I'd like to start this post by saying "Here's where I call in a favor…", but the fact of the matter is, none of you owe me any favors. So I guess that brings us to goodwill.
As many of you know, the last year and a half has been challenging, to say the least, for my family. My father has been fighting a losing battle with cancer and my parents home has been robbed now three times. The company that my mom works for, which happens to be the same company I started my own career at, is organizing a small fundraising event to benefit my parents. While this is all kind of awkward for me, it's a supremely nice gesture on their part.
The event, named Holiday Goodwill, will take place on December 12 and will consist of a pasta dinner, chinese auction, ticket raffle and 50/50 raffle. A local hotel has donated use of their space and offered the food at cost. The event is still a secret to my parents (good thing mom is too busy to read my blog these days…) but I had to get involved to provide contacts and I also offered to help with some design.
Aside from that, the only other way I know to help is to humbly ask for auction and raffle donations, since I just happen to have this amazingly talented and artistic pool of friends! This is also awkward for me, because I know that everyone has their hardships and everyone is looking for a little goodwill these days. What makes this situation more worthy than another? The answer is nothing. I know that times are hard for everyone right now, regardless of your situation, so if I get absolutely no response to this I will completely understand.
If however, you would like to send along an item or even donate a service to be auctioned off at the event, I'd be forever indebted. Please email me, firstname.lastname@example.org, with what you would like to donate and I'll reply with all the details.
My Dad and I, 1980
I'll now wrap this up with more specific details about my Dad's condition and where things currently stand. So many sweet friends ask for updates and I hardly find the time to post them. My father was diagnosed with Melanoma in March of 2009. What started as what he thought was a bug bite on his right leg quickly grew into a tumor the size of a baseball. By the time it was properly diagnosed, the surgery to remove it was very difficult with him losing a large chunk of his calf. We lovingly call it his sharkbite. His recovery was hard and I closed my shop at this time to be his daily caretaker.
Even though at the time of diagnosis, the cancer was level 5 (meaning it had spread to subcutaneous fat and tissue), they assured us it had not spread elsewhere. After surgery my Dad began the standard Interferon treatment regiment and was supposed to continue this for one year. It was hard on him and his body but after a few months we was able to return to work part time. At the beginning of this year, he had 6 more months of his regiment when another tumor popped up in his leg. This was followed days later by another and another. Within a week his leg was full new cancer growths.
The doctors continued to say the cancer had not spread past his leg and recommended we travel to Pittsburgh for a procedure called a limb profusion. They tourniquet the limb being treated and then flush it with extremely high doses of chemotherapy to try to kill the cancer. This saves the rest of the body from the side effects of chemo and also allows for a much stronger dose to be administered. So off to Pittsburgh we went. Dad spent a week in the ICU following the operation and my mom and I stayed in family housing nearby.
The recovery from this procedure was even harder than the first. My Dad's leg was basically useless and I once again returned to caring for him. After a few months and some physical therapy he was able to walk with a cane and eventually return to work again part time, though he was in constant pain.
A scan in early August revealed that the cancer had finally made it's way past his leg and spread throughout his body. It is in his bones, on his spine and on (but not in) his lung and some intestines. His leg was also once again full of tumors. Interleukin 2 (IL-2) was the next course of treatment. This is a very difficult procedure which requires a one week stay in the ICU followed by a week off then one more week in. It's extremely hard on many people with some very nasty side effects but Dad fought it like a champ. A follow up scan a few weeks later sadly showed no shrinkage of existing tumors and additional new growth.
We are now onto the next batch of treatments which include a couple rounds of chemo to try to shrink tumors and provide pain relief followed by a 12 week clinical trial. Unfortunately Dad is in a lot of pain due to the size and location of the tumors and also cannot use his leg again. He is no longer able to work and his employer has realized they cannot wait for him to return. This means he will also lose his health insurance, though even with it, many procedures and out of state travel are not covered.
I am caring for him daily again so that my mom can continue to work and am immensely lucky that I have the ability to, though over the past year and half it has taken a financial toll on me as well. I can still get some work done, but barely half what I would otherwise. Thus the reason I have yet to reopen my shop.
My parents home has also been robbed three times now since my Dad's diagnosis and because of this, and my Dad's condition, my parents will be moving into my house after Thanksgiving. This will certainly be an adjustment for everyone that will have its up and downs but at least I know they will be safe, have less financial burden and I can more easily care for my Dad.
What will the future hold? I haven't a clue. As hard as most days are, I haven't given up hope for my Dads recovery. I can't. And neither has he. We'll fight to the end and hopefully look back on this time and laugh… or something.
Update: The official site for the event is now up if you are local and would like to attend or if you would like to make a monetary donation: www.holidaygoodwill.com.