Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Very Special Specialists

When my dad went to Texas, he was being treated by the foremost expert in his kind of cancer, in the world.  Still, he had his issues with him and some less than stellar communication styles.

Coming home to continue his maintenance chemo has put him in the hands of other doctors who might not be the best in the world, but who have their fingers on the pulse of what's happening in this kind of cancer treatment.

Hearing from them at the same time that he gets the news that the tumor is growing is driving him to try some of these other recommendations.  So, he went to Denver recently to see some of these other specialists.

One can offer him an experimental option, a new chemo that will be aggressive.  And it might just make him sicker.  It's hard to think of that when you see a man who has already lost over 100 pounds and is visibly weakened.

But that doctor knew of another doctor, a specialist in new radiation options.  So, they went to see him, as well.  That doctor told them straight out that he's the best in the world at this kind of treatment.  And that he was sure he could reduce the tumor...with some risks.

Because the tumor is involved with the blood vessels, they do risk rupturing a critical blood vessel.  If that happens, he'd bleed out in 25 seconds, right there.  That's when this doctor told them two things.

First, if he had cancer, he'd take the 25 seconds over the alternative of living through the decline.

Second, he actually died once, and he can tell them that what's on the other side is so much better than here.

These things are tough to hear.  Especially since I think my dad was hoping someone would say, "Yes, I can cure this for you."  No one is saying that.  No one is going to say that.  In fact, they say they're buying him more time.  They cannot offer a cure,

So that's the decision he has.  Risk his quality of life or risk those 25 seconds.  If I'm scared, I know he has to petrified.  How must it be to hear that the end of your life in imminent?

He said to my mom, "I guess I need to get things in order."

Just when I think my heart can't break anymore, for him and for us, it manages to find a new kind of ache.

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