Monday, February 7, 2011

The Blog Post I didn't want to Write.

My dad's cancer is back.

I hesitated to blog about this, because believe it or not, there are some aspects of my life that I prefer to keep private.

But to blog three times a week, pretending like this isn't going on, would be pointless. So rather than quitting my blog entirely, I have to blog about it. There are only so many times Sam can fill in by saying, "Brodi's attending to family business" without people getting suspicious something is wrong, or assuming I've run off with the Italian mob. 

Over three years ago, my dad was diagnosed with pancreas cancer, even though he had none of the risk factors. He was/is a young, healthy, non-smoker, non-drinker. At the time, he wasn't even eligible for Medicare.

We were told there is only one chance for cure with this disease. To cut it out. And with that, you get only one shot to cut it out. There are no do-overs.

Then, all you can do is live life, and hope it doesn't come back. We cut my dad's cancer out, and for three years, it didn't come back.

Three years is just enough time for a person to become comfortable in the idea that maybe, he will dodge this bullet. Three years is long enough for my dad to become a practicing pediatrician again. Three years is just long enough for the chance of recurrence to drop below 50%. Three years is a "miracle".

But sometimes, even miracles hit road blocks. Last week, they found some spots in his lungs. They said it would be incredibly rare if the pancreas cancer returned in the lungs first. It was normal for it to come back in the abdomen, the liver, the pancreas, the colon... but not the lungs.

Of course, my dad lives to be rare! On Wednesday, we got the news it was cancer. And not lung cancer, which would've been better news, but metastatic pancreas cancer.

They have no idea where those little pancreas cells were hiding out, and for so long, but hide they did.

I admit the news dealt a blow to me and my little family. My sister, my mom, my dad and I have always been a tight foursome. We live within 2 miles of each other. We are frequent lodgers in each others houses. We pass around the grandkids like they belong to all of us.

When my dad was first diagnosed, we joked about how close we'd become. We travelled to each doctor's appointment together. We likened ourselves to a blood clot, because we stuck together. And now we're here again. Clotting up. 

I hope you will put up with me during this time. I'm warning you now, I've already become a little crazy.

For instance: Sometimes when doctors say, "To be honest, this treatment would be for the good of science only," I want to punch these doctors.

Sometimes when acquaintances say, "Oh well, we're at that age where we lose our parents," I want to say, "You may be at that age, but I'm not." My dad lost his own mom only three years ago. My dad is at that age. I'm not.

Sometimes I envy friends who are estranged from their dads. Sometimes I'm sure life would be so much easier if we could love each other a little less.

Sometimes, I watch the news, and I'm surprised when the anchor does not mention my dad, and this strange new crack that has suddenly appeared in the earth.

Sometimes, I wonder why a total internal organ transplant is not a viable option. Sometimes I want to punch the people who tell me it's not. But then I laugh, because sometimes I love to disprove the theory that there are no stupid questions. 

Sometimes my urge for violence surprises even me.

Sometimes, I see old people, and I wonder, "What did they do that we aren't doing? Why is growing old so easy for them?"

Sometimes, I see strangers on the street, and I can't help wishing it was their dad who would have to go through this, and not mine.

Yes, I'm that angry and crazy.

But it's the crazy people who make the best fighters, and I'll tell you it doesn't come any crazier than my family. We're going to fight. 

It's rare to find an effective chemotherapy regimen for pancreas cancer. But then again, my dad lives to be rare. (see above).  We're going to shed the naysayers like dead cancer cells. We're going to fight the tumors with everything we've got, and when the cancer adapts and mutates to become resistant, we'll find something else to throw at it, even if it's the kitchen sink. I always hated my kitchen sink. I am not afraid to throw it.

And we're going to party.

Who's with me?
Erin, my dad and me at the Huntsman Cancer Institute
p.s. Thank you to all of you who have dropped me notes, texts, random plates of cookies, phone messages... I know I haven't gotten back to any of you, but please know that I appreciate your love and support. 

Sometimes, even when I think I'm okay, I go to talk to someone and that person says something nice and I start crying and then it's like five hours later and I'm still crying. I'm a little thermonuclear right now, but I want you to know the kindness is very much appreciated.


  1. Oh, Brodi, I had no idea. I'm so sorry. My thoughts and prayers are with you, your dad, and your family.

    Kick that cancer's ass.

  2. Brodi, there just aren't any words. My heart is with you.

  3. Matt- Kicking of asses is what we do best. Thanks.

    Eden- There are no words, and yet I wrote a really long blog post! Thanks. Love you too.

  4. Cancer sucks. I know you know that better than anyone. We'll be praying for you all.

  5. Brodi, I am so so sorry. I wish there was something I could say or do to make this better for you and your family. We will hope and pray for another, longer-lasting miracle for your dad.

  6. Brodi - I'm so very sorry. And I have had many of the same thoughts as you.

    You and I should chat privately. As my dear friend, Lisa, battles pancreatic cancer, it would be nice to have a buddy to cry with, on the bad days. It is a horrible disease.

    I have learned, like you, the only way I can cope is to pray for a miracle, and believe a miracle will happen. I will now add your dad to my prayers.

    Hang in there, and feel free to e-mail privately anytime.

    And, party on!!!

  7. Oh, Brodi. Man... I'm so sorry. My fists are up over here for you and your family. Fight fight fight. Prayers and thoughts with you~ V

  8. Love you Brodi! Your family is in my thoughts and prayers!

  9. Brodi, I am sorry to hear your father is fighting cancer again. I'm sorry people have said things that seem insensitive. I'd lost both my parents before I turned 24, and no matter what age you are when are faced with a parent's mortality, it is a crippling blow. But I do believe that one's willingness to fight and live can make a huge difference, and it sounds like your dad is a heck of a fighter.

  10. I kind of like your kitchen sink, but I agree about throwing it. Add my kitchen sink to the mix, too.

  11. So sorry Brodi. You're brave to share.Actually you're just brave. You and your family will be in my prayers.

  12. Brodi I am SO sorry to hear that. I know your family and your dad are fighters and I will pray that everything works out wonderfully for you and your family.

    You know I have dealt with this too. My, might I add older, and more unhealthy father died of lymphoma a little over a year ago. I know there is nothing anyone can say than "I'm sorry" and that does little to ease the pain and anger and sadness.


  13. Oh, Brodi. Prayers for you and your family. I'm with you. Grab that anger and throw to the battle. *hugs*

  14. Sometimes it's not comforting to know that the Lord won't give us a trial we're not strong enough to endure... because we know the Lord eventually wants us strong enough to endure, well, anything... because we know we are very, very strong now, and it will take a doozy to make us stronger... because we like the muscles we have and we don't want any more, dammit!

    Stupid eternal progression.

    My prayers are with you.

  15. I got an email from my dad about this Saturday. One thing our family does well is support each other and fast and pray like its the new style. So there's a big hug reaching from Arizona to Wyoming just for you guys. We love you guys!!!

  16. Thanks, y'all. This might be one of those days where I don't get to comment on everyone's comments, but know that I am reading each one, and holding it close to my heart.

    Cancer does indeed suck the big one.

    I'm sorry for those of you who have been through this, or are going through it now. I guess the truth is, we're never at an age where it's okay to lose a parent.

    And Lisa- I would love to talk/cry/hug through this. I read about your friend's diagnosis, and my heart broke. Pancreatic cancer is ruthless. I'll email you. Or you email me.

    And Robin- Whenever someone says, "The Lord won't give you a trial you're not strong enough to endure," I can't help thinking they should really say, "Congratulations! You haven't committed suicide." Because like you said, what other choice do we have than to endure it?

  17. I'm so sorry, Brodi! Here's hoping for another miracle!

  18. Shit.

    Fully bawling here. Tell your mom and dad how much I love them, please?

    I am so, so sorry. And sad. I love me some Ashtons.

  19. My heart breaks for you Brodi. My dad beat testicular cancer nearly ten years ago and I still hold my breath each and every time he goes for a follow up appointment.

    I can't tell you how much I hate cancer. My husband's 63 year old aunt is battling a recurrance of breast cancer after THIRTY years cancer free- talk about thinking you dodged a bullet. What a rotten, sneaky SOB this disease is. I will gladly throw things at it with you.

    You're in my thoughts.

  20. Brodi- I am so so sorry about your dad. You have been in my thoughts ever since I heard the news. Cancer sucks, I hate it!! My cousin lost his fight to it last month, we are definitely cancer haters in our family!! But miracles do happen and your dad is a fighter, and I think cancer hates the fighters because they can beat the disease. I am praying for your dad and your family and I hope that he kicks this cancers.........trash:)

  21. Brodi - My thoughts are with you and your family. ((hugs))

  22. Ashtons=Prizefighters
    Cancer's going down!

  23. I'm so sorry, Brodi. I understand a little bit of what you're going through, but not to the same extent yet. (My husband had chondrosarcoma and had a tumor removed from his femur three years ago. He received the news about a month ago that his cancer is hiding somewhere, but it's not causing problems yet, but it's inevitable that it will soon because of all my husband's other health problems.)

    Cancer is a hard thing to deal with. I know how it feels to wish someone else's somebody was going through these health problems and not your own. If you need to talk, I'm here. I pray that you'll have peace and comfort through this time and that no matter what happens, your family will be taken care of. :)

    Go. Fight. Win!

  24. I'm so sorry, Brodi. This just sucks.

  25. I am praying for all of you! Love you guys!

  26. You know what. That just plain sucks. I'm so sorry.

    My mom passed away in November. She was only 60 & I'm 28. It made me INSANE when people my mom's age would say, "Oh yes, it's so hard. I lost my mom last year". I wanted to scream at them & say, "My kids haven't even had a chance to know their grandma! And I'm too young to plan a funeral! You don't have any idea what it's like!" So I feel ya about peoples comments (even if they mean well). And the anger.

    Love & prayers to you and the fam!

  27. I can't believe what I am reading. I feel awful and YES you are way too young to lose your Dad and your Dad is just going to beat this too. We already witnessed miracles with him. My prayers and thoughts are with you and I hate my kitchen sink as well--it's yours if it comes to that.
    Love you guys Deanna

  28. I'm so sorry Brodi. You and your family are in my prayers.

  29. My heart broke a bit when I read your post. Your family are indeed fighters and you will continue to kick the stupid cancer's ass! My mother thinks very high of your parents, and I've always thought highly of all of you so now you have two more supporters on the sidelines.

    My mom is three year's out from her cancer and I feel I am in a perpetual state of holding my breath every freaking visit. It is never a good time for parents to get sick, for them to leave us (I may be okay with it when I'm 90 and my mom is 124), and I agree that we are always given things we can't handle so feel free to throw my sink in as well (it's white and nasty anyway).

  30. My prayers are with you and your family, Brodi! Love you so much!

  31. You and he and your family will be in our Texas prayers.

  32. So sorry Brodi. Keep fighting! Don't listen to the naysayers (and probably a punch or two would be good for them).

  33. I'm so sorry, Brodi. It's such a helpless, infuriating feeling when something totally crappy and unexplainable like that happens. I hate that. I hate it for you. Loving people sucks sometimes.

    I am thinking of you, Brodi.

  34. We've been fasting and praying for you guys. Your dad is "rare" -- in all the good ways, and we love him, and your mom, and you! Wish we could do more. Here's to the Clot!

  35. Love the Ashton's! Always available to bring soup, hugs, whatever!

  36. Oh Brodi. I'm hearing this news for the first time this morning and I am cracked open for you - split wide. Your words are making me bawl.

    "Sometimes I'm sure life would be so much easier if we could love each other a little less. Sometimes, I watch the news, and I'm surprised when the anchor does not mention my dad, and this strange new crack that has suddenly appeared in the earth."

    A strange new crack indeed. Thinking of you - the clot (and all its additions) is inspiring -b/c you're right, if anyone will fight this, it's you guys. I just wish it wasn't the reality. I worried when I saw Sam was guest blogging. I'm here for you Brod. Prayers starting now for your Dad, your family, you. I'll stop by soon. I love you.

  37. Brodi, I'm so very sorry. Hugs and prayers for you and your whole family, especially your dad.

  38. Wow. And not in a good, fun "Woo-hoo!" way, of course. I never knew I could hate a disease until a friend of mine died of cancer a few years ago. Now, cancer and I are definitely sworn enemies. And while it's lousy how many other people are fighting the same fight, it's good to know that there's a whole lot of us in this thing together. It's not easy, but it's life and it's definitely worth fighting for. I understand completely when you say that you feel sometimes it would be easier if we just didn't love people quite so much. But I also think that the only thing worse than that would be missing out on all the amazing things these really cool people we love so much have meant in our lives. So, Woo-hoo! for being crazy and fighting with all you've got. Know that there are tons of others fighting the same war you are and many, many others providing support for all you front-liners.

  39. Brodi...I felt like I was punched in the gut when Sam told us. I am so sorry! I truly know what you and your family are going through and wish it would all go away! The thing I keep holding strong to is that your Dad is the "ultimate" walking miracle and that another miracle can happen! You, your Dad and sweet family are in our prayers. Thinking of you often!!!

  40. So sorry to hear this horrible news. We will be praying for you and your family.

  41. Again, I love you all! It's good to have support from coast to coast, and Texas too.

    Do we have the international front represented?

    My dad had his port line surgically inserted today, so we're ready for the chemo. Let the fight begin.

  42. I'm so sorry that this happened. I'll keep thinking of all of you. But you and your family sound like a bunch of fighters--I'm sure you'll all pull through.

    Good luck!

  43. Love you (insert tears being shed).

  44. Brodi, I'm so sorry that your family has to go through this. It is difficult. I've been through it with loved ones. Keep fighting.

  45. Brodi, I'm so sorry. Sending the best wishes for you and your family.

  46. Brodi,
    Brookie likes to say boooooo to everything I say lately. That's what I feel like saying to cancer - boooooooo. Go away you bully. Fight away you guys!! Your ability to see humor in so many of these situations is nothing short of miraculous. You and your family are real troopers - carry on the fight! We're praying for your dad, mom and family. Lots of love to you and Sam.

  47. Oh Brodi,
    You're so honest, even when it hurts. So sorry about your dad. I know you're reaching someone who might be going thru a similar thing but can't write about it yet.

    I'll be thinking about you and your family.

  48. This post broke my heart, Brodi. My thoughts and prayers are with you. My grandpa died of leukemia a few years ago and the fight wasone of the toughest for our family. Please know we're fighting alongside you. Your dad seems amazing and I pray he will continue to be the rare one and beat this.

  49. FIght FIght Fight!!!!! Love to you and your most wonderful family. If anyone can make a laughing spectacle of medical science, it would be the Aston Fam. Go get 'em!

  50. I'm just one of the many mom's who was blessed to take my kids to your dad as a pediatrician (my husband saw him as a kid and I knew he must be great!) and sure enough, he was the best pediatrician I've seen with my 2 kids so far! It's no wonder why you want to fight this thing to keep him around as long as possible! God Bless you all in your journey! You're all in our prayers!
    Mom of Jackson and Grace Hauley :)

  51. Thanks again, everyone. I'm reading every comment to my dad!