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My Daddy...

... has been diagnosed with invasive gastric cancer. I am in Orlando with my family as dad goes through testing and, eventually, treatment. He spent last week in the hospital, but had to be discharged in order to continue testing... a stupid and cruel requirement of his insurance and the hospital's policy.

The tumor fills his stomach, has spread to his esophagus and he has three spots on his liver. He's going to have a PET scan in the next day or two and depending on that result, he will either have surgery to remove the (more) localized cancer before starting chemotherapy or if the cancer is very invasive, he will jump right to chemo. If he has surgery, his entire stomach will be removed (a gastrectomy) or, if needed, part of his esophagus will also be taken with his stomach (esophagogastrectomy). Not to be morbid, the prognosis isn't good.

My family is bizarre in their grief. Some are coping with the loss of control by gripping control of others with an iron fist. I've been yelled at for not unloading the dishwasher in the right order and not hanging the bathroom hand towel properly. sigh It's been a challenge hanging out with people saying things like, "I want the tv when you die."

This past weekend, we had a giant family reunion and it was wonderful! The picture above is my daddy with his G-Tube and his PICC line, laughing his head off. We all laughed until our sides hurt and we had tears streaming down our cheeks. It was the best medicine for everyone.

I tell you all this because this is very sudden and my dad will be incapacitated by the end of the week. We all could use your prayers, good thoughts, light and love.

Even me - "the strong one."

Reader Comments (47)

:o( praying. So sorry your family is going through this!

July 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNicole

My thoughts are with you, your family, and most especially your dad.

July 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAtYourCervix

I am so sorry to read this about your Dad. Enjoy each moment, each day that you have together. Take the time to say EVERYTHING that you have ever wanted to say-good or bad, it can be so free-ing...for both of you. I will keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers.

Wishing you all strength and peace,

July 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. And I've been wondering about your happy news...no pics or blog about your ca wedding?
Thinking of you,
Sarah in ct

July 28, 2008 | Unregistered Commentersarah

I'm really sorry to hear about your father, NGM.

July 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterEmma B.

I am so sorry that you are going through this. Please know that my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

July 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAshley Benz

Barb I am so sorry. It is heartbreaking to have a vibrant human be ill. My thoughts are with you all, especially with your dad, who I am so glad you got to laugh with. The picture of him is so beautiful, you can tell that he is a man who loves to laugh with his family x

July 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAgatha

My thoughts are with you.

I lost my dad 8 years ago, but it was after a very long illness. He fought it for 10 years, and his death came 40 years after his first cancer, when he had been given 3 years to live.

It is never easy, and families do strange things in these times.

I'll be rooting for your dad.

July 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJudy

Will think good thought for your dad, you & your family. You know this, of course, but be sure someone is taking care of you while you invariable midwife your family through this time.

July 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDoulaMomma

i'm so sorry you are having to go through this, sending you a long distance hug, stay there as long as you need to, enjoy this time you have with your family.
and for goodness sake, learn how to put the dishes in the dishwasher, dont you know they wont get clean if you dont put them in right!?!?!

July 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJackieD

Your father looks like a joyful man. I can't say that I've ever seen my own laugh and be lit up like that. What a blessing! He and you will be in my thoughts.

July 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterFaith

I have my baby Meghann with me here. She is a wonderful doula for me... very level-headed and bright when it comes to these sorts of things. I so appreciate her love and care during this hard time.

Dad's PET scan is at 8am tomorrow morning. We look forward to that being completed.

July 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

sending ((((hugs))))

July 28, 2008 | Unregistered Commenteruumomma

I am so sorry. Please know that you are always surrounded by love.

Blessings to you and your family.


July 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

what a wonderful, beautiful picture. i know youwill always treasure it!!

i am so sorry to hear of your father's ill health. it only means more of you, that you would take the time to respond to someone in need at a time so stressful for you. thank you. i will be thinking of you and your family.

July 28, 2008 | Unregistered Commentercharmedgirl

Many thoughts and prayers headed in your direction from this former lurker.
Hugs, too.

July 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterUbiCaritas

Tough times bring out the best and worst in people.

My prayer for you and your family will be for peace, and a safe ushering through these grief stages.

I once posted that God heals people in one of three ways - through miracles, through medicine and through death.

May you be wrapped tightly in all the love that you have ever shared for your daddy and have it flow through your veins reminding you of the life you tow have shared - even in the midst of his death.

Lots of hugs and prayers for all of you.

July 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDora

*gentle hugs* All my love and thoughts towards you, girl. I can't even imagine.

July 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRebekah Costello

This sucks ass, in so many ways. I am glad that laughter is part of your families ways, I wish we had more of it with dealing with family traumas.

Take some time away from the mob for yourself too, it will help when you come back and this time load the dishwasher wrong also. Our prayers are with you and your family.

July 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterEthel

I am so sorry that your father and your entire family are going through this right now. Cancer is an insideous disease, my mom has it too.

July 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterHousefairy

My thoughts are with you and your family during this difficult time.

July 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKarelle

Hey, I've been loving this blog for a while now. Sending good vibes to you and praying for your father!

July 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLinda

I'm so sorry to hear about your father. Grief and sadness create so much fear for people, sometimes, and they behave in the ways that seem to protect them from pain, including being angry with others. Anger induces such a feeling of power when one is feeling utterly helpless....your strength and calm will help bring everyone to center but, make sure you have something or someone at your own "center" to take care of you. Peace to you all; I will be praying for your father and for you.

July 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKneelingwoman

Sorry to read this, wishing you and your family well during this hard time. He sure looks like a fun guy in that pic :)

The PET scan has come and gone. Dad did really well with it yesterday. He was injected with the radiation and had to wait for an hour while it went through his body and then the procedure took a total of 18 minutes. We didn't know if we were going to know right after the appointment or if they were going to call, but they said they would give the report to the doctor by 4pm.

Haven't heard anything yet. :(

July 30, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

Sending you and your family lots of love!

July 30, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAbundant B'earth

For ages I've been wishing you could be my midwife. Now I'm wishing I could be your Dad's nurse. I'll pray for you and your folks.

-longtime lurker

July 30, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea

My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. I'm so sorry you are all going through this.

July 31, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMommy Dearest

The PET scan results came in.

Dad has cancer throughout his stomach, esophagus, liver, spleen, thoracic region, lymph nodes below the chest and pancreas. In fact, his pancreas is, for all intents and purposes, swallowed up by the cancer.

The good news is it is not in his bones or brain and he is in zero pain. He can't swallow anything thicker than thin oatmeal, but he doesn't have to worry about his diabetes anymore; he can eat/drink anything he physically can tolerate. Full cream ice cream!

After discussing the options, my dad is choosing chemotherapy. It wouldn't be my choice. I would choose to enjoy the time I had left and not make myself sicker with chemo knowing the reality of my illness.

But, then again, I can't say what I would do for sure unless I was in his shoes, so I am not judging, but supporting.

Meggie and I will remain another week as he prepares for chemo through a variety of testing, including heart tests because the PET showed blockages. He has to be strong enough to tolerate chemo before they will do it. He also might need more blood as chemo begins.

If you're reading this and you are able to, please donate a pint of blood for someone like my dad.

It's been a hard day. The most painful for me was when I asked him if he wanted me to take him to the golf course on Sunday to be with his buddies... I'd drive him around in a cart. He said, "I am done with golf" in such a resigned and sad voice, my heart just broke. I offered to build him a putting green in the yard or even get one of those portable putting greens to use in the living room. He said if he can't play, he doesn't want to touch a club again.

*wiping tears*

My dad owned a golf shop for 30 years... making and repairing golf clubs long before that job became automated. Golf is as important to him as writing is to me. To say he is done with golf would be the same as if I said I would never write another word. Heart-breaking.

Thank you all for thinking of our family. Thank you for continuing to read my updates. I'll just keep writing them here.

July 31, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

My thoughts for you, your family & your dad. Wishing you all peace.

July 31, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLarissa

Donating blood this weekend.

Sending love to you and your entire family, but especially your dad.


August 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

lovely, navelgazer.
all my love to you and yours.

August 1, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterfleur de lis

I just wanted to be sure to send my prayers and love your way. DH was keeping us up to date at playgroup this week and we are all thinking of you and your family.

August 2, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLeanne

I wondered where you had disappeared too. Sending lots o love your way.

August 3, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSunshine

You have my prayers! We are also struggling with cancer in my family.

Stay focused on the spirit your father is showing and don't allow anyone's grief to get in the way of your interactions with your dad. I know it is easier said than done, but that has been what I have been trying to do. And remember that this is your dad's cancer and that he is the one who's life is being taken over by cancer. It feels like your life and everyone else's life is being run by cancer too, but really it is your dad and all of those who surround him have to allow him to set the tone, ask for what he needs, empower him. You are so amazing at empowering women, I bet you could empower your dad with out even thinking about it! Or maybe he does not need any empowering, being that he raised you. Hugs and prayers.

August 4, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Saying a prayer for your dad- he looks really strong in your photo!! XOXO

August 4, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterHelen

A big hug for you!

August 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLauriebelle

NGM. I am so sorry. This is so incredibly hard.

August 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJudit

I'm so sorry Barb; it's a hard road, I know. I lost my dad to CHF 20 years ago; he worked with it for almost a decade and still, he was only 62. He never knew any of my children, or my wonderful husband. I'll be thinking of you all...what is your dad's name, if you don't mind? When I do intercessory prayer, I like to use the persons name. I know that you understand the need to stay present and "in the moment" throughout this process but do make sure that some of that "presence" is for you and you alone; take care of yourself too. Blessings.

August 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKneelingwoman

Oh, Dear. I am so sorry. You and your dad are in my prayers.

August 6, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJanya

I'm so, so, so sorry. My mom is currently going through chemo for stage 4 ovarian cancer, and also had a massive abdominal surgery. Cancer made my mom miss my daughter's beautiful home birth, and I will always be pissed at it for that!

The G tube is certainly a familiar sight for me. That is a wonderful, lovely photo of your Daddy laughing. I will keep you and your family, and your Dad in my prayers.

August 6, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTiffany

can't stop thinking of you guys, so thought i'd come say so in a comment, then saw that you updated back here!

so, can't stop thinking of you guys. sending much love.

August 7, 2008 | Unregistered Commentercharmedgirl

You and your dad are in my thoughts and prayers.

August 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCurlyCue

Holding you in the light.

August 8, 2008 | Unregistered Commentersuperlagirl

You are in my thoughts. Once you've been through cancer, part of you is always there. I'm so glad you are with him and your family is with you.

August 8, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterreeciebird

That picture of your father is wondrous. It brings up, for me, a very curious, internal joy.

So sorry for your family. And glad that you are able to have this time with them.

August 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAndie

Thinking of you and your family.


August 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLoving Pecola

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