Holly Bissy Dad!

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Today is my Dad’s 67th birthday… Wow, what a year it has been!  Just two weeks after my Dad’s 66th birthday, we found out he had a mass on his brain… a glioblastoma multiforme.  The prognosis was not great.  And here he is a year later… the tumor had consolidated, and he continues with Avastin… which has been keeping the tumor at bay.  His short term memory has been affected, possibly due to scarring from the radiaiton?  He and Mommy Sue went to Hawaii this year, and are planning a trip to Indiana this November…  Dad continues to have friends and family visit, regularly and take him for walks.  He’s still not able to drive.  I am grateful for every one of them as I am grateful for every day my Dad is here even though at times I feel robbed – knowing I’ve been given a shortened time with him… It is a conundrum…

A tradition in our family, one that my Dad started, is to ask three questions, and we will do this tonight at dinner… “Sooooo Tim.  Regarding this last year, what did you most like, what did you least like and what has most surprised you…”  I can only guess…

Long overdue update…

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Hello All!

Just a quick note to say my Dad is doing okay… his physical strength is still less than optimum.  I think one of the side effects of decadron, a steroid he was taking to reduce swelling, is muscle weakness, top that with the 6 weeks of chemo and radiation this last winter and it has created an up-hill battle for Dad getting his strength back.  He shuffles and he leans… one shoulder will be higher than the other – I’ve gotten in the habit of calling him “Tippy.”  His short term memory isn’t what it used to be… the NeuroOncologist thinks this may be a side effect of the radiation… His blood counts continue to improve, his blood pressure is one aspect that is taking alot to control – or maybe it’s not.  Avastin puts an additional stress on his cardio system so they are concerned with the blood pressure increasing.  Each time he shows up for his Avastin appt, his blood pressure goes up.  They send him to the blood pressure clinic and it’s normal… I’m guessing my Dad has some reaction when he goes for Avastin…  and perhaps his blood pressure isn’t as much of a problem as they think?

 

I’m encouraging Dad and Mommy Sue to plan some trips… I know they want to go to Indiana, but the heat and humidity could be too much this time of the year… Perhaps in the Fall, and I get nervous about waiting… Mady, Dad’s NeuroOncologist, said in February/March that he needed to start doing the things he wanted to do, go on those trips, because although he has a good MRI report now, they don’t have anyway to gauge how long it will be that way…  I do get concerned.  We are also discussing a family trip to Disneyland in mid-November…That feels like a long way off and it will either work or it won’t.  I hope it will work.  I remember going to Disneyland with Dad – oh so many years ago!  I remember laughing so hard and having the time of our life!  There’s something about experiencing things with your parents, and now I hope I can share that joy and delight with my Dad and my boys…

Dad did have an MRI last Friday, but because Mady is on maternity leave, it was not one where we get the instant results.  Next week we’ll know more as to how the tumor is…
Dad has said that he’s been in a bit of a depression as his great friends, Bud and Cathy, are possibly moving away… Bud and Cathy have been such great friends to Dad and have been a tremendous amount of support to all of us!  They have, from the beginning, giving Dad rides, taking him for walks, breakfasts, lunches, etc.  That will be a very large hole to fill if they move away…
I will report more as I know what the MRI results are.
Thank you for keeping my Dad in your thoughts & prayers!
Alicia

And now for a health update…

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I apologize, I’m being lazy, and I know there are folks out there that want to know what’s going on with my Dad, so I’m re-posting an email I sent out yesterday… 
 
Dad met with his local oncologist, earlier this week.  The results from his recent MRI (a week or so ago) show no changes in the size of the tumor.  This is good news.  Mommy Sue mentioned that Dr. Zhang let it slip (he’s usually quite pessemistic,) that if things stayed like this, and we can keep the Avastin from causing any tears in his blood vessels, he could be around for another couple years… I will try to remember that that could be optimistic and it is good news… Keeping his blood pressure in check is key to keeping the Avastin working. It causes his blood pressure to rise, as it puts an extra tax on his cardio system.  Keeping my Dad walking and eating right are also main components to this… (hint, hint, if you’re hanging out with him.)  He said he’d love to teach again at Kaiser and he’d love to drive again… 
 
Healing with every breath Dad. 
 
With a heart filled with gratitude!
Alicia 

On our way home…

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(I started writing this when we were getting ready to leave the East Coast on Monday… life sometimes gets in my way of writing, completing, posting.)

I know this blog is a way for folks to catch up on what’s going on with my Dad, and this blog is also a way for me to express, vent, ponder my experiences, feelings, emotions, moments, etc.

This morning, we’re heading back home from our brief trip to Conneticiut and Brooklyn, NY.  I’m not surprised at the amount of emotion welling up.  And the tears flow.  The poor gentleman sitting across the aisle from me keeps looking over.  It can be difficult having expressions of emotion, especially tears, so public and I’ve come to let go of any concerns about crying in public. 

We went to the East Coast to visit my Dad’s oldest brother Jan.  Jan was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and a fairly good size tumor – did I hear orange size – is in one of his lungs, putting pressure on his heart.  We had planned on making a trip there in May, and received word from his daughter that he was in hospice care and there was a concern that waiting ’til mid-May would be too long.  So I had the good fortune of escorting my Dad to New York.

We were greated at the airport by my Dad’s brother Chris, who lives in Conneticiut, and we drove directly to Brooklyn.  Jan is staying with his daughter Hallie in a sweet apartment in Bedford–Stuyvesant.  KC, the youngest brother, was already there.  It was good to have all four of them in the same room.  Jan had their attention and told stories of different folks he’s interviewed over the years.  And he shared sweet thoughts about his brothers.  They all recalled things their Mom would say – Janetisms? – which I will continue to collect and get imput on spelling, definitions. 

When we left for the final time on Sunday, my Dad ended up being the last person to leave the room.  He hugged his brother good bye, and the sense of finality hit him… I was already teary and then, seeing my Dad, really started crying.  The impact of why we were there, hit us both.

I’m so very glad I was able to accompany my Dad.  That he had the opportunity to say good-bye and to be in the same space with his brothers again, if for what may have been the last time.  No earth shattering revelations were made,  just the appreciation of each other, going through what they’re going through.   I was also grateful that I was able to connect with Hallie, if for a moment, and my cousins Renee, Julia and Margot, and my Aunt Trudy.  I’m so very blessed to be a Hodenfield.  And that is one thing my Dad shared that weekend with Jan, that Jan was who told him the importance of being a Hodenfield. 

Healing with every breath.

Leaving on a jet plane…

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I mentioned in my Good Friday post that two of my Grandmother’s sons were experiencing health challenges… Truth is, it’s more than a challenge. My Uncle Jan, my Dad’s oldest brother, has stage 4 lung cancer.  He had been living in Tunis and has recently returned to Brooklyn, NY and is staying with his daughter.  My Dad and I are getting ready to embark on a trip to NY and Conn. to see him and his other two brothers.  I had hoped to plan this trip for May, when we could be more flexible in our travel arrangements and taken the time to coordinate things more carefully.  But time is elusive… evasive… fleeting…

Here’s hoping there will be lots of laughter, mixed in with I’m sure a few tears…

Healing with every breath Dad and Uncle Jan… Healing with every breath….

Laughter…

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There’s something about sibling laugther that gets me everytime.  My sister and I can have each other in stitches over the slightess remark that would be innoculous to anyone around us.  And when my Uncle KC comes to visit, I see my Dad laugh like Bridget and I laugh.  The giggles, the uncontrollable fits of laughter… I love it!  There are forever in our lexicon phrases, words, and memories of stories that can cause me to nearly pee my pants I laugh so hard.  I was lucky to once again witness that again this weekend in my Dad and Uncle.

They say laughter is the best medicine, and if that’s the case, I say “healing with every giggle Dad, healing with every giggle.”