Dan has had significant shortness of breath in the past month or two, so we were very concerned about the results of a scan he had last Monday, 3/12/18. We were asking for prayer that we would have wisdom as we proceeded to deal with whatever the doctor had to say. I feel that God has answered and will continue to answer that prayer. Last Friday, 3/16/18, we had a very sobering conversation with Dan’s oncologist. The results of his scan were a mixed bag. We saw some definite improvements in the scan, enough to continue his current treatment.
There was also some progression.
She spoke very frankly about what needs to happen next. She’s referring him to the Mayo for a second opinion because once Dan is done with this treatment; she has nothing more to offer him. The hope is that Mayo might have a trial that isn’t being publicized (We regularly look for trials on a national trial finding website and haven’t found any that fit Dan).
The Mayo also has oncologists that specialize exclusively in lung cancer. She feels like having another set of eyes and experience could be helpful in finding an approach. Perhaps a traditional single agent that Dan hasn’t tried could buy some time. We are asking for prayer that there would be something for him at Mayo that would be helpful, There are concerns about symptoms he’s experiencing (vision changes, back pain from a spinal metastasis and terrible pain under his armpit which she suspects is from one of the spinal metastasis pressing on a nerve).He needs to have 2 MRIs done next Tuesday on his brain and his thoracic region to investigate his symptoms. If they find out what is causing the armpit pain and vision changes, they can treat it with radiation.
She referred him to palliative/hospice care for a consult.
He will see them on Thursday when he has his next chemo. She wants us to review his health care directive and bring it with that day. She is concerned about the possibility of a blood clot preventing him from breathing properly. Cancer cells throw off clotting agents. So, she wants him to consider what we want emergency services to do at that time. I won’t go into any more of the details, but suffice it to say, it was a difficult conversation. We’ve approached this point before, but it isn’t any easier the second time around. We are asking for prayer that the palliative care consult will benefit his quality of life.
How Are We Doing?
Some people have asked how he is doing. It’s difficult to say. How are the kids doing? That’s also hard for me to know. I’m really not sure of how am I doing as a caregiver, a wife, and mom. So, how can I know how they are doing? It’s something we aren’t really talking about right now, which may seem strange, but sometimes it’s good to sort out your feelings before you try to talk about it. Still, I really appreciate friends and family asking. I wish I had a better answer. I’m sure at some point I will be better able to express it in words.
I can tell you that I’ve been having a hard time sleeping. When I do sleep, it’s fitfully, with nightmares. It’s hard to get out of bed in the morning because I’m experiencing some symptoms of depression. I’ve been surprised at how angry I’ve felt, recently. I am SO angry. I can’t even put my finger on what I’m angry about. Sure, “cancer” would be the obvious answer, but it feels more generalized. I try to keep it bottled up, but that doesn’t really deal with the issue. I anticipate I will transition to some other stage of grief at some point. So, I am asking for prayer for these issues to be resolved.
Where to Go from Here
In the past, our family has always taken a vacation. We can’t do that this year. Instead, we are doing something we’ve talked about for a long time—a staycation. We’re looking for fun, low-cost things to enjoy doing as a family, and have quite a list going. We’re asking for prayer that we can have a wonderful time making memories as a family.
I’ve also made some decisions about how I will personally proceed from here. I’ve decided that I will concentrate on caring for my husband and kids. So, I’ve bowed out of a few things that I normally do. They will be there in the future. I will still facilitate monthly Jack’s Caregiver Coalition caregiver klatches. I have to keep my sanity, somehow. I’ve been praying about this and I’m at peace with it. I will of, course, still write. Once I get my new orthotics, I will perhaps take a walk each morning if my feet hold up.
On a more practical level, I may have a cleaning party if we need to call in hospice. We will need to rearrange some things to make room in our smallish townhome. Dan has talked about putting together a honey-do list and having his own manly version of this. It seems overwhelming to think about. Any caregiver will tell you that a lot of stuff gets glossed over on the home front.
We are also asking for prayer for:
- cancer to die and Dan to live
- continued wisdom as we make decisions
- all of our kids to be at peace during this time
- Summer to be able to keep up with work and school while coping with this emotional blow
- nothing to slip through the cracks
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?
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In 2012 doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan, with stage IV lung cancer. Since then, our family has been learning what it means to face cancer. I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace.
My book Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer, is available on Amazon.com
I also blog at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker