15.9.14

The Big C Blogfest #Cancer #Laughter


Today is the Big C Blogfest created by Michael Di Gesu and Melissa Bradley, who is currently laughing in the face of cancer as she gets treatments and kicks the nasty disease's bum. The funny and uplifting stories told today will be put together in an eBook to help Melissa offset her medical costs and also to benefit Gilda's Club Chicago, an organization that helps women fight endometrial, cervical, and ovarian cancer.

"Snow Treatment"

My family was struck by the big C earlier this year when my father was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. The man never smoked a day in his life and felt great and healthy, so when the doctor saw something strange in Dad's routine bloodwork and scheduled him for an X-ray of his lungs, we thought nothing of it. When they saw that his lung was surrounded by fluid and wanted to do a CT scan, it was like a small slap in the face. When the results came back and the bottom of the X-ray showed several "nodes" on his omentum, it was like getting smashed square in the gut with an anvil. The day we received this news is when my story takes place...

We didn't know-know yet that this was advanced cancer, but we knew, you know? As had been planned weeks earlier, my kids had stayed overnight at Grammie's and Poppie's (my parents are the kind of amazing people whose teenaged grandchildren still ask to have sleepovers at their house) and I drove through the suburban Chicago tundra to pick them up. We'd also planned on Mum coloring my hair that day. When she answered the door with tears and the horrible news, we cried and I told her to, of course, not even think about doing my hair. But she said it would be good to do something instead of standing around crying all day, so we ventured forth. 

There I was in the zebra-striped beautician's cape, my hair slathered in deep, rich dye, looking like the Prince William Sound after the Exxon Valdez had its way with it. My strands were getting darker by the moment. Mum announced that it was time to rinse and lifted the lever thing in the sink, and...no water. No water! Guys were up the street working on a busted pipe, and there was no water. And did I mention my hair was getting darker with each millisecond that passed?

"Snow!" I shouted, pointing toward the door. The glorious snow that I'd been cursing on my drive there turned out to be a savior. My kids and dad grabbed pots and buckets and filled them with the fluffy stuff. Then my mom and I melted it on the stove---and then we melted more and more and more because have you ever seen how snow shrinks when it turns to water? FYI, it's also riddled with tiny sticks and stuff. And when it's on the burner for too long, it gets really, really hot---scalding, some might say. 

All of this was poured over my head in small batches that felt like they would never end. As I was bent over the sink, trying to ignore the cramp in my neck and the slight sizzling sensation on my scalp, I asked my dad, "Hey, could ya spare some of that liquid around your lung?"

And...he laughed. We all did. We didn't let this thing become "that which we do not irreverently joke about" and therefore, we haven't given it power over us. I wholeheartedly believe that God turned off the water that day as a practical joke to push us over the edge into ridiculous, and that crazy weird day has helped set the tone for how this family has faced our new reality---we're doing it together and with plenty of humor. Which isn't to say that each one of us hasn't been brought to our knees at times, but we always get up, smile, and take what's next.

My advice for those of you with the big C in your lives is to not be shy about asking for prayers. They work, and en mass, hoo boy, they can be downright miraculous. The answers we get aren't always the ones we hoped for...but sometimes they are. Months ago I came on my knees to my blog and elsewhere asking for prayers that my dad would be among the less than 15% of people with one of two mutations that would allow him to be treated with a highly successful pill. More time passed than expected to get the answers, but guess what---he has one of the mutations. I can't even type that without welling up with grateful tears. Thank you, thank you, thank you everyone who spared a prayer for him. Someone is clearly listening.

Visit Michael's blog to find the list of other hoppers. To help Melissa focus on getting better rather than her mounting medical expenses, please donate to the Melissa Bradley Medical Fund.




22 comments:

Elizabeth Hein said...

Thanks for the lovely story, Nicki. It sounds like your dad has a great attitude and I am thankful that he does have the mutation that responds to that medication. Lung cancer is awful but there have been small advances in its treatment. Your dad and your entire family are in my prayers today.
Elizabeth Hein - Scribbling in the Storage Room

Nick Wilford said...

This is a great story and you're right that sometimes humour is one of the only things that can get us through. We need it because staring into an abyss is hard. I'm glad to hear there was good news about your dad's condition.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Wonderful story and attitude! Laughter makes everything better. And wonderful the prayers and medicine worked for your father.

Michael Di Gesu said...

LOL...

Okay... so snow did something good for once.... BUT LET's NOT have a repeat of last winter. PLEASE... As I am writing the the HEAT is clanking in my radiators. NOOOOOO... it's only mid September and we are already below temps for this time of year!

Wonderful story, Nicki... YES, PRAYER DOES WORK. I have been praying for your dad and others at the Shrine of Mother Cabrini and let me just say, it is WORKING.. You dad, Melissa, and my friends with family with cancer are winning. I continue to visit and pray for all of them, including your dad.

I HATE the BIC C and it I have to visit the shrine every day to say a life I will....

LOOKING SO FORWARD to seeing you and your family on Thursday! I can't wait!!!!!

Neurotic Workaholic said...

I hope that everything works out for your dad in the end and that he continues to get better. And I liked the story, especially the idea about using snow for water.

Michelle Wallace said...

I really enjoyed this tale.
Perfect example of how to give the Big-C a KICK IN THE PANTS!
It's wonderful that you received positive news about your dad's condition.

Hart Johnson said...

Love the funny story in there and SO GLAD your dad had one of the treatable mutations!

Jemi Fraser said...

I've got my own tears welling!
Humour has power - so glad you were able to use it!

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you for sharing your father's story with us, Nicki! Sometimes humor is the only thing that can get us through tough times, especially illnesses. And prayers also have power. I'm glad your father had one of the two mutations that is treatable. I'm saying a prayer for him. Hugs!

Melissa Bradley said...

What a crazy, wonderful story!! I'll never think of snow the same way again. Thank you so so much for participating, I am very grateful. Prayers to you and your family.

Denise Covey said...

They say attitude is everything when fighting cancer, and sounds like you guys have attitude to spare. What a lovely, funny story. Hope your hair turned out okay!

Jennifer Lane said...

"Can you spare some of that liquid in your lungs?" Ba ha ha! What a great story. I love your family. And I was so relieved to hear about your dad. How is his health today?

E.J. Wesley said...

Keeping a sense of humor, and perspective, is so key when life attacks. And cancer is just that, a bad fact of life for way too many people. Your dad has a tremendous support network around him and I'll add him to my 'list'. :)

farawayeyes said...

Humor is the best medicine and prayers are the beginning of miracles.

When faced with a monster the best thing is to laugh in it's face, even if the jokes are a bit morbid. I've been there and done that, often to the shock and awe of those around me.

My prayers for your dad and the entire family. How wonderful that you are all so close and such a great support to each other.

Theresa Milstein said...

What a sweet and funny story. I'm so glad things are looking up.

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

I'm getting happy goosebumps. Prayer plus love plus laughter = the ideal recipe for optimal survival. I love that your family pulls together through it all, and that your dad is quick to laugh too.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Nicki - what an amazing story and to have all this happen in that short period ... love the hair scene too - I can imagine it ...

It's wonderful to read that your Dad survived and was able to be treated ... we don't need cancer to beat our characters ... and that showed through here ... lovely writing - thank you .. Hilary

Maurice Mitchell said...

What an amazing experience Nicki and I'm glad your father was one of the 15%!

Tyrean Martinson said...

Wonderful story! I love how laughter lifts us all up and prayers work!

Cathrina Constantine said...

Wonderful!!! Never underestimate the Power Of Prayer!!!!

Empty Nest Insider said...

I can just imagine your family racing to scoop up snow to rinse your hair out with! Your dad sounds like a real trooper. I'm glad the medication, and powers of prayer are helping. I just wrote about how our family friend with lung cancer was told she only had six months to live, and she held on for ten years. Here's hoping your dad will continue to have sleepovers with his grandchildren for many years to come.

Julie

Robyn Campbell said...

Prayer and laughter and love. What a combination of feel better meds. So glad he's going to be able to take the pill. Celebrate.