Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The "C" Word

In June 2002, we found out that my father had cancer, cancer of the esophagus. This particular kind of cancer is fairly rare, less than one percent of cancer victims will get this type, as well as being particularly harsh. If you are a candidate for surgery, you may extend your life by as much as five years but less than five percent of those that contract this cancer are able to have surgery. So going into this, my father's chances looked pretty bleak.

He had had open heart surgery years ago and now had a pace maker. There was no way that he would be able to have surgery which meant that the next set of options would be chemo and/or radiation. My parents decided that both treatments were worth trying although right from the start, I had my doubts. This meant that he would have to go to the hospital five days a week for close to six months. Seemed like a huge commitment with no guarantee of even a little success.

After the first month of treatment, my father felt that he could no longer drive himself to the hospital every day so he asked me if I would do it. Seeing how I wasn't crazy about my current job I said I'd love to even though it meant an incredible commitment. For five months, five days a week, I drove my father - and mother who accompanied him everywhere but unfortunately never learned to drive - to and from the hospital. It took me twenty five minutes to get from my house to theirs and then another twenty five minutes to get to the hospital. Some days we had to be there by 8am and could finish anywhere from five minutes to five hours later. Never knew from one day to the next.

I didn't mind in the least although it made getting a job unrealistic and because of where we both lived, it made no sense for me to leave him at the hospital and return when he was finished. It was around this time that I started keeping a journal again in earnest. I had a lot of time on my hands but I also wanted to remember every last minute of my father's final days. This was going to be my last chance at really connecting with him and I didn't want to lose or forget a second of it.

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