Thursday, November 08, 2007

What Do You Do?

Throughout this whole ordeal with Pop, we haven't lost sight of reality. The cancer is Stage 4, and I know that a 77-year old man has to muster a lot of strength to hang in there and fight. But we know what the possibilities and probabilities are.

At one point, one of the hospital staff at the local hospital introduced the idea of hospice care. Pop interprets hospice as where you go to die. He asked me, very clearly, to get him back into the care of the V.A. doctor, as he wasn't ready to give up the fight.

I remember how much that encounter upset him, and how I nearly had to take a blood oath to assure him that I was behind his decision to fight, all the way. But one thing I've learned about cancer is that it doesn't care about you, or your will to live. It's a very versatile enemy, and defeating it is a formidable task. Every time you knock one of its attacks down, it finds a way to regroup and come at you again.

While we've maintained a positive attitude with him, we've not lost sight of the real consequences. We've made it a point to let him experience as many of his favorite things at least one more time (had to drive 30 miles for a Nathan's Hot Dog!) without actually accepting that each time could very well be the last. You can't live like that. His comfort has been paramount. We've learned to make his favorite meals "just so" (slightly picky, you know?) and I made a big hit with him introducing him to Discovery Military Channel. It's about making every minute count, you know? Through the beauty of technology, I've been able to record all his sporting events, which we've watched at all times of the day and night. Life hasn't been awful.

We got less-than-desirable news yesterday from Pop's lead Oncologist. The lesion on his liver stopped shrinking, and in fact, the latest CAT scan showed it may have increased in size. On top of that, it appears that the original cancer of the right lung has made a comeback to hurt him again. The Doctor has been very involved and caring, with an incredibly comforting bedside manner. As he spoke to me on the phone, I had to take a minute because my throat tightened to the point where I absolutely couldn't speak. He waited.

He asked me to find a way to get him to the hospital to treat his current pain. The drive is about 120 miles to NY, since we hadn't completed the transfer to our local V.A. Medical Center. This Doctor has brought him so far, been so concerned and caring, that I told him if Pop could tolerate the long ride, I would indeed have him there. The Doctor also asked if we wanted him to inform Pop of the latest developments.

Part of me wanted to take that responsibility. I felt for a minute that news like that should come from family. But I chickened out. His daughter did as well. This Doctor has become like family to us, and we both felt that the issue would be better addressed by someone better prepared to answer the inevitable questions with the equally inevitable answers. My heart broke, as did hers, but we decided to leave that task to the Doctor.

We made the drive last night, and by 3 AM he was in a bed, resting comfortably. I returned to Pop's former residence to spend the night. I haven't been able to get myself up to going back just yet. I know it isn't going to be a good day. I'll get myself together, suck it up, and remember who's feelings are really at stake here. But in the meantime, I'm picturing poor Pop, this former US Marine, who survived combat at Inchon in Korea, now reduced to 107 pounds. Will this news reduce his desire to fight this enemy any more? I know him 30-some-odd years, and if there was ever a guy who personified "tough", this is the guy.

I, on the other hand, am not feeling so "manly" at the moment. I'm half-regretting my decision not to break the bad news. Now I feel, the least I can do, is to get up there and be ready for the fallout.

It's just a lousy break. I'm sad.


  1. (((Jimmy and Family)))

    My heart breaks for you...


  2. I can't imagine what your faced with right now. You and your family are in my prayers!

  3. I so know what you are going thru right now. My prayer for you today will be strength to get you thru the rest of the day.

  4. no words ...just prayers

  5. Anonymous12:56 PM

    Pop is in my prayers. I'm also saying a little prayer for you and Pop's family to find strength.
    God Bless.

    ~Terry Ü

  6. Shelli12:57 PM

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family through this very difficult time.

  7. May God be with you during this difficult time.


  8. Oh, Jimmy. I'm so sorry. May you be blessed with strength, courage, and enduring patience.

  9. Jimmy, I feel so bad for him, for you,....for the family. He is so lucky to have you as a SIL, even though you are more like a son.
    I don't think I could tell him either.{{{JIMMY}}}
    Keeping you all in my prayers~

  10. Anonymous1:18 PM

    I hope that since pop has finally gotten into his bed that he will find some comfort. i know he deep down does find comfort even in as much pain he is going thru just having you there by his side lippy.
    hang in there
    you are the best friend ever and just being there helps.
    give pop a hug for me
    please email if anything changes or you need anything

  11. You did the right thing. It's probably best that Pop hears about it from someone "less involved" so that he doesn't have to worry about how HIS reaction affects anyone.
    You've been there for him all along, and are still there for him in any way he needs you.
    Unfortunately, my friend, you cannot do any more.
    Sorry for the pain you're feeling.


  12. I wish you peace and strength to meet your trials. I wish for your Pop, a miracle if possible, if not, then I wish him a peaceful passing, with the angels escorting him to Paradise. I've been reading your blog for a while now and you have done everything a person could do in the given situation. You can be proud of the love, compassion, and care you've given your Pop.

  13. Sorry to hear about your dad. Cancer doesn't care, you're right about that.
    All you can do is be there for him - and you're doing that.
    I would recommend you try to get him to the hospice though. They have a wonderful attitude and their concer is souly for the welfare of their patients. I don't know if it's the sam in the uS but our hospices allow day visits. My mother in law was against going there for any length of time - until she went for a day visit. After that she was quite happy to stay longer when she needed to.
    Stay strong.

  14. I am so sad for Pop and for you and his family. The way I see it is that you have a compassionate Dr and ya'll are providing great paliative care. If we all could only be blessed with having loved ones surround us on our final days that would be great. YOU are doing the right thing. Pop loves you so much. He is where he wants to be as far as living arrangements. You are deserving of a lot of things Jimmy......and you have the love of a great man and family in real life and here. HUGS, Anne

  15. Wow... this brought back so many memories for me... My grandpa died of a long painful fight with cancer... I was there the last two weeks of his life.

    It's devastating, it's heartbreaking... it just plain hurts...

    I'll admit I'm crying... Oh Jimmy... I wish I could help... I'm going to email you, I don't know if you all would be willing to attempt what I'm thinking, but I'll email it anyway. I'd have to get you in touch with my grandma.


  16. (Hugs) I long since said life isn't fair. All we can do is even up the odds with love. Only Pop knows if he's up for the fight or not. Your strength and love are what he needs right now. As hard as it is to see someone we love suffering, by far the pain weighs heavier on them. I wish I could help alleviate your worry and hurt right now Jimmy. All I can do is offer you support as a friend in a time where life is rather difficult. I'm keeping Pop and your family in my prayers on the smoke. Stay safe and loved hon! (Hugs) Indigo

  17. Jeannette5:59 PM

    kiuqmhI'm so glad that Pop has you for a SIL Jimmy. It's so tough when cancer strikes. I know you made the right decision to let the doctor tell him the news, at least he'll have the answers to questions Pop will want to ask. God bless you for the love and time you're giving him. Jeannette xx

  18. Jeannette6:03 PM

    I'm so glad that Pop has you for a SIL Jimmy. It's so tough when cancer strikes. I know you made the right decision to let the doctor tell him the news, at least he'll have the answers to questions Pop will want to ask. God bless you for the love and time you're giving him. Sorry about the strange letters at the beginning of my previous comment, the security code got mixed up with the comment.Jeannette xx

  19. Anonymous7:06 PM

    Sending strength and wishing I could take your sadness away. I can't even pretend to imagine what you are feeling, Jimmy.. Just know that you are not alone and are in the thoughts, prayers and hearts of many.

    Please do not minimize all that you've done and all that you've been to him. You've been and will continue to be a blessing.

    ::tight hug::


  20. Anonymous7:42 PM

    Keeping you all in my thoughts and prayers especially Pop...I lost my aunt to cancer in March 06..she was only 43.. Cancer takes a toll on everyone involved..may you all stay strong...and eventually find some sense of peace from within.

    I came by way of Emily...

    Take care
    Hugs Terri

  21. Anonymous8:06 PM

    I think you made the best decision at the time. Please don't be so hard on yourself because you are so strong in many other ways. You and the family are in my thoughts and prayers during this terrible time!
    Jackie aka Bamawmn

  22. JImmy,
    I'm so sorry to hear this and my heart goes out to you and your family.
    It's such a tough time to watch someone you love try to fight this awful disease and then to realize the inevitable.
    My thoughts and prayers are with you, stay strong.
    I know this may sound strange.... but as I sat with my father through his last days, as he battled cancer, I now treasure the moments we shared....being able to express how much we loved each other and just being there with him.
    I know this isn't easy but just remember how much you both love each other and that love will never die.


  23. ((((HUGS))))) Sending prayers......

  24. Tiffany S.11:54 PM

    I will definitely pray for Pop. I think you did the right thing by letting the doctors tell him and help answer any questions. I will continue to think of you in this hard time.

  25. I am so sorry you are going through this right now. My prayers are with you and your family.
    Love ya

  26. Anonymous8:18 AM

    Jimmy I will be praying for you to have extra doses of courage today. I am so sorry for all that you are going though. Linda (sangrialel)

  27. chatzeekay1:04 PM

    i am glad you changed the backround color helps the head inury and for me to read and its not overwhelming , what a true friend for sure, thanks a bunch will visit more ,

  28. Yeah, it is a lousy break, and it sucks big time. And, yes, I DO know about savoring last moments and good times. A word in regards to will to fight not making a difference. I have seen where someone not willing to fight, well, that made a difference alright. You will suck it up and you will be human (a real man feels, too). Thoughts are with you and Pops and his daughter.

  29. Anonymous5:58 PM

    Oh Jimmy, my heart just breaks. I do think you made the right decision though. There are many questions he will ask, and perhaps more, he won't ask...but a doctor is better equipped to answer the tough questions. You can continue to be there for him. How are the kiddos doing? You are such a feeling person, that this must be affecting you deeply. You and your family are in my prayers.
    xoxo ~Myra

  30. gazker10:01 AM

    Jimmy, I have not forgotton you mate. I have been working away for mostly 5 weeks now. I know exactly what you are going through at the moment. I am thinking of you and your family. I think I told you my Dad is in remmision from Soft tissue Sarcoma at the moment. The survival rate is very low, so each day we pray it won't come back. I hope to God everything turns out ok for your Dad.

  31. Hi...(((((Jimmy and Pop))))). Prayers and hugs upon hugs to you guys. You're doing an excellent job, at this just keep pampering him...that's exactly what he needs from YOU...loving care, Jimmy. Don't beat yourself bruised about copping out...the doctor is trained (and assuredly compassionate)'re still there for Pop...the way he needs YOU to be.

  32. Hi Jimmy,
    What heart-breaking news. It sounds like your father is a fighter and, from your description, I can't help thinking he'll fight as hard as he possibly can for as long as he can. And through it all, no doubt he's getting his strength from you. He's lucky to have you by his side. My heart goes out to you and your family.

  33. Anonymous10:43 PM

    {{{Jimmy}}} I still have some hope, faith, and prayer left.. I'm sharing it with you and yours.

  34. hey jimmy,
    i'm so sorry to hear about "pops" not doing so well. take heart though...cancer is a strange bedfellow and often will NOT act as it's supposed to. Case in point, my uncle has the following cancerS (yes, plural)...throat, lung, bladder, prostate...the docs say he should have been dead quite some time ago... he's NOT...he just keeps on ticking...they don't know why. who cares though. for whatever reason he keeps beating them all...and he still works to boot. so there is the possibility of things turning around. not a huge one, but a possibility none the less. if your pops doesn't want to give up just yet then stand by him. when he's ready, he'll let you know.

    best of luck to the both of you :)

  35. Gaboatman5:32 AM

    Don't be too hard on yourself. You are doing a great job with Pop. I think the decision to let the Doc give him the news was best because, as you said, the Doc can answer the inevitable questions for Pop. I went through this scene with my mother before she passed away from cancer. It is never easy, my friend. You and Pop are in my thoughts and preayers.

  36. Wow.

    I have no words to suffice.

    I am so sorry.

  37. Anonymous6:42 AM

    I'll say a prayer for Pop, and for you. Take care of yourself, Jimmy.


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