06 Nov Live Each Day To The Fullest
This past summer was a summer that I will never forget. I wish I can say it was due to some amazing adventure I experienced, however, the reality is, that was not the case.
This past summer on August 1st, 2014 my father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
The word cancer was not in my vocabulary; never in a million years would I have thought cancer would touch my family. Was I a little naïve, 100%, but I liked being naïve.
My father was not feeling very well; his main symptoms were back pain, jaundice, change in the color of his urine and fatigue. The doctor initially thought that perhaps my father had a urinary tract infection and/or liver stones but all tests came back clear. After approximately 10 days of still feeling sick and not getting answers it was time to get further testing done at the hospital.
The doctor in the ER explained that they would be sending my dad for a scan. By this time, my whole family was in the ER and my father’s response was, “go home nothing to fuss about”. Finally, after waiting 5 hours for the results my dad’s name was called and we all piled into the examining room waiting to hear what was wrong. When the doctor spoke and said that my father had a tumor at the tip of his pancreas and the diagnosis was pancreatic cancer we were in shock.
After spending approximately 24 hours in the hospital my father was discharged with a plan. He would meet with the oncologist surgeon to understand his options for treatment. The emotions were running high and truthfully, we had no idea what we were in for.
My father was a candidate the whipple surgery, a difficult surgery that would require 7 days in hospital post surgery and approximately 2 months at home for recovery. Following recovery he would have chemotherapy. We were all up for the challenge and the fight! Our boxing gloves were on and nothing was going to stand in our way. October 6th, 2014 he was scheduled for surgery. Unfortunately, the surgery didn’t turn out as planned. The cancer had spread to his liver. It was if we were all punched in the gut.
I have to say, over the course of the last 3 months I have learned a lot about myself; my strengths, my weaknesses and my limitations.
I have learned about a disease that I wished I would have never had to learn about. I have seen the need for family and the importance of friends. I have seen the strength of a marriage and what true dedication is.
The following tips have been helping me through this difficult time:
- When a friend offers to help with your kids, or wants to bring over dinner or wants to meet you for coffee, say, “YES”. You may not be up to it but it will do you some good.
- When you need to be alone, ask your spouse for support. See if they can take the kids out for a couple of hours and relieve you of the responsibility.
- Don’t go on WebMd or GOOGLE as the information can be scary and often unrelated to your experience.
- Don’t apologize for your emotions.
- Try your best to keep up with your routine.
- Make sure you are comfortable with the team of doctors overseeing the care.
- Your loved one will have great days and really bad days-take the good days and make them special.
- Reach out to community supports groups.
- Maintain a positive attitude and be responsible for the energy you bring into the room.
My father has begun aggressive chemotherapy to help manage the disease. At this stage there is no cure and my family is getting use to a “new normal”. There are days where he is tired; there are days that he feels great. My father is a person who always had the ability to see “the glass half full” which I believe is what is helping him manage day to day.
I can’t say I am a particularly religious person but I have prayed more in the last couple of months than I have in my whole life.
I pray for my dad’s comfort, I pray for him to get better, I pray that this ugly disease would disappear forever. The only thing that I know for sure is that each and every day I am thankful that he is in my life!