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Father Takes on Mesothelioma With Round Two of Chemotherapy

Getting any type of bad news about a loved one’s health is always devastating, but getting news that cancer has returned might be the worst. You are so alive and happy during the time of knowing that your loved one looks healthy, is feeling good and the cancer is under control. Then all of those good feelings are crushed by the sudden bad news. This is the life of any cancer patient and their loved ones.

Despite the little hiccups along the way, Dad had been moving in the right direction ever since his diagnosis in January 2013. There had been a plan in place at all times to continue to treat the cancer growing inside of him. At this moment, we had that familiar feeling of dread like when he was first diagnosed, only this time it felt just a little different. We still had that feeling of the unknown, yet there was much more that we knew too. We knew that he had already had the surgery to remove the cancer; we knew that he had already had one round of chemo to keep the cancer from growing back; and we knew that he had radiation to kill, contain, or shrink the remaining pea-size tumors in his chest. These mesothelioma treatments all gave us a lot of hope; hope that it would stop the growth of any more cancer. We didn’t know what else could be done.

Dad contacted his doctors in Philadelphia first thing Monday morning and over-nighted the CAT scan results to them via mail the same day. By Wednesday they were back in touch with Dad with a new treatment plan. The doctors were a little surprised at how quickly the tumors had grown and spread within a few short weeks. They told him that immunotherapy was off the table until they could get control of the growth of the tumors and shrink them. Another round of chemotherapy was what the doctors decided on, again to try to shrink the tumors, and he would start that week.

This chemotherapy would be a lot stronger, would make Dad a lot more tired, and would have more chemotherapy side effects than what he had the first time. Therefore, he would have to take leave from work again. This was disappointing to him, but he had to do what was best for him and he would need his rest. He would report to UPenn two Fridays in a row for treatment, followed by one week off for nine weeks. After the nine weeks he would have his scan to see how the chemotherapy worked. The doctors could not guarantee how this round would work on the tumors, but they were hopeful that it would shrink them.

Dad’s energy levels were very low and he was usually very tired. Some days he was so tired that he didn’t even want to talk on the phone. He still managed when he was feeling okay to work on getting our pool ready for the summer. Days that were nice enough and he felt up to it, he was painting and re-staining the deck. This made him happy to start thinking about the summer months ahead and how soon enough he would be relaxing in his lounge chair by the pool. Anything that would make him happy would help at this moment; anything to keep his mood up and to keep his drive going to keep fighting. He is a fighter and he is not giving up anytime soon.

Continue reading next week to find out how this round of chemo worked for my father.

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