Three to Six to Who the Hell Knows
Down to the Bones

Time Enough

So. My dad has decided to go ahead with chemotherapy after all.

I don't agree with this. Nobody does, actually, except for one doctor who seems to put chemo on par with prescription-strength Tylenol. Take one! You'll feel better in no time! Giddy up, let's get this systemic invasion started! My mom called me yesterday from a pharmacy parking lot just so she could finally scream and cry out loud about it. Best case is maybe a year or two of remission before the cancer comes back. Because this kind of cancer always comes back. The more likely case is that the chemo will kill him, or make him so desperately sick that the extra time will be the opposite of good time. But he's changed his mind and. He. Wants. That. Time.

Which means it's probably time for me to stop talking about it for a little bit, because even though my opinion on the matter is probably something like this...

PA-party-2010-06

...I shall instead post the other photos of the mini-pre-birthday party we threw for the boys last weekend like this:

PA-party-2010-01 

There were cakes! To tenderly caress!

PA-party-2010-02 

Festive paper fire hazards!

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The realization that omg, our shirts like, totally match!

PA-party-2010-04 

Poses to throw!

PA-party-2010-05 

Skepticism over zucchini-bread-presented-as-birthday-cake to overcome!

(Not pictured: an entire jar of Bourbon peaches.)

PA-party-2010-07 

And presents!

PA-party-2010-08 

As in: PRESENTSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!11!!!!ELEVENTY!

PA-party-2010-09 

Toddlers to baffle!

PA-party-2010-10 

And finally, a Poppy-approved costume change. 

Comments

Biscuit

so sweet, take it as it come lady..we're all here slow-clapping for a comeback, of sorts.

Jennifer

I love that last picture of Ezra and your dad....that's a keeper!

Tracy

Sending healing thoughts to your Dad and thoughts and prayers for peace to all of you.

Peachy

These posts hurt to read; I can only imagine what they are like to live through.

I'm glad you all had the party, and of course, the restorative Noah dimples and edible Ezra cuteness :)

lisa

i LOVE the last picture! It made me cry though.

Kate

Thinking of you all. Hoping for an unexpected turnaround, with many thoughts and prayers.

Heather Ann

You just support him and your mom and we will support you. Hate to see you so sad. This was lovely, though.

suz

Go Phils! (my husband is from Philly)

I'm sending you my thoughts and prayers. My dad died of lung and liver cancer on Oct. 15, 2006. I empathize and I wish you peace and strength.

gretchen/juneatnoon

It's disgusting, isn't it? The whole, "we have to poison you in order to attempt to make you better" bit? It's such a tough thing. Hang in there.

And, my mom until recently had that exact same couch!

Kelli

Sending healing your dad's way...and not sure what else to say except that I'll keep coming back..thanks for posting through all this.

Christina

That first picture made me laugh out loud!

Mermil

Looking at that last picture, I can kinda see why your dad wants more time. Your kids are awesome.

Amy

First off - I have also been known to tenderly caress any given pastry or cake product. Secondly, your kids are award-winning cute and lastly, what's with the holes in your jeans? Love your blog and have read it since before your two children. I'm sorry about your dad and there is nothing I can possibly say. From the words of "Object of my Affection, "Head up, young person."

beth

I love the photo of you smiling at Noah while he holds up his Star Wars toy. That's a treasure.

Lindsay

That last picture...with Ezra and your dad. Awesome. Just...awesome. :)

Marianne

I love these pictures! Thanks for sharing your heart and your family, Amy.

kindra

I am a long time reader first time commenter. I just wanted to share with you alittle of my experience with my dad. He too had the choice to either receive chemo or to ride out the storm so to speak. (He had terminal pancreatic cancer.) We all felt just like you have indicated in your blog very frustrated that he would want to put his already worn out body through chemo, like you we knew the chemo would most likely kill him or at the least reduce his life by 6 months. I remember being very angry with him and thinking WHY!!! So one day he called a family meeting with all of us kids and my mother and we talked about it. It was as if a light went off in my head, I asked my dad, “Dad do you really truly have hope this chemo is going to make a bit of difference?” He responded, “Hope is all I have right now, please don’t take it away.” And with that I became okay with his decision. I don’t know if this will help you or not because we all have our own experiences, but I just wanted to share with the hope it does help a little :-)

Suebob

It wasn't until I came face-to-face with my own death (I thought I had just a moment left to live. Thankfully I was wrong) that I realized that we have an animal nature that wants to cling to life desperately despite whatever rational thoughts we have about life and death. The animal wants to LIVE even just for one more hour.

I'm so sorry your family has to go through this. Big hugs to you all.

sharon

All you can do is go with the flow and support your parents. The first course of chemo will let your Dad know exactly what his tolerance is going to be and whether it's worth pursuing. It is his decision to make but, speaking personally after my own experiences, I'd vote for quality over quantity of time any day of the week.

The birthday photos have even more importance than ever now, take as many as you can.

Lisa

And a toddler with bangs. One question - have you read this article from the New Yorker? It has really gotten me thinking and maybe would help your mother. About the way in which palliative care may in fact be more conducive to extending life than aggressive curative care. http://nyr.kr/b30kCm

Clarabella

I love the last picture! Go Phillies!

Kailee

Instead of posting a 5,000 word comment about a similar experience I went through with my father-in-law with excessive exclamation points and WHHYYYY DOCTORS WHYYYYY ramblings, I'll just say that, damn, I know what you feel. Fucking chemo.

It's not an easy choice for your dad. I just wish you and your family strength. Enjoy all of the moments you can.

And, completely off base and non-fucking-chemo related, your red hair still looks awesome.

Megan

Wait - when did Ezra get a haircut?!?!

Life of a Doctor's Wife

Great photos!

Wishing that your dad has an easy time with the chemo and that you get thousands more pictures like these.

Stephanie

My Dad had AML, he was given two weeks to live without the chemo. He did the chemo and spent 8 weeks in the hospital because it almost killed him. He spent another month in rehab to learn to walk again. He went into remission for six months and then it came back. Ultimately double pnemonia killed him. Between the leukemia, daily blood transfusions, and weak immune system, his body couldn't hold up anymore. He lived six months longer than he should have and even the doctors were surprised by his fighting spirit and determination, I asked him if he ever regretted getting the chemo and he looked at my son who was five months. He said, God gave me a gift and I got to meet my grandson. That is all the time I ever wanted. He always had a goal of time to make it to, he never made it to X-mas, but he made it to his anniversary and he was pretty happy about that.

the grumbles

hang in there, beautiful lady. it's hard to watch someone you love make a choice that you make not agree with. just take every single day with him as the awesome thing that it is.

Ivie

That last photo of the Mighty Ez and your dad is adorable!

Send many virtual hugs to you and your family. Despite the hard times you're dealing with, I'm glad the boys got to enjoy a zucchini bread cake birthday party with their Poppy.

mrs. q.

Oh, that is so, so hard. I, too, think chemo can be far worse than the disease and open a door to busted immune systems, complications and everything else.

BUT... and I am not trying to chance your mind, only make you feel more comfortable about his decision (as I was there, too) --for a patient to pass on it, it may feel like they are just giving up. Like Stephanie said, sometimes it just comes down to time. Extending his days by even a few months may be worth it to have more time with you, his wife, his grandsons.

My dad chose chemo, radiation and volunteered for any clinical trial just to fight as long as he could. For my dad, the chemo took quite a while before it built up in his body and really made him sick. At first, he almost had a surge of "I'll beat this" which was probably purely in his head, but it gave him hope and the ability to enjoy simple things for a while.

Remember, when your dad has had enough with the battle, he will know. And at least he will not have regrets that he passed up his last fighting chance. I pray it's a decision that gives him the peace he deserves. Hugs to you all.

Amanda

I'm with you. And holy shit, does the whole chemo thing to do/not do/what have you suck. Obv. Really sorry, Amy. So sorry. My mom chose chemo, too, and I was very firmly in the same camp as you and your mother. It just.. yeah. Suck. Fucking suck.

More brightly: I call MY grandpa Poppy! Always have, always will. I've never really known (ha! Look, I read you so I think I know you! HOW CREEPY!) anyone else that does. Best name ever for a grandpa. Poppies are the shiz.

Fakey

This whole thing is just so shitty, I'm so sorry.

Those boys though...It's pretty obvious why he wants more time.

mswas

That picture of your Dad with Ezra is wonderful.

Patty

You know, I've hesitated to comment about your dad, because the loss of my mother-in-law only a month ago is still too raw. She was given a 2-4 month time frame with only pallative care (not leukemia - internal melanoma), but she chose to have treatment, even though there was very little chance of beating it. Having 7 months, instead of 2 months just gave her time to see everyone, and finish projects she'd started. She got to tell people she loved them.

Sometimes having more time isn't necessarily about hoping for a cure, but instead it just gives a little more time to come to terms with everything. It's a hard road that you are on, Amy, and my thoughts are with you all.

Maggie

That first pic of Noah totally reminds me of your iPhone mirror shots!

After insisting she would never try chemotherapy, when it became her last option, my mother decided to try it after all, to all of our shock. I was baffled, but I really love that in the end, she really did want more time here, with us. I'm thinking of you all.

Jamienewdad

Really great pics hope everything works out

Diane

Stephanie, your comment made the tears well up.
Amy, I already shared my story with you (the chemo hastened the death of my mom rather than giving her the two extra years she was offered), but I agree with others that there has to be hope or there really is nothing left. Your dad deserves to hope, and so do you. Hug him and support him, as I know you will.

Cancer sucks.

Window On The Prairie

One day at a time. Hang in there. http://windowontheprairie.com/ Suzanne

Lori

I'm so sorry that you have to go through this. Cancer sucks.

My mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer a year ago June. My son will be 5 in December. I want her to fight and to live as long as she can so that my son remembers how much she loves him. My own memories go back to about 5 years old, and I assume his will go back that far too. Every time they're together, I pray that he will remember being with her.

Katie Kat

I understand your frustration, but if I had a choice between riding it out, or spending even just a LITTLE more time with the likes of those two adorable boys, I'd take the second choice too. :)

Andrea Frazer

My mom turns 80 this week. I know if I she were in a similar position, I'd want to take the chance that chemo would make her better.

This is a tough thing for you, no doubt, and I'm wishing you lots of good things and support from here.

Cait

Oh... I'm so sorry. That's just awful, all of it.

Whatever you feel though, is okay, and feeling guilty or bad about it isn't necessary... easier said than really understood. I still can't do it, but wanted to throw it out there at least. As a kid 3 of my 4 grandparents were terminally ill for about 4-5 years and that's nowhere near as hard as it is when it is a parent but seeing as I can't even write this to make sense you can probably get that its hard. Not agreeing with their choices is a particularly uncomfortable and horrible feeling but not much you can do.

I hope the time he has left you can all manage to enjoy as much as possible.

Auda

I wanted to give you some positive thoughts. My father in law was given 6 months to live back in 2003 a week before my first daughter was born. He had Leukemia and it looked bad. When she was 8 weeks old we drove 2000 miles to tell him goodbye.

He has been in remission now for almost 7 years. He went into remission not long after our visit. He was healthy enough by the time she was 10 months old to fly to see her.

It isn't always an immediate death sentence and I will pray for you that your fathers isn't

Kathi

Amalah,
You and your family are gorgeous and you have been in my thoughts all week ( . . . but I'm not really a creepy internet stalker . . . ). Hope the chemo is not as bad as you expect, and that the results are BETTER than you expect. My husband was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2002 and given 6 months to live. He did chemo . . .and chemo . . . and chemo . . .and lived 4 more precious years. I know you are dealing with an entirely different kind of cancer, and that your dad's health is already compromised. But I have found that the time frames the doctors give are wild-ass guesses, and the will to live gets a person very far. I hope you and your boys will have your dad around for much longer than you expect.

On a much different note--I hear that the stinkbugs are invading Maryland this fall!! And I know how much you LOVE stinkbugs!

Katie

Excuse me, I was just wondering when Ezra became so big? Because I've been reading this blog like every day and I'm pretty sure he was just born a couple months ago and now he's huge, and Noah's a big kid and this is all so confusing. However, they are both still as adorable as ever and you look pretty and what a wonderful family you have, and I really, sincerely, definitely hope that everything goes as well as it possibly can for you all in this situation. I know there isn't a lot of hope here, but know that you have so many people thinking about you and sending good thoughts your way.

Brandi

Certain pictures of Ezra remind me of my 17 month old Luke. Check out my blog for pics and see what you think.
I feel like cancer has been a part of my life since I was 8, when my grandfather died. Now it seems like every few yrs someone else in the family gets it and I'm almost numb to it now. IT SUCKS. Sorry.

Aimee Greeblemonkey

Hugs from me and LOVE the pics. ELEVENTY!

Swistle

When things feel painful to me, as an observer, I know not to speculate about how they must feel to you, and instead I will say ELEVENTY!!! and move on.

kari weber

Can I just say how jealous I am over Noah's birthday Lego present... sigh.

Jen

I'm keeping you all in my thoughts and wishing for the very, very best.

The Zucchini (how the hell do you spell that?) bread scepticism picture made me laugh unexpectedly. :o)

G.G.R

*HUGS* Dude, you should make a new amazon wish list thingy because I totally want to help make some better days with presents for yooouuu!!!

Lisa Marie

Amy, I'm so sorry for what your family is going through. Sometimes, there just isn't much of a bright side. When I was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago, a friend recommended www.acor.org and I cannot say enough except that I truly believe my acor (association of cancer online resources) list saved my life. There are disease-specific list-servs you can join. You can post questions and get answers from folks that have seen every diagnosis and side effect. I'm not saying you'll find answers that will discover a different path for your father, but maybe make that path easier to walk. I get treatment at the #1 cancer hospital in the US, but sometimes I know about new research before my oncologist because of my acor list. And they've certainly done more than my doctor to help me with chemo side effects and make treatment decisions. I've watched my list help many others through end-of-life decisions and hospice choices. They're intended as a resource for patients and caregivers, lots of spouses, daughters, brothers on my list. I, like you, am a fanatical Googler, but when you need to go deeper, this is the place. Blessings and love to you and your family.

Lucy's mom

Amy, I understand some of what you are going through. Three years ago my dad was told if he didn't have heart surgery he would have less than two months to live. He was 85 and had copd and was definitely not a good candidate for heart surgery. A surgeon in a specialty hospital convinced him and my older sister he should do it - I was protesting wildly. The surgery was scheduled and my sister told me I should come but only if I was going to play a good role and support his decision.

I went and spent the day with him before the surgery with his children and grand children gathered round, cheering him on and really having one of the best days of all of our lives. When I left that night to go to my hotel room he told me "I know you think I'm crazy for doing this but I just want a little more time. I don't want to live forever, just a litle longer."

And at that moment I relaxed. As much as I was suffering with what I knew would be a horrible loss to our family I accepted that it was his life to roll the dice with. And it was okay in the end because it was his call. Every thing that happened after was predicated on his choice, his gamble. Because he just wanted a little more time.

Just like my dad your dad has so much love in his life to want to continue. Just seeing him with Ezra and Noah confirms that. I am so sorry for what you are going through in this and of course I am thinking of your dad and mom. I wish I could do something for all of you.

susu

soo. .. I am not a "blog reader" as a matter of fact, I read exactly 2 blogs: yours, and my best friend/college roommate who just adopted 3 babies blogs.
I comment rarely if ever but I read your blog at least once a week. When I have a not so demanding job, I read it daily and get pissed at you when you miss a day or two.
You never fail to make me laugh. I envy you, my kids are 15, 13, & 11. I miss nursing and preschool. I have grown to love your kids in some weird blog reader fashion that is totally appropriate and not at all creepy. Cause even though I took the time to write to a blogger I don't know, I am not creepy and I have a great life...
That said,
You have my prayers. You and your family have them and they are more valuable than gold as are all prayers (I'm not a Jesus freak either FYI:)
Never doubt how blessed you have been. I could never conjure such loving words for my father. You are so lucky for every minute you get with him and so are your boys. Without sounding too creepy...
Please know that you probably have thousands of invisible cheerleaders like me who also cheer for Noah and Ez...we love the person you've shared through this blog. I can't pretend to be a comforting friend, but I can tell you I am doing the best thing for you I can which is praying for you, praying for your family and prayig for your dad.

Jen.

Such happy moments. Please, do treasure them, whatever the future holds.

schni

I'm so sorry you and your family have to go through this. I know that the plural of anecdote isn't data and that types of cancer and chemo vary wildly. So please feel free to see this as assvice.

But I wanted to tell you about my grandfather, who is getting chemo at 86 years of age even though we were all against it for the same reasons you cited and because, you know, he's 86, for God's sake. But he's doing fine. He might be a little more tired than usual, but that's it. I know that it's not likely, but you never know how chemo will affect people. I will be keeping every possible body part of mine crossed for you and your dad.

Kate

I am sorry that really sucks. I hate that you (or anyone) have to go through this.

My stepmother had palliative (totally spelled wrong) chemo for her AML. The AML was very aggressive and she had already been through a few bone marrow transplants. The last chemo gave her a good year and didn't make her very sick (as opposed to the induction chemo courses). I hope that your family finds a happy medium like this.

Again-I know it is different with every person and every family. I am so sorry that you are all going through it.

Beth

Go phillies! (and crazy hope and hug vibes to you, madam.)

Kim

Amy,

Hugs and love to you and your family. It is so hard.

Hang in there.

Treeling

I'm just so sorry. I understand your frustration-- which is greater than frustration, but I can't use "angst" because that word has been cheapened by overuse.

I've read a lot of articles lately about how bad doctors are at handling end-of-life care for their patients. How likely they are to keep fighting at the expense of the patient's quality of life simply because it's a more clear-cut path and it's what their training has prepared them to do. It's misdirected hope and fear on their part, I think. I believe Rahul K Parikh was the author-- articles were in Salon and Slate.

But that's no real help to you. I just... I understand your frustration and I'm very sorry. I agree with you about the house and the chemo, but I suppose people have the right to make whatever decisions they want when they are facing death. I wonder if it's like having kids-- you think you can imagine what it's going to be like and what you will be like when it's your turn, but once your turn comes, you were at least a little wrong.

I think, though, that in retrospect, the regret over making an impractical or overly optimistic decision is usually not as great as we fear it will be. I think that even if chemo is the "wrong" choice, it may just give that peace that comes from saying "We tried everything we could. We did what we thought was best." That's important, too. The peace.

Or those are the kinds of things I tell myself when I am trying to release my claw-like grasp on the illusion that I have control over the lives of those I love.

Jessica

Amy - I was in your city last week for a conference and so was thinking of you a lot. (I saw my first stinkbug and knew what it was because of you! This blog is so educational!)

I rather stupidly read this post in the exhibit hall and fought tears until the last picture, at which point I had to hide for a few minutes to avoid having to explain to my client why I was crying.

Anyway, I just wanted to add my voice to the others that are here for you and your family.

Sending healing and happy thoughts to you all.

charlotte

I have been catching up on your blog and am so sorry to hear about your dad. I know how you feel, my mom was diagnosed with Luekemia (CML) last November. I wish I had some deep and inspiring words for you, but all I can come up with is that this sucks....

Marina

First off, I just want to tell you I have been through what are you going through. All I can tell you is hold your dad, touch him, tell him you love him every chance you get.
I will be thinking of you.
This is all just bringing back memories

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