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The Waiting Place

You can get so confused

that you'll start in to race

down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace

and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,

headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.

The Waiting Place... - Dr Seuss


At six weeks and three rounds of P into his therapy, Dad is definitely experiencing the "hump day" effect. With six long weeks to go until he has his first CT scan of his liver to see how his tumours are responding to treatment, there's little to do but wait. And wait, and wait. As a scientist, his natural inclination is to go into full-blown investigation mode, but this has proved to be a little difficult when the only data he has to work with are the niggles, aches and pains he has been experiencing since starting treatment. Is recurrent fever a sign that the immune system is mounting a good response to the immunotherapy? Can abdominal pain around the liver area be attributed to inflammation due to attack of the immune system on the tumours? These are questions to which no definitive answers can be given, not even by the oncologist, who's supposed to know everything, right?


Dad does, however, seem to be tolerating the treatment fairly well, and so far hasn't experienced any of the more serious side effects hidden in the fine print. His daily fevers are manageable with paracetamol, his abdominal pain isn't bad most days, and his lingering cough following a chest infection is more annoying than worrying. He's even managed to gain weight somehow, despite the loss of appetite he's always complaining about (which conveniently, doesn't seem to apply to TimTams and RJ's). Plenty to be thankful for, for sure. But if you read Dad's spill in the previous post, you'll know that this is all having a huge impact on him mentally and emotionally. Dykstras don't talk about their feelings, everybody knows that! What's more, Dad has always been such a wide-eyed optimist, it's hard to watch as doubts and fears erode his usually high spirits. Can we admit that life just sucks sometimes?


On a more positive note, the parental unit has been overwhelmed with the warm fuzzies after a bunch of you sent/dropped off messages, cards, fruit, flowers, and care packages. Words cannot express how much this means to them, and knowing how many of you hold them in your thoughts and prayers. It's certainly helped to lift their spirits. Thank you all!


The King on his comfy new throne. He looks positively chuffed with himself, because he just polished off an entire packet of TimTams. A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the... never mind.


F is for Familial


Some time after Dad was given his cancer diagnosis, he was contacted by the New Zealand Familial GI Cancer Service to be told that due to the deficiency of mismatch repair proteins identified in his tumour tissue, it was looking likely that he had Lynch syndrome, which is a genetic predisposition to certain types of cancer, particularly colon cancer. And the thing with genetic predispositions is that they tend to run in families. Capital F*. If Dad has Lynch syndrome (which will hopefully be determined by genetic testing further down the track), there's a 50% chance that each of his siblings and children will have it too. Including yours truly. That's eight of us who will need genetic counseling, yearly or 2-yearly colonoscopies, and possibly genetic testing. Not to mention each of our children, who could potentially be affected too. It's not all doom and gloom though, as genetic cancer syndromes is fast becoming a hot topic in the cancer research scene, and cancer screening technology is ever improving. There's even talk of a Lynch syndrome vaccine being developed. Who knows what could be uncovered in the next few years? I, for one, will be waiting with baited breath.


Over and out.


H.

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