Cancer Sucks

Liver Cancer PinThere are times in our lives that we’re dealt a hand that we’re not sure how to handle. It can leave one confused, angry, and sad. It can even make us mad at our Maker for giving us something that seems unfair.

I’ve felt all of those feelings in the past few weeks. The one overriding feeling that I’ve experienced the strongest is sadness.

I was diagnosed with live cancer recently and I have two small sons (10 & 12) whom I treasure. The thought that they should have to go through the rest of their lives without their Dad makes me tremendously sad.  I was raised without either parent so I know the feeling that goes along without a father’s influence. I’ve made every attempt to be a good father to them for that loss in my life. I know that I can’t make up for my life but it doesn’t stop me from trying to make their life better.

I’d been feeling exhausted and fatigued for some time and after my last blood work my primary suggested I get an ultrasound at UCSD

After a multitude of scans, etc. the doctors confirmed that there were multiple tumors in my liver, the largest is half a centimeter smaller than a tennis ball. The second largest is 4 centimeters and the other 3 are smaller.

What does this all mean? I’m not entirely sure but I do know no matter how brave of a front I put on, I’m afraid. I got more afraid after an initial procedure to reduce the size of the largest tumor failed due to the portal vein that was instrumental is 100% occluded. You bet I’m afraid.

Where does this lead us to now? Again, the answer is I’m not sure. I have another visit to UCSD scheduled for day after tomorrow to determine what’s next on the menu , but more importantly when and what do I tell my boys? I have them most of this coming weekend and how do I start that conversation? Hey Guys, Dad has cancer, who wants to go to the beach? I don’t want to break their hearts and shatter their dreams of doing the things that boys do with their Dads as they get older, but yet they deserve to find out something before they hear from their Mom, Boys, your Dad passed away last night, who wants to the beach?

I’d appreciate any feedback that someone may have that has gone through this. I wish that no parent would ever have to have that conversation with their children. It’s not right…it’s not right that loved ones have to stand by unable to do anything as cancer works itself through the victim’s body. I’m lucky because the woman that I love is a medical professional and sometimes I give her too much credit and forget that she’s just a human being with feelings like the rest of us, so to you I simply say I Love You for being the woman that you are and wish you didn’t have to go through this.

12 thoughts on “Cancer Sucks

  1. Bill,
    It is ok to be scared…heck, this is the scariest thing you’ve ever had to go through. But it is NOT ok to succumb to the fear. Keep your “I’m gonna kick cancer’s @ss” attitude firmly in place, even after setbacks hit hard like the one with the blockage you have just experienced. For what it is worth, my two cents on this are to tell Trevor and Trent that dad is sick and he’s got some tumors. You can use the “c” word if you think they can handle it, but make sure you tell them that because of them you are going to fight the sickness and keep fighting it. Tell them the best way they can help you fight it is to keep doing their jobs…going to school, chores, listening to you and their mom, etc. Tell them that you will try and keep things normal for them but that sometimes you may be a little tired and need to rest. They are good kids who love you and they will understand and not be too scared if you don’t show them fear. Take all the love sent your way from the Sage community, your boys and the rest of your vast personal network and use it to gain strength as you keep on fighting. With lots of love and prayers, Erika

    • Bill,

      Erika is correct. Being scared is entirely natural. I am a father of a 9 year old son, and I couldn’t imagine having this convo with him. There is a bright side. Remember….your sons think of you as Super Man and that you can beat this or any other obstacle that is in your way. The old “my dad is stronger than your dad” idea we grow up with rings true in their minds and if anyone believes in you…its THEM. I have had cancer in my family. My younger brother (31 now) was diagnosed at the young age of 19 with cancer. He fought like a dog, trusted the medical staff that worked with him, prayed every day and to this day is 100% cancer free!!! There is hope, there are successes, people can beat this. Remember…in 2 little boys eyes, you are SuperMan!!!

  2. Bill, I don’t feel qualified to give advice as so far I am lucky enough not to have experienced what you are going through. But here is what I like to think I would do. Be straight and honest and tell the boys the situation as it is, but at a high level. Spend enough time with them so they can ask questions “on their time”. Answer these questions to the depth the boys seek. Much easier said than done of course and my thoughts are with you. Hugh.

  3. Wow – this really hit home. Keep the faith Bill and keep fighting. I can’t begin to imagine what you are going through…. but I wanted to let you know that we will be pulling… and praying… for you and your family.

  4. Bill,
    Having been on the other side of this at 18, with sisters as young as 12 at the time, my sisters and I agree that the same “knowledge is power” approach you apply to treatment should also be available to them. Let them know what’s going on, and let them know that, whatever happens, you know that they are strong enough to deal with it.

    Note that none of the above should be interpreted as a change in my opinion that you are way stubborner than the cancer.

  5. My heart goes out to you Bill, my “little” brother ( I am 49) was hit with the same news (cancer on the liver) just before Christmas 2011. He does not have kids, but he has me and my extended famiy via my marriage and a truly vast network of friends. He has endured chemotherapy twice already – he has now just embarked on session three and still has a positive attitude to everything. Just being “the same old Bill” really does work, even though you may have to slow down and rest up a bit more than you would like to. Everyone you know really does understand and I am sure a sensible chat with your boys will work – they really do “get it” a lot more than you think. Keep smiling.

  6. Bill,

    My grandfather died of cancer. Ten years after he was given three months to live. I was four years old when he received the cancer diagnosis and a teenager when he finally went home to see Christ. What he did with those ten years was to pour his wisdom, love and resources into everyone around him and that literally changed thousands of lives.

    The reality of it is that my grandfather likely never would have made the exceptionally positive and long-lasting impact on those around him had he not received that cancer diagnosis in the first place. He himself said that the diagnosis really kept him focused on what truly mattered and what did not and gave him a voice and a degree of credibility that just seems to naturally come with a cancer diagnosis. And he used that voice and focus to truly change the world around him; including one grandson–me.

    My grandfather was as much of a father to me as my real father was and is today. My grandfather never hid the truth from me. He told it like it was. Then he used his situation to teach me important truths that still guide me to this day. Cancer sucks. It also gives you a voice and a sense of urgency that you have never had before. Use that voice to teach your sons the life lessons that only you can teach to them. Show them love and teach them then meaning of the words honesty and truth. And teach them through how you face this terrible diagnosis what it truly means to be a real man–and you and I both know that does not mean being strong all of the time or aloof or dishonest about the way things really are.

    You also have earned many friends, me included, who are there to support you in any way that we can. Reach out for help and comfort when you need it. That is one of the fruits of living life the way you have; others really do care about you and what happens to you.

    You still have much left to do and many joys yet to experience. Do not lose focus on that.

  7. My Dad told me two things on this subject. I hope they can be even a small help. He said that the doctor told him when he is having a bad day, its OK to say you’re having a bad day and I would go so far as to say it helps. He also told me not to carry around bitter feelings toward people. That burden, he said, is like food for cancer. Just let that stuff go.
    Hugs to you, Bill.

  8. Bill, I lost my Mother at 13 I had 4 other siblings at home under 18, 5 years later my Father got lung cancer. I can tell you from my perspective that knowing the facts and being prepared to go through it with all the facts. I highly recommend reading The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch as he walks through how he approached panreatic cancer with his children. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

  9. I can tell you from my perspective, that knowing the facts and being prepared to go through it with all the facts, was important and helpful.

  10. Bill,
    Absolutely you are afraid and we all are when faced with something so out of our control. I think your sons deserve the truth. Regardless of the outcome, every day is a gift when you get to spend it with the one’s you love and when you get to tell them how much you love them. If cancer does nothing else, it gives you the gift of living for today. Your sons will be better men if they learn from you how to handle adversity and how to accept comfort from others. I am not in your shoes nor have I faced what you have to face; however, you have been in my prayers. Thankfully, you have many people pulling for you all over the country.

  11. Bill,
    So sorry to hear your news.
    You have received some very sound advice thus far. Having had cancer myself as well as losing my husband to the disease, the only advice I can add is to seek out the best doctors and hospitals. Going to Sloan Kettering verses your local hospital does make a difference. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, write them down as you think of them. Always take someone with you when you see the doctor. The two of you can compare notes afterwards to ensure you didn’t miss anything the doctor said.
    I agree; a positive attitude is a big part of the battle and giving your sons a high level view of your illness is best for children of their age.
    I wish you well and pray for your recovery.

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