Wednesday 31 January 2007

a most peculiar man...

I received an email from my dad today. It arrived just as I was dashing out of the office to go and play football, but I saw the sender's name, and as today was the day when my dad finally had his consultation with the specialist, I thought it was worth pausing for a moment to see what he had to say.

The subject header confused me for a moment -- "Fwd: Your Austrian booking confirmation" -- but then I remembered that when we were down there at the weekend, C. had taken the opportunity to book the some flights for our wedding in Vienna for them. Perhaps this wasn't medical news after all....

I opened up the email:
"Very many thanks C.

Had a good meeting with the surgeon. I have a large cancer of the kidney confined to the organ (Stage 2). A total radical nephrectomy is recommended (removal of kidney plus surrounding tissues). He hopes to have me in hospital within 3 weeks. Week in hospital off work around 4 weeks. Regular follow ups to check for recurrence. Cheque payable to you? Prognosis depends on the histology."
Somehow the email is typical of the man: it was a "good meeting" but he has a "large cancer". He needs a "radical nephrectomy"; he will be having surgery within the next three weeks.

This is big news.

Hell, even Raymond Terrific might agree that this is not just big news, it is massive news. ("Don't desert me boffins!"). And then, on the back of this, and without leaving enough of a gap for anyone to draw breath, nevermind for the ramifications of this news to sink in, he is asking who he should make the cheques for the flights to Vienna payable to.


But wait! We're back onto the cancer again.... his prognosis depends upon the tumour's histology.

Ridiculous, amazing, frustrating man.

Anyway, I spoke this evening. It is cancer, and because it is the size of a mandarin orange, it is classed at stage 2. It is operable - which is good - and in the next few weeks they will admit him and remove his kidney and all of the surrounding tissue. They will then examine the cancer to see how malignant it was. If it is the worst case, then the survival rate after 5 years (if they've got it all) is about 75%. If it's the best case, then the survival rate is over 90%. It's definitely cancer then, but apparently as cancers go, this is about the best news he could have got.

Again, I find it almost impossible to react emotionally to this news because of the calmness with which it was delivered by my father, and because I could hear my mum in the background talking to the dog and seemingly without a care in the world..... This is my dad we're talking about here, and yet I find myself being as rational and matter-of-fact about his health as I am about almost everything else.

It's good news though. Really. It is.

Well, it's as good as it could have been, and that will do for now.


In other news, and in a sudden change of subject material, I just wanted to announce that you are now able to subscribe to the Earworms of the Week podcast through iTunes.... (just click on the iTunes logo on the right hand side). That way all of the new podcasts uploaded will be whizzed automatically onto your computer). That struck me as kind of cool.

Out of interest, have any of you been downloading any of these?

I ask partly so that Erika - who has been putting an awful lot of work into this - can get some feedback, but also because she is going to have to delete some of the older ones to make way for the latest batch and wanted me to let you know so you have a chance to download them if you want them.

Get'em whilst you still can, ladies and gentleworms.


  1. When my mom was sick when I was a girl, I remember my family being the same way. Here it was a week before she was scheduled for open heart surgery and we were going on as if nothing were happening.

    I was young enough to feel angry that we couldn't talk about the possibility of her dying. But I was Minnesotan enough to know that I shouldn't talk about it anyway.

  2. what an unusual way of approaching the enormous situation. that said, it sounds like years of breaking bad news to people has made you Dad adept at doing so in a business-as-usual manner. which is not, necessarily a bad thing.

  3. It's strange how different people deal with different things - perhaps with your dad being a doctor himself he has a more pragmatic approach. Regardless of how he says it, it sounds like the news is better than it could be.

    Hope you're doing okay.

  4. I've just had to laugh because it's just dawned on me that I was copied into that email... it wasn't sent to me directly, I was copied in!


    Yeah, I'm fine thanks. I suspect this will hit me at an odd moment. He'll maybe have the operation when we're in Ecuador, which isn't ideal.


  5. When my mother's cancer was first diagnosed, she didn't even tell me until right before she was in hospital. I had no emotional reaction to it whatsoever. Sort of shock, probably. Even now it is sort of surreal, I can't explain it.

    There is no right way for anyone to cope with this stuff. It sounds as though your dad, and your family, and you are just doing the best you all can to get through this.

    I will be sending your dad, and family all good thoughts for a straightforward procedure and a fast recovery.


  6. Perhaps he is applying the same detachment to his own condition that he would to one of his patient's in order to think more clearly. It may be easier to deal with the situation that way for now. It's horrible news about the cancer, but if there's anything about this that's good it's that it is operable and the stats are in his favor.

    Thinking of you all.

  7. Everyone deals with things much differently.

    When my mom was in intensive care for a week a few years ago, every member of my family was way different.

    My dad was with her nonstop. My brothers visited her, and took care of my dad while he was with her. (he's the type to not leave someones side and starve to death.)

    Me... I went to work and cleaned the house, did laundry, updated people, checked on all the bills to make sure none were due... (all stuff my mom usually did).


    I have now subscribed to the podcast. As much as I loved the earworms available idea... I never made the time to download any of them. Now, its easy... its automated.

  8. Hey Toni,

    Sorry to hear about your Dad. Long may he keep his optimism.



  9. Your dad is in my prayers.


  10. You dad only copied you in on that email? That's hilarious! In an odd kinda way... I can see why he's dealing with this the way he is though given his profession.

    The fact that this is operable and restricted to the organ is a good thing and I'm sure he'll make a good recovery. All my bits are crossed!

  11. And by the way, "I'm listening" (and now subscribing! :-)

  12. Feedback for Erika: I'm downloading 'em all!

    And sorry to hear about your Dad, ST.