My father has worked all his life. Sometimes, when we were kids,he worked more than one job, taking on an evening shift to supplement his income. He never rested long when he wasn’t working, either maintaining or fixing or extending or just changing the house, the garden, our car/van/minibus, whichever we were being transported around in at the time. My Dad didn’t stand still for long.
He took early retirement to time in with my parents Ruby Wedding Anniversary. It was a combined Anniversary,joint birthdays and retirement party. Both my parents birthdays fall within a week of their wedding date. Typical of our family, it made economic sense to have a joint party.
Anyway, my big, strong Dad has recently been hit by a big problem even he can’t fix.
Last year, mid autumn, he had been experiencing some problems with his bowel. He consulted his doctor and was sent for tests. The tests revealed, eventually, that he had the dreaded C word.
He had bowel cancer. The most prolific form amongst men. The light in the dar was the fact that we all knew someone who had survived. We heard encouraging stories of friends who had been given a few months to live and were still found in the pub each Sunday playing cards and buying drinks some two or three years later.
He had an operation to remove part of his bowel and to rejoin the ends at a later date. All looked promising. The surgeon said it was a common procedure and he did them almost daily now. But it didn’t go smoothly afterwards. There were complications resulting in more visits to the wards.
Dad finally got home, to stay in the New Year. He was booked for a post op scan in Bristol a couple of weeks later, to check everything had been removed and to find out whether any chemotherapy would be necessary. We all thought, hoped, that it would be a formality, as the surgeon had indicated. When the results came, it was almost the worst news possible; the cancer was still there,larger and more prevalent than ever expected. A lot in the bowel so the rejoining couldn’t happen, a tumor, more in the belly and chest. Inoperable, that vile word. Inoperable, dug in there and refusing to move. Something previously unseen had crept into my perfect fathers body and defiled it. Some disgusting pointless growth, some imperfect organism was going to slowly spread through his system, taking over part after part until it killed him.
Yes, the obvious devastation hit. It hit my Mother, it hit her hardest. Dad was expecting something, after all he knew how he felt inside. He knew something wasn’t right. The results meant he now had a death sentence. We wouldn’t find out until he saw the chemotherapy guys later the next week. They were as positive as they could be. The most aggressive course of treatment available would be tried. He is still young enough and healthy enough to withstand it. The benefit would be an extra eighteen month to two years of life. Time to prepare, to plan, to tie up loose ends.
Dad started chemotherapy yesterday. From here it feels like a slow , tortuous countdown to me but he is taking each day as it is, a bonus. He doesn’t moan, he comments if he has had a bad day or a sleepless pain riddled night but he doesn’t expect or tolerate pity. We can’ change things, we can’t fix them so he is just looking for the positives.
For all this and more, I love my Father. For this and more I hate our world and the putrid evil that is Cancer.
For all my Father has is and will always be, I will live each day and never worry about the small things that really don’t matter in the grand scheme of things.
I hate Cancer but I know things never stay the same for ever. One day we will beat it. My Father, the fixer, the worker, the repairer of all things, won’t know.