I lost my Dad to cancer one month ago today. He was diagnosed in April after a week long stay in the hospital with colon cancer that had spread to his liver. He made it very clear that he didnt want any treatment at all. The doctors gave him six to eight months to live.
He was constantly medicated. Every two hours or as needed. Sometimes it never helped and he could barely get out of bed, some days he said he felt okay, and some days he self medicated just so he could have a decent day.
It was really hard to come to terms with the fact that he didnt want any treatment. Liver cancer doesnt respond well to most treatments, and even with a transplant, he wouldnt live beyond five years. I offered to give him a piece of my liver if we were a match, but he never entertained the idea.
I couldnt bear the thought of losing him... His father (my Grandpa) died in April 2007. He was diagnosed a few months earlier with lung, liver, and bone cancer. My Dad took it really hard. It was one of the only things I ever remember him crying about. My Moms mom (my Gram) died six months later... and to be honest, that whole situation bothers me so bad. She went into the hospital with severe stomach pain, and the condition they said she had required surgery. They put her on antibiotics and sedated her. She died October 17, 2007, six months after having a stroke. Within two days of my Grandpa dying, my Gram had a stroke. She was doing so good. She even got to leave rehab early because she improved so much. I feel like her death could have been avoided, but, I feel the same way about that as I do with my other family. It hurts, but she is happier and much better off.
My Dad and my boyfriend and I would camp out in my aunts backyard (he moved in with her after he was diagnosed. she made him happy while he was there) and one time, he said to me that he never in a million years thought he had cancer, that it never crossed his mind. But he was clear he didnt want any treatment and after a doctors appointment in the beginning of July, even the doctors said treatment wouldnt be worth it, and he had five to seven months left.
Towards the end of July, he took a turn for the worse. Hospice brought in a hospital bed and he couldnt get up. My boyfriend and I were sasving money at the time for an engagement ring. We talked about it, and it was important that we had my Dads blessing. So one day before we went to see him, we put some money down on a ring. He was so happy for us. Ever the bargain hunter, I knew we would get a $100 discount if we paid off the ring by the end of the month. We were flat broke but we got the money we needed in three days.
My Dad was annointed and read his last rights on Sunday afternoon. That night, he was admitted to the hospital. They had to drain his abdomen, because his liver was shutting down, and the fluid was building up. They got about three liters of fluid from his abdomen. I thought for a minute this was something he would recover from, but when I saw him I knew- this was it. He was heavily sedated, so I sat at his bedside, holding his hand and cried.
That night, it was decided that my brother, my Dads girlfriend, and i would stay the night. We left in the evening to see if we could sleep a bit before we came back. When I said goodbye to him and told him Id be back later and that I loved him, he was listening, and he mouthed back "I love you too".
That night was the worst of my life. It will haunt me until the end of time. They had to put a catheter in, because he was going to be kept sedated, but he got upset when he woke up and had to use the bathroom but couldnt move. It is killing me to have to think about this, but when the nurses were putting the catheter in, he woke up, and nobody was in the room but the nurses. My brother and my Dads girlfriend walked away, but I couldnt stand to leave because they tried to put a catheter in earlier, but they had to stop because it was hurting him. Well this time, I stood outside the door, and I heard him yelling clearly "Come on guys, please, you're hurting me." I have never heard him plead for anything like that before, and I will never forget it. I can hear it loud and clear as if he is in my ear saying it. I completely broke down in the hospital. When I got home that morning, I couldnt get it out of my head- I couldnt sleep. I sat on my floor shaking and repeating what I heard him say. I felt so guilty for not stopping them from hurting him and I kept imagining how terrified he must have been, waking up with no family around, being tortured. They even tied his arms down so he couldnt do anything to protect himself. That night will follow me forever and I feel so horrible for not doing anything to help, or at least being there for him, to try and tell him it was okay. I felt like I had abandoned him when he needed me most, and I will never forgive myself.
The next morning, my Mom and my aunt went and removed his restraints and made it very clear that he was not to be restrained. They were supposed to keep him sedated so he didnt wake up and have to be restrained. He just wanted to leave. When he did wake up, he would say "Get me the **** out of here" and try to rip his iv out, get up, and leave.
My brother and my uncle stayed with him that night. When I got there the next morning, his breathing had gotten worse and his blood pressure was dropping. everyone knew that that was going to be his last day. The nurses from the hospital were all jerks, but the Hospice nurses and doctors were some of the nicest, sweetest people Ive ever met. The Hospice doctor said that he was "actively dying" and that it could be minutes or hours. The only reason, they said, that he was still alive was that he was so young (only 49) and he still had a lot of fight in him.
So I went back in the room, sat at his side, holding his hand. I told him that it was okay, that he could go in peace, that he didnt have to fight anymore for our sake. The Hospice nurse came in and said his kidneys were failing, and by then it was only a little while longer. His breathing became more and more labored, and there was fifteen (yeah fifteen) people in the room crying as I told my Dad it was okay, that he could go, that Grandpa was waiting for him.
I was holding his hand when he passed away. I know when people used to say to me "Oh, they are happy now, much better off" I thought to myself "Yeah, okay (even though I believed it, I was just too hurt). But I didnt know hurt until I saw what my Dad was going through, and I felt an eerie peace in my heart when he passed, like I know somehow that this was the best thing. He died July 30, 2008 at 12:15 pm. I didnt leave his side until almost three pm. I couldnt bear to leave his side.
My engagement ring was sized and ready to be picked up the day after he died.
This is by far, the hardest thing I ever had to go through. I miss him so much. He will always be my Big Bad Dad and I will always be his Sweet Melissa. I try to do things the way he would have done them, live the way he lived. He always had so much fun, and he was always laughing. He never wanted me to be sad, and I know hes watching me cry my eyes out as I type. Usually that is enough to make me feel better, just knowing that he wouldnt want me to be sad, but seeing this horrible ordeal written out on this page is killing me. Im so lost without him in my life.
I have a lot more to write, but I cant do it right now.