Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

A Lie That Had To Be Told

Growing up as a child, I was always told that telling lies, no matter the severity, was wrong. 

As a parent, I still believe that, well almost.  I have done my best to teach my daughters the importance of telling the truth.  That lesson has been muddled with the difference between a lie and a fib, when convenience plays a factor, or even when it is for someone’s better interests.

Example one, you throw a rock through someone’s window, get caught, and then asked, “did you do it?”  You respond with a “no” and that is definitely a lie.  The window can be repaired.  And the basic science lesson of a pane of glass cannot withstand the impact of a solid object is proven.  But there are many consequences of that one lie.  First, the person being lied to has feelings, and they have been hurt – not necessarily by the act of the rock through the window, but being lied to.  In reality, all that person will want is for the window to be repaired and the incident not to be repeated.

Depending if the lie has been discovered, one of two things will happen to the liar (by the way, isn’t it confusing we spell “lie”, and “lies” or “lied”, but we spell the person who did it “liar”).  From the first lie, a reputation is established, one of mistrust.  If one lie has been told, how will it be possible to tell when the next one is being told, and so on?  Even if another lie is ever made.  But what if the individual gets away with that lie?  The chances are pretty good of a false sense of security of being able to fool somebody all of the time will develop.

The irony, that as parents, we always try to instill in our children the importance of not lying, until we get called out on it, mainly by example.  The telephone rings.  Your child answers the phone and announces it is “aunt Betty”.  You instruct your lacky to tell aunt Betty that you are not home.  After your child gets off of the phone, the inquisition begins immediately.  “But mommy, why did you have me lie to aunt Betty?”  And then the parent justifies the “fib” was not really a lie.  “I was just too busy and aunt Betty always likes to talk a long time and I just didn’t have that time write now” as you return to watching your television show.

There are literally dozens of examples when there seems to be a line drawn between fibs and lies, though both are exactly the same thing.

In the heat of a tragedy or crisis however, I do believe that this may be the one and only time that the line should be drawn, when it is to protect the person hurt, healing, or suffering.  During moments like that, everything should be done to minimize more pain, impeded recovery, or cause someone to just flat out give up.

My father had lost a window of time, from the time that he checked into the hospital for his surgery, until about a week after being placed in a rehab facility to recover from the aftereffects of the surgery.  There were things that he needed to know, and there were things that he wanted to know.  It was a willful decision that I made after discussing it, not to disclose to my father everything that had occurred to him, and what still was ahead of him.  As his consci0us awareness improved, only then did I offer him answers when asked.

But during his lengthy stay in the hospital, the purpose for which he went in, cancer surgery, because of everything else that followed, and decisions that had to be made, and consequences that would have to be dealt with any erroneous judgements, we had forgotten all about cancer.

The first question that my father had asked was, “did they take my whole lung?”  This was just days following the surgery, and clearly it was an answer that might help to motivate him by letting him know, “no Dad, they didn’t.”  I could tell the answer was a relief to him as a smile appeared on his face.  It was at this point that I realized how little my father knew, how few answers we had and clearly what was going to be ahead.

It was just after my father had arrived at the rehab facililty that the surgeon made contact with us, to discuss the results.  They did not believe that they were able to get all of the cancer.  Pathology had showed some residual cancer cells as did a biopsied lymph node.  My father’s cancer battle would have to continue with either chemo or radiation therapies.  Given what happened to him with the surgery, we know this is not going to be a decision to be made lightly, side effects to be taken very seriously and likely.  Most importantly, quality of life.

It had been just over a month when my dad finally asked me, “did they get all the cancer?”  I have been in this situation once before with someone so close to me, my grandmother, who passed away from complications of ovarian cancer.  The surgery was supposed to have taken care of it all.  At least that is what we had been told.  She passed just weeks later after preparing for what we were told was preventative chemotherapy.  “They don’t think so Pop.  Tests have not been confirmed that there could be more, only that they found more in what they removed.”  He looked at me as he knew I had this information long before he asked.

The conversation then turned to treatments, and what his fears were.  I have talked previously about misconceptions and stereotyped when it came to cancer depending on the decades.  Sitting in front of him, his own flesh and blood, I have survived cancer over 23 years, having gone through both radiation and chemotherapy, but it was his fears and apprehension of memories from what cancer was like, when his mother passed away, that he was afraid he would be subjected to.

Clearly, times are different with treatments and diagnosis.  But first things first.  He needed to get stronger and recover from his surgery and post surgical side effects before treatment could even be discussed.  Yes, with cancer, in most cases, it is all about the timing.

We met with the surgeon who said that there is going to be another conference with a tumor board to discuss what the next options will be.  My father’s recovery has gone well, he has gotten stronger, and clearer.

And by the way, if you are wondering just as my father and other family members, what is in the vacated space from the removal of the lung lobe… nothing.  The explanation we got was that the remaining part of the lung would actually fill in the space itself.  Amazing how the body tries to care for itself.

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