Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Dealing With Bad News

Well, we got news today, but it wasn't the news we wanted.
My brother has stage IV cancer, most likely lung.

I truly know every little about cancer and the treatments available. For instance, the cancer was diagnosed by a pulmonologist, not an oncologist. He hasn't even seen the oncologist yet.

The pulmonologist diagnosed it from fluid that was removed from around my brother's lung. Now the oncologist will head up the treatment side. We have been told, though, that the treatment will be palliative and not a cure. It's apparently progressed too far, though I'm withholding judgement on that until we talk to the oncologist AND get a second opinion.

But my brother doesn't want to talk about all those things yet. He's processing. I'm processing. My whole family is processing.

Some of us are religious... most of us are not, including my brother and myself.

Shit happens. We live, and eventually, we die. It can't be avoided... it just is.

My brother, being amazing, has assured us all that he isn't afraid of death.

Knowing him, I believe it. He's single, doesn't have kids or a partner. I think he's overwhelmed right now by all the attention he's getting. He has agreed to move in with my sister, which is good.

I feel horrible, yes... but, at the same time, I kind of feel horrible because I'm not falling apart (my sister is a wreck). I have thought about mortality a lot, my own and my family. As the youngest of eight kids, I've often thought about how I will be the one who watches everyone else die around me. I'm also single with no kids so in the end, it possibly could be me, and my nieces and nephew. Oh, and I have great close friends, too, but it's not quite the same as having a spouse or your own kids.

Maybe that's why my brother and I aren't losing our shit (yet). A lot of the sadness, I think, that comes with knowing you're dying has to do with those you leave behind. The less people you leave behind, the easier it is, maybe?

Or perhaps we're still just in shock and the reality hasn't sunk in yet.

I'm not going to pretend that my family isn't odd... but we're odd in the fucking best ways possible. We fight like cats and dogs at times, but right now, you won't find a stronger family unit than ours.

I went to check on my 85 year old father to see how he's handling it. We thought we'd lose him after we lost our mom, but he shocked us all and proved he's stronger than all of us put together and now he's doing it again. Maybe the acceptance of the unavoidable comes with age... but when I got there expecting him to be falling apart, he was playing with his dog and laughing. Don't get me wrong... he's devastated. But, also, my dad is very spiritual. He has no doubt that someday, he'll be together with Mom again. I have no doubt he is already thinking about all the fun my mom and my brother are going to have wherever it is we go when we leave this world.

Since we're all spread out, right now we're all communicating through Facebook. Every one of us, Dad included, is sitting in front of our collective computers and phones, making each other laugh. My brother was the first one to say he wasn't going to put up with any gruesome, sad, morbid shit and for us to get the fuck over it. Now we're planning slumber parties and planning farting contests.

Bad things happen. But when you're surrounded by love, everything can be dealt with. No one is alone and we'll take everything as it comes, together.

Life is gonna end. It's up to us to decide if it ends with sadness or joy.

We choose joy.


  1. hugs Beth my prayers are being sent to you and your brother

    Shandris Dagger

  2. Beth you an amazing woman. The way you share emotion feeling and what is going on with you has been mind opening in a wide variety of ways. I trust that you and it sounds like your brother as well will deal with whatever comes in the best way possible. Much positive energy directed to you and your brother. Hugs Owl


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