Yes, you read that right. Seven years after my own diagnosis, my dad now also has a large mass in his brain that is characteristic of a highly malignant brain cancer–most likely a glioblastoma.
By all means… Take a few seconds to utter some WTFs and holy shits.
I’ve written about my father in some depth in the past but I have never painted a complete picture of the man. I mentioned him briefly in Under my mom’s watch and went into more detail in Lobbying with my emotions. That last post caused a bit of discussion among my family and led to the unequivocal knowledge that “Liz doesn’t like her dad.” And it is true.
I don’t like my dad
Without writing an entire novel about how he has treated my family, let me just say that he was an abusive husband and father, a philanderer, an unscrupulous civil servant, and a “maker of deals” in all things in life. After my parent’s divorce when I was two, he never paid child support. My rare interactions with him over the course of my 36 years involved a handful of trips to Sea World, birthday cards from the ages of 3-20, and a AAA roadside assistance membership at Christmas when I was 26 (that’s a long story). He is the kind of man who only does things for people if it is to his advantage.
In the coming weeks I imagine I will have more to say about my dad and his dealings with brain cancer — as I have now become entangled in his care due to my intimate knowledge of this disease and my extreme curiosity of how much this disease may be related to my genetics now that there is a link. (Or as my friend Jay Sales recently pointed out, I am an outlier among outliers.)
Knowing I will be writing more about this in the future I felt it important to provide some back story as to why I am less emotionally impacted, and more intrigued, by him having this disease.
I also understand that this whole situation may lead to complicated feelings one way or another — I am not ignorant of the potential.
In fact, it has taken me two full weeks to complete this blog post because I am (still) conflicted about how honest I should be about a man who was recently diagnosed with brain cancer. It is my longstanding policy to be honest in all things here, on my piece of the Internet, but I feel guilty outing a man for his crappy behavior when a terminal diagnosis is involved.
Then again, I also have brain cancer and since my own diagnosis he has only visited me once (one week after the discovery of my brain tumor), never called again, declined an invitation to my wedding, and about a year ago insinuated that it was somehow my fault that I made a bad investment in a condo in 2007, just one year before the U.S. economy tanked and I got diagnosed with said brain cancer. It was after this conversation I realized I was officially done trying to maintain a relationship with this person who has never parented me, and that I would be OK never talking to or seeing him again.
So fuck him.
One more dad story
Last weekend I flew to San Diego to see him in the hospital. My dad has no friends and has turned off all his family members. I helped my siblings understand his diagnosis and what was happening in his frontal lobe: he has expressive aphasia (he can’t really talk), right-sided weakness, and is exhibiting bizarre behavior. I also helped set a plan in place to coordinate his care over the coming months.
While we were alone in hospital I told my dad that a friend just contacted me to tell me that he was recently diagnosed with cancer. Since going through my own cancer experience, I am often one of the first people my friends contact if they or a close person in their life is often dealing with a medical issue.
Even though my dad can’t clearly express himself right now, he was somehow still able to explain to me how I could “use” this role I play in people’s lives to my own advantage. I stopped him, looked him in the eyes and said, “No, that is not what I am going to do. I talk with people and share information out of the kindness of my heart, not because I think I am going to get something in return. That is the difference between you and me.”
And he stopped talking.