I’ve gotten several random (but real) questions so I thought it would be fun/interesting to post some of them here (in no particular order). If you have any to add then please let me know.
Q: Does it hurt? Both the sensation of having a golf ball in your chest as well as the tests you’re being put through?
A: All the needles hurt, of course. I thought about starting a needle count then didn’t, but I’m probably in the 15+ needles in 5 weeks range. Surgery wasn’t that fun, but not that bad since it was only an out-patient thing. Aside from that I have a lot of random pains of varying intensity and I’m not sure what to attribute those to. I’ve had tests, the surgery, lack of sleep, a change in diet and the golf ball… so not sure which one, or which combination to blame for pain. Only one pain that cropped up for a few days and then went away did I think was probably directly related to the tumor. Chemo starts this week which will only add to the list of culprits to blame for feeling crappy.
Q: Have you looked into alternative forms of cancer treatment?
A: I’ve thought about it, but I’m finding that every cancer is different so each treatment is somewhat unique to the case (and the person). Apparently I have the most common and supposedly most treatable type of lung cancer, and am seeing a doctor that might be one of the top 10 dudes for lung cancer in the country (through no effort of my own). So, he thinks treatment is pretty straight forward and should work. Seems less risky, with all the data I have, to go with his plan… not to mention insurance will cover at least some if not all of it.
Q: How have you explained all this to your kids? How are they handling it? What does all this look like from the eyes of an elementary schooler?
A: Yes we have told the kids who all have limited and varied understanding.
Logan (almost 3) just knows (or knew, because he has probably forgotten) that “daddy is sick” and “has to go to the doctor’s”. Logan is down on doctors of late after getting several shots in early December so he doesn’t like the idea of me seeing doctors… but quickly returns to playing with cars and/or trains.
Aidan (almost 6), my introvert who doesn’t talk all that much, hasn’t said much. We’ve caught him asking Samantha questions about my mortality that have been blended with superficial follow up questions. i.e. “Is daddy going to die? If he dies then who will beat the Kit Fisto level on Lego Star Wars for me? I don’t want to be stuck on that level forever.”
Samantha (8) understands the most. She also happened to go to the children’s cancer wing of a hospital last year for a first grade field trip. She knows that cancer is pretty bad and can kill you, but that not all cancer does. She has been worried about it and visibility stressed but hasn’t asked me all that many questions directly. She’s asked Julie a few of the mortality questions and I’ve forced a couple of talks onto Samantha, so she knows logically that everything will probably be ok. Samantha has the added disadvantage of being an 8-year-old girl in a small private school. Most everyone at her school knows about my situation which means all her friends know my situation. We’ll hear every now and then that Samantha is finding out something through one of her friends. Nothing too bad, but the occasional “I knew this before you” “is your dad going to lose his hair” etc.
Q: Have you tried to think back/trace back to when this cancer may have developed? Or what the cause may be?
A: Yeah, I have but couldn’t think of anything. I’ve also been told that most cases of getting cancer through exposure are only through prolonged exposure. Like even if I had been working with asbestos for the last 3 years that wouldn’t have done it, it would need to be like 20 years. We even had our house tested for radon because radon is #3 after smoking and second-hand smoke, but the doctor said you have to be exposed to it longer than just the 5 years that we have had this house. So it seems like this is 100% genetic fluke. Not hereditary genetic, just a one-off thing that I got.
Q: Do the doctors say you could have done anything to catch it earlier… Should I go do a body scan every year?
A: No, it hasn’t ever been mentioned and everyone seems to think it was just fortunate that I had the pain on my left. Seems like many times lung cancer isn’t caught till you have a symptom like coughing blood or shortness of breath. If I were (or you are) in the age range of people who typically get lung cancer then I’m sure there are things (like chest x-rays) that you do periodically to catch it early.
Q: Do you feel like you are a member of a club now? Maybe there’s a secret cancer handshake, and if not, would you be willing to invent one?
A: Yeah, I sort of do. I only visited the place where I get chemo, but I think there is some sort of club going on there for sure. I expect that they will teach me the handshake. If not, I’m probably definitely making one up.
Q: Do you look at life differently now? Any regrets?
A: I don’t think anything has changed in my world view. Most things have been the same or crystallized. Some of my behavior is changing… from eating better to being more open, and hopefully a little more compassionate.