The last couple days have been... draining. Hence the lack of updates the past two days.
This weekend, my dad, Richard, started feeling kind of funny, began having trouble swallowing, and he began having black stool. He'd had no previous symptoms of anything. Since we're covered at the VA hospital in Madison due to Dad being a Vietnam veteran, and because that hospital is physically connected to the UW-Madison hospital and is just generally worlds ahead of the hospital here in Watertown, it was decided to go there to see what was up.
What was up turned out to be internal bleeding in the lower section of the esophagus. What then was up was a biopsy, and that returned a diagnosis of cancer. It's been a rather shocking and emotional few days all around, with a lot of shuttling between Watertown and Madison so far and much more on the way.
Cancer of the esophagus was what killed my half-brother Jason some 15 years ago. The difference, though, was that Jason, being mentally retarded, was unable to communicate his difficulties to those at his nursing home until he began vomiting, and by the time they realized what was going on, it was too late to do anything. Dad was able to say something, so let's hope that gives us a much better shot at beating this.
The VA hospital does not have an oncology department; however, the UW hospital not only does have one, it's ranked in the top 50 nationally by US News and World Report (specifically, 47th), which means my dad's in just about the best hands he could possibly be in in this part of the country, and they are already treating him in vast numbers. A PET/CT scan is scheduled for tomorrow morning to determine exactly what type of cancer we're dealing with, as well as its stage; assuming that doesn't render a Stage 4 result (and let's hope that doesn't happen), an ultrasound will be next in order to determine whether surgery can be performed to cut the cancer out and stretch the stomach up to make up the gap. No matter what, we know there's going to be some chemo happening. If it is Stage 4, well, all you can do then is the chemo to keep it at bay as long as you can. If it's anything less, we've got all sorts of fighting ahead of us (well, we do either way, but it would be the kind of fighting that involves trying to remove the cancer as opposed to just managing its spread).
Meanwhile, my sister-in-law has a baby coming, with a due date of April 1. Cancer never comes at a convenient time, but this timing is particularly havoc-creating.
So, any support you could give my dad right now would be greatly, greatly appreciated.