Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Monday was a no good, very bad day.

We went up to Vancouver last Thursday night, right after Daniel got off of work. Even though the first part of the trip was just for hanging out and having fun, I was still so stressed that we had to pull over by the side of the road so that I could throw up. Stress manifests in stomach issues for me. It's lovely. We spent the next few days swimming and then staying at a rental property and doing local sightseeing in the 95 degree weather. I melted.

And then Monday we loaded up the car and headed back to Vancouver and dropped the kids off at my sister-in-law's sister's house (thank goodness for large Chinese families!). We'd been told that Daniel's dad (FIL) had an 11 am appointment, so we left early and all arrived at the cancer center by 10:40. Turns out the 11 am time was a check-in time for a 11:15 blood test. So after the blood test, we planted Daniel's parents in the cafeteria and walked over to the nearby mall for early lunch. We'd been told as well that the real appointment was at 12:15. Turns out the 12:15 time was to meet up with the interpreter to do paperwork. That we'd already finished with his dad. So then we went to a different waiting room and sat while the clock moved very, very slowly towards 1. Around 1:10, the 5 of us were finally issued into a small exam room.

The first doctor we saw was a resident and boy, does he need to work on his bedside manner. He spent quite a while asking Daniel's dad about his symptoms and how he was feeling. I understand it was necessary questioning, but the way he went about it was painful. He wrapped things up by asking FIL what FIL's understanding was about the cancer. FIL responded that he thought it was a small tumor and not widespread.

That's when Dr. Rude responded by saying "It's actually a very large tumor and it's spread to your bones." At which point no one in the room moved a muscle or so much as twitched, except me. I started to cry a little. I'm a really non-emotional person normally, but in this particular family I'm actually the wildly expressive one. I think they were all too much in shock to respond right away.

There's one possible treatment that will buy him a few more months, if his cancer shows the right genetic markers, but it's terminal cancer and no other treatment is being recommended.  We've spent the past few days emailing and calling back and forth with his parents and brother and uncles and cousins and making sure everyone understands what's going on. Really understands. Medical stuff is hard enough, even without the language barrier factored in.

Honestly, I've probably spoken just a few sentences directly to FIL in the entire decade that I've been a part of the family. He's a very quiet man and his English is poor. But he's a really good man and this is all really hard on Daniel. And I know it's going to devastate Ethan in particular. The kids love FIL so very much. They know he's sick, but they are kids and in their world, sick people get better. And they are old enough to understand when he does die and it's going to hurt them. I hate not being able to head off a painful situation for those I love. Cancer is the worst.

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