In September, we got a call from my father that there was a shadow on his chest x-ray. I thought back to when Bethany was born, and he came to help out with her. He had coughed and coughed all night when he was here. He thought it was an allergy to black pepper. When he called, I remember thinking, why didn't I make him go see a doctor sooner? She was 20 months old already. He had sat up with her all night rocking her when she could not sleep. Would he not be able to watch her grow up?
We found out a week later it was Stage IV lung cancer. We are not sure of the cause since he did not smoke, but about 1 in 10 cases of lung cancer are in non-smokers. How could this happen?
The past few months have been tough. We convinced my parents to move in with my sister's family to undergo treatment. It is hard to be so far away and know there is not much I can do to help. We visit, of course, but in the end, we leave all of the hard work to Caroline and David.
The treatment has been hard on him, but in some ways we are so blessed. The average lifespan for a lung cancer of this type is only months, but he has been doing pretty well. The metastasis in his brain are gone, and his cancer tested positive for the EFGR mutation which makes him a good candidate for an amazing drug that came onto the market just a few years ago. Only 10 to 20% of people are lucky enough to have this mutation. Today we found out that his cancer is down from 7cm to 2cm. He is beating the odds.
Life is so precious. I want my children to know their Grandpa. He was the one who came and cared for them when they were each born. He held them when they slept and rocked them when they could not. He took the 5am feedings when I could not handle it, and David was back at work. But I want them to know him as I know him once they are old enough to understand. I pray we just have that time.
Blessings come in different forms. If I could wish this cancer away, I would do so in a heartbeat, but barring that, I need to find something meaningful out of it. And I choose to think of it everyday as a reminder of how fragile and unpredictable life is. And how we are blessed to be able to love and be loved.
Love you, Dad!