Lung Cancer in the Family

Dad had his last full and complete physical in May 2006. This November, when I went to the Fastener show, Dad wasn’t feeling well and wasn’t sure if he would even go. He was having a little trouble breathing and we all gave him a bit of a hard time, telling him old age wasn’t curable. However, it was getting worse, and we ended up thinking he might have pneumonia. Before we left, he got an x-ray, and it wasn’t pneumonia, and he was cleared to go by the doctor. When we came back, they said there was a small spot on the x-ray, and it was probably nothing but to come back in. He went in, and they did a second set of x-rays and numerous other tests.

As it turns out, it was something. Dad has stage IIIA lung cancer (Non-small cell lung cancer NSCLC — is the most common type of lung cancer. It usually grows and spreads more slowly than small cell lung cancer.) He’s never smoked, but before I came to work at Interstate, the office was full of smokers, and he spent over 35 years around many chain-smokers in the same room as he was. That’s second-hand smoke, and the most likely cause, though we’ll probably never know for sure.

Yes, that’s bad news. It came real hard to the family, but obviously not nearly as bad as he took it. I can’t say that I blame him, either. He swore me to secrecy and only me, my step-mother, and he knew. He told my sister when she came home from college, as he didn’t want to ruin her first semester’s finals with the news, and I agree. He also didn’t want to tell the employees at Interstate until after the holidays.

The good news is they’ve caught it very early, and there’s over a 90% chance he’ll get better. He had his first chemotherapy session two weeks ago, and it went relatively well. His next one is after the first of the year. He’ll be missing a lot more work now, though the doctors have encouraged him to keep up some semblance of a routine, so he’s planning to work a few hours most days of the week. After the cancer shrinks a bit, he will be having two surgeries to remove the rest, so he’ll probably miss a few weeks then.

And for those of you who wondered why I’ve been non-committal and refusing to make travel plans or select specific dates to do things, now you know. I am needed at home and the office, and I will not be travelling anywhere unless it’s a very short weekend jaunt. Your forbearance for the next four months will be appreciated.

Lastly, it’s very important he not get sick: quite simply it’s a matter of life and death. If he gets sick, that’s the worst thing that can happen to someone who has been weakened from chemotherapy, it can cause systemic infection and that’s 100% fatal. So, if you’re sick I am asking you to stay away from both him and me until you’re healthy. I’m one of the people who’s always around him, so I can’t get sick lest I pass it along to him. Austri has given me lots of good advice, because she went through this with her father, so special thanks to her for all of her support so far.


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