Fear of the Phone

In Family on January 9, 2010 at 8:31 am

The jangling of the phone at 5:40am yesterday sent my heart racing in panic. Silly, really, that I didn’t think it was the school system calling to say we had a 2-hour delay due to snowfall. My visceral reaction had my thoughts going straight to my dad, “It’s my mom. What’s wrong with my dad?”

I’m not the only parent in the area who reacted that way, but my thoughts in those initial moments are telling of the news I’m trying to process right now. After eight years of battling prostate cancer — mostly with wildly successful results — my dad is out of treatment options.

It’s not surprising, really, when you consider the clinical data for prostate cancer drugs. But my dad is about as bull-headed as they come. When one course didn’t work, he’d say, “Ok, what’s next?” barely acknowledging the bump in the road.

I’m not sure he’s reconciled himself to this news either. From what my mom says, he’s contemplating a clinical trial at a cancer hospital three hours from their home. The purpose of the trial is to determine side-effects, apparently. His oncologist, a straight-shooter who does not like to speculate, told him flat out, “You will not get better.”

He’s weak, for sure, and susceptible to falls and broken bones — he broke his arm right before Christmas — but he still putters around the house playing Mr. Fix-It, which is what he likes to do. When I feel the sinking weight of dread about the cancer creeping into his bones and causing excruciating pain, as it is apt to do, I try to refocus on the present. What can he do now to live life to the fullest? What can I do now to appreciate him?

I don’t have any solid answers, other than wanting him to meet his next grandchild. The oncologist did not paint a pretty picture, but he also didn’t say that the end of treatment meant “The End” was near. So what happens between now and The End? We’ll have to work on that, and may come up with some good answers. But I know my heart will still skip a beat every time the phone rings.

  1. […] bone scan, CT scan, Medicare, prostate cancer, unnecessary medical tests Remember when I said my dad’s oncologist isn’t one to speculate? Well I guess he feels like he’s not taking too much of a gamble to put a number out on my dad’s […]

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