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How best to support my dad


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Hi all,

 

I am very new here and hoping to get some advice and words of wisdom.

 

My dad, who is one of my very best friends in the world, was diagnosed with stage 4 NSCLC (with bone metastasis) this summer. He and my mum live half way across the world from me and at times everything feels so surreal. My dad is 69 years young and an otherwise very healthy man (vegetarian who ran everyday). Prior to his diagnosis we'd all expected him to reach 100 at the very least. What I am struggling with is what to expect. He has been given a prognosis of 1-2 years (from diagnosis- about 5 months ago) but is really still quite healthy. Other than very challenging back pain and decreased mobility due to spinal denigration (treated with fentanyl etc., and seemingly improving with chemo) you'd never know he was so sick. He's had 4 rounds of chemo and very negligible side effects other than fatigue.

 

I am constantly wavering between being in a state of absolute sorrow at the thought of only having such limited time left with my dad, to not quite being able to see how he could possibly die in a short year or two (or less). 

 

It is so hard to understand whether or not I should be swiftly preparing for a downhill spiral or optimistically pushing ahead. I don't know how to feel or how best to support him. I don't understand if his current state and response to chemo etc., is positive or standard? Any advice and feedback would be so warmly appreciated.

 

I can't imagine a world without my dad in it. 

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Welcome here.

 

Constantly wavering is a very apt description of a lung cancer survivor's new normal.  We ebb and flow after each treatment, scan and procedure.  I've been living this reality for almost 12 years now and on reflection I still constantly waver because I see an oncologist twice a year.

 

Negligible side effects to chemo is wonderful but don't forget the principal effect of chemo is extended life.  You dad's chosen treatment so he's choosing life.  If he chose life, then be optimistic for him and help him push the edge of the life envelope.  I once had a prognosis of days with the onset of a pulmonary embolism after surgery to remove my lung.  Then a prognosis of 6 months after metastasis of tumors to my remaining lung.  A cancer survivor prognosis is not much better than an educated guess.  I hope the guess is wrong for your dad and 5 years from now he's complaining about the waiting time for his bi-annual oncology appointment.

 

Stay the course.

 

Tom

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Dear Tom,

 

Thank you so much for your thoughtful response! I've spoken with my dad and encouraged him to join this site and he is looking forward to connecting with others. I hope that he may be able to reach out to individuals like you in the not too distant future!

 

I too hope the guess is wrong and will continue to stay optimistic and support him in this journey!

 

Thanks so much!

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Hi! I'm in a really similar situation right now. My step dad, who is absolutely my best friend, has just been diagnosed with lung cancer. Luckily he lives close by and will be moving in soon, so we spend a lot of time together, but it is so hard. I'm juggling being his friend, daughter, and primary caregiver.We are still waiting to hear treatment options - later this week. I hope Tom is right and your dad gets many more years and this becomes a bad dream for your family! Some days it is all I can do to put one foot in front of the other - you described the sorrow well. <3 Skype/Facetime/Call often... maybe send cards that will make him smile? I'm constantly trying to think of things to help keep his spirits up. 

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