Oct. 28, 1999

A Reality to Deal With

Sometimes I feel like I'm the only functional adult in my extended family. (When I said this to Hubby, he laughed and asked what made me think I was functional.. sigh..)

Now it's my father. (Of course, I'm the only child. This is where having a sibling would make up for the years of abuse he/she would have inflicted upon my childhood.)

Yesterday Dad was told he had prostate cancer (no surprise there, we expected that) and was put on hormone therapy.. one pill a day and an injection every three months, starting next week. The general outlook isn't as good as I'd hoped.. they couldn't say for sure it hadn't spread.. the bone scan was "inconclusive". The idea of hormone therapy is to deprive this tumor of the testosterone it needs to grow. The side effects are "mild" according to the doctor. Mild, if you're 83.. not so mild for a younger man. It seems I'll have company for my hot flushes.

I read the leaflets I picked up at the urologist's office, and some articles on webmd.com (they should be reputable, right??) and the feeling I get is that if they thought it was a small tumor they'd have used radiation, or radiation AND hormones. The practical hope here is to keep the thing under control as long as they can or until something else kills him.

The doctor explained all this to the three of us (Dad, my stepmother, and me) and put as optimistic a spin on it as he could. Dad asked if he could travel to Florida, as they spend at least three months of winter there, and he'll need an injection in February. The doctor said he could take the syringe with him if he had a doctor to administer it, and "we'll cross that when we come to it" anyway. Well, last night Dad phoned his cousin in Ft. Lauderdale, whose spare apartment he uses since he sold his own two years ago, and arranged to use his doctor. Today he (Dad) called me and brightly announced that he bought his plane tickets and arranged to have his car shipped to Florida. They'll be away December, January and February.

And here I was worrying that he'd spiral into depression, which he tends to do for no particular reason.

I know it's denial, and he heard what he wanted to hear yesterday. His wife is a wonderful woman but she's under medication for early Alzheimer's and can't really help with important decisions anymore. We have NO idea what the doctor has in mind for follow-up. The tickets are surely non-refundable and no insurance will cover a pre-existing condition. AARGH!!!

But.. perhaps there are more important considerations than these. Spending what time he has left as he wishes, for one. Having a positive outlook (for as long as that lasts) for another. Maybe the NOT knowing was worse than having a reality to deal with.

As for me.. it's difficult. I've always been close with Daddy.. it was EASY with him. My mother was the disciplinarian and even years after her death I'm still arguing with her in my mind. (Maybe one day I'll write about all that but NOT NOW!)

The last few years have shrunk our small family even more (hubby's side included) but that's part of nature. Dad is the last blood relative I have, other than my children, that I'm in contact with. I have five first cousins of which I'm the youngest, and easiest to forget about for some reason. But I think I'll save the rest of the self-indulgent whining for later.. it's certainly worse for Dad than for me.


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