Friday, July 11, 2014

And then everything changes.

June 9, 2014

You know how before a life changing event there are always simple normal moments? Life is completely even keel and pleasant... or even just mundane and boring... or even routinely frustrating before everything changes? Life alters?  Reality is skewed?  Before that moment, everything is as it's been.  It's normal.  This night was my normal. The calm before the storm. The moment before the switch. 

Last Friday night (June 6th) was the annual festival at June's school. Jim had to work late because of leaving early for baseball games earlier in the week, but I knew how much the kids were looking forward to this festival so I decided to brave it with all four alone. I might have been crazy for that, but eh.  What is really sane about my life anyway? ;) They were on their best behavior that day (as I held the festival over their heads) and they knew the moment things got hectic at the festival, we were heading home. They conceded and things went smoothly all day in anticipation.

They earned their trip to the festival and off we went. It's a really neat event for little and elementary aged kids. It was a gorgeous night too. Comfortable. Not too crowded. Perfect for my bigger three. 

They had inflatable bounce houses, sand art, various games, prizes, face painting, and even Rita's Italian Ice.  June kept seeing kids from his class and happily greeted them.  We went from event to event earning prizes and having fun. 

Around 7:15, we were in line for the inflatable jousting when my three eldest broke out in a brawl. Yup. You know it's time to go when physical violence starts among your offspring.  Being that we were there a good hour and a half prior to that and it was bedtime anyway, I broke up the fight and we headed home with our painted faces and loot from the carnival games. 

My mom had been texting me and asking if Jim was home. I didn't quite understand because, why does she need to talk to Jim?  I didn't think too much of it though.  I figured she had a tech-y question or a question about me. ::shrug::  No, Jim wasn't home. I texted a final time saying that we were finally home and I could text her in about an hour after I get the kids to bed... Jim should be home by then too. 

I spent the next hour doing bath, books, and tucking the kids into bed. Jim got home at some point and finished stories with the boys and I went downstairs to clean. I texted my mom that I was finally free and she called at that point. 

I picked up the phone: 

"There's no easy way to tell you this so I'm just going to blurt it out. Dad has colon cancer." 

::blink blink::

Tonight was my normal. My blissful unawareness of what was to come. The calm before the storm.  A great Spring night with my kids, out and having fun. Routine.  Monotony.  Now everything changes. 

But I couldn't have heard my mom right, could I?

I swore I heard her say my dad has cancer.  People have cancer, but not my people. 


My Dad? 


Are you sure? 

He's 55. This can't be right. 

But it was. 

He had recently gotten blood work done and it showed anemia. A colonoscopy was ordered to see if he was losing blood that way. When they did the scope, they found two tumors, and lots of polyps. Cancer.

There was never a "well you might have cancer." They told my mom that afternoon that my dad did have colon cancer. No question. 

The polyps and samples were sent to pathology to be biopsied and we wait.

June 15, 2014

It's been a week since then and there has been a CAT scan done of the abdominal region to gain more information of the progress of everything.  Again, we wait.  We know that surgery is definite, but we don't know progression or stage or prognosis.  This Friday, my parents meet with the surgeon and hopefully more can be told from the CAT scan and biopsies.

It's bizarre being in limbo because on one hand, you know nothing concretely, beyond the biggest fact, so you can pseudo live in the norm still because there is no outcome to latch onto.  On the other hand a harsh reality looms that it could still be worst case scenario.  That is scary, but it can't be discounted.  You can't "go" there either and assume the worst.  There is literally this limbo that you have to float in... processing information and being aware of and open to all possible outcomes, hopeful or not. 

The first few days after I found out it felt like I tried to keep the news just below the surface. I didn't want to grieve or overreact, but I did need to process and soak in the information.  I felt like a shell, from the outside nothing changed.  I was just me.  On the inside I was grappling with the feelings of this news and what it could mean.  I felt like I was processing well though.

However, the first few nights, I did nothing but dream about diagnostics and prognosis and facing harsh realities.  It was brutal.  Apparently my subconscious was already terrified and this is how it manifested. 

As we get closer to answers, I want to know and somehow I have no desire to know.  This is not because I don't actually want to know, but because maybe if I just don't know it will somehow be less real. 

I am digesting the fact (FACT) that my dad has cancer. My dad is everything to me. He was a pivotal part of my upbringing and a huge reason for who I am today.  I'm not ready to let go of that in any way, shape, or form. I don't know what the next weeks, months, or years hold.

I want the moment at the carnival when there wasn't a health concern and life was ticking by as normal. I don't want to value time. I want limitless time. 

So we sit, in between, and we wait. I've seen my dad a few times since last Friday and he is still himself. He's not sick. He's not weak. Nothing seems wrong. He's just my dad.  I know better, though, and that stinks.   It has been amazing to watch how he handles things though... and it has certainly helped me.   He has this calm and peace about it.  I'm sure there are moments of reality and human feelings and timidity, but his perspective is admirable and his calm is contagious.  

My other way of dealing with this is that I haven't told anyone... I need to tell my in-laws and at some point I need to share with my friends.  I just haven't been able to.  I don't want this news outside my bubble.  If it's contained it feels more manageable.   I know I will get support and prayers, which are needed, but I also feel like letting the news out makes it more real, and raw.  Raw is hard. I have to face it outside of my immediate family and my own brain. I know I do, but I don't like that.  The coming weeks or so should bring more answers and realities and we will handle it as it comes.  Hopefully the comfort and push to share this news will come...

More than anything... in God we trust... this is all ultimately in his hands and I can feel that.  It's a good feeling.

June 21, 2014

My dad met with the surgeon yesterday and "good" information came of it.  Lots of information, but good.  If you can classify anything as "good" right now.  It's bizarre because it's all within context.  None of what I'm about to write is actually good... not to a normal person at least.  However, once you are under the blanket of cancer, "good" changes meaning.  Normal is gone, at least for the time being.  You almost live in this alternate reality and it all makes sense somehow.

So, info... they are going to do surgery sometime in the next month and remove, well, a lot.  A lymph node was swollen and showed cancerous stuff so they are taking -most of the- large intestine and the lymph nodes from down there.  They won't know stage or if he will need chemo/radiation until surgery is complete, however the doctor said that the cancer hasn't spread to any other organs which is wonderful.

My dad continues to seem normal.  He's my dad.   He has been tired or a bit under the weather, but he's just himself.  

I feel grateful for pockets of positive information and very grateful for the lack of scary doom-and-gloom information.  I finally told my inlaws today.  I still haven't told anyone else.  I just can't.  I have had friends text me about routine life, and I just want to spill the beans what I'm dealing with... but I don't.  I don't want to.  I've actually just gotten quiet... I'm less chit chatty because my brain feels occupied.  Have you noticed my lack of blog posts?  When my brain is consumed, it kinda shuts down socially including my blog.  I don't want to small talk and gab.  It just seems too trivial.  I did, however, reach out to my inlaws finally, like I said.  I did it in a text though.  I still don't want to verbalize, especially when first telling the info.  I plan to tell close friends soon... letting people know makes it real.  Real is scary and I'm just not ready.

July 10, 2014

In the last few weeks I have been able to process much more.  I'm no longer scared or feeling in limbo.  My dad still just seems like my dad.  It's another blessing. My mom and dad even took the 3 big kids to the beach for 4 days a few weeks ago.  They had a blast.

June looks malnourished here... I promise I feed the child.

Now reality really starts to set in though.  Surgery is set for July 15th.  5 days from now.  The last piece of information looms over that date: stage and final prognosis.  It sounds like best case, the surgery gets all the cancer and my dad is cancer free.  That would be wonderful.  Worst case, well, I don't really know that yet and I don't really want to hypothesize.

My dad has been going to doctors and tests, but I haven't seen that.  When surgery happens, the last piece of fantasy that "all is as it's always has been" leaves.  There will be a hospital stay, and recovery, more information and lifestyle changes.  We still don't know if the road ends here (in a good way) or if this will be an ongoing thing.  This again is a place where you want to know but you don't want to know.  It's time to know.  That's a bit intimidating, but that's where faith comes in.  God has this.  It's all in His time and in His hands.  I can feel that and it helps tremendously.

The cool thing in all this is that my perspective is shifting.  This has been a silver lining.  It has clarified so much.  Hard things aren't as hard anymore.  Small things that used to consume me, like kid-illness, or life road blocks, or discomforts, or busy schedules, or... anything... just isn't a big deal anymore.  You fix the situation or work through it until it passes and life continues as it was.  Normal life is such a blessing.  Life feels easier... you just do it.  There isn't complicated among the normal and even when things do get complicated, they are manageable because they aren't this.

Also, I have realized that so much is out of our hands... and life isn't about easy.  There have been Saints who have worked through suffering gracefully with little complaint and I want to emulate that.  St. Therese was a big one who suffered, but did it admirably.  She said...

“It's true, I suffer a great deal--but do I suffer well? That is the question.” 
― Thérèse de LisieuxSt. Therese of Lisieux: Her Last Conversations

And why not (suffer well... with grace)?  We are going to be thrown hard times and working through them with grace and perseverance is ultimately easier than working against them, fighting the hard, and getting yourself nowhere, except maybe grouchy and annoying to others.  So doing the best you can with what you are given is all you can do.  I'm learning this and trying to put it into practice.

My dad has the best perspective on what he is facing.  He says that he doesn't like to feel mad... or worried.  They don't feel good to feel, so basically, he just doesn't feel them.  He moves past both.  He told me recently that if you can change something, work at it and change it.  If you can't, there is no use worrying because nothing you can do will remedy things anyway.  Don't waste your breath, kinda.  So I'm working at that and just praying for the best and continuing to wait.

Until then, please lift him up in prayer.  Please pray that surgery goes well and the results from it are good.  Storm Heaven for me, if you would.  I am sure that there are people up there, behind the scenes, pulling for my dad... his parents, sister, and even the baby we lost, but earthly prayers help too.

If you made it this far, thank you for reading.  5 weeks ago, this didn't exist.  It's been a journey and a process and completely new.  There was a different reality on June 6th, at the festival... before everything changed.


Naomi said...

We will be praying for you and all your family!!!! Xoxox

Marie Muschlitz said...

Prayers on overload for your you all...xoxo

slfunk said...

I know you don't know me, but I have been following your blog for a while now. While the info you received was scary and not expected, I do know that God will carry you all through this. I am praying for all of you. I am 45 and had a very rare form of cancer they said would kill me and I beat it. I give all the glory to God. You're on my mind.

Dawn said...

Please tel, your Dad that I am praying for good results for him. I know you want to hear good stories. My nephew Jimmy was diagnosed 2 years ago with Stage 3B colon cancer at age 28. They removed 80% of his colon and is now cancer free. Praying your dad has the same results.

Garnetruby said...

Storming heaven with prayers. Whatever I can do to help, please let me know.

Marcy said...

Susie your dad is in my prayers everyday <3 As is, your whole family.