Thursday, April 28, 2011

Back to Normal (More or Less)

I talked to my dad last night and he sounded great. We had a long talk about how much better he was feeling, how doctors and hospitals overcharge for stuff, and how the health care system in America is screwed up.  That should tell you that he is back to normal.  He said his eating is mostly back to normal; he hasn’t lost any hair (except an eyebrow hair that he pulled out himself); and he is still walking multiple times a week. He has an appointment with the oncologist on Monday so that the doctor can check to make sure his blood levels, etc. are okay.  He also had a list of things to talk with the doctor about, including whether or not the drugs he is receiving during his chemotherapy treatments are directly correlated to which pharmacy company supplies the doctor’s office with cake for the day.
I leave for Atlanta tomorrow night after work and I couldn’t be more excited. I am looking forward to a weekend of napping, watching TV, reviewing my TSP, and walking – lots and lots of walking.  Until then…

Monday, April 25, 2011

"They Poured Gasoline Down My Stomach"

I talked to my dad last night on the phone. We hadn’t spoken by phone since Wednesday. I was getting email updates about how he was feeling from my dad and from my brother. The day after chemo, he wasn’t feeling all that well. His appetite was barely there and he was just tired all the time. A tough adjustment for a man who likes to do 100 things a day.  The second day after chemo he was miserable. He had lost his appetite completely and compared the feeling in his stomach to what it feels like when someone pours gasoline down your stomach. I told him that most people (fortunately) don’t know what that feels like, including him.  Thankfully, when I talked to him last night, the gasoline in his stomach had turned into a basketball.  This is an improvement (in case you were wondering).  He was watching tennis with my brother and had to get off the phone because Nadal got broken in the second set.
My mom returned to Barcelona last night.  She already misses my dad.  Those two are so cute.  After 36 or so years and all that fidgeting you’d think she’d need a little break. But nope. She misses having him in Barcelona. 
And last but certainly not least, Stacey Keegan (my brother’s wife), deserves some praise. Not only has she graciously welcomed my entire family in her home, fed us, sent us heartwarming emails, and calmed my dad down from time to time, she has also selflessly given my dad a new best friend – her dog, Abbott.  We all love and appreciate you very much.
I probably won’t update the blog again until I am in Atlanta with my dad. I am also assuming that my updates will become less frequent since he is done with the marathon surgeries and doctors visits. Hopefully, he will return back to mostly normal by the weekend. That would make him so happy. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Frequently Asked Questions

How are you doing?
I am ok. Some days are better than others. I hate being in D.C. during a time like this. I want to be with my dad and my family.  I’m really looking forward to seeing my dad in a week.
How is Marcus doing?
Marcus is doing ok.  Some days are better than others. He’s been great at supporting all of us and giving us a place to live until my parents are able to move back into their house.  He and I talk by phone, by email, or by text daily.  I’m sure he enjoys my daily emails of “How’s it going”.
How’s your mom?
My mom is a rock. She has transformed into supermom. Between taking care of my dad and driving him to all his appointments, making sure me, Marcus, and Stacey are ok, and cooking meals and shopping for groceries, emailing family and friends, and exercising, she is fairly busy.  She returns to Barcelona on Sunday and has a good support of friends and coworkers there to help her through this time.
How’s your dad?
Tired. In shock. But good. Despite the kidney issues and the effects chemotherapy may be taking on him, he is in good spirits and good health.  He is still making jokes. My brother said he’s eating (apparently chemotheraphy makes you lose your appetite).  When I called last Sunday, he was looking up videos and articles on alternative treatments to combat cancer. I think that’s a good sign.  I talked to him on Wednesday night and he sounded tired but still upbeat. Yesterday we spoke via email and he was still exhausted.  So for all of you who are sending emails or calling, don’t be too discouraged if he doesn’t get back to you right away. He’s not 100%, but he’s trying the best he can. I’m sure he is overwhelmed (in a good way) by all the love and support that is being thrown his way. I know I am.
What can we do to help?
It is wonderful that my family is so loved that everyone wants to pitch in and make our lives easier. Honestly, there is really nothing at this time that I can think of.  My dad has already received dozens upon dozens of chocolate chip cookies from Pam Moon and his niece Robyn. He said he only wishes his friend from Spain, Kaya, were here to help him eat them.
I would say just keep sending positive thoughts out into the universe, praying, chanting, or whatever it is that you do when someone you love is going through a difficult time.  And if you have a really funny story or joke, I’m sure he’d love to hear it.
What are the next steps?
When I spoke to my mom last, she said my dad is schedule for chemotherapy on May 9th and May 31st. So until then, we just wait and hope that these chemotherapy sessions do some serious damage to the tumors.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Chemo Treatment #1 is Done

I haven't talked to my dad yet, but my brother just sent me an email with the latest update.  My dad is finished with his first chemotherapy session. He did not have a reaction to the treatment and he is now eating chocolate cake and lemonade. He slept for three hours in his chair in the treatment facility. That is so him! I laughed at that part – the eating sweets and the sleeping.

If you know my dad, you know he LOVES to eat. He could eat most people under the table yet he’s been the same weight (for the most part) since I was zero.  My brother and I were just discussing how we hate that he hasn’t been able to eat as much as he would like to due to all the tests he had to take the last couple of weeks.  We want to feed him. Which reminded me of my great-aunts on my mother’s side of the family who use to always try to overfeed us whenever we visited them in Albany, Georgia.  I can just hear both of them saying, “Help ya’self”.  My dad does the greatest impression of this by the way.

Alright chemicals…it’s time to go to work!   

Go Away Tumors!

Dear Tumors in My Dad’s Body:
We’ve never met before. I’m Lauren, Bob’s daughter. I can’t say that I am pleased to meet you since you were forced into my family’s life by no choice of our own.  You are making my dad's life miserable. And, I just won't have it!  I really wish you would go away and never come back.  To help in that effort, today the doctors will be administering a cocktail of drugs through my dad’s body.  He starts chemotherapy today because of you.  Four hours of what I can only imagine is not fun.
I hope the drugs kill you. I hope the drugs shrink you down to a size so small that nobody can ever see you again.  I have never been a violent person, never been in a physical fight in my life, but I wish you physical harm and pain. 
I can’t believe that you have the audacity to come into a man’s life when he is clearly at his prime, with no warning at all.  Frankly, you should feel ashamed of yourself.  From all of the people who love Bob, please just disappear and never come back.  I will not miss you when you are gone.  You are not wanted here. You never were.  Please LEAVE NOW!
Best regards,
A loving daughter 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


My dad isn't on facebook, so I wanted to show him what my facebook profile picture is.  We've both aged a little since then, but not much.

Enter Curse Word Here

My dad had surgery today (his third) to try and put a stent in his kidney.  The stent is supposed to help relieve some of the pain he is experiencing in his back since the tumors have not been so kind to his kidney.  First, the surgery started about two hours late.  If you haven’t met my dad before, then let me tell you – he’s a timely kind of guy.  I told my mom, I think he will get over them being late as long as they get the stent in.  Second, the surgery didn’t work.  I got a very R-rated text message from my mom a couple of minutes ago, that the doctors were unable to get the stent in because the tumors are blocking where the doctors need to go.  He is not going to be happy when he wakes up.  He starts chemotherapy tomorrow – one session every three weeks for nine weeks. And then, a reevaluation.  I think he is done with surgeries for now.
So I decided that my dad is probably going to need some cheering up.  In honor of him, I am going to use a bulleted list of things he should be happy about, despite his seemingly bad luck with kidney surgeries.  (Don’t worry dad, I remember the three-bullet-maximum rule.)
Things you should be happy about:
·         Your daughter booked her ticket to come home and she arrives on April 29th.
·         Your wife got a $3 reduced parking rate coupon while you were in surgery.
·         Your son has learned to curse like your wife.
I know this probably won’t make up for the discomfort (I'm sure he'd use a stronger word) he is experiencing, but hopefully it will bring a smile to his face.

Friday, April 15, 2011

D Day

So, my dad met with the urologist and the oncologist today. The urologist isn’t really all that important in this story, so we’ll just skip that part.  The oncologist told my dad what we kind of already knew. They can’t find the primary source of his cancer. He has adenocarcinoma of unknown primary.  Final verdict.  His lungs, stomach, and intestines are clean.    So, they are going to treat him like he has pancreatic cancer.  He starts chemotherapy next week. 
In all of this, it’s amazing to me how strong my mother has been.  She is amazing.  My dad really lucked up.  His prognosis isn’t ideal. It’s actually the opposite of ideal. But I am guessing that any man who can bike across the United States can give adenocarcinoma of unknown primary a run for its money.  This cancer isn’t curable, but hopefully with some great medicine, some good doctors, a miracle or two, and some positive thinking my dad will be around for awhile.  If anybody can do it, he can.  Love you daddy!

He's on his way to his weekly gathering at Moe's (a local Atlanta bar and eatery). I think I'm going out to have a drink too. Just like my dad.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Clean Colons are Good

So my dad is done with his colonoscopy. But he's kind of pissed that he can't drink alcohol or eat any fatty foods today. He hasn't eaten since midnight on the 12th.  The doctor said his colon and stomach look fine.  So now he has a visit with the urologist and oncologist tomorrow.  More waiting…

Quote of the day: “At least tomorrow they can only kill me with words, they can’t kill me with instruments.”

I think he’s over this testing thing.  For all of you that don’t get to talk to my dad or see him on a regular basis. He is his regular old self.  Making jokes.  Enjoying retirement.  And I’m sure if he had a pen, he’d be flipping that too.

Colonoscopy Thursday

So this afternoon my dad has his colonoscopy and upper GI tract exam.  I have attached an article about colonoscopies (is that the plural of colonscopy?) that my dad sent me last night.  Enjoy!

This is one of the funnier essays I have seen about colonoscopy.
By Dave Barry

... I called my friend Andy Sable, a gastroenterologist, to make an appointment for a colonoscopy. A few days later, in his office, Andy showed me a color diagram of the colon, a lengthy organ that appears to go all over the place, at one point passing briefly through Minneapolis .

Then Andy explained the colonoscopy procedure to me in a thorough, reassuring and patient manner. I nodded thoughtfully, but I didn't really hear anything he said, because my brain was shrieking, quote, 'HE'S GOING TO STICK A TUBE 17,000 FEET UP YOUR BEHIND!' I left Andy's office with some written instructions, and a prescription for a product called 'MoviPrep,' which comes in a box large enough to hold a microwave oven. I will discuss MoviPrep in detail later; for now suffice it to say that we must never allow it to fall into the hands of America 's enemies.
 I spent the next several days productively sitting around being nervous. Then, on the day before my colonoscopy, I began my preparation. In accordance with my instructions, I didn't eat any solid food that day; all I had was chicken broth, which is basically water, only with less flavor. Then, in the evening, I took the MoviPrep. You mix two packets of powder together in a one-liter plastic jug, then you fill it with lukewarm water. (For those unfamiliar with the metric system, a liter is about 32 gallons.) Then you have to drink the whole jug. This takes about an hour, because MoviPrep tastes - and here I am being kind - like a mixture of goat spit and urinal cleanser, with just a hint of lemon. The instructions for MoviPrep, clearly written by somebody with a great sense of humor, state that after you drink it, 'a loose watery bowel movement may result.' This is kind of like saying that after you jump off your roof, you may experience contact with the ground. MoviPrep is a nuclear laxative.

I don't want to be too graphic, here, but: Have you ever seen a space-shuttle launch? This is pretty much the MoviPrep experience, with you as the shuttle. There are times when you wish the commode had a seat belt. You spend several hours pretty much confined to the bathroom, spurting violently. You eliminate everything. And then, when you figure you must be totally empty, you have to drink another liter of MoviPrep, at which point, as far as I can tell, your bowels travel into the future and start eliminating food that you have not even eaten yet. After an action-packed evening, I finally got to sleep.

The next morning my wife drove me to the clinic. I was very nervous. Not only was I worried about the procedure, but I had been experiencing occasional return bouts of MoviPrep spurtage. I was thinking, 'What if I spurt on Andy?' How do you apologize to a friend for something like that? Flowers would not be enough. At the clinic I had to sign many forms acknowledging that I understood and totally agreed with whatever the heck the forms said. Then they led me to a room full of other colonoscopy people, where I went inside a little curtained space and took off my clothes and put on one of those hospital garments designed by sadist perverts, the kind that, when you put it on, makes you feel even more naked than when you are actually naked.

Then a nurse named Eddie put a little needle in a vein in my left hand. Ordinarily I would have fainted, but Eddie was very good, and I was already lying down. Eddie also told me that some people put vodka in their MoviPrep. At first I was ticked off that I hadn't thought of this, but then I pondered what would happen if you got yourself too tipsy to make it to the bathroom, so you were staggering around in full Fire Hose Mode. You would have no choice but to burn your house. When everything was ready, Eddie wheeled me into the procedure room, where Andy was waiting with a nurse and an anesthesiologist. I did not see the 17,000-foot tube, but I knew Andy had it hidden around there somewhere. I was seriously nervous at this point. Andy had me roll over on my left side, and the anesthesiologist began hooking something up to the needle in my hand.

There was music playing in the room, and I realized that the song was 'Dancing Queen' by Abba. I remarked to Andy that, of all the songs that could be playing during this particular procedure, 'Dancing Queen' has to be the least appropriate. 'You want me to turn it up?' said Andy, from somewhere behind me. 'Ha ha,' I said. And then it was time, the moment I had been dreading for more than a decade. If you are squeamish, prepare yourself, because I am going  to tell you, in explicit detail, exactly what it was like. I have no idea. Really. I slept through it. One moment, Abba was shrieking 'Dancing Queen! Feel the beat from the tambourine ...' and the next moment, I was back in the other room, waking up in a very mellow mood. Andy was looking down at me and asking me how I felt. I felt excellent. I felt even more excellent when Andy told me that it was all over, and that my colon had passed with flying colors. I have never been prouder of an internal organ.

ABOUT THE WRITER Dave Barry is a Pulitzer Prize-winning humor columnist for the Miami Herald.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What Kind of Cancer Does He Have?

A lot of people keep asking, well what "kind" of cancer does your dad have? I wish I had something easy to say like, “oh, he has bellybutton cancer”.  My dad has adenocarcinoma, currently of unknown primary.  I've been doing some research today on this disease. I figure it will help me be more prepared for what the doctor has to say on Friday and for the upcoming war on cancer. 

"Adenocarcinoma is a cancer occurring in the cell tissue that lines glandular types of internal organs."  Whatever that means.  To find the "primary", so far he has had a scan of his lungs and then tomorrow he has a scan of his colon and upper GI tract. I don’t envy him a bit. I can only imagine how nasty that milk of magnesia tastes and the nasty effects is has on the colon! But I digress…

My mom told me we shouldn’t google these things. I didn’t at first. But now, I think I am a little more prepared to handle it.  I am like my dad – a realist. Tell me what I’m working with so we can start the battle and fight. I hope he brought his good attitude for the battle.  Apparently, doctors say attitude can really affect the outcome of a cancer patient. I’m working on my attitude as we speak. On the taxpayers dime of course.  

If I could be anywhere in the world right now, I'd want to be in Atlanta.  I hope he knows I'm there in spirit. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Keeping People Up to Date

Three weeks ago I got an email from my dad. He said he needed to discuss something urgent with me. So, I gave him my work phone number and he called. He told me he was having problems with his kidney and that he didn't know any more information. We joked about how my mom always makes the biggest deal about things that are so small.  What's the worst that could happen?  He'd have to have his kidney removed. He has two for goodness sake, and worst case I'd give him mine!

On Monday, March 28th, my family's world was turned upside down. His kidney wasn't the problem. It was cancerous tumors that were really making things bad. I was shocked. We were all shocked. I couldn't breathe for a good five minutes.  My dad always joked about getting cancer someday. I just never thought someday would be now. 

He flew from Barcelona to Atlanta on Wednesday, March 30th to begin to see an army of physicians from every specialty imaginable. I never knew my dad hated doctors.  It was kind of funny to see him getting all worried about a couple of IVs.  My mom and I flew to Atlanta for the weekend and celebrated his 59th birthday with my brother and sister-in-law. It was a great weekend.  So far the doctors all seemed hopeful that my dad's cancer would be easily treatable with chemotherapy.  So, we waited.

The biopsy was on April 5th and my dad got the results back on April 7th.  Unfortunately, he didn't have the kind of cancer the doctors were hoping for. dad was scheduled for another series of tests to determine the root cause of his cancer.  By Thursday of this week (April 14th), he should be done with all of his tests and hopefully, we will finally know what we need to do to beat the big bad cancer that has invaded my dad's body.

Physically he looks the same. He's still walking multiple times a day with his new friend, Abbott (my brother and sister-in-law's dog).  It's amazing to me that a man like my dad has cancer. It just doesn't seem fair.  I have gotten a lot of phone calls from family and friends and friends of my dad all asking how he is doing. In true Bob Keegan fashion, I decided to start a blog. My mom might call this therapy.

If any of you know my dad even a little, you would know how in love he is with his family.  And if you know me, you know how in love I am with my dad. So instead of boring you with all the medical details (I thought a summary would do), I wanted to tell you a story about one of the best times I had with my dad.

Valentine's Day for single people sucks.  And one Valentine's Day I scheduled a work trip to go to Budapest for a week or so.  My dad, being my dad, flew from London to meet me there for three or four days.  He doesn't know this (but he will now), but he really helped me get through another lonely Valentine's Day.  Every day after work, I would get to walk around the city with him in the freezing cold for what seemed like five miles looking for food.  We toured the city. We went to a really weird circus.  We had some really great talks. And we had some fabulous meals. I thought it was so cool that my dad flew to Budapest to spend time with me. Who's dad does that?  Mine.  Best Valentine's Day ever.