Thursday, October 18, 2007

Hi, My name's Katie and My Father has Cancer!

I've been off for a while, as most of you have seen, because I've been dealing with a few things in my life.

My father was diagnosed a few weeks ago with Lung Cancer. But before the final verdict was in, I was angry with him for something he had done. What he had done is now irrelevant, but at the time, it was a big deal to me! The night he told me he officially had cancer, I brushed that to the side and went off on him for his actions a few days prior. I had unloaded on him that he hurt me and what he did could have potentially (and still could) caused harm on more than just one person that is important in my life...including him.

As angry as I was over that, I am not so angry about that issue so much anymore. Now its time to focus on the real issues!

My dad's cancer...My dad has smoked for a long time, and he's a heavy smoker, more than 2 packs per day for over 40 years. He's 61 years old right now. He weighs less than 110 lbs and he's very frail in appearance. You can probably count all of his ribs and vertebrae. I love my dad, but I am concerned about what happens now.

He had a biopsy, CT scan, PET scan and the works and the surgeon has told him that he should consider a lobectomy. Apparently, the plan is to try to shrink the mass in his left upper lobe and then remove that lobe.

My father and mother were told that it would be a simple procedure....aren't they all?
This worried me, I worked in an LTAC for a couple of years and I've weaned the unweanable, I've mourned the loss of the weanables and I've sent on to nursing homes the patients that wished to remain on vents. One particular case reminded me of the situation my father is now in.

This patient had cancer in his upper lobe, the physicians chose (after multiple failed weaning attempts) to perform a lobectomy. I couldn't believe the physicians would opt for this given the condition of the remaining lung lobes. This patient would never survive off the vent if they performed a pneumonectomy....his lungs were shot.

Remembering that patient, I sent my father an e-mail. He lives a few states away from me and since I can't be there to speak my concerns to his physicians/surgeons, I decided to send my father my concerns so that he could discuss them with his Dr.s...

I sent him some information regarding lobectomies...just general info, and then I sent him my concerns on his current state of health and what would happen if he had the lobectomy...and then I sent him the story of the patient I had that had a lobectomy that is now stuck on a vent, or I don't know, he could have passed on since then...

My father drinks on a daily basis, more than 4 beers a day every day and he continues to smoke, more than 2 packs of cigarettes per day...

I asked him to ask the physicians involved what condition his other lung lobes are in, and I asked him to find out how they will handle him should he show signs of withdrawal from the alcohol...

His blood pressure is currently being controlled through medication and he is on medication for his high cholesterol. I know that these issues can be controlled during and after his surgery, but what worries me is the withdrawals to the alcohol and the fact that he may not make it off the ventilator.

I don't believe that for one second he and my mother are prepared for this type of surgery..financially, mentally or in any other way....

My mother intercepted the e-mail that I sent for my father..she was slightly ticked off....she called his pcp and informed him of the few issues that were concerning me..the pcp said he would like to meet with my parents next week as he was uninformed of the lobectomy scheduled by the surgeon...

I'm hoping that the pcp can shed some light on this situation for them and maybe deter them from making a decision like this...

I'm afraid that this could be devastating to the whole family...not so much that it may possibly work, but moreso that it won't work out at all...

He's physically not fit enough for the surgery, he hasn't stopped drinking/smoking...and his lungs, according to the report I've read, are full of bullae..........

I don't know I don't know I don't know....

In my book, my dad has lived 10 years longer than I thought he would, so I'm surprised...but I'm not surprised he has cancer..it was either that or cirrhosis...

Of course now, it is just a matter of time..we play the waiting game...I really hate that...

In the mean time, I would like to hear some other opinions on this matter..if anyone has anything that could help me help my dad...please offer some suggestions...

I know my father, and I know he's not been brutally honest with these physicians and I suspect that they're taking his word for truth when he downplays his bad habits.

I love my dad, but I don't want to see him on a vent for the rest of his life and I don't want to see my mom having to solely make a decision to terminate the life of her husband of 40 years when things don't go as planned....

I don't want to see this happen to them because the physicians tell them it will all be just fine!

I'm not looking for alternative therapies...I'm looking for other reasons to not go through with this surgery...I'm afraid that I'm not properly armed to get into a mind war with these physicians...and I like a good mind war!!!!!

Especially when I win :)

Help me friends...help me out here, I'm counting on y'all.....

kT

1 comment:

  1. Hi Katie,

    I am sorry to hear about your Dad.

    I am not a doctor. But that is a pretty radical surgery. There will be possible complications, such as pneumonia post surgery. If your Dad is 110 pounds and as frail as you say he is, I am surprised that the doctor wants to do surgery.

    As a cancer survior myself, I can say that I think many physicians are way too black and white.

    Patient is Alive = Good.
    Patient is Dead = Bad.


    This is generally a good rule, but when it comes to prolonging life that will just continue suffering, they go wrong.

    The example of the ventilator is a perfect example. I wouldn't want to live that way. Would your Dad? Probably not. Make sure he understands all the negatives of this surgery and how bad "life" might be after the surgery.

    As for me, I am done with cancer medicine. If mine comes back, I don't believe there is currently any medicine which can save me, so I just won't allow their attempts to cause me further misery.

    I am not for anybody dying, but you just have to weigh the options.

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