went away to college out-of-state, and was even further removed from it all; it's easy to be an escapist when you're eight hundred miles away. But still, it ate at me. Then when I went home for Winter Break, I realized exactly how much this was affecting him; he had dropped thirty pounds, at least, and he looked so pale and miserable even though he was happy to see me. I almost didn't want to spend time with him because he looked so miserable.
Then, in February of this year, my mom called. My dad was in the hospital (he had been in and out for several weeks for various reasons) because he had had a bad nosebleed. The nosebleed had turned out to be a small stroke. It was very minor, but it scared me to death anyway. That was how my mom told me that his cancer had spread...he hadn't been taking his chemo for months because it made him too sick. It spread to his liver, kidneys, and now possibly to his brain.
God, that scared me. It still scares me, thinking about it. No one should have to lose their parent to cancer, and I'm eighteen. I shouldn't be dealing with this. It's so unfair, you know? But I know that's not the way to think.
Most recently, Dad went to a specialist and had an experimental procedure done. I don't know what it's called, but it involves 'freezing' the tumors like you would a plantar's wart (that's how my mom described it to me). It didn't work, and Dad is really starting to get depressed. But I don't know what to say to him. My parents very rarely tell me what's going on....they don't want me to worry. But I do, all the same, maybe even more so because I don't know what's happening. I've approached them with this situation several times, to no avail. My mom is getting better about it, but my dad just doesn't want to admit that he feels awful. I just want to be there for him, but I don't know how to be, because it scares me so badly to see him or think of him as being so sick. My brothers are scared to death, too; my older brother hasn't spoken to him in months, because of various issues, among which is the fact that Dad's really never told him anything and he feels like he isn't supposed to know. I don't know what to do...it's so hard when I can't spend time with him because I'm so far away, even when I'm home.
In brighter news, we got him a laptop computer, which gave him something to do. He really likes it, and I talk to him a bit more often than I do on the phone. I also recently got him a kitten--it's a surprise for when I see him next. I hope that cheers him up, but it's still not the same thing as being able to be there with him. Even when I am, I don't know what to say. It's all so confusing, and hard, and frightening.
If you've read this far, thank you for reading my rant, and thank you for any insight you might have for me.