My dad is 66. He went into the ER two days ago with stomach pain. We were thinking it was gallstones or a kidney stone, but it turned out to be stage IV colon cancer. My family hasn't had a chance to talk to the hospital-assigned oncologist yet, so we know very little. I can't stand not knowing anything despite some things being very obvious. I called the onc's office, but he was out for the day already. I left my phone number with his nurse. No phone call as of yet. I'm feeling a little pissed about that, but then again, I am feeling a bit pissed about everything at the moment.
He had emergency surgery to remove his appendix and part of his colon. He had sudden pain and appendicitis because a large mass broke through the colon. We also know that his liver is filled with cancer. The surgeon said its likely that it has spread elsewhere as well but, being the surgeon and not the cancer doc, really wouldn't talk to us beyond that. Never crazy about the bedside manner (ha - what bedside manner?) of surgeons, but he did a good job getting my dad through surgery and at least didn't beat around the bush.
Other pertinent info: my dad is a 12 year kidney transplant recipient. He also has a 26 year history of heart disease - triple bypass and many stents and congestive heart failure as well as some brand new afib that we didn't know about until this ER trip. He's obviously been on immunosuppressive drugs for 12 years. He's a type 2 diabetic thanks to prednisone.
My dad does recall from his one conversation with the cancer doc that in his opinion, aggressive chemo might get him 2 years. Lots of pain meds, though, so not many details. My father will not be pursuing treatment, and I completely respect that. I have no interest in him living longer simply to stay ill longer. I still want to know all options and information - especially if there are such things as treatments designed to help with quality of life. I don't even know what type of cancer this is - I know there are different forms and growth rates.
I know none of you are his doctor, but can anyone tell me some things?
From what I understand from Google, statistically, people without other health issues that have advanced colon cancer that do not seek treatment live for 1 year. Does that sound about right? I know no one here is a magic 8 ball with a specific date of death for me, but would 1 year for someone in my dad's situation be extreme wishful thinking? What about 6 months? 3 months?
I knew there would be an end-of-the-road for him. He's not been well for a long time. Just didn't expect it to go this way.
Another question I have - am I being unreasonable in wondering WHY no one caught this? I know it's natural to wonder and want to blame, but it seems crazy to me. My dad has a whole team of doctors thanks to his various ailments. He has long histories with these doctors and sees them all regularly. He did have polyps several years ago that were benign and removed. No screenings after that as far as I know.
The last two years, he's had a major loss of appetitite. Diarrhea and vomiting several times a week. Fatigue. Common colds that wipe him out as though he had mono. He's complained and asked each of them over and over and always got, "Well, it's just the meds and your various conditions." He's been confined to his recliner in the living room because of his lack of stamina for awhile now. I want to sit each of these doctors down and ask them why they didn't look into things further. Is that just me going through the anger stage of grieving or whatever? Is this something that really just happens like this? BOOM, ER for what you think might even just be indigestion and nope, it's stage 4.
I would also love to get a ballpark figure from his doctor because his meds have always had side effects that he hates. If his time is indeed very short, then I want to discuss them cutting this crap down. There are just so many.
I also want to know, without sugarcoating, what to expect. How does this end? I've seen cancer in other relatives but never colon cancer. Mostly lung cancer. Some suffered greatly. Some lost their minds to dementia. Others had pretty decent quality of life before taking a sudden, short turn for the worse. All had it for years and were receiving chemo and radiation.
If plans need to be made, I want to know what plans they are. Again, I realize none of you are doctors, but there's gotta be a wealth of experience here, and just to know experiences would be nice. I don't know where to begin.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
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