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kneeblock

Read Achille Mbembe
Apr 18, 2015
9,940
18,495
Junot Diaz talks a lot about the enveloping nature of a cancer diagnosis on both the diagnosed and their loved ones. He describes this as Planet Cancer, drawing a parallel to Ego the Living Planet of Marvel Comics

Recently I learned my stepdad had been diagnosed with stage 4 non-hodgkins lymphoma. Technical descriptions of maladies are the lingua franca of Planet Cancer. Those who have been there in any part of the world can likely decipher more of the human anatomy than they ever could in health class. The prognosis for lymphoma is generally good, barring confounding health issues or being over 60. Unfortunately my stepdad fell into this latter catefory, but the prognosis was still optimistic.

Fast forward a few weeks ago and I made plans to go down to his home state of Tennessee to see him while he had a PET scan to determine the effectiveness of the chemo. While he was at home he passed out on the steps and had to be hospitalized. His fever was up and his white blood cell count had dropped to an astonishing 50.

More later. Tired and passing out.
 

Zeph

TMMAC Addict
Jan 22, 2015
22,486
29,459
I hope your dad pulls through. Stay strong for him, even though it is a scary proposition to lose your dad.
 

OhWhopDaChamp

TMMAC Addict
Apr 20, 2015
6,222
8,794
Sad. As a survivor I feel extra venomous about #FuckCancer. Know it's best not to leave anything unsaid but your mere presence and casual kindness means a lot. Don't live with regret, live with honesty and compassion.
It will fortify him through the times he is discouraged and give you peace.
Thinking of you. Sending you love vibes, you deserve them.
 
Last edited:

kneeblock

Read Achille Mbembe
Apr 18, 2015
9,940
18,495
Continued...

I spent the day freaking out after learning they would be keeping him in the hospital indefinitely. It turned out he had contracted pneumonia and they weren't sure whether or not they would be able to proceed with the chemo. Just 36 hours before my plane was to take off for Tennessee, I got the call that he was heading home.

I spoke to him then and he sounded weak and slow, nothing like the man whose voice had shaken pulpits when I was growing up. It seemed like he'd lost the ability to catch his breath and the conversations were a jumble of words and ideas. This decline had been so precipitous that I was caught off guard about how to feel or what to say. Inside I simply hoped with all my heart he'd be okay until I got there because I had to be there for whatever was next.

My stepdad was no wicked stepfather growing up and I was treated like no red headed stepchild. He was my father in every way that mattered. I refer to him as my stepdad out of habit and grudging acknowledgement of the man who was somewhat around for the first 7 years of my life before completely disappearing. My stepdad stepped into the role with no reservation. I remember him being the first of my young mother's boyfriends to actually get down on his haunches and look me in the eye as he spoke to me. There was a warmth to him, but more importantly, there was an investment in my mother and I as a unit.

He taught me what he could about being a man and impressed upon me the importance of charity to your neighbor as the most worthwhile virtue. Unfortunately, things between he and my mom didn't work out and they divorced after 13 years of marriage, but I was an adult by then. Like with any divorce, sides are chosen to some degree or another and I of course sided with my mom. Still, my stepdad and I maintained a connection, but it was just more scattered than before. He eventually moved to Tennessee to accept an ill-fated pastorship so I saw him only once or twice a year at best. Our relationship was further strained by my burgeoning atheism which made him feel he'd failed me as a father, though that couldn't have been further from the truth. By the time we landed on Planet Cancer I had gone through a marriage and divorce of my own and was just emerging from a yearlong feud with my mother over something truly hurtful she'd said to me. I felt strong identification with him then and needed to be by his side, if only to tell him so.

More later. Getting ready for work.
 

lookoutawhale

Mammal of the Sea
Jan 20, 2015
4,404
7,294
Sad. As a survivor I feel extra venomous about #FuckCancer. Know it's best not to leave anything unsaid but your mere presence and casual kindness means a lot. Don't live with regret, live with honesty and compassion.
It will fortify him through the times he is discouraged and give you peace.
Thinking of you. Sending you love vibes, you deserve them. So glad I met you in this lifetime.
great response and awesome that you beat it Mel!
 

lookoutawhale

Mammal of the Sea
Jan 20, 2015
4,404
7,294
Continued...

I spent the day freaking out after learning they would be keeping him in the hospital indefinitely. It turned out he had contracted pneumonia and they weren't sure whether or not they would be able to proceed with the chemo. Just 36 hours before my plane was to take off for Tennessee, I got the call that he was heading home.

I spoke to him then and he sounded weak and slow, nothing like the man whose voice had shaken pulpits when I was growing up. It seemed like he'd lost the ability to catch his breath and the conversations were a jumble of words and ideas. This decline had been so precipitous that I was caught off guard about how to feel or what to say. Inside I simply hoped with all my heart he'd be okay until I got there because I had to be there for whatever was next.

My stepdad was no wicked stepfather growing up and I was treated like no red headed stepchild. He was my father in every way that mattered. I refer to him as my stepdad out of habit and grudging acknowledgement of the man who was somewhat around for the first 7 years of my life before completely disappearing. My stepdad stepped into the role with no reservation. I remember him being the first of my young mother's boyfriends to actually get down on his haunches and look me in the eye as he spoke to me. There was a warmth to him, but more importantly, there was an investment in my mother and I as a unit.

He taught me what he could about being a man and impressed upon me the importance of charity to your neighbor as the most worthwhile virtue. Unfortunately, things between he and my mom didn't work out and they divorced after 13 years of marriage, but I was an adult by then. Like with any divorce, sides are chosen to some degree or another and I of course sided with my mom. Still, my stepdad and I maintained a connection, but it was just more scattered than before. He eventually moved to Tennessee to accept an ill-fated pastorship so I saw him only once or twice a year at best. Our relationship was further strained by my burgeoning atheism which made him feel he'd failed me as a father, though that couldn't have been further from the truth. By the time we landed on Planet Cancer I had gone through a marriage and divorce of my own and was just emerging from a yearlong feud with my mother over something truly hurtful she'd said to me. I felt strong identification with him then and needed to be by his side, if only to tell him so.

More later. Getting ready for work.
thanks for sharing kneeblock. your step dad seems like a stand up dude and I hope he pulls through this and you guys can maintain a great relationship together moving forward.
 

kneeblock

Read Achille Mbembe
Apr 18, 2015
9,940
18,495
When I arrived at the airport in Nashville, I was unsure I'd recognize my stepdad with his bald head. For years he'd been rocking this little baby fro that sometimes turned into a bad attempt at a Caesar or an awkward tape up. When he sent me a photo of his newly bald head, it actually looked pretty distinguished. He got to be more like his hero Michael Jordan at last.

I stood waiting in the humidity with my girlfriend, anxious about what this new version of him would be like. An aging beige Lexus pulled up and there he was, waving the same wave he used to say hello or hallelujah in a church pew. So far he was the same old guy. When he opened the door I noticed he was wearing a surgical mask and that his clothes were hanging off of his body. He had always been built more or less like a Kenyan runner at 6 ft 145 lbs, but now he was impossibly skinnier than that. A female friend was behind the wheel. Introductions were made and we took off into the night. His voice was slow and almost a whisper. He made attempts at his usual banter, but the brain fog of the chemo and the shortness of breath made most of his wit fall flat. I was instantly overwhelmed, and said little for fear of coming apart. He was better than I feared, but his suffering was also suddenly real, not just a telephone or text update.

Despite his having lived in Nashville over 15 years, this was my first visit to his home. The first thing I noticed was how incredibly spartan it was. The walls were mostly unadorned and the kitchen counters had nothing on them. In part, he was living the bachelor life, but it was plain to see that his OCD finally had a free canvas on which to paint the kind of minimalist and put away life he'd always desired, but been incapable of with a family. The house felt more like a museum than lived in, but I was glad he had an order that made him content. It made the chaos of Planet Cancer's descent into his life seem all the more heartbreaking.

Continued later...sorry to write in bits, but I'm just sort of slowly processing this in my head and didn't want to do it alone. Thanks to all for well wishes.
 

SNIDELY WHIPLASH

DOOGOODER!!!!!!
Feb 16, 2015
1,643
2,185
Fuck muthafuckin cancer.

Not so comfortable sharing the details but a tragedy on every level for my family and me.
 

ThatOneDude

Commander in @Chief, Dick Army
First 100
Jan 14, 2015
17,112
20,561
Cancer fucking sucks. Lost my grandfather to his second bout of cancer earlier this year. Really sucks, he beat it once, and then it came back with a vengeance. When he passed away you could see the tumors all over his body because of how bad it got, he wasn't him when he died. fuckkk