Dad’s Cancer – His final weeks

Hello everyone,

 

It’s been a terrible long time since my last post and I’m very sorry.

The thought of writing this post was quite painful.  Because it means that my dad really is dead.

 

The hospice he lived in for about 2 months was very good.  The carers were friendly, the food was good, his room was big with some pretty furniture.

It took us about 15 minutes to get to him by car and about 25 minutes by train.

It was very weird.  Just visiting my dad, not actually living with him anymore.

He came home four times and each time it was more exhausting for him.

He could hardly walk, climbing stairs was nearly impossible. He spoke less, got tired really fast and also became impatient.

At his last weeks he got a wheel chair.

A few days before he died was his 53rd birthday, so his siblings, their husbands/wives, his parents and of course his wife and kids celebrated with him.

My mum had made him a cake (he had been able to express which one he’d like to have) and had to feed him.

It was weird.

I had driven him from his room into the common room, where the celebration had taken place.

Somehow his guests had overerstimated his condition, they had looked shocked and sad.

During this hour my dad had looked quite often to me.  He couldn’t speak properly anymore, mostly nodded or shook his head to answer.  I will never forget his look.  The way he stared at me with his blue eyes I had always loved.  Like he wanted me to help him, but also full of unconditional love and trust.

In his last few weeks we started to hope he would die soon.  Because it was horrible to watch as his condition got worse and worse.

And I felt even more horrible for hoping that.

 

-Mareike

🙂

Dad’s cancer – Ask questions!

Hello there,

This is another part of my series about my dad’s cancer. You can find the first part here.

 

Knowing that you or someone you love will die because of cancer is horrible.  You’re aware that your time together is limited.

One of the most important things during this time is to ask questions!

I wanted to know as much about my dad as I could, I wanted him to tell me stories about his life and why he did certain things.

Is there a thing you always wanted to know about your loved one?  Then don’t be shy!

I’d love to have known if my dad had ever intended to get a tattoo.  I never asked him.  On the other hand, if he ever would have intended to get one, he would have had one.

I was also at first angry with myself for not asking him, how he thought about me getting a tattoo.  But I know that he wouldn’t object to anything I do (if it’s not illegal or immoral), as long as I’m happy.  He always supported me, no matter what I did and I  miss this a lot.

Keep in mind, that if you don’t ask questions now, you’ll never get the chance to ask them again!

As long as they’re not weird or intimate I’m sure your loved doesn’t mind answering them – on the contrary!  If you’re showing interest it will make them very happy.

 

I hope I could help you with this.

Please feel free to leave a comment.

-Mareike

🙂

Dad’s cancer – The importance of listening to stories

This is part of a series about my dad’s cancer (as the title says). You can find the first post here.

 

It sounds a bit weir d, but today I want to tell you how important stories can be when someone’s about to die.

Stories are important in general to get to know a person better.

When my dad couldn’t go to work, because he had chemo, we drank coffee every Tuesday and Friday around noon.  I had school, but a long lunch break at these days so I came home.

Then I made us some coffee, sometimes we found some cookies in the kitchen and then we sat at the kitchen table and just talked.

We talked about simple and normal things, like how school had been, but the best thing was when he told me stories about his childhood or youth.

My father had been very funny and freedom-loving as a young adult.

I loved listening to his stories, whether they were about a prank or something more serious, for example when he had seen the body of a biker (he had been a biker himself).

I’ve still got the feeling I should know a lot more about him and that there are so many other stories I will never know about.

With these stories he told me I’ve got the feeling it’s a bit easier to keep him in memory as he was.

Also I could see how he had changed – from a wild guy to a caring man.

A piece of advice from me:  Listen to the stories your parents/grandparents tell you.  They want to share something of their history with you.  You can learn a lot from them and will always smile when you remember them.

 

Feel free to ask questions and to leave a comment!

-Mareike

🙂

Dad’s cancer – The horrors of therapy

This is the third part of the series about my dad’s cancer.  You can find the first part here.

 

I don’t remember any details about the therapies my dad went through.  He had radiation treatment and, of course, lost a lot of hair due to it.

He also had to take various pills, some against epileptic seizures which could occur.  Others were supposed to stop him from puking, which was the side effect of his chemo therapy.

During all this time my dad never really felt great or fit.  He was mostly tired and grumpy, but who wouldn’t if you had to endure such a process?

My father had a cousin who had connections to some guys at an institute and they studied brain cancers and how to heal this special kind of brain cancer he had – glioblastoma.

So he participated in a clincial study to see if their medicine would work.  It didn’t.

He tried another one.  It didn’t work either.

A third one didn’t accept him, because his tumour wasn’t big enough (sounds crazy, right?).

I think all those therapies were probably the worst thing during all this time.  You could see how they affected him.

Nonetheless, he endured them, because he knew they would give him a bit more time.

My father hated that he couldn’t go to work during the chemo.  He had had a new job since a few months and was lucky enough to have an absolutely awesome boss, who gave him as much leave with pay as he needed.  He knew my dad wouldn’t work there for a long time, but he supported him anyway.  In fact, he even gave us our dad’s pay for the month he died.  He gave us the full pay even though my father died at the end of March and never had been at work the whole month.

We’re still thankful my father had such a great employer, who was even a bit more than just his boss.  They were kinda friends.

That was one of my dad’s talents – to make friends wherever he went.

 

If you’ve got any questions go ahead and ask them, I’ll answer ASAP!

Please feel free to leave a comment!

-Mareike

🙂

Dad’s cancer – The diagnosis

This is the second part of my series “Dad’s cancer”.  You can find the first part here.

 

Our mom returned alone from the hospital, late in the night.

We all sat down as she told us the CT scanner results were unambiguous.  Our dad had cancer.

They couldn’t say which cancer it was yet, a good or a bad one, but they had to operate on him as soon as possible.

We had wanted to go away the next day, but now that wasn’t possible anymore.  Our mother asked the siblings of my father, who also went to the trip, whether they could take us kids with them.

We had decided that we wanted to go there, as a distraction and because we had friends who went there too.  Our mother stayed at home.

Before we drove off the next day, we visited our father.  He had forgotten why he was there.  He thought it was just some examination, nothing serious.

It was sad seeing him there, acting like this.  To me it seemed like he was suddenly 80 years old.  And when we left the room and I saw him standing in his room at the window, I ran back again and hugged him and told him I loved him.

Mein Held

(This is my dad before we left.  I edited to make him look like the hero he was to me.)

I think this was really important, for both of us.

So we spent a week in Munich and called our mother every evening to see if there were some news and to tell her we were okay.

Of course I thought a lot about him, but I still had fun there.  I was in a room with my cousin and another good friend and we had a good time.

When we returned home, our mother went with us in the living room and told us to sit on the couch.

I remember how she broke into tears as she told us he had a malignant tumour.  The operation had been successful, but the tumour would return.  And there was no way to stop it.

I remember both my brothers crying.  But I couldn’t.  I wasn’t stupid, I understood what it meant.  I was just so shocked.  And I can’t cry in front of others, I just can’t.

I got really angry when my mother told me, that I “don’t have to pretend to be the tough one”, it would be okay if I cried.

When I was alone in my bedroom I did cry.

I hugged the teddy bear my father had given me when I was small and had nightmares.  He had bought him when he had been 20 years old and ever since I got him I can’t sleep without him in my arms.

We visited him again this day.  He had a scar on his head and lost some hair.

He was so happy to see us and to hear what we had seen during the week and to see the pictures we had taken.

Proudly I gave him the gingerbread heart I had bought him in Munich.  On it was written “I love you” (It was the one I thought fitted best.)

When he returned home he put it at his bedside table and kept it there forever.

 

If you have any questions, go ahead and ask, I’ll answer them ASAP!

Feel free to leave a comment.

 

-Mareike

🙂

 

Dad’s cancer – The weeks before the diagnosis

Hello there,

 

I want my blog to have a series about my dad’s tumour, because it is the main reason I started this blog.  I want to start the series with the weeks before his diagnosis:

 

My father changed a lot as his tumour grew.  He started saying weird things, using wrong words and getting angry with us, when we corrected him.  He moved very slowly and it took him ages to eat.  He forgot a lot of things, things, you just told him the other day or some minutes ago.  Once he went to the supermarket to get some milk and returned with completely different and useless stuff.  But he thought those were the things on his grocery list.

My father had also had diabetes (the type I, which is a genetic disorder), so he had to inject himself insulin.  Once he didn’t use his syringe, but tried to use a bottle opener instead.  Or he tried to use a handkerchief as a remote.

All of this sounds rather funny, but when you see your own father at the age of 51 behaving this odd you don’t feel like laughing.

Sometimes he looked at me with big round eyes like a puppy, which was kind of cute.  I always hugged him then, but we all knew there was something wrong.

My mother told him he should go see a doctor, but he always said he’s alright and told the doctor everythings perfectly normal.  Of course the doctor believed him.

We wanted to go away during the holidays with our trombone choir.  Everything was already planned and payed, but suddenly it wasn’t sure if we could actually be able go there.

Then our uncle died, the husband of our father’s sister.  He had had cancer and had become unbearable because of it.  Only some weeks before his death he had kicked his wife and two kids out of the house, so they had to move to our grandparents.  He didn’t even allow his kids to get their stuff out of their rooms.  They were only 11 and 13 years old.

When he died my father wanted to write a condolence card for his sister.  Careful as my mother was, she read it through and was shocked about what he had written.  His sentence hadn’t made a lot of sense, he didn’t sound compassionate, but like a robot.  She put it away before he could give it to her.

This settled it for her.  She packed a bag at sunday evening and went to the emergency with him.  It was the 19th May 2013.

I remember watching the Eurovision Song Contest with our family just the evening before.  He had no memory at all of the ESC, neither the next day nor any days after.

 

Maybe some of you had to go through something similar like this.  This is my experience with brain cancer so far (and I really hope it’ll be the only one).

Please feel free to leave a comment.  If you have any questions, just ask them and I’ll answer ASAP!

 

-Mareike

🙂