16 Oct Patient Experience: Day 21, The Family Meeting
My father sits at the head of my parents round oak table. I sit to my fathers left, my mother sits to his right. My father begins by stating that he is not going to take the more aggressive chemotherapy, the 5FU. “I don’t want all of those side effects. If all it is going to do is make me sick during those months, then why do it.”
My dad turns and asks, “So why can’t they do surgery?”
I explain that due to his type of cancer, where it is located, and the fact that it has spread that it doesn’t make him a surgical candidate. I tell him that the clinical guidelines state that surgery is off the table.
My father than asks, “So why do I still need to see the nephrologist?” My mom responds, “They still do not completely understand why the ureter on the right side was pinched closed. They just want to make sure that it doesn’t turn into anything else.”
My father responds, “Okay. Whatever.”
My father proceeds to ask, “What do you think I should do?” My mother looks at me across the table and gives me the sign to speak. I respond, “Dad, ultimately this is your decision. If you are asking me what I would do, I would follow the advice you have always given me. Never leave yourself in a position to ask “if”, always try, and alway think positive. I would choose the gem.”
My mother chimes in, “I think it gives you the best option of trying to see if you can tolerate the chemo and still manage the disease to give you more time with us.”
My father turns his head looking around the kitchen from his viewpoint. He utters, “I don’t want your mother to be alone on Holidays. I don’t want her to try and manage the house. I don’t want her to be all alone.” My mom rebuts by saying that he should not be worrying about her right now. I commit to him that I will not allow it to happen. She won’t be alone.
My father then says, “I always joke I was going to cheat your mother out of her 40th anniversary, and I guess I really am going to do that.” My mother begins to cry. My father begins to tear up. My mother tells my dad again not to worry about her, the anniversary, and that he will be there in January when it comes around.
My father than says, “I didn’t get the trim finished in the hallway. I need to finish putting the baseboards up.” I tell my father not to worry, I will come over and finish whatever he wants done.
My father looks at my mother then turns and looks to me. He says, “I am going to miss all of the other important events in your lives. Who is going to watch over and protect you? Who is going to make sure you are all safe?”
I respond, “Dad, if there is anyone that can make sure they watch over, protect, and ensure the safety of their loved ones from the spiritual world, it is you. When it comes to your loved ones, nothing will ever stop you.” I proceed to remind him of something he once told me when I was very young, “Son, when I leave this world, I will still be here. There is a part of me inside of you. When you have children I will be part of them too. I will continue to live on and be near.”
I can no longer withhold my own tears. Our family is crying together.
My father wipes his eyes, looks to my mother and says, “Call the nurse, schedule the appointment. I will take the more moderate chemo, the gem.”
In a single page, my father confronts his own mortality. He decides not to write about a loss, but instead to write about the win. Time. He chose quality and not quantity.
As always, you can feel free to contact me at: CANCERGEEK@GMAIL.COM
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