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.
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?"
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.