Baby sister called me once the docs came in and shared their findings. They immediately had internal medicine, neuro and oncology see him. It took until about 2AM to get him admitted, finish scanning him, and get some sort of plan in place. I was out on a date with my lady and some other friends for their anniversary. It was a surreal evening. I think I was just in shock. At some point, sister's text said "come home" and mine said "I'll be there tomorrow."
I don't know if I slept at all that night. My lady had to work the next day, so once she headed out I dragged my ass out of bed, threw some things in a laundry basket and drove north. I averaged 90-95 the whole way. I was in Morgantown in 5 hours. Longest 5 hours of my life. I was still getting texts from sister whenever doctors came in. Dad was so quiet when I got there. He just kept looking around and rubbing the sheets and bedside table. It took him so long to answer questions, to get the words out. Lots of family were there, made it all easier to bare.
On Monday morning, they did a puncture lung biopsy. Dad said it was a really bad experience, they didn't medicate him for pain and sedation enough and they yelled at him to hold still. Fuckers. After about 4 long days, they had a result and it was Melanoma. Stage 4 Melanoma. Dad had a spot on his shoulder in his 30s. The skin doc cut it out super deep and did chest xrays every 6 months for 10 years.
Cancer of any kind is a sneaky, dirty little bitch. I am an oncology nurse, so that statement is qualified. When someone gets a diagnosis of stage 4 of any type of cancer, its not good. But somehow, my brain has overridden this knowledge. I have to. This is my dad. I need him alive and in my life. So long as him being alive doesn't result in his suffering.
The doctors are treating the brain mass as a separate cancer, with whole brain radiation. They are planning on treating the rest systemically with some trial immunotherapy drugs where they rev up the immune system to fight the cancer. Traditional chemotherapy doesn't really work on melanoma, so this is what we have and we are going to go for it. These treatments aren't going to cure dad, but they might give him time and comfort. I can't really allow myself to think beyond that. In fact, I'm fairly emotionally shut down, which I think is a result of being an oncology nurse for two years. Its protective.
What I have found comforting over the last week is the support friends and family have shown by showing up at the hospital, sending cards and love and prayers on social media. I'm not a believer, but I'll take a prayer or the sending of good energy any day of the week. It helps everyone involved. I'm really thankful this week for those things. For nurses with a good sense of humor. For my ex-husband being so extremely supportive and keeping the monkey all week. For my partner coming to be by our side. I am so incredibly proud of my mom for being so strong and finding her focus so she can keep going. I'm also proud of my baby sister. She sent text after text of medical jargon and she nailed it every time. She was able to see the critical nature of the situation, give up a fun week away, and help mom decide to get dad to the ED. She was mom's rock.
And then there's my dad. He's taken in all of this incredibly confusing and heartbreaking information this week and still decided to go through with this fight. I've seen him come back to life with the help of some steroids. I've seen his sense of humor and personality come back through, that zest for life. He's even working a few hours a day. He's a tough cookie.