I remember the phone call so vividly: walking into the gym after a long day at work. My phone rang, and I just knew it was my mother. We were supposed to get Dad’s diagnosis at the end of the week – sure enough it was Friday and here she was calling. I dropped my bag, answered my phone, and bam, there it was. Mesothelioma. I froze. What was this? Neither my mom nor I had a clue as to what this cancer was all about.
I don’t remember if I was more scared and upset by Dad definitely having cancer, or by having no idea what my dad would go through with yet another type of cancer in his lifetime. I picked my gym bag back up and went straight home.
I talked to my mother on my way home. We cried, I listened to her tell me what the doctors said, and we took turns voicing our concerns. To my surprise, despite the news he got that day, Dad still went to work. I don’t know how my father has the strength that he has, I only hope it rubs off on me somehow because at that point I felt defeated. That night I decided to stay put in Philly at my place with my roommates. They gave me comfort that night and helped me to think through things logically, which in turn gave me strength.
Having fought cancer in the past, Dad assumed that once again he could stay in the comfort of his own home and local town for treatment. This was not an option since his past oncologist only worked with patients who had melanoma, and there were no oncologists in his hometown that specialized in mesothelioma. At first we thought that a doctor who treated lung cancer could treat him, but this was also not an option.
After an initial appointment with our family doctor, he recommended doctors in New York City and Philadelphia. This was very overwhelming to Dad because that meant traveling to one of the cities, long drives, traffic and more time off work. This was a lot to consider. My mother and I were very scared and stressed with waiting for a decision as to where to go. Dad did his research and listened to our family doctor about both places, as did my mom and I.
After researching both locations, the final decision was the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. We chose Abramson mostly because of their great reputation, and the fact that they could get Dad in for his first appointment much sooner than Memorial Sloane-Kettering in NYC. Plus I live in Philadelphia, so if my parents really needed a place to stay, they could stay with me.
After Dad’s first appointment, the doctors were aware of what they were facing and could have a conversation about treatment options. The process of treatment happened very quickly and my father began his fight with this horrible cancer. Throughout this whole experience our family’s mindset and goal was to get Dad the best treatment out there.
I can say that Dad is in very good hands and his team of doctors has been wonderful from the beginning. They continue to provide the best possible treatment and are very thorough when explaining what their plan is and how each and every appointment goes.
Check back next week for what treatments my dad went through, and how he fared throughout them all.
Know more about Mesothelioma and how you can deal with it.