A Journey with my Dad and Colon Cancer

My adoptive father Iran is a wonderful man. He has stood by my side for  the last twenty years, through two marriages, a divorce and six children.  He has watched all of my children since birth so that I could work or go to school. They have never had to go to day care. Poppa, as the kids call him are all they know. He used to have a place in Detroit, but has since moved in with us. He is a loving Grandfather and active in his community.

Over the last few months I have watch his health decline, with worry in my heart. Last year he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. The doctor recommended radiation but my dad had heard of some homeopathic treatments from a friend of his in Las Vegas and wanted to try it first. I was skeptical. I am a nurse and wanted to take action to slay the dragon that was trying to take my dad away from us too soon. However I stood back impatiently letting him do what he wanted. Okay, so that is not exactly true I sent him e-mails about every new treatment that I heard of such as brachytherapy, and a treatment at a medical center here in Michigan where they infect the cancer cells with the herpes virus then kill the cancer with antiviral drugs. He wanted no part of it. So we waited. My greatest fear was that the cancer would spread. Finally in September he decided to start a course of radiation. Every day for two months he went down to the VA Hospital for radiation treatment. His spirits seemed to be good. I constantly asked him about his PSA  and CEA levels. Being a very private man he usually nod and pat me on the shoulder stating “I’m fine, I don’t even know that I am sick.” At the end of his radiation treatment he was declared cured. I was ecstatic.

Fast forward to March 2010, my dad stopped going to his daily senior luncheons, he stopped going to church, he stopped living his life. I could barely get him to get off the couch to go for his daily walk or eat. He claimed that he wasn’t sleeping well at night. He thought it was a sinus infection. I finally convinced him to check it out. He went back to the VA they gave him meds and sent him on his way. The next week he started coughing. He sat on the couch in his bathrobe all day unless he was going to pick up the kids from school. He was losing weight and said he didn’t have a appetite. i wondered to my husband privately, if we needed to do something. I fussed at Poppa and said he needed to see his doctor. He just nodded and said he needed some rest, but deep inside I knew something was wrong. In the middle of the night he would sneak off the the emergency room at the VA hospital only to receive more medication, no blood work or real physical exam.  Finally on the night of April 15th his feet became edematous, which has never happened before. I had had it. I said “If your not better by tomorrow I’m taking you to the hospital myself!” I was pissed that his doctor was not getting to the root of the problem. I was worried that I was losing my dad.

I took my dad to the emergency room where I am a nurse and told the doctor, I was fed up with the VA and wanted my dad to have a full work up. I demanded it. What they found spun my world right out of orbit. The attending physician took me to the side and said ” Your dad is anemic, his hemoglobin (which carries oxygen in the blood) is 5″  A normal hemoglobin is 12-16 in the adult. He was admitted to the hospital for a week and had seven blood transfusions. Had I waited and let him continue to “rest” he would have been dead in a month.

Over the course of the last week he has had multiple test and exams. On Thursday I received a call from the surgeon assigned to his case. He told me my dad has stage IV adenocarcinoma of the colon. If he didn’t have surgery he would have a bowel obstruction in a month. After I got off the phone I wept as if he had died already.

The oncologist assigned to his case decided to start with chemotherapy to see if they could shrink the tumor prior to surgery. I would prefer to do it the other way and remove the tumor first then do chemo, but oncology is not my specialty. I am leaving that in God’s capable hands. I pray each day that he guides the doctors on the right course of treatment. I know we are not promised anything in life. We are born and eventually we die. In between we touch the lives of everyone we meet. My dad is one such person, every life he has touched has been blessed. I have been truly blessed having him as long as I have, but  I am not ready to let go of  my dad yet. I am ready to fight. This page of my blog is dedicated to the journey my dad, Iran and our family are embarking on.

I love you Dad!

4/26/10 1st day of chemotherapy

4/26/10 Day 2

4/29/10 another day on the battlefield

May 1st, 2010 No rest for the weary

What will today hold?

Cinco de Mayo Surgery day


He’s home, now the battle begins

Help I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!

I give up!

Out of the blue 7/19/10

We’re almost there

A poem to Popue by Gina Ruiz (my daughter)


My Dad has Passed


One response to “A Journey with my Dad and Colon Cancer

  1. Elliott Hamelton

    Most cases of colon cancer begin as small, noncancerous (benign) clumps of cells called adenomatous polyps. Over time some of these polyps become colon cancers.;

    Very latest article straight from our own blog site

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