Mar 18, 2012 - 3:22 pm
Exactly 2 weeks ago (4th March), I lost my father to a malignant brain tumour. He was my everything in life, my friend, financial advisor and most of all my dear daddy. I grew up as his only daughter and we shared a very special father/daughter bond and regardless of the fact that I was now in my 30's, he still treated me as his 'little girl'.
He was diagnosed Easter of 2011. I had been abroad for a mini break but had taken extra time off work so I could spend a few days with my parents including Easter. Little did I know what was ahead of us. He was already in hospital when I got there as he had taken a 'turn'. They had done a scan and I should have known it wasn't good news when the doctor took myself and my mother aside into a private room. He said he'd seen a shadow on Dad's brain. At the time I had no idea what that meant. He explained it could be a tumour. As it turned out it was. He was then transferred to a City hospital to have the biopsy. I was with him the day they gave us those results as I was collecting him to bring him back to his hometown. I knew once again it wasn't good when I was told not to leave until a doctor had spoken to us. The doctor arrived and told us it was malignant. We knew it wasn't good news but didn't realise he had just been served his death sentence. We drove back that day with a very dark shadow hanging over us and he kept pleading with me not to tell my mother.
Then it began, could they/would they operate. They decided to risk it but could only remove part. Then he was offered 6 weeks radiotherapy with oral chemotherapy. This he chose to undertake despite it meaning he had to travel 2 hours each way on a bus each day to receive it. There is no radiotherapy unit in our local hospital. He never missed a day of this despite how ill it made him. All I remember of this time was he was either in the city or in bed. It was 6 weeks of hell for him. When he finished this he was referred to our local hospital for chemotherapy. He only had one session as they decided his platelets were too low to continue. One night he called me to tell me how upset he was that the 'doctors had given up on him and that he was going to go in and demand his treatment as it was his life'. This was the only time I ever heard him complain and while I heard the words at the time, they haunt me now. Just after this he was moved from dealing with oncology to Palliative Care. Again, while I heard the words, I didn't allow myself to know exactly what it meant at the time. After going from bad to worse, Dad was admitted to hospital on 28th December when his mobility went from bad to practically zero overnight. We were told it was likely he only had a week or two to live. 3 weeks later the hospital were discharging him as they refused to keep him on the basis of his illness any longer.
Thankfully we found him a bed in a Nursing home nearby. There's no Hospice near us. From 28th December I stayed by his side as I knew we were on very limited time. We formed a very strange bond and our roles almost became reversed. I was suddenly feeding him as he could no longer co-ordinate his hands. Each faculty was disappearing and his speech was almost non-existant. I was sitting there watching him dying and again at the time, I just kept going, sat there holding his hand for hours, talking to him even though he couldn't answer, perhaps I was hoping for a miracle but I know I wasn't delusional either. On reflection now, I find it strange that each level he dropped I became climatised to and dealt with.
His final week I cannot get out of my mind. I have nightmares about it. I never, ever want to watch somebody go through that again. I was with him when he eventually died. It was just before 7.30am and I had actually just joked to the Nurse who was going off night duty that he might be waiting for St Patrick's day. She left the room and a few minutes later I realised something was 'happening'. His eyes were open, his colour had changed and his breathing had changed. I held his hand and told him everything was going to be alright. As realisation grew in me, I put my arms around him and held him to me. He died in my arms. One would think it was an apt ending after all we'd gone through but I can't get it out of my mind and have been wrought with guilt that perhaps I could have done something to stop it.
I lost my hero that morning and it's tearing me apart that I'll never get him back.