I spent the afternoon in a nostalgia-filled hall for one of my best friends as she and her sister and brothers said goodbye to their dad. In truth, they've been saying their goodbyes for about 18 months now, each time unsure of whether there would be another in their future. This is an issue of first impression among my tight circle of friends here, so it has definitely left me thinking about my own dad.
A year ago July, my dad was having some back pain. Dad has never been one to run to the doctor at the first twinge of anything, so my parents went to a family reunion in Sweden as planned and would deal with his aged body when he got back.
After spending his trip in much discomfort, he got home actually motivated to see his doctor, who put him through the usual littiny of tests. And in the meantime, get thee to a GI doctor for ALL the scopes.
At the same time, my mom was called away to say what was ultimately her final goodbye to her mother. Having been quite the Florence Nightingale when Mom had cancer, I stepped right up to be Dad's chauffeur on Scoping Day. As he was sedated and exchanging innuendoed humor with his actual nurse, I went on a Target run for some La Croix.
I certainly couldn't have been the first daughter with whom his GI doctor had to share results and he was quite clinical about it until the moment before we went back to see my dad. He paused and asked, "are you okay?" I answered in the affirmative and we went back to find the still loopy patient sipping on a juice box.
"Your dad has a pretty significant mass towards the top of his colon, near the stomach. He needs to have surgery as soon as possible."
I wasn't shocked at the news, which was probably what the doctor interpreted my doe-in-headlights response as. What it actually was was me steeling myself to handle shit, like, you know, tell my mom, who was clear across the country with my dying grandmother, the news. And she called as we were driving home. Now, I'm not a real stickler for the whole hands-free law. But did I invoke it for the sake of not telling her while driving? Fuck yeah I did.
Next came picking a surgeon. Surprisingly, my dad chose his based on my recommendation. His surgeon-to-be treated me for complications after having the Mayor by C-section and I loved him. He also treated Fella's late grandfather and was well beloved afterward. And after meeting him, my mom loved him for being a man of science and faith. The ringing endorsements abounded.
Surgery landed right around the Mayor's 6th birthday and was successful. Tumor completely removed (along with about a foot of colon) and it did not appear to have spread. The biopsy confirmed cancer, but determined to be Stage 1, so no further treatment was required. Shit handled.
It's been over a year now. Dad recently saw GI Doctor who gave him a clean bill of health and remarked how Surgeon had done an amazing job.
So I'm lucky. I don't have to stare down the barrel of an imminent goodbye with my parents just yet. And I know we never know what's right around the corner, so I will do my best to make the most of the time we have between goodbyes.