The beginning of the end?

Tomorrow is my second blogging birthday, at the time I started to blog I really didn’t know whether I’d enjoy it or what I’d talk about. I knew that I’d have some stuff to share though (never really short of an opinion) and I also felt that cancer would feature in these posts….I’m not sure at the time I thought it would feature as much as it has (in my life or my blogging).

My Dad was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma, bile duct cancer, in September 2007 just a couple of days after his 60th birthday. Up until this point he was a picture of health, he was a postman and walked miles every day, he volunteered with the Army Cadets out on the moors or the parade ground, he walked my parents dog, he didn’t smoke (hadn’t since us kids came along – so 30 odd years) and he rarely drank. It was a complete punch between my eyes when my Dad was diagnosed with cancer, his own mum had died shortly before (having lived into her 90s) and my Grandad Stan (Dad’s dad) was still alive, also in his 90s, so there was nothing to suggest my Dad should be getting a cancer diagnosis. It just didn’t make sense….although I now appreciate it rarely does.

At the time Bobby J was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma he was told a couple of things that were very hard to hear 1) that his cancer was exceptionally rare and therefore not too much was known about it’s projected development, treatment or Dad’s prognosis; 2) that he’d be very lucky to live long. I’ve blogged before about what has happened and about my experiences, and as far as I see them Dad’s experiences of fighting this disease – I added categories recently so you can see the most recent posts by clicking on ‘cancer’ in the top right of the screen.

In a nutshell Dad shouldn’t have lived long:

  • he had very complicated surgery that the odds of him surviving were very low – but he survived
  • he had chemo that had horrendous side effects – so he finished it early but survived
  • he has had MRSA numerous times – which he has defeated on every occasion
  • he was misdiagnosed with swine flu when he actually had an abscess and septicaemia – and he survived
  • he has been told he has months to live on at least four occasions, but he is still here 4.5 years later.

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Today it feels like things have taken a turn for the worse. Dad has been anaemic for a while now, he has had a couple of blood transfusions and his haemoglobin is dropping dangerously low. Today he went in for an endoscopy, hoping that as part of it whatever was leaking would be found and sealed, but instead they discovered another tumour in his stomach. We’re not sure yet what this means, we’ve known he had more than one tumour for some time, but in some random way it still feels like a surprise that they’ve found another problem.

The local NHS staff have been amazing, the specialist cancer nurses have made Mum and Dad’s lives much easier, especially in the past few weeks. It is really hard to describe how it feels, to know that Dad is terminally ill, but also that he has been for years. It makes it quite hard to know how to take each episode of ill-health. He has consistently beaten the odds, I’m not sure any of us know how to address the possibility that he actually wont beat it this time, mostly because Dad’s ability to beat things seems so inextricably linked to his positive mental attitude. It’s not that we don’t all recognise that he is terminally ill, it’s just hard acknowledging that when Dad seems to cope by refusing to accept or believe the reality.

Now the waiting game starts again, Dad had a blood transfusion after the endoscopy so he is currently full of energy and relatively optimistic. The multi-disciplinary team are going to discuss his case tomorrow and then one of the specialist nurses, or the consultant, will contact Dad to let him know what they recommend. I’ll keep you all posted but for now I wanted to just therapeutically rant and hit the keyboard. Mission accomplished. Thanks for reading.

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10 thoughts on “The beginning of the end?

    1. Thanks Paul, he told me tonight he wasn’t done living just yet; here’s hoping…and we’re so lucky to have had as long as we have, oddly grateful to cancer in a way. Thanks for the support, as ever.

    1. Thanks for commenting Yvonne, I’m kinda lucky I was in an all day meeting (sort of; easier to immerse in something rather than sit and wait!) I also deliberately got train/walked to work so when they heard the news I couldn’t jump in my car and try to go fix it! I’m also lucky to work with a great team (nudge nudge, wink wink) who have an ability to fix almost anything (table leg anyone) which makes the unfixable slightly easier to face 🙂

  1. Your dad is a very brave man, he is fighting as no other man can, that was the my late wife was when she was in a nursing home, she eventually died suddenly when she seemed to be OK, it was a quite a surprise to both me and the doctors when she died, I wish you George and your father all the best.

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