MMXIV is the year, 2014 if you prefer cardinal numbers. I personally prefer roman numerals, you might have figured that out from the blog title, but, that is a a blog for another time. It was actually my birthday and i was in the gym after work when my phone rang. I am born in January and succumbed to the get-fit and healthy endemic a new year inevitably brings and felt particularly pleased I just completed another day at the gym without collapsing !
Mum was calling to let me know how Dad got on at the doctor. He hadnt recovered as expected after the kiney cancer surgery (November 2013) and I never even entertained for a second what came next. The specialist had given him an affirming talk on how well the surgery had gone. How we expected to move forward to the monitoring list and how he could look forward to getting back to work after recovery. I was there for the whole speech of encouragement. It was positive, the prognosis was we caught it in time and beat cancer!
Anyway; my mum was at the end of the line and she told me that Dad had pancreatic cancer and it was terminal. I dont actually remember much else of what she said because I was concentrating so hard on not breaking down. As soon as the call ended i did collapse and a sound of anguish resonated form me and then the tears started. People stopped to ask what was wrong but no words would form. i couldnt even wave them away in my collapsed state. My friend CJ was with me, and I still can’t thank her enough for everything she did for me that evening.
Despite her protests and concerns I got showered and drove myself to the hospital as Dad was admitted. The waterworks started as soon as I laid eyes on him. Somehow he was older, weaker, more tired looking than I had ever seen him and yet he was the one consolling me! I thought normality and routine would help get through this so I continued to go to work every day. I worked for as long as he was in hospital. After two weeks he came home.
I would like to apologise to my colleagues at the time for not taking their advice sooner. And, I thank them for being so understanding and forgiving. I did take their advice, only after accepting that his condition was terminal and deteriorating fast. I wasted two weeks at work, stressing myself and colleagues out when I should have been at home with my parents. I still smile when I think about the chats I had with my Dad when he was lucid. The medication dulled him and his vitality and I now understand why patients dont want to take their medication. I should also apologise to my mum, I wasnt there for her the way she needed me to be. I am genuinelly sorry Mum.
When He did come home, I did too – helping my Mum care for him. We were actually a pretty great team. I discovered a new side to my Dad, friends I never knew of and a realisation that somewhere over the years he found his faith again. I knew my mum went to church but I didn’t know that my Dad had started going again. It was surprising. It was oddly comforting. But, most of all it highlighted to me how far I had pushed myself away from my family. I was a self professed work-a-holic who was also an athiest and stayed as far away from church as I could!
XXV February MMXIV is forever etched in my heart becuase that was the day my Dad was taken away. The gentle, caring, peace-keeping, honest, stern, teasing, hard-working, infuriating, stubborn, funny and most loving man I have ever known was gone. And so began this new chapter in my story.
The four weeks from his diagnosis to his death, has taught me the following:
- Time is precious
- Life is for living not exsisting
- Work does not define you, family does
- Death brings life
- I am loved
Pancreatic cancer is a silent killer, more often than not diagnosis comes to late for successful treatment. The reseach is not as well funded as breast or testicular, or even kidney cancer. I cannot thank CLAN and Mcmilliam enough for their support an advice and services, they are truly amazing organisations. This Silent killer is very difficult to detect and I hope that if it affects your family you have the support, and love of friends and family just like my mum and I did.
Thanks for taking the time to read this.
Psalm 119:50 My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.