September 16, 2011

My Daddy

My dad is sick. I guess I haven't been talking about it because I didn't want it to be real but it is real and I can't avoid talking about it anymore. For about 10 years he has had thyroid cancer resulting in tumors on different bones. They have always been able to surgically remove the tumors or radiate them to shrink them and they have never affected his quality of life, except for some pain more recently. Thyroid cancer is not very common and so there aren't very many treatment options. Surgery is invasive and major and radiation has long-term side effects so this past winter, when his doctor offered him an experimental treatment that came in pill form and offered a chance at preventing new tumors from forming, he decided to try it. 

It was basically chemo in a pill, and like regular chemo, it ravaged his body. His appetite disappeared and he began to experience random bone pains unlike anything before -- both of these side effects prevented him from being able to really do any kind of physical activity so he lost a lot of muscle and weight over the 6 months he was on the medicine. That medicine was awful and we kept begging him to get off of it -- we were afraid it would kill him before the cancer did -- but he wanted to stick it out until last month when they were going to run tests to see if it had been effective. 

He was still up and walking around, though painfully, as of three weeks ago but then they ran the tests and found two new tumors -- one on his arm and one on his hip. I think the disappointment at this discovery plus 6 months of basically malnutrition plus diabetes that had been undetected until recently plus a urinary tract infection all formed a kind of perfect storm that left him bedridden. Last week he was admitted to the hospital to build up his strength before a scheduled surgery to put a rod in his arm to stabilize it (since the tumor was compromising the bone). 

Paul, Wilder, and I were supposed to come for a visit next week but after my dad went downhill I just couldn't stand being so far away and changed my flight to come a week early. He had the surgery last Thursday, came home on Sunday, started radiation treatments to his arm and hip on Monday, and Wilder and I flew in on Wednesday. I was so glad to get here and feel like I could be useful because I know my mom is exhausted but it's so hard to see him so weak and in so much pain. The good news is that the tumors can be shrunken with radiation and they've always stayed in his bones, instead of spreading to vital organs, so they aren't life threatening as of now. However, he is still unable to eat more than a few bites a day, still can't even sit up on his own, is still in a lot of intense pain, and is super groggy/confused from being on so much pain medication. 

I hate being across the country but it's difficult and frustrating being here too. I just want him to get back to his old self again. Readers, please keep my family in your prayers. Please pray for my dad's appetite and strength to return and his pain to subside as he continues the radiation next week. Please pray for endurance and patience for my mom as she takes care of him every day. Please pray for peace for me when I have to leave them to go back to San Diego. 


  1. Emily, y'all are in our prayers. We love you guys!

  2. I will definitely pray for your dad! My mom is sick too, and I understand that it can almost be just as hard for family to watch them suffer as it is for them. I'm so sorry you are going through this.

  3. Thinking about you guys and adding your daddy to my list. I know that having you guys there will brighten everyone's spirits!


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