Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Family crises are exhausting.

My dad specifically asked me to keep this off Facebook, so I have kept it off my profile and off my status. But I have to write about it somewhere, mainly because I use FB as a way to communicate to several people at once. The blog is another way to do that, and right now communicating about this with people is far too exhausting and time consuming.

I'm going to back up to July 2009. My father noticed a scab on his finger. He didn't think much of it, though, even though it kept returning because he was having some trouble breathing and with his chest. In August, he had a triple heart bypass.

When he had had a chance to recover from the bypass, he got his finger looked at. Last March, 2010, they removed half of the finger, his right ring finger, and 39 lymph nodes. He was diagnosed with melanoma. The doctor believed he had gotten all the cancer with surgery, so my father didn't receive chemotherapy or radiation, nor a referral to the Huntsman Cancer Institute. It turns out that probably all three of those things needed to happen.

My father started to notice black marks under his arms. But he was screened for cancer every three months, and his primary care physician did not think the marks were cancerous. Well, of course, he was wrong.

November 2010, my 39 year old brother, healthy brother has a stroke. It turns out that he has a congenital disease, very rare, called fibromuscular dysplasia. It causes a narrowing of the renal arteries, high blood pressure, and deterioration of the carotid arteries, which resulted in a stroke. Fortunately, apart from extreme fatigue and inability to work or focus for long periods, he has no deficits from the stroke. My parents drove to Colorado while my brother was in the hospital.

We were planning to have Christmas in Missouri with Dereck's parents coming out. We were going to go to Utah in the Spring, because Christmas is so difficult to travel during, and expensive, and exhausting. Friday December 18, my dad called me and told me that the melanoma has spread indeed to his under arms, and also to his liver and his lungs. Once it has traveled a "distance," like that, it is considered to be Stage 4 and incurable.

We were in Utah 5 days later, en famille, for Christmas.

To be continued.


  1. My thoughts are with you. Big hugs.

  2. Oy, Jen, I'm so sorry. They should both live and be well. And you should get a booster shot of strength to handle the stress.

    On a completely superficial note, I really like what you've done with the appearance of your blog. It's purty.

  3. Exhausting, overwhelming and frightening. I'm sorry... know that I am thinking of you...

  4. Oh my gosh! I'm so sorry! Your family is going through a lot! My thoughts are with you.

  5. I had no idea! Keeping you in my thoughts .