This was not the post I had intended to write today. I certainly wish I didn’t have to write it. But I got the call this morning. My dad had surgery scheduled for 8:00 am to remove a cyst in his throat that’s been making it hard for him to talk and swallow. I guess the doctor had told my mom it would be about 20 minutes, but they had a hard time putting him out and then getting the stuff down his throat, so it took an hour and a half. And what they removed was not what the doctor expected to find. It was spongy where he thought it would not be. My dad has lymphoma.

So my mom called me. She had promised yesterday to call me after his surgery, and she made an off-hand remark about whether or not she should leave a voice mail if I didn’t pick up and there was bad news. “There shouldn’t be bad news,” she said, and I agreed. Except that we were both wrong.

The doctor didn’t expect this. I guess he told my mom that the “cyst” was spongy, where it wasn’t supposed to be spongy. It was supposed to be smooth. From what she told me, they just thought they were removing a benign cyst. Instead, it turned out to be a cancerous growth. My dad has cancer, and I’m trying to wrap my head around this.

I’ve been so afraid of this for a while now. He’s worked for General Electric (GE) as a toolmaker for longer than I’ve been alive, and he was hoping to retire next year. I’m sure the work is much different now, since he talks a lot about programming the computers that help create parts for classified government and private contracts that may have to be made to a tolerance of 0.0001 inch. But in the past, I know he’s had to work with all sorts of dangerous substances. He’s told me about having mesothelioma testing done for a class action lawsuit years ago due to potential on-the-job asbestos exposure in years past. Mesothelioma is nasty stuff. I’m glad he hasn’t been diagnosed with that, because the life expectancy is generally less than one year after diagnosis. But the fact that he has any sort of cancer at all is very scary.

I’m trying not to freak out too much. We don’t even know what type of lymphoma it is. We don’t know what stage it is. We do know he needs to have his tonsils removed, but they didn’t do that today. (Why wouldn’t they do that today? Why not remove the most likely origination site of the cancer if they were already in there?) From my cursory research on the disease over the last few hours, the outlook is heartening. Even after lymphoma has metastasized, there is a 55% 5-year survival rate. That means that it’s very treatable. And if it hasn’t spread past his throat, there’s a 77% 5-year survival rate. I’m trying to look at this as hope. I’m hoping he has a form of lymphoma that progresses very slowly, that isn’t too aggressive. There’s a long life expectancy for such things, sometimes without chemotherapy. But I do kind of hope they recommend chemotherapy. I know it’s a horrible thing to go through, but it would be far less likely that any cancerous cells would get left behind after his surgeries.

I now have a history of cancer in my immediate family. I’ve been introduced to a whole new world that I really don’t want to be a part of as an insider. I’ve always supported cancer research, but now it’s personal.

I could really use some support. I’d love to hear from lymphoma survivors or family members of lymphoma patients. We could use some prayers and positive thoughts for my dad’s eventual recovery, whatever your faith

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