Feb 9, 2012

Dad has lymphoma.

Dad has lymphoma. I mean, there’s a very slight chance that he has some crazy other kind of tumor growing in his lymph nodes that is not lymphoma (which is a clever word for cancer), but chances are Dad has lymphoma. At this moment, my dad is in an ornithologist’s office (I didn’t even know how to spell that word ‘till Word corrected it for me just now… guess you learn something new every day). He’s in an ornithologist’s office (got it right that time) finding out the results of his tumor extraction from last week. He’s sitting in a chair on the other side of some guy’s desk, listening to “his options.”

Okay, I don’t want to make this sound all doomsday and horrible, because many lymphomas are completely treatable and curable with chemotherapy. The thing is, not long ago Dad wasn’t thinking about chemotherapy except with pity for his brother-in-law who was currently going through it. Now he’s thinking of chemotherapy as a very real and necessary part of his life for probably for at least the next year. He’s also likely thinking about how cancer goes away, but it nearly always comes back, as it has with his brother-in-law, my Uncle Phil. He’s thinking about the end of his life as a reality, even if it’s years and years down the road. I hate that he has to be thinking of this.

Dad’s also getting a bone marrow test today, and that sucks. I guess they’ll be getting it from either his hip or his back, and I hear that it hurts like a motherfucker. My dad has always been so healthy, so strong. And now he’s got to lie on a table and have this horribly painful, huge needle stuck into his hip to get inside his bone, to see what kind of lymphoma he has. To see how bad it is. To see if the place where his very blood is made is in an uproar panic, or if it’s seemingly oblivious to the monstrous growth that had been going on in his neck.

I love thinking of the body as a machine… a factory… I know! Like a beehive. Everybody has their own job, they know it perfectly, and they do it constantly. Feedback loops, neurons firing, blood being made, pumped, and cleaned… it all happens since the day our hearts start beating, with no conscious thought about it on our part. It just happens, like in Osmosis Jones, or even Innerspace. It has always fascinated me the way the body works, and I’ve gotten pretty good at treating my body the way it would like to be treated. I eat good foods, try not to eat empty calories. I hate the thought of my stomach going “What the fuck am I supposed to do with this?!” I like my stomach saying “Yeah, that’s the stuff. I can make so much good stuff out of this… I can feed your brain, repair muscle, keep the heart happy.” I love that thought.

And it also fascinates me that sometimes—often these days—in fact, almost always if we live long enough—our cells somehow turn on us. They get possessed by some madness, probably induced by the bombardment of unseen chemicals in air, water, and food that we have consumed since we were babies. They start growing in a mass somewhere in our body, and eventually we die from complications associated with this overgrowth of our own cells.

I used to think that “Cancer” was some invasion from outside; some organism or something that made our cells go crazy. It’s terrifying, however, to know now that it’s just ourselves, and that the treatment is to, as the great Jerry Seinfeld once said, “take the amount that would kill me and back it off a little.” We kill our cells with chemotherapy, without targeting a certain problem area or cell type. We kill them all equally, and no wonder it makes us sick.

If my dad is very lucky today he will find out that this was all a misunderstanding. The >walnut-sized lump which took up several lymph nodes and had been starting to grow into the muscle of his neck was just… a fluke. He won’t even have to have chemo. I’m praying for that to happen, but I know there’s only so much even God can do when it comes to this stuff. 


Yum Yucky said...

Laura, I know I'm going to sound like Crazy Lady right now, but please Google the phrase "Bromelain cancer" and do some research. Bromelain is a natural extract from pineapple and it's being used in cancer treatment. Please buy some for your Dad. It's natural (we have it at our house), so it can't hurt. My family is very much into alternative medicine. I am NOT telling you to not go with Chemo, but please read up on other natural, non toxic, homeopathic methods that could also help in his recovery. xo

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