Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Family Cancer Twitter

It probably sounds morbid, but so far, starting a Cancer Twitter has proven wildly entertaining for my family so far.

Everyone who knows Max & Lorraine KNOWS that we long ago developed a certain level of gallows humor to deal with all their medical misadventures. Mom was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis -- a terminal lung disease (with a very dire prognosis), but so far the only thing that appears to having come close to killing her was the Insurance Company determined to syspend her medication last year. (It was a doctor-Deke friend who caught her misdiagnosis of COPD at first -- and last year it was a Deke-Lawyer-buddy who intervened and got her treatment reinstated.) I bitch about those student loan payments, but am still convinced where you go to college IS life-or-death.

My stepdad, on the other hand, has routinely come down with cancer every Summer he's been married to my Mom.

He's had it all: testicular cancer; bladder cancer; prostate cancer; stomach cancer; and colon cancer. Growing new cancers is pretty much his super-power. He's fairly sanguine about it, and has been known to interrupt his various treatments to fix any assorted medical equipment that might happen to go on the fritz while he's around. He's pretty handy. .

The one summer he took off from Cancer was the year he came down with Cardiomyopathy, and we had to take him into the shop to get him retrofitted with an implanted defibrillator.

Last summer, we spent an (unexpected) month at St. Joe when he didn't recover the way he usually has in the past from GI surgery to remove a giant obstruction.

This year, he came down with esophageal cancer.

We got the diagnosis a couple weeks ago and -- as usual -- the hometown docs were taking casket measurements, and just generally imbuing everyone with a sense of imminent doom.

To be fair: it is -- to use the appropriate terminology after all my research -- nothin to fuck around with.

Of all the cancers you can get, don't go with this one if you can possibly opt out.

BUT, the doctors HERE weren't half as gloomy. The tumors are operable. They don't appear to have invaded the lymph system. And the docs are perfectly happy to build him a new esophagus. (Granted, it's not routine -- but it's not unheard of.)

I reported all this today on the new Family Cancer Twitter I started to keep the stepfamily posted on Pops' treatment.

I posted a link to his surgeon's bio, and all the latest research I could find from Cleveland Clinic (where, I still think, is probably where we should be going for the surgery.)

It turns out, it's pretty handy for my friends -- who like to stay updated, but don't really want to call when we're still stuck at the hospital.)

The first response I got was from a girlfriend who pointed out the Surgeon had a very distinguished resume for only being 48 -- and that I should dress accordingly for the next appointment in case he turns out to be single.

The second response was from another girlfriend who agreed it was useful, but pointed out it might be violating every HIPPA privac law on the books.

Another asked WHYYYYY I couldn't just use Facebook (BECAUSE anyone can access a twitter link, without needing to "join" -- my step-uncles are about 132 years old and probably don't want to "friend" me on Facebook. They don't want anything to do with Twitter either, but I knew they could manage to bookmark a link.)

I told Pops at dinner last night he might actually enjoy Twitter, because online "IT DOESN't MATTER IF YOU CAN't HEAR!!"

He's also deaf as a post, and determined to stay that way, mostly for the purpose of irritating the shit outta me and Mom.