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I don't like the writing on the wall! My dad has cancer and I am scared!

hpthirteen
Posts: 3
Joined: Nov 2008

Well, it has been around 10 months since my dad (age 62) was diagnosed with cancer of the throat. He also has COPD. He is still smoking :(. At first the doctors were cautiously optimistic, but after the radiation is finished it appears the cancer is still there. He is now being referred to a new hospital and doctors since he lives in a rural area and the doctors feel they cannot help him any more. The problem now is that he has to travel an hour an a half just to make it to the clinic. He feels so awful that he has missed all of his appointments for this past month. He has a roommate now which I think is good, but I know his health is not that great either. Hopefully, his roommate can drive Dad to his next appointment. I live 8 hours away in another state and it is difficult not to be there to help. My husband and I tried to move to the same area to be near Dad, but the jobs are just not there for us to make a living (even more so with the state of the economy now!). My brother and sister in law live in the same town as Dad, but my brother is on the road constantly with his job. My sister in law has her hands full with a new baby. I also have an aunt and uncle that try to help and my 93 year old grandmother and 90 year old great aunt are there to chat on the phone with Dad. I guess today is just hard because I am feeling emotional (probably due to the holidays coming up). We will see Dad Christmas which I am so looking forward to! I just need some friends who understand how scary it is to feel out of control. I also am sad about how hard it is to communicate long distant with someone who's pain is the area of the throat; therefore making it difficult and extremely painful to talk on the phone. One thing I will say is that Dad has a great attitude. He has the rare ability to not look back at the past and wonder "what if". For example: quitting smoking years ago. I wish I had that ability! He also has a great sense of humor. For his last birthday I got him a card that has a photo of a big bass mounted on the wall. Attached to the bass is a cat hanging on for dear life with his head turned looking into the camera. The caption read "Older yes. Wiser... not so much!

Thanks y'all for listening...

zahalene's picture
zahalene
Posts: 624
Joined: Nov 2005

I am so sorry about your dad and his situation. There is nothing more frustrating than wanting to help those we love and feeling constricted by distance and circumstances beyond our control.
I would suggest that you contact the American Cancer Society in your dad's area. They can help with transportation issues and many other challenges your dad is facing.
You spoke of the difficulty of communicating with your dad on the phone. Maybe you and family could present dad with a computer for Christmas this year if he doesn't have access to one. It might give him a focus and a distraction which is sometimes sorely needed in hard times and also give him a much needed connection to help and comfort. We would love to have him join us here. :)
Good luck and God bless you all.

hpthirteen
Posts: 3
Joined: Nov 2008

Thank you for your words of encouragement. Dad was able spend Thanksgiving with family which I was really happy about. I talked with him regarding transportation and he said ASC would pay for gas to get there, but he had not asked about an actual ride. So, I will follow up on that. I also asked him about using the computer more. During his illness his email has gotten out of control. When we visit Christmas I will help him clean it out so he can enjoy his computer more than feeling overwhelmed just by opening his email.

hunpot's picture
hunpot
Posts: 90
Joined: Nov 2008

Mom had cancer of larynx top of voicebox. Everyones situation is different and im glad your dad is so optimistic . The fight is ahead of him and as long as he stays positive and focused the odds are in his favor. It must be difficult to be so far away but hopefully you can get friends or other family members, someone from church, volunteers from other organizations try calling american cancer society ask at oncology social workers i know they had a van that took my mom to her appointmnets the days i couldnt, she lived 25 minute away. I dont your dads outlook but without radiation working i know there are other tretaments availabale and he will need support with whatever he chooses. Some get side effects othes dont, but theres always a chance. I dont know your family lifestyle but you say you cant move to him is there a way he could move in with you? Maybe if he moves with you there will be more friends, family available to help out.

At Age 57 Mom quit smoking, it was Extremely hard for her and took her a while but after radiation didnt work and she needed surgery and had the major surgery that was the end of cigarettes for her. If he could stop it would probably be in his best interest for recovery at the most part. Its got to be the hardest thing to stop (from what i hear).
Best of luck

hpthirteen
Posts: 3
Joined: Nov 2008

Thank you for your words of encouragement. I was touched by your story. Is that a picture of your Mom? My mom is out of the picture. We have not seen or heard from her for a number of years. That is one reason this is so hard with Dad. He is my only parent and such a treasure and a character! We would love to have him live with us (we have been asking the last six years). He likes his independence and said he loves us BUT he needs his own space.
Dad is going for his consultation about removing his larynx probably in the next few weeks. Is there anything you can think of that he should ask the doctors regarding the procedure and treatment? Since all of his treatment up to this point has been at his local clinic the new doctors want new tests run. I think he had a CAT scan and will find out the results when he goes to his next appointment. Also, I hope they can find something for the pain in his throat.

Thanks so much for your response!

hunpot's picture
hunpot
Posts: 90
Joined: Nov 2008

I hope you had a wonderful thanksgiving.
yes that is mom 7 yrs ago. She lost over 90 lbs with treatment since that picture.
Everyone likes to be independant and have their own life styles so to say. He may not want to move in now but youll have to wait and see what they choose to do for treatments or surgery he may change his mind, For now give him his independence and space and let him tell you what he feels and wants as things may change soon. He will let you know when its time im sure they say they all now when they need help and security.
mom had a Partial laryngectomy with bilateral radial neck dissection and a trache tube put in was very extensive surgery over 10 hrs she was in intensive care for 2 weeks it was the most horrific thing i have seen in my life to see all the tubes and swelling in the facial area the pain was excrusiating. So i pray your dad does well if he needs to have anything done. Each person heals differntly and reacts differently its hard to say what hell need to have done so we have to wait and see with is consultation hopefully it wont be so drastic.
Its hard to say if theres something i can help you with to ask because i dont know too much about your situation the only thing that comes to my mind is MOM was so scared and DID NOT want to lose her voice she was so ADIMENT about leaving voicebox in so Doctors said they couldnt promise but would do there best, well day of surgery i said to dctr do what you have to to get it all even if you have to remove it just save her, ,we waited and waited he came out and told us he was able to save the voicebox, she had extensive cancer throughout her neck worse then they had expected but he was postitive he got it all but there was a chance there could be live cells still there just not showing yet but he was sure he got all there was ..so from that day on we were scared, needless to say three months later cancer came back same spot, cant do a surgery again becaue of scar tissue and she wasnt quiet heeled yet(she didnt heel to good). SO if i had to do it all over again in my situation I WOULD have the whole voicebox removed so there hopefully would be less chance of cancer coming back, NOBODY wants to be without their voice but after what i now and saw and learned in moms situation
If their is a chance and you have to do surgery and you can only do surgery once then do the most dramatic because i feel it would possibly give you a better outlook in beating it later on and hopefully you wouldnt have to do other treatments(chemo was moms last option and even that didnt work). Their is always a chance of recurrence but why take the chance and put yourself though it over and over again.
Has your dad had a pet scan? IF not ASK for pet SCAN immediately , that is better test of the whole body gives you better results then cat scan.
For pain my mom had a patch 6x4 that she would put on for 12 hrs on her upper back to help with pain it worked, she also was on morphine it seemed to lessen the pain for her. I am waiting to get coopies of all her doctors reports and so forth so i can have direct names of different things that worked and didnt. I WISH YOU NOTHING BUT THE BEST,
I hope i answered some questions anymore just ask away moms stor is so long and extensive i could be here for 3 months explaining things that worked and didnt.
i pray everynight that noone ever has to go through what mom and I went through. My direct email is hunpot@comcast.net if you ever need me in a hurry.
GOD BLESS
tracy

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