Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Change In Pressure

Part of the departure lecture we get when we fly in an airplane goes something like this…

“in the event of a pressure change in the cabin, a mask will drop from the ceiling. Place the straps around your head and secure the mask over your mouth and nose. Make sure to fasten your own mask before securing anyone else’s.”

It makes perfect sense. If you pass out before you get your own mask because you were unselfishly putting the mask on someone else, what good does it do you? But what happens if the person sitting next to you is your spouse or child? Of course your instinct is to place the mask over the face of your loved one first. But the need is still the same, by the time you secure their mask, you will not likely have the opportunity to place the mask on yourself.

Everyday life is like that for me as a cancer survivor. I have needs that must be taken care of due to late term side effects. Of those needs, seeing more than a dozen different specialist at one of the top cancer hospitals in the country, if not the world, Memorial Sloan Kettering. Every year I have dozens of appointments to attend to make sure that my body is still behaving, and usually, I am facing some sort of other drama as well. This drama puts me into a situation of “will I put the mask on myself first or that of my loved one?”

Last year, it was both my ex-wife(before the filing) and my father. She was dealing with something optional, he was dealing with his diagnosis of lung cancer. Several of my appointments had to be cancelled or delayed so that I could tend to those needs. This year is no different, as I am now dealing with just my father’s situation, and it is around the time of year that all my annual surveillance stuff is done. These are important tests, but as my father’s caregiver, I am between a rock and a hard place. Lung cancer is nothing to mess around with, and we have been believing that it has been caught early enough right from the beginning which is why we need to stay on top of it right now. And if that means delaying my appointments a month or so until his case is finally declared in remission, so be it. It is a conscious decision that I am making.

I just hope I never see that mask drop from the ceiling of an airplane.

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