Friday, June 29, 2012

My Bestestestest Friend

I want to back up a second... While Daddy was at this first hospital, so was my best friend's grandfather.

I have known Irene since I was two years old and we are even better friends today than we have ever been. Irene was sitting with me visiting Daddy when we hear her Grandma calling into the room,"Irene?" She could hear Irene's voice from the hall and Grandpa's room was in the same unit as Daddy. Grandma came in and sat and talked with us for a while, and then went back to her husband's room. Grandpa passed away that next day, Irene and I just could not believe that both of us were thrown into such tragic situations at once. It wasn't even one after the other so that we could take turns being strong for one another. Instead, we were forced to do it all at once.

Irene is one of the best people I have ever met, not to mention, she is just such a natural beauty. I know I can always count on her, and both of my parents love her. We keep a stock of bananas just for her because that's the first thing she goes for when she comes to my parents' house. I love her, and all of her freckles.

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The Miracle Man

So the doctors told us about all the places the kidney cancer had spread to, but that the spinal tumors were what was causing Daddy's numbness in his legs so we needed to address them first. We waited almost half a day for the spinal surgeon of the hospital to come talk with us after he looked at Daddy's scans. Momma and I tried to force ourselves to eat something at the hospital cafeteria, Daddy and I watched our favorite show (NCIS), and I texted Ken all day since he was at work. Finally, this tiny little doctor comes in and introduces himself as a surgeon. He says that Daddy's spinal surgery is impossible and that him not his colleagues would be able to perform it. This hit us hard. Momma and Daddy held in their tears while I asked this surgeon what else we could do. He suggested radiation and that he would send up the radiation oncologist right away to start a plan.
When the radiation doctor finally came into the room, he explained that radiation requires mapping, and then treatments of a couple of weeks. He said that mapping would consist of making a mold of Daddy's back and putting tiny tattoos on him do that they know exactly where to aim everything. We planned on going for mapping the next day.
While I rode along in Daddy's ambulance to radiation, my mother was on her way to work. She commutes 30 miles each way to the city where she works miracles for the people of our state and gets their insurances to cover things that they originally deny, even if that means going to court for them. She had so many thoughts on her mind as she drove on autopilot to work when she gets a call on her cell phone. She answers and it's a man's voice that introduces himself as a surgeon from a hospital in the city and that he has something to say. Momma told him she was driving into work and he tells her to pull over because what he has to say is very important. She pulls over on the side of I95, and this doctor tells her that he is a spinal surgeon and that he will be able to perform the spinal surgery that Daddy needs. We found a miracle. She takes a deep breath, and immediately calls the hospital where Daddy is now and tells them that he will no longer need their radiation and that he will need a transport to the city hospital because even though their surgeon said this surgery was not possible, the city hospital surgeon said it was possible!! Our Miracle Man:):)

Our transport workers for the ambulance company stuck around and waited for paper work from the hospital so that Daddy could be moved. It took a few hours, but the doctors finally got their acts together. We boarded into the ambulance and headed to the city. The bumpy roads of the city had Daddy crying out in agony. He was on a stretcher in the back of the ambulance and his tumors were being squeeze with every bump. I yelled back to him that we were almost there, just a few more blocks, but I knew nothing I could say would truly help his pain. The ambulance entrance to the hospital was finally in sight, and we wheeled Daddy's stretcher up to the cardiac step down unit. Daddy was put into this unit because of his history of heart problems that the doctors needed to monitor prior to surgery. We got him as comfortable as possible in his bed in a room with a spectacular view. The room was on the corner of the hospital and two of its walls we're windows overlooking the city. We waited for Momma and Ken to get off of work, and we both ended up falling asleep watching our NCIS marathon.
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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Luckiest Girl in the World...

I believe that I am the luckiest girl in the whole wide world. You are probably thinking, "what in the heck, her father was just diagnosed with cancer?" Yes, but still, I am so lucky! Want to know why? I am lucky because through having to sit in Daddy's hospital room and comtemplating how to tell my mother what the doctor had just told us, I was texting and talking on the phone with my boyfriend. Ken is my rock. When I told him what the doctors had told us, he immediately wanted to leave work and drive an hour and half to the hospital. Through it all, he has been reassuring to me, telling me that, "I can do it." I honestly have no idea where I would be without him in my life. If I had to cope through the mixture of crazy feeling that come with a parent being given a cancer diagnosis by myself, there is no doubt that I probably would have dropped out of college. Instead, I graduated with my teaching degree, with honors, and received the Education Departmental Award. I am now even pursuing a second degree. Where I leave gaps with school, and spending time with my Daddy, and work, and running errands for my mother, and driving Daddy to all of his doctors appointments, Ken fills in. He does anything my parents need him to, even when they don't ask him to.He has been able to help out beyond any of our wildest dreams, while being able to earn a promotion at his job. I love him.

I will talk about him a lot throughout the rest of my blogging. He is such a blessing, and I AM the luckiest girl in the world to have him in my life.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

That Day in December

My Daddy has had minor to slightly major heart issues throughout his adult life, I think they were mostly caused by stress. So when in August of 2011 he was complaining of chest pains, we were not surprised that the ER doctors told us that he had a partially enlarged heart and that it must have been causing his pain. They explained it as a repercussion of his sleep apnea.

The chest pain continued...

The holiday season started. We had our traditional family Thanksgiving at my cousin's house. Daddy's side of the family is quite entertaining to say the least. There is never a dull moment with them.

Then a few weeks later, Daddy had some numbness in his legs and his doctor recommended physical therapy to help him.the morning after his first physical therapy visit, Daddy's numbness was so much worse. So much so that he almost fell in the shower. He called my Mom and she turned around from her commute to work and drove him to our local hospital.

The ER doctors was stumped. They could not figure out what was wrong with my Daddy. They wanted to send him home with some medications and follow up visits. Daddy knew that there was something seriously wrong and he demanded to be admitted to the hospital and to see some of the different specialists. We had cardiologists and radiology doctors come in and out and run test after test and no one could figure anything out.

Finally, they decided to do a CT scan WITH contrast, when you do one without contrast you cannot really see abnormalities.

This was a Wednesday, and I had work in the morning and then a mid-morning class at the college I was attending at the time. After class I traveled the half an hour down to my parents' local hospital to spend a few hours with Daddy until I had to go back to work in the afternoon.

Not even twenty minutes after I sat down on the chair next to Daddy's hospital bed, a doctor walked in. She introduced herself to us but neglected to say what kind of doctor she was. She then said, "Sir, there is no easy way to say this, you have cancer."

I felt my heart drop into the pit of my chest, and it dropped even farther when I looked up and saw Daddy's face fill with emotions he does not usually show. I grabbed his hand as tight as I could as the doctor then said she was the attending oncologist and that Daddy's cancer was very extensive. She said that from what she could see, it was a renal cell carcinoma (kidney cancer) and that it had metastasized (spread) to his spine, sternum, and spots in his lungs. She was going to run more tests to confirm what kind of renal cell carcinoma it was and that she believed his spinal and sternum mets (metastasis) were what had been causing his chest pain and his numbness in his legs. She said that we would have a radiation oncologist and a spinal surgeon come talk to us and that she was hopeful for us. She said that she would pray every day for him and that she would not be surprised if in a year, he was up and walking around, then she left the room.

I looked into Daddy's eyes, they were red but dry of tears. I slid into the hospital bed next to him and hugged him just tight enough not to hurt him. I said, " I love you Daddy, I can't believe this is happening." Daddy said, " those words are never easy to hear, but at least we know what's wrong." Wear cried with each other for what seemed like forever until I was able to breathe and sit up. I asked Daddy is he wanted to call Momma, or if he wanted me to do it. He said he wanted to tell her in person, so when she called I had to lie and tell her that we hadn't heard anything yet. It killed me. I was speaking on the phone to my Momma and yet I couldn't tell her what was going on because Daddy didn't want me to.

Hours passed, I just kept laying next to Daddy and helping him get what he needed from the room since the doctors didn't want him to walk if he didn't have to. It finally was getting close to 6 o'clock and I knew Momma would be coming up the hospital elevator anytime now.

I told Daddy I was going to get some coffee from the cafeteria, and I waited at the elevators for Momma to get there. I didn't want Daddy to have to tell her that he had cancer. I didn't want him to have to use up his courage and strength for that. I decided that I would tell her instead, that I could handle it... That's what I kept telling myself until I saw those elevator doors open and my Momma's bright red head of hair look up and meet my eyes that were the same shade of red from crying. I walked towards her and just said it, " it's cancer Momma."

She burst into tears for only a second, she took a deep breath and Mother/Wife/Nurse mode kicked in. She started firing questions at me, I told her it was a type of kidney cancer and that they were running more tests, that it had spread to his sternum, lungs, and spine, and that the spinal tumors had been causing his numbness. She took it all in and we walked into Daddy's room.

"What'd you get into now guy, huh?," Momma said to Daddy with a forced sarcastic laugh. "What are we going to do with you?" We just sat and held each others hands and tried to organize our feelings so that we all didn't break down at once. I emailed my boss and told her I wouldn't be coming to work, I knew I had to spend the night with Daddy. We still had to tell my little brother... To this day, this was the worst day of my life.

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a little about my family and I...

Both sides of my family are from Long Island, New York. My mother's side is 100% crazy Irish and my father's side is part Irish and part German. My parents met through the wanted ads of their local newspaper and later found out that they grew up just blocks apart but never knew it because they went to different school districts.

I was born in 1990 in Farmingdale, NY and two years later my father's job brought us to Maryland. A year and half later from then my little brother was born, and he has been a pain in my butt ever since. My parents have always been hard working people with huge hearts. My mother especially, working as a visiting nurse, a nurse administrator, and now she works to help people get their health care to cover what it needs even f that means going to court for them. Little did we know that years later we would need her health care expertise for our own because without it our family would have been lost and mistreated.

I love my family. "Always and forever, no matter what," as my mother used to say at bed time.

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Why Am I Writing This Blog?

I have never written a blog before, but as my father is wheeled into radiation as I write this post I feel that there are way too many people out there battling this evil disease and if just one person can benefit from my experiences and how I've dealt with things than this blog will be worth it. I also feel that by writing out a little bit a few times a week that maybe this blog will help me in my own coping process through this difficult time in life.

Cancer does not discriminate, people from every place on earth are effected by it and there is no cure. I pray every night for all the people in the world battling and coping through cancer.

If I end up having some people read this, that would be wonderful. And if not and it only turns out to be my own little online journal, that is okay too.

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Location:S Greene St,Baltimore,United States