My English professor at Loyola Marymount University always said that a good story has a beginning, middle and end. I’ve been taught to write using an outline with a conclusion in mind. But how do you tell your story when you –yourself—seem to be merely at the cliff hanger? My father was diagnosed with stomach cancer on December 5, 2013. We took the next two months to figure out what our next steps were going to be. This “discovery” phase were possibility the worst two months of my life. I watched my dad go through test after test; results after results; friction between doctors; health insurance nightmare. Then on February 11, 2014, my father underwent a total gastrectomy in an effort to cure, and for 8 days afterwards, I had a little bit of peace. But that was short lived after we received the pathology report. It turns out the stomach cancer tumor went through the stomach wall, and it’s been hanging out, exposed in his peritoneal cavity. They call it T4a tumor to be exact. This puts my dad at risk for peritoneal metastases. My hopes for my dad were crushed just like that. He’ll need further oncology treatment such as chemo AND radiation. And in addition to that, he still needs to recover. Watching my dad live without a stomach has been ridiculously hard. I know it’s only been four weeks… however, it’s been a tough four weeks.
I know in my heart, my dad will beat his cancer. I just know it. He has too! But at what cost? I’ve watched a seemingly healthy 72 year old man who quit smoking after 50 years hike the hills of Palos Verdes to get the one amazing beautiful photo shot walk into a hospital, and then 10 days later, be wheel chaired out of the hospital. He can barely go across the living room without getting winded and having to take a rest. He’s gone from 151lbs to 132lbs in four short weeks. He dreads eating – his only energy source. But he makes himself eat. He has what they call dumping syndrome; a horrible “hangover”, choking feeling 20- 60 minutes after he eats. It lasts about an hour and it doesn’t happen every time, luckily. Dumping syndrome should eventually go away—but the question is when? Weeks? Months? Years? Arg!!
The truth is that I’m so hopeful yet so scared about my dad’s future… about our future. I’m hopeful that this story will have a happily ever after, but I’m scared of the journey to get us there. Chemo, radiation, targeted therapies… oh my.
If you’d like to read more about my dad’s journey please go to Photo Shigeo for an in-depth look at stomach removal surgery to present day.
Stay tuned for more updates…