My dad is 63 years old today. We’re so grateful he’s still here to celebrate this birthday with us, but I wish it could be better for him.

My dad and mom on my wedding day

(The above picture of my parents was taken at my wedding in 2000. It can’t be removed from the album page to scan in, so I had to take a picture of the picture, which makes it rather poor quality.)

Dad has been battling with a recurrence of his Mantle Cell Lymphoma since last summer. That autologous stem cell transplant he had in 2010 didn’t end up being the “cure” we’d hoped for. Unfortunately, the new chemo regimen also didn’t work this time around. Or the one they tried after that. So he’s been suffering terribly from the cancer pain and the side effects of his radiation treatments and the Big Guns of recently-approved chemo he’s on now. Well, he will be on again soon; he had to stop taking it for a while. On top of everything else, his appendix ruptured, and he had to have surgery. The chemo would have prevented him from healing internally, so despite the fact that the surgeon said the cancer was everywhere in his abdomen, the cancer has been allowed to continue growing as we wait for him to heal enough from the surgery.

And it’s so unfair that he has to suffer any of this. He’s worked hard his whole life, starting at GE as an apprentice toolmaker after high school and sticking with them (except for an unfortunate Lack of Work period when I was 9) all the way through his retirement three years ago. He has never smoked or drank. He worked the third shift (overnights) for pretty much my entire childhood in order to provide for us. And I think his faith in God is stronger than that of most ministers and priests. Maybe even the Pope.

Damn cancer.

Dad is very discouraged. He’s had so many setbacks. He didn’t have this pain the first time around, and now it’s the only thing that’s constant.

For his birthday, I wish I could give him even an hour of relief from his suffering. But that just is not within my power. I do wish, hope, and pray for it, though.

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