My Dad - My Champ!
My Dad was too young when he died (61) - but there's no age limit on death I suppose and there are many who go younger. He was diagnosed with laryngeal cancer in February 2012 - he had radiotherapy/chemotherapy in Apr/May 2012; 'they' said it would be a curative treatment; I thought he'd get better - he died 15th May 2013 in a Hospice.
From the dark, gloomy, February day he told me he had cancer to writing this now, it feels like I'm on the world's biggest rollercoster....but this ride doesn't stop to let you get off. My mother, who was divorced from my Dad but they always remained best friends and spent great times together in their later years, moved to Scotland (where I live and work) to care for Dad (and me, as I was 6 months pregnant) whilst he had his initial cancer treatment. She thought she would only be with us 3 months - 18 months on she's still here, given up her life which she had but now has a new one with her grandson.
I would've done virtually anything for my Dad, so having him live with me whilst he did battle was a given, as he lived alone 'down south' and we wanted to get him the best care possible. It didn't matter that I was pregnant at the time, going through a messy break-up, working full-time....we just did what we had to do to attempt to beat the Big C. The treatment came and went, the scars that remained were vicious - like being sun burnt on ones neck 24/7, and the initial noises from consultants were positive - they thought, and we thought, the treatment had worked. Dad had a relatively normal summer back at his home but started to feel really quite poorly around Sept/Oct. A fully MRI scan in November revealed that the cancer had spread to his lungs, liver, lymph glands and still remained in his Larynx. Dad told me over the phone whilst I was traveling back from London from a meeting that 'they' had given him a year with the option of palliative chemo. I'm sure every commuter on that train that day heard my screams of 'no!' and thunderous tears! I found out yesterday that they had actually only predicted 2-6 months - but that was my Dad, always trying to protect me. He died nearly exactly 6 months later.
Its the hardest thing in the world to watch someone who you've always looked up to, someone who was always been immensely proud and independent, fade away into oblivion. I was privileged enough to be with him when he took his last breath in the Hospice - it had been a lovely day so I had just come back inside from lying on the lawn, having a break from the vigil. I'd settled down into the recliner chair next to his bed ready for the night shift. Dad was unconscious by this stages - partly due to the body shutting down and partly due to the cocktail of drugs keeping him calm through a driver. I had only been back an hour or so when I looked across at Dad as I heard his breathing change (I was listening to U2 on youtube at the time!) 3 long slow deep breaths followed by a short, sharp gasp.....and that was it....all over red rover. I could tell he was dead as his facial skin colour had gone a strange kind of grey colour. He had his hand resting on his chin, like he always used to when he was dozing. It was amazingly peaceful. However, at this point in time this is all I can remember about my Dad - his last breath and how he looked like he was a concentration camp victim - god rest them. No matter how hard I try I cannot remember any good times, which there were many, nor how he used to look before he got ill. I suppose this is the curse bestowed on carers - haunting images of loved ones who have morphed into something completely unrecognisable to you.
I have asked the question many times - is knowing a loved one going to die more favourable than just have them gone, run over by a bus etc. Watching what Dad went through I would go 'bus' every time. People say that at least you could spend precious time together - well let me say this, in and out of GP surgeries, Consultant Clinics and A&E departments is not precious time. People also say that at least you can say all the things you wanted to say - well I say no you cant, when the disease takes hold and the body is shutting down the person is nearly permanently asleep or when awake, they are whacked out on so many drugs to manage the pain they can sometimes not even string a sentence together. People have all these romantic notions, I suppose I did at the time, like the process will be similar to Michael Keaton's film 'My Life' and the poor unfortunate will make poignant home movies for their loved ones when they're gone and write journals to educate their off-spring left behind. Not what I experienced.
Im going through that angry phase right now - Im in physical pain and crying a tremendous amount, BUT - inside I'm raging. Why him, why such a good person when there's so much filth/scum walking the earth - teach them a lesson. I hope this phase goes soon as I dont want it to eat me, inside and out.
RIP Dad x