This is really long. Probably not well-organized. I’m still working on wrapping my mind around all of this.
My dad called me the other day to catch me up on the latest.
Part 1: We found out a couple of weeks ago that my grandpa has prostate cancer. They were waiting to see how far along it was. We just found out, it’s the very aggressive form. He has to have surgery ASAP. They think it’s been contained to the prostate, but they really won’t know until they actually do the surgery.
Here’s the kicker: He went in for his regular exam a year ago. Apparently, they saw the cancer then. The doctor’s office called and told him. The problem is, my grandpa is nearly deaf and has early stages of dementia. He’s also very good at pretending he can hear you, especially on the phone. So the person who called and told him he had cancer, thought he could hear them. And then he forgot to tell anyone they called. They are supposed to know not to have any conversation with him without another family member present specifically for that reason – he’ll either not hear it, or forget. Let me say that again: they found out a year ago that he had cancer, but because they didn’t call my grandma or my dad, like they’re supposed to, nothing happened. And no one called to follow-up. For a year.
I don’t have to tell you how much damage cancer can do in a year. In his case, it went from a “mild” form of cancer to a very aggressive form of cancer.
Part 2: My dad has had “skin cancer” for as long as I can remember. It’s a non-carcinogenic form of “cancer,” which means it’s degenerative, but it’s not like it’ll spread to his organs or anything. A couple of years ago, a spot showed up under his eye. He went to his dermatologist to get it checked out. They said it was nothing. A year ago.
He goes in for his regular check up last week and the dermatologist says, “What’s that?!?!” Um, that same old spot. “Have I seen that before???” Uh, yes, you have. I had an appointment specifically for that spot. “Well, we need to get that looked at!” Long story short – they call on Monday and tell him, oops, it’s melanoma. Mela-freaking-noma. And it’s probably been there since that spot first showed up a couple of years ago. A couple of years ago, they could have cut off a small spot, about the size of a penny, and been done with it.
Now? A year or two later? Well, he has to have surgery as soon as possible and needs me to send him any recent pictures I had of his face for the surgeon. He’ll have to have a significant portion of the skin on his face removed and re-grafted.
Again, a year ago, wouldn’t have been nearly so bad. Now? A large segment of his face, around his eye.
I know people make mistakes, and doctors are people too, but darn it, their mistakes sure seem a lot bigger than other people’s.
This isn’t the first time this has happened. When I was a toddler, my dad got pneumonia. He was diagnosed with, we’ll call it, Type A pneumonia (I don’t remember what exactly.) The treatment nearly killed him. Turned out he had, we’ll call it, Type B, and the treatments are completely different (or they were in the 80s, I don’t know today). Treating the wrong form of pneumonia is very dangerous, and he has significant life-long lung damage as a result.
So this is something of a sore subject, this whole, “Oops!” thing.
Part 3: (yes, there’s more) My uncle, my dad’s brother, had his annual physical last week. And I don’t remember the specifics, but today, he’s undergoing an SURPRISE! angioplasty, major heart surgery.
So, for those of you keeping score, two weeks ago, everything was going like normal.
This week: all three patriarchs in my dad’s family having major surgeries. My uncle today, my grandpa just over a week, and my dad around the same time.
Oh, and I forgot. My sister’s fiancé hurt his knee in PT and has to have surgery soon (I can’t remember exactly when.) So that’s four.
Of course, only my dad would end this conversation by saying, “Well, at least we’ve never had to deal with cancer before now!”
That’s why we call him Mr. Smiley.
Anyway, prayers in all forms would be appreciated. My grandpa is also not a believer, which makes it doubly hard. I’m still processing all of this and still getting information. But it’s been a doozy of a week.