Monday, September 26, 2011

Big C and little c

Big C has little c ... my Dad, Big C, has cancer, little c.

We found out several weeks ago but we've been processing things and trying to figure out what this all means for him, for us, for our future, for our family. We've all bounced back and forth between hope and fear, optimism and dread, disbelief and harsh reality. We have lived in the land of uncertainty, hoping for the best but preparing for the worst ... whatever that is.

The early days after the diagnosis were stressful. We knew very little other than the lump Dad had removed was a tumour after all and he needed more tests. All we knew for sure was that Dad had cancer and cancer is bad.

We all experienced some complicated emotions in the weeks that followed as Dad went for more tests, scans and doctor's appointments, while we were waiting to find out exactly what we're dealing with. What I realised in those long, drawn out weeks is that the doctor can't tell us what we're dealing with. He can tell us what type of lymphoma my dad has, what the recommended course of treatment is and what the prognosis is, generally but he can't tell US what WE are dealing with. Only we know that answer.

I don't know exactly what my parents, my sister or my extended family was dealing with, I could make a pretty good guess based on their reactions, but I couldn't tell you exactly. I can only tell you what I was and still am dealing with. I have dealt with disbelief, anger, frustration, fear and denial. Dealt with. I discovered a couple of weeks ago that I can't live with those things, I can't live in them. All of the negative emotions, the fear based thoughts and reactions, drain my strength, my perspective and kill my hope and it is hope that I need.

This is such a complicated thing to write about, to live through. This isn't our first dance with cancer though. My mom had cervical cancer when I was ten years old. And although I don't remember much from that time in our life I do remember my mom's friend, Helen, saying good night to me on the night of my mom's surgery and telling me that hope is the thing we hold on to when it seems like we're all alone. Hope is the thing we know for sure.

There is no protocol for how you should feel about this kind of diagnosis, how best to process and deal with the threat of Pain, Suffering and Death looming at your doorstep. No one can tell you definitively that if you do This, This and This then the cancer will go away, your fear will flee and your life will be filled with butterflies and rainbows. There is no guidebook for this and I am not qualified to write one but I will tell you that right now, in the middle of this little c story with Big C, that hope is the thing.

I don't know what comes next for my dad, we're told we just have to wait and see for now, but I know that the thing that will sustain us, that will carry us, that will protect us is hope. Hope and Faith.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.
~Hebrew 11:1