And they're the two words I never wanted to hear: it's cancer.
As many/most of you know, my dad was taken to the hospital last week because he wasn't feeling well in the least bit. Turns out that the old goat was diagnosed with pneumonia, and was immediately placed on a series of fluids to rehydrate and drop in a ton of antibiotics to knock the bug out of his system. After he was on the mend from this, the doctors decided to have him take a few x-rays to see if they'd cleared his lungs out of crud, and the x-rays revealed a...spot...on one of his lungs. So, as is the case, further testing was needed.
Both the x-rays and the pulmonary endoscopic thingamajig that was done today revealed a malignant growth on the on the upper quarter of his right lung. His entire left lung is clear, but the placement of the growth on the right lung is going to make surgery not an option. He will be meeting with the oncologist today and tomorrow to discuss radiation and chemotherapy treatment options.
On the plus side, the doctors he's seen have all remarked that it was a blessing in disguise that he came in when he did - otherwise this might have gone unnoticed and untreated for YEARS to come. Leave it to my dad to turn pneumonia into something good...and, they've all remarked that his somewhat speedy and strong recovery from the pneumonia could be a good sign that he'll be able to stomach (literally and figuratively) the treatments he'll receive. I spoke with him on the phone about fifteen minutes ago (9:40 pm EST) and he sounded good, and in good spirits, and he was able to tell me of the small feast he's had now that he's able to go back to eating. I think he managed to fit in seven meals into a five-hour timeframe.
On the downside, as many of you can well imagine, my mom is playing the dutiful role of a Southern woman shouldering all this with stereotypical strength and resolve (see FRIED GREEN TOMATOES for a reference point; and for those of you who will understand this other reference - it's evident she went to the W for a year of college). While she's in the process of staying and playing strong, it is wearing away at her. My sister is stepping into the role of trying to assist coordinating a plethora of visitors, translating what the doctors say into real English, and just being a rock for my mom while I'm here in Miami. Ashley and I have bought tickets to fly home after the 4th (because by that point - barring any unforeseen complications - my dad will be home, undergoing treatment, and might need some help around the place) - which means I have to be the supportive big brother/eldest son from a distance of a thousand-plus miles. This is, of course, working wonders for my mental and emotional state.
Right now, outside of just sending prayers/good thoughts (your preference) for my family, the doctors treating my dad, and really for my sister - there's not a heck of a lot anyone can do. And I say this upfront, because many of you will in the most sincere heart ask what it is that you CAN do. And I thank you for your love, your understanding, and your care and concern.
Me? I'm just going to try and stay focused on the positives so far, keep reminding myself that there's nothing I can do, that the situation is out of my hands (and in the hands of a God whom I have nothing but faith in), and not drink myself into a caffeinated frenzy - because those of you who know me know that I'm going to be throwing back a crapload of coffee over this.
As news breaks, I'll be sure to pass it along.