Who’s your hero? Is it police officers, firefighters, or even a family member? Growing up, there was absolutely no one | admired more than my dad, he was my hero, my best friend, the ultimate supporter, and my whole world. Everyday it was my dad and I, taking care of the farm, riding horse, and just have always been with him. For a long time, my dad would have spells that he would be on the floor, in so much pain it took all his willpower not to show us how bad he was hurting, after a few years of this, and 3 times of us moving houses, my mom gave him no option but to go to the doctor.
After careful examination, we got terrible news, because his tumor was noticed. Many tests, and many a hospital stay later, came the surgery…. We were told to wait in a large room, smelling way too strongly of disinfectant and the smell of stale air that has been circling in the same, multi-level building, way too long. We wordlessly sat there, and waited, then waited some more, reading books, playing with my mom’s phone, and trying to sleep, for what seemed like forever.
Our whole family was there, back then, My innocent self thought it was fun because it wasn’t very often my whole family was together, me, my sisters, my mom, our grandparents, and many other important members of our extended family were there, in a room. The sad thing, none of us ever expected to be in under such dire circumstances. I had fallen asleep fitfully after around 11 hours of my dad being in surgery, and woke to realize my 11 year old self, had been carried to a large hospital room, with white everywhere, and the smell of disinfectant all the same.
That first time I saw my dad after his surgery was something I will probably never forget, he was a tall man, almost 6′ 3″… and at first, they did not give him a bed kart build for bigger people, so that first time I saw him, his feet were hanging off the foot of his bed, he was pale as a sheet, spinal cord, into his skull, and had replaced and calcified his left shoulder and right hip. They immediately started standard chemo and radiation, but within weeks, we all knew it wasn’t helping, it was only making him weaker.
You see these things happening to other people, you never expect them to happen to you, and when it does, you have to try to live your life to the fullest. I remember getting this very news, and being sad, but like any young girl, expected it to be just a setback, and that after chemo and radiation we would be back to hunting sheds, or riding horse across the fields, I couldn’t of been more wrong.
Starting out after his first surgery, my dad was able to keep up a pretty good facade, making jokes to cover up the beeping of his morphine pump every ten minutes, he had a handheld device he could simply press if he felt a particular need for relief, and could only be pressed, every ten minutes, for his dose of morphine. This morphine gave me some of the last times | remember laughing with my dad, but looking back now, I realize that some of them, he really thought were real… o put it simply, he was high, on morphine, pain patches, or other pain medications 24/7 from the day of his surgery to the very last days. Still, the morphine made for some fun times in the hospital, my personal favorite was when he woke up freaking out saying we needed to get home, why? The funny part is, all he responded was, “The SWAT team is at our house looking for blue bubbles! ”
Safe to say, we all busted up laughing. My dad was in the hospital in and out for months on end, and when April rolled around, our house was done, and we were finally going to try to get him home, for a attempt at a normal life… y mom had to go back to work, along with the only sister I had left in the house, that left me, and my dad together, for that whole summer. On good days, we would get out for a walk, on average days, I would pull up the ATV and we would just take a drive, as he was not allowed to drive with his medications, and on bad, I had to play nurse, bringing his medications, holding his hand, and dealing with all the side effects of the medications, and and there were needles everywhere.
He was still asleep, but already, you could see the noticeable difference in his expression, although there was less pain riddled in the lines of his forehead, he looked sullen, with sunken cheeks, and a slightly gray hue to his skin. so maybe things would be better, but we were all wrong. When the doctor came in to tell us about the surgery, we realized just how wrong we were. “Too put it simply, the tumor was roughly the size of a basketball, and we had to remove a large section of his small intestine, a portion of his bladder, and pieces of various other organs that it had grown into,” the head surgeon informed us. He has a colostomy bag and he will be using a catheter for the coming future, as he will be unable to walk for a while. ” Obviously, the next thing my mom asked is, “Were they able to get it all or will it be back? ” The surgeon must have noticed the underlying question, that at the time, I did not.
I believed the worst was over, and that me and dad would be back out on the farm as soon as he could heal. All he stated was, “We will have to run more tests. Throughout the beginning of this horrible thing, we were in the process of building a house, a huge, log house, which my parents had dreamed of having ever since they had been married, they planned, bought land, and moved my family of seven at the time into a 40′ by 60′ pole shed which we had been living in for 3 12 years by the time my dad had finally gotten diagnosed. I was the youngest, not much was expected of me yet, but as he progressively got worse, I was put in charge of all of the animals, and responsibility was something I had to figure out and effectively learn ifI wanted to help my dad out.
By that time, 2 of my sisters had moved out, one of which with her boyfriend, so our seven people that were living with us, turned into only 4. It was January 8th, 2013, that we finally got the news, my dad had, colon cancer, and the fear of it spreading was intense, but it may already have happened, a tumor that size, the doctors estimated, had been growing for at least 10 years. Upon further scanning they found it had spread to up his slowly watch my dad, start to wither away. As the summer rolled on, the bad days became average, and the okay days became good, they just continued to grow worse.
When they started a new, experimental, more rigorous form of chemotherapy, I was sent to a friends house for a week of every month, this was something that my mom and dad did not feel it would be good for me to see, but towards the end of his 3rd round of chemo, that changed, I did not want to leave his side, and started to go with, sitting for hours with hir he got his infusions. the slow withering became more rapid now, and it was hard to see, but I thought he would get better, just would take a while but I’m still glad I got that summer with him, for when August came, the doctors said it was a matter of weeks maybe months left.
I didn’t go back to school, I stayed with him, and in august, we took our last trip, that would ever be as a full family, and we had a great time, but dad was wheelchair bound by the cancer that had spread so bad it had replaced the bone in his hip with cancer cells, along with a portion of his spine and his left shoulder blade. We headed to Tennessee in a rented RV and went to all the places he could think of that he wanted to see, the American Picker’s store in Nashville, the country music hall of fame, the Johnny Cash museum, the Memphis zoo, and more.
On the way back, we all realized there was a reason we did this as soon as we found out. As he got worse at this time, I had to take on all duties of cleaning, chores, watching him, and making sure he took his medications, leaving me dependent on nobody and growing up quickly, as I was forced to do. By October, he was a totally different man, and on October 10, 2013, he slowly slipped into a coma, and a few days later lost his battle, with his family around him, holding me in one hand and my mom on the other, he no longer was in the pain that had become normal for him to experience on the daily basis.
Watching someone I loved so dearly going through this was awful, but it taught me to live my life to the fullest because you never know what day will be your last. I became more independent, was determined to make something of myself, for him, and to make it out of this situation a better person. There is still many things about my story cannot bear to think about, let alone even try to write about them, so my story may be vague at points, but hopefully one day, it will help push me to become even half as amazing as a person, as my dad was.