Let's Talk: Having A Parent with Cancer (Life Update)

by - Sunday, May 19, 2019

I've debated writing this post for a while because it's kind of personal, but earlier this year I decided to try to be a little less restrictive on what I share. It's kind of silly actually because a lot of people deal with this, but I know once I publish it it'll make me feel better. I'm talking about having a parent with cancer (in my case, it's my dad).

My dad got diagnosed with throat cancer near Christmas of 2015, but didn't actually start treatment until January of 2016, so it's been 3 years since I've been thrown into this mess. He went through chemotherapy and radiation throughout most of that year, and that meant that he got very sick from the side effects. That meant that I literally had to grow up (I was 21 at the time and doing my first try of college). I helped my mom take care of general house admin things, like cooking, picking up my brother from the school bus (he was still doing his program at the time), and cleaning. He got his final treatments near the end of the year, and we assumed that he was cancer-free. Nope.

In the beginning of 2017, the cancer sadly came back and not only had it come back, it had spread to his lungs, meaning that the chemotherapy and radiation had failed to completely eradicate all the cancer. That's when we moved on to immunotherapy. Due to the side effects of radiation, he had to had a port inserted in his chest, and he also got a case of shingles. I was out of school at the time, choosing to work for a year instead so I could at least get some experience. He did immunotherapy for about a year and a half (2017-now), and because the first few CAT scans done after starting immunotherapy was good, we assumed it was working. Again, cancer had a surprise for us.

My dad got another CAT scan on the 15th of May and unfortunately, the tumor he had not only grew bigger, it had also multiplied. It actually broke my heart because not only did he have two treatment regimens fail, it also meant that he had to go back to the oncologist to discuss what other treatment choices he could do. In addition to that, it also scared me because I might actually lose my dad before I could do any big milestones like graduate college (I'm currently in my 3rd year of college) and get married, and also two weeks before, I attended my uncle's funeral as he passed away from a work accident.

I don't think I've ever mentioned it on any of my social media platforms, and only mentioned it once on this blog, mostly because I didn't think anyone else would understand, but I'm so glad that it's out there now. Cancer is one of those things that wrecks what you would consider normal-it's emotionally draining, it's very stressful, and it screws with your mental well-being. The most frightening thing is that you never know what it's going to do. One month it might be stable, and then two months later it might spread or get bigger. You might live, or you might die.

Despite all that, I literally threw myself into streaming/gaming, blogging, and school because those three were the only things that gave me a sense of normality.  I also continued to post on Instagram and Twitter because those were literally the only things I had control over and those things also gave a sense of what normal even was. One other thing that gave me a sense of normality was having a huge support network via Discord, Xbox, and Twitter because I know that I'll always have someone to talk to over those platforms and I could not be more grateful for everyone I've met on those platforms.

That was a pretty big word vomit, but as tough and as scary as it was to write about this, it actually does make me feel better and I hope any of you dealing with the same thing can relate.

Winnie x

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