My Dad Has Lymphoma

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 .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.

Christina Gleason (973 Posts)

That’s me: Christina Gleason. I’m a professional copywriter, editor, and blogger. My company is called Phenomenal Content. (Hire me!) I'm a multiply disabled autistic woman doing my best in this world built for abled people. I’m a geek for grammar, fantasy, and select types of gaming, including Twitch Sings and Plants vs Zombies 2. I hate vegetables. I have an intense phone phobia, so I’ll happily conduct business over email or IM instead.


Comments

  1. I will be thinking of you and your family. I am just beginning the launch of a project a long time in the coming that is centered around cancer and, hopefully, creating a place for people to go.

    My gut would be that coming as a surprise in this way, the team will work that much harder and aggressively.

    Strength and light to you and yours.

  2. I am so, so sorry. It feels surreal when you have a close family member diagnosed with cancer. You hear of OTHER families dealing with it, and do not expect it to happen to your family. 2 years ago, my sis was diagnosed with leukemia. It is a hard thing to digest.

    Lots of prayers to you and your family.

  3. I’m so sorry to hear this. I don’t have any experience with the disease, so all I can offer are my positive thoughts for you, your dad, and your family. I hope he recovers quickly and completely.

  4. Cancer is evil and I have had it hit too many members of my family. I would never wish it on anyone. Please know that you have a support system here. If you need anything, do not hesitate to ask. Thoughts, prayers, and good thoughts coming your way.

  5. I’m so sorry, dealing with cancer is so frightening for your entire family. Wishing you the best and speediest recovery for your dad!

  6. I’m so sorry to hear this news. We have a mutual friend in Beth….and you might know that my mom had early stages breast cancer. I know quite a lot about chemotherapy and I always offer to talk to anyone who wants to hear….things to ask the doctor, etc. It’s so important to ask a gazillion questions.

    I know you are probably not needing any more information right now….Dr Google can be incredibly hard. But I’m here if you want to talk.

  7. You don’t know me, but I wanted to share a story: A friend of mine was diagnosed (at age 27!) with non-Hodgkins Type B Lymphoma. She had an orange-sized tumor removed from her chest and underwent chemotherapy. She has since gotten married, had a beautiful baby girl, is in remission and 100% healthy. Her worst complaint? Her hair grew back in curly. 😉 I don’t know your dad, or if he has hair, but my hopes are that it grows back in curly!!

  8. Sorry to hear of this news. I hope your dad responds well to treatment and lives a long and healthy life! Any kind of bad news puts you in a club you’d rather not be in, but thankfully in the internet age it’s much easier to find information and other people with similar experiences.

    Praying for your family!

  9. Things have been hectic here at my house so I am always reading your posts but never commenting but I felt I had to today. I wanted to let you know you and your family have my good thoughts and you’re in my prayers. I hope everything will work out well and your Dad will be able to retire happily, just as he planned.

  10. Prayers for your dad and your family. Keep us posted. Cancer is a frightening diagnosis. I have a friend who had lymphoma and she is now cancer free.

  11. My heart goes out to you and your family. I was just at another blog who was talking about a close friend who is also ravaged by cancer. This is just so sad. Your dad will be in my prayers tonight. Hang in there!

  12. I am sorry to hear this Cristina. If you ever need anything, you know where to reach me. XOXO

  13. Many, many prayers going up for your family. I’m so sorry this has happened.

  14. My father had head and neck cancer. It was squamous cell skin cancer that eventually went inward into his lymph nodes. He lived for 10 years or more with it once first diagnosed. It spread from his salivary gland around the jawbone. I know your dad’s may not be the smae thing, but has some similarity and I am familiar with the treatments. Please feel free to email me anyttime.
    Bernice

  15. I’m here for you Christina. Sending you my love and good thoughts. I’ve just been through my Mom’s breast cancer so if you need to talk, just let me know.

    I know it’s hard not to research, but sometimes Google can be our worst enemy at these times, especially when you don’t know all the details. Giving you bigger hugs than I did from Type-A Mom conference ((((HUGS))))

  16. Gene Gleason says

    Christina:
    Diane and I are shocked and saddened at the news of Joe’s diagnosis. Please let him know that we are concerned and will help in any way we can. Cancer is pervasive in our society. Tom’s grandfather and Diane’s father died of cancers. Diane’s mother has been diagnosed, treated and managed her cancer for over five years. While no cancer is to be taken lightly my research indicates that throat cancer when dected early and treated with a well thought out regime can be cured. The recent cases of Michael Douglas and others have made the public aware of the possibilities. The artisits, John Prine, Levon Helm and Ian Tyson have successfully survived the disease and resumed their singing careers. Our understanding is that cancer generally results from toxic exposure and while very complex can be treated through holistic as well as conventional means. The Gerson clinic program is one of the more progressive forms of holistic treatment. I am sure that Joe’s oncologist will thoroughly advise him of the options and Joe will make the wisest choice, survive and enjoy his upcoming retirement. Please let us know how we can help.

  17. Amy @ A Million Boxes says

    Christina my thoughts and prayers are with you, your dad, and your family. Cancer affects so many people but you never want it to hit so close to home. Will be getting you the email add. Of a friend who survived breast and brain cancer 10 years ago only to be diagnosed with lymphoma 4 years ago. She is 3 years cancer free and one of the most positive people you can encounter. In the darkness of scary news, there is hope!

  18. Oh dear. *hugs* Let me know if you need anything and if there’s anything I can do to help. You’ve got my email, IM, Twitter, FB, and cell phone number, so you should always be able to reach me.

    Keep your head up. You’re doing the right thing by staying positive.

  19. Aww sweetie, I am so sorry 🙁 My dad has primary B-cell lymphoma originating in the brain. We were told in 2008, when it was first diagnosed, that he would only live two weeks by the neurologist that biopsied it. Then a wonderful oncologist came along and said not so fast missy, we’re going to treat this. After chemo and radiation (about six months total) he came back home and had almost two years of cancer free fun. In the past month, we found out the cancer has come back but the same wonderful doctor said he would try chemo again because there was still a chance. As for the chemotherapy, my dad tolerated it remarkably well and they used some of the most potent stuff available on him. I know this is a scary diagnoses, and I agree it is a club I wish I didn’t belong to. Know that each day it gets easier to process and that I’ll be thinking about you and your dad.

  20. Christina I’m so sorry you’re having to go through this. I will add you and your dad to my prayers…

  21. Eric's Mommy says

    I’m so sorry about your Dad. My Dad also had Lymphoma when he was 30, and I was 9 years old, he is cancer free and it’s been 22 years. I have had a lot of cancer in my family, I know exactly what you are going through. Feel free to e-mail me, I’m here for you.

  22. I’m so sorry about this news, Christina. Sounds like you’re doing exactly what I would do – research. Obtaining as much information as possible for yourself and your family is a proactive way of understanding and working through the diagnosis. Healing thoughts to you and yours.

  23. Selective Sensualist says

    Oh hon, I am so sorry your family is going through this. Just know that people survive cancer every day and that your family is in good company and much-supported. I encourage you all to look for cancer support groups in your area, as they are very, very helpful to those who feel like they have been punched in the stomach and who are just reeling after being handed a cancer diagnosis.

    Warmest wishes to your dad, to you, and to the rest of your family for a full recovery for him. (((Hugs)))

  24. Hi there. I am sorry about your dad. I wish him all the luck in the world as he starts to battle this. I, myself just found out that my dad has lymphoma that is effecting one of his kidneys, only about an hour ago. I’m struggling to wrap my head around this as well. He has cancer…I’m absolutely terrified. Unfortunately, I have lost several people to cancer that I loved very much, only in the last few years. As soon as my mom started to tell my sister and I the news, using euphemisms avoiding the dreaded words no one ever wants to hear, I stopped her just to ask point blank; “Is it cancer?”. In my head I just said; “Please say no!” But no such luck. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your dad, as well as everyone who cares about him. This will be tough, but I have hope they will both get through this.

    Sincerely,
    Kayla

    • Thank you, Kayla. I’m happy to say that I posted this over two years ago now, and my dad is in remission! I hope that your dad will hear the magic “R” word like mine did. Hang in there! Regardless of what else happens, remind him as often as you can how much he is loved as he fights this battle. Take care.

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