My father was also diagnosed, 6 months ago, in September, just a few days before his 70th birthday. I too, am a teacher! We seem to be kindred spirits, so I felt I just had to write, even though I haven't visited this site in a while! The best advice I can offer is what was told to me when my dad was diagnosed - to take things slowly and in pieces, and let your mind "wrap around" things bit by bit. I always thought if something were to happen to a member of my family and one of them were diagnosed with cancer, I would go on the Internet and research, research, research. (I am a science teacher, after all.) Instead, I found that I couldn't bring myself to do that. What little research I did do, I limited to VERY reputable cancer institutes, and I tried only to look for stories of hope. I just couldn't face anything more at that time.
So, here is a story of hope for you! For my dad, the initial prognosis sounded so grim. His GI doctor didn't paint a very rosy picture, nor did he offer much hope. My dad got a second opinion at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, and as it turned out, he was a candidate for removal of the tumor. His surgery was performed on October 2nd, and went better than anyone ever expected. His tumor, which was very small, and contained in the common bile duct, was removed. All lymph nodes were clean and clear. There was no evidence of metastatic disease. He went home to recover, and returned for a follow-up 6 weeks after surgery. All reports were perfect. He is currently CANCER FREE! He returns for a 2nd follow-up MRI one week from today, and of course there is fear of a recurrence, but he looks and feels terrific, and I believe we will return from this visit with a clean bill of health as well! (If you'd like to read the journal of his story, I invite you to visit his Caring Bridge site, www.caringbridge.org/visit/gordonvaagen)
My prayers for you and your father as you take this journey. Do not feel as though you have lost him. Every day is a gift, and none of us knows how many more we will be given. Take each one and celebrate.