I will never forget the day that “C” word entered our lives.
Cancer doesn’t care what’s going on in your life when it comes in. It comes in like a tornado & flips your world upside down in an instant. It doesn’t care who it hits, when it comes in, or who it takes down. It comes in full force & will take a family down. You never think that it will hit you and you don’t know it’s coming.
The day that I found out that my father was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer, I was mad. I was angry & I didn’t understand why this was happening. There were so many emotions. I was sad because I didn’t want my father to go through this. He wasn’t even 50 years old. All I could think is why? I couldn’t come to terms as to why this was happening. My father was healthy. He ate good, worked out, & was enjoying life.
It was like I was punched in the gut. I didn’t know where to turn. The two people who I could always count on when something was wrong, weren’t able to help because they were going through it as well. This was new to all of us.
I was working two jobs at the time. I worked with my parents & was also bartending. I worked every hour I could that first week that nasty “C” word entered our lives. I worked just over 80 hours because I didn’t know what else to do. I didn’t know where to turn. I was just at a loss.
I remember sitting in my car one day at work & my father came up to me & said it was going to be alright, that he was going to beat this. I was trying not to break down in front of him, because he was being so positive about this. He was determined. And being determined is what you need.
My father continued to run because he loved it (and partially because he was addicted to running as well.) He went to work every day & continued on with life. He was not going to let cancer win. Especially when you are told that you probably wouldn’t make it that far. He was going to beat the odds. He even completed a half marathon during his first rounds of chemo. He was not letting anything stop him.
I’m not going to lie, it was hard some days because I worked with my father. I had a front row view of watching him everyday. He had his good days but he also had his bad days. There were days where he would need a little nap because the chemo was wearing him out & his body was tired. This man went through 23 rounds of chemotherapy, 16 rounds of radiation between his lung & his leg where it had spread to at one point, & had 2 major surgeries. He was a fighter and not backing down.
Even the surgeries couldn’t keep him down. He was working from home & always checking in to make sure things were going good. The man never stopped working. He was dedicated.
I watched my father’s body slowly change. He started losing his hair, his appetite was changing, & he started losing weight. You don’t think much about it at the time, but when you look back on it, you can see where cancer was taking over. But yet he was still determined to fight.
The last rounds of chemo really took a toll on his body. He ended up in ICU because it got so bad. Watching your father become so tiny & frail because this poison was taking over his body was horrible, but he was not giving up. It was hard to watch. There were nights where I would go home & cry. I hated watching my dad like this & watching him go through everything. It was truly heart breaking to see.
The last month of my father’s life was rough. Not just for him, but for my whole family. My youngest brother was getting ready to graduate from college in Ohio. My father was determined to watch him graduate as they didn’t even think he would make it to his high school graduation. My parents made the trip to Ohio to get ready to watch him graduate & things took a turn for the worse.
I did not go to my brothers graduation because it didn’t work out for me with having a one year old & my significant other was traveling for work, so I was back here keeping things going. I got the call that my father was in the hospital with a hole in his lung. Things were not going well.
My heart sank instantly. Not being able to rush there to be by my families side was killing me. I had to stay & keep things going at work. The next two weeks were a whirl wind of emotions. We were finally able to get my father back home. They went to the doctor the next day after getting back home & my father was hospitalized immediately.
We got that call that things were not looking good & that we needed to get up there right away. When I heard my mom tell me that they had put the purple band on his arm, the do not resuscitate band, I lost it. I was sick. I was praying this was just a dream & that I would wake up.
Over the next few days, I spent the majority of my time at the hospital with my father. My whole family was up there with him. He had the greatest spirit in the world up there. He was determined that he was going home to be in his own bed. That is where he wanted to be & this fight was not over yet.
They got it worked out & everything set up so my father could go home. He got to go home & be in his bed where he wanted to be. This man knew what exactly what he wanted. He got to spend the next few days at home in his comfy bed surrounded by all of us, his closest family members before he passed away.
My father beat Stage 4 Lung Cancer for 4 years & 9 months before he went home to the Lord. As much as I hate cancer, it has brought my family closer & I have made new friendships because of it.
I am walking the Lung Force Walk in honor of my father. He was passionate about doing the Fight For Air Stair Climb every year & even did it while he had cancer. My brother continues to do the climb every year in honor of him. I believe that we can make a difference in someone else life & help others.