My dad was the strongest person I know. He would much rather tough out a cold instead of going to a doctor. When the coughing started, he ignored it for as long as possible. The doctors came up with any other diagnosis, but the correct one. It wasn't until his lung collapsed that they started talking cancer. That was one year ago this week. I was scared, but at that point I still had faith in doctors.
They said, "We're not gonna treat you..We're gonna cure you." The cancer was pretty small and located in only one broncial tube. The plan was to remove the left lung, followed by some chemo just in case one of those nasty buggers broke free. The surgery was in early January and went very well. He stayed in the hospital for a week. My mom stayed with him everynight because even though he liked to play the tough guy, he was really just a mushball. He did not do well emotionally without Mom there. He healed pretty well, started chemo, and even went back to work.
I was getting married March 20. When he was diagnosed, I asked if he wanted me to move the wedding up. He said no. He was taking me down the aisle, even if he had to crawl to do so. He planned his chemo treatments so he would be on an off week and wouldnt be sick for the wedding. March 18, three days before my wedding, Dad developed a large blood clot in his lung. the doctors called it catastrophic. He somehow survived, but there was no way he could leave the hospital. I was so devastated that he would not be there on my wedding day. He thought he let me down, cuz he promised me he would be there. We couldn't get the webcams to work, but with the help of my mom's cell phone, my daddy still gave me away.
The cancer hadn't scared me much, but that blood clot did. He was in the ICU for many weeks. They transfered him to a bigger hospital farther away, and still mom was right by his side. He fought his way back from that and we started joking that he was a cat with nine lives. The healing process was slow, but steady. His back started to bother him, but he had 3 herniated discs that he never got fixed. All the sitting around was aggravating them. Towards the end of May, there was a Relay For Life event that we were all looking forward to. We were so proud of Dad for all he had been through. I bought my whole family T-shirts (mine said Proud Daughter of a Hero Fighting Lung Cancer) and we went to support him and all the others that had fought or were fighting this horrible disease. You should have seen him take his Survivor's Lap. I've never been so proud. He walked with a cane cuz his back hurt so bad, but he earned that lap, and nothing was going to stop him. There wasn't a dry eye in the house.
The back pain was getting worse and worse. Mom started to wonder if the cancer had come back. I said no. He had lung cancer, and the doctors said they got it all. How could it get to his back? Well, there was a mass, and in surgery they found a cancerous tumor the size of a large egg. It was not there when they did a scan 6 months before. They removed what they could, but it had started to eat at the bone. Now I'm scared. Holy crap...what are we gonna do?
Dad had always said that if he ever got sick, he wouldn't fight it. Why bother when the end result was the same. Then when he did get sick, he said he would give it one shot. If that didn't work, he was done. He knew we needed him and wanted him to keep fighting. Once he healed from the surgery, they started hitting him with radiation. It was so horribly painful for him. Every now and then he would decide that he wasn't going to his treatment that day. Then he gave up all together. It just hurt too much. Nothing anyone said to him made a difference. Mom would cry, but it didn't matter. I went over there and asked him why he gave up. He said he wasn't giving up, he just couldn't go any more. He would handle it on his own. I was crying so hard , and at one point I screamed at him and called him a coward. I told him that we were not ready to lose him yet. The very next morning, he got up and went to his treatment cuz "My daughter called me a coward."