Whew, dodged that bullet! Hey, is that a bazooka?

You didn’t think I had stopped looking for the combat boot, did you? I explained all that. I’m no rookie.

Six weeks after Mom’s surgery and our collective sighs of relief that she did not have ovarian cancer, Dad has now been diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Some of you may know there is no surgery available for lymphoma — no procedure where doctors can just go SNIP! it’s gone! Here’s a Band-Aid and a bit of chemo/radiation and have a nice life.

Yes, I’m exaggerating, but you’ve got to admit, some cancers — when caught early as a lump or tumor — require surgery and sometimes that’s it. My grandmother had stage 1 breast cancer in her 70s. She had a mastectomy so she wouldn’t have to have chemo or radiation, and she took a pill for the next several years until her doctor said, “Hey! You’re still cancer free, so drop those pills and enjoy the rest of your golden years.”

Then there are those cancers like my dad’s that lurk like a lunch container you left lying under your car seat — a container that had tuna salad, no less. Eventually, you know something is wrong, but when you finally find it, the whole car is ruined by the smell.

Not that anything is ruined. No one has mentioned the word “terminal”. The doctor said he’s thinking in terms of years — not weeks or months. He also said there’s a chance the treatment could send it into remission. The challenge will be keeping the family’s Negative Nathan from giving in to his feelings of doom. Someone has to go to doctor appointments with him because he will cherry pick every negative thing said and piece it into a comfy quilt for the death bed he believes is coming.

Quiet and thinking... It's a dangerous combination for him
Quiet and thinking… It’s a dangerous combination for him.

So far, my mom has said she will not print any research off the internet for him, but it’s not that I worry about. See, he’ll get to talking to people, and, inevitably, he’ll start hearing someone’s horror story. In this case, it’ll concern chemo treatments — because he’s convinced they’ll do everything short of killing him. In 1998, he had open heart surgery at age 57. A week before the procedure, he came home ready to call the doctor and cancel it because of one bad thing that happened to one person.

You know how some people play jokes by putting a “kick me” sign on another’s back? I want to put one on his back that says, “Don’t tell me your medical nightmare stories.” Maybe add in smaller print: “Or my family will hunt you down and kill you.”

I send this warning to anyone who knows him: If you tell him some horror story — if I find out that you are filling his head with anything other than words of prayer, light, encouragement, or positivity — I will find you. And you will pay.


8 thoughts on “Whew, dodged that bullet! Hey, is that a bazooka?

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  1. I’m sorry to hear about your Dad’s diagnosis, Carla. You’re absolutely right that there’s every reason to remain optimistic. I’ll pray for your Dad and your family, and that those well-meaning, craniorectally-impaired souls who attempt to empathize by relating non-inspiring experiences with cancer will find they’ve mysteriously lost the ability to speak until they’ve had the opportunity to extract their heads from their arses.


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