I called my parents to see what they were up to on Father’s Day  – they were out for my sister’s birthday which was the next day. My mom casually mentions that dad saw the doctor that day about a hernia that popped out that week.
The next morning my sister’s OB/GYN, who happens to be building a house next to my parent’s home, saw dad and told him he should go into the ER because of the pain levels my dad was experiencing.
He went in… they did a cat scan and saw a golf ball-sized growth on his liver and a mass in his colon. My grandma, dad’s mom, died at 78 from liver cancer and his brother, died a few years ago at the age of 69 of colon/rectal cancer. It’s fair to say panic set in.
My Dad got in to see the surgeon the following Monday and was told that he needed a colonoscopy. Dad had been loosing weight and yet his stomach was growing. He contributed the weight loss to all the work he’d been doing on his house, which was a good thing in his mind.
Trouble is… since Dad’s fall last summer where he broke his hip, he has had a few bouts of health issues for pretty much the first time in his life. He had severe bronchitis twice and both required antibiotics over the winter (which I found out about well after it happened, the problems of living nearly 5,000 klm away). Then about 2 months ago he developed an infection in his blood, his elbow popped out like a baseball. They couldn’t figure out what it was or why it had happened, he was on I.V. antibiotics for a week.
On June 25th Dad went in for the “double” … a colonoscopy and that procedure where they go down your throat… they also took a chest X-ray. The mass they’d seen in the cat scan of his colon was GONE! An answer to prayer … but they did see some damage in his esophagus due to having pretty bad acid reflex over the last decade or so.
On Monday the 29th Dad saw the surgeon and for the first time, we heard the word CANCER. They saw multiple masses / tumours in his abdomen but were unsure where the source was… more tests were needed. By this time his abdomen had grown so much that he looked 9 months pregnant with twins, he was very uncomfortable and in severe pain. He was pale, a little gaunt, and not eating much.
On June 30th I booked five one-way tickets to Vancouver. I told the kids to pack up, I canceled my oldest’s Summer School math class and canceled the kid’s week at summer camp. Found someone to take our newest cat, Lynk. My sister-in-law would watch our other cat, Mitzi. We weren’t sure when we’d be back.
On July 2 Dad had his abdomen drained and at the same time, they took 4 biopsies of the tumours. In all, they drained 10.5 litres of fluid, which is pretty unprecedented, 4-5 litres is considered the norm.
Monday, July 13th Dad met with the surgeon again and we received the official diagnosis, Peritoneal Mesothelioma. It wasn’t genetic. It wasn’t hereditary. It wasn’t what took his mother or brother young. It was cancer from Asbestos exposure. I was stunned. A TOTAL SHOCKER! Actually, I was even more pissed off than expected! My dad was an architect/design consultant in the ’60s & ’70s, named one of Canada’s top 10, and he wasn’t one to sit behind a drafting table for long, he was often on-site at many of the reno’s of old homes and commercial buildings… and no one wore a mask!
Tuesday, July 14th we finally met Dad’s Oncologist. The Doctor talked a lot about Dad having a WCB claim, like most of our time with him was about making a WCB claim… he briefly talked chemo… and then he mentioned a HIPEC surgery that only one Specialist does at Vancouver General Hospital, but downplayed the possibility of Dad getting on her radar. She removes as much of the tumours as she can and then injects chemo directly into what she cannot. Again he told us she is VERY picky about who she sees, there are strict guidelines and there might not even be enough time at any rate but he’s put in a requisition anyway. He wasn’t very positive, to say the least. I pushed him for a best-guess timeline… he said maybe a month. I felt like I was going to faint. I couldn’t hear the nurse ask me if I needed a tissue. My sister said, “well ain’t that a kick in the teeth!” We were again in TOTAL SHOCK!
On July 6th we decided to join my sister and her extended family on their week-long camping vacation in Pacific City, Oregon. It took some convincing but we did it, Mom and Dad joined us for 5 of the 7 days. It was amazing to just BE together… one evening we sat on the beach watching our kids play football together and cried (well we’ve done a lot of crying, a lot) and my sister said, “look at what Dad did… these kids are here because of one man… what a legacy he has!” Dad has 4 daughters, 13 grandchildren, and 7 great-grandchildren.
How in the world does my Dad only have a month? How does he go from being “fine” and then 6 weeks later he is given an expiration date?! HOW DOES THAT HAPPEN??!!!
And then people rallied, people from all over the world, via social media, email, text, phone, etc.
It’s been comforting to see and hear all the love pouring in… the words of encouragement and some Faith-filled people speaking life over my dad.
My dad wants to live. I want him to live.
He wants 19 more years… that is what he is believing! I want 19 more years with him.
He wants NO negativity only the Word being sung and spoken over him. That’s hard when he looks at you, 20 + pounds lighter than he was two weeks ago, and asks you what you think of all this. My answer… I’m scared. I want to shake my fist at God and yell WHY HIM??!!!!
The next afternoon he finally saw his family Doctor. He was gentle and kind and said quite frankly, “this is shitty.” He talked about palliative care, he told us that the HIPEC surgery we were told about was Dad’s only hope, save God. He said this is a nasty, nasty and painful disease. He told my sister what we are doing is good – to keep doing it, to hope for this surgery, and for us to remember there is no cure but only a prolonging.
By July 15th Dad’s abdomen had grown again, the tumours are constantly weeping, and the fluid builds up again. The pain was extremely bad so he went into the ER to be drained again, this time they drained 8.3 litres, still double than what’s normal. The problem with being drained is it also takes out valuable and irreplaceable cells and proteins, but to live with it is too much… it’s a catch-22.
God, we need a miracle!
Later that evening, my Dad told me that he needed to see something change, a sign… some bit of hope to help him get through the day. He’d slept on and off most of that day, it was hard to be motivated to move after hearing all that news from his Doctor.
My sister, her husband, my husband, and I decided to go out for dinner that night. We were low, to say the least. It truly was a “shitty” day. Just before our meals arrived my mom called me, she got an email from his Oncologist, the surgeon at VGH was on holiday but she saw dad’s file and wants to see him. Our dinner took a turn for the better, we had goosebumps… we had hope. For us, it came at the right time to lift our spirits and feed our Faith more.
It was what I needed to hear in order for me to be able to take this whirlwind trip to New York I’m on right now with PayPal. When I saw how proud he was of me, how he told every Doctor he saw and even the nurses about this trip, how could I not have gone? Most of the time I don’t believe in myself, but 100% of the time he believes in me.
Dad has to go for a few more tests and another cat scan, he sees his Oncologist on Monday, July 27th and we will continue to do what we have been doing since before the word Cancer was spoken.
We believe that God has already done it by sending His son to die on the cross for ALL of our sins and ALL of our diseases
We stand for 19 more years for dad
We speak TRUTH over dad.
This is what he says, “So it’s true that I have been diagnosed with Cancer, I don’t deny that it is true, BUT the TRUTH of the matter is that by His stripes I was healed… so what is true can never change what is the TRUTH but the TRUTH can always change was is true.”
See?! He has incredible Faith… we are in awe of him. The peace of God which passes ALL understanding has surely made camp over his house.
So that’s how our lives have turned upside down in such a short amount of time. Someone recently asked me how long I am planning on staying in BC… I don’t have an answer. At this point, I can’t head back to Ontario and something happens to my Dad. I can’t. I can’t imagine leaving and never seeing him again. I told them and my Dad that I will be here until he gets well, and however long that takes… only God knows.
Until then… I lean hard on God for He is my rock and my shield. The God of Angel Armies is always by my side. He goes before me, He stands behind me. He is our fortress and nothing formed against us shall stand.
During this trying time with my Dad’s health, I’m holding on to His promises. He is faithful!
Update: my dad battled valiantly for 8 months. In the early morning of February 16, 2016, he was greeted at the Heavenly gates by his mom, both of his fathers, his brother, and his sister.