Cancer is soul destroying, you know that your parents are going to die one day but when you hear the dreaded C word life as you know it changes. Emotions are hard to comprehend; you want to break down but yet be supportive and tell them its going to be ok. Life becomes about numbers and levels, I spent months doing research about what to expect and how to help but the feeling of helplessness is so overwhelming and that feeling never goes away.
It was 2009 when we found out my dad had prostate cancer, while going through the required tests doctors told us that is was unlikely to be cancer because my dad was so young and his PSA level wasn’t actually that high, hope is hope so we clung onto it. The test came back positive for cancer; the plan was surgery and the doctors were confident the cancer wasn’t very developed so surgery was a good idea. While waiting for the operation to have his prostate removed the cancer grew and progressed, my dad didn’t want to talk about it at all so all we could do was just watch him sink deeper into a depression. Surgery was a success; the doctors removed the prostate without any problems but had decided that radiotherapy was also a good idea just to make sure all of the cancer cells had gone.
While my dad was recovering post surgery, the colour came back to his face, his depression seemed to have got a bit better and it was great to see him laughing and smiling again. I’m not an only child, my dad has five others, my little brother’s were so young that they didn’t understand what was going on and I honestly think maybe that was a blessing for them. As adults the rest of us helped when we could, he was our priority. The radiotherapy did not happen, the people who take part in the cancer trails are picked at random and even though the doctor thought it was a good idea my dad wasn’t chosen and it was a bit of a blow. My dads PSA level had dropped to almost what it should have after the surgery so life should continue as normal, in theory we were cancer free. Having the knowledge that my dad was on the mend wasn’t as comforting as I thought it would be, the constant dread of what ifs, never seemed to fade.
After having prostate cancer my dad had to have his blood levels checked on a regular basis, and each time the appointments came around it was sleepless nights for all involved and for almost two years the results were good. During the two years my dad changed his life; he stopped smoking, lost a lot of weight and was living healthier than he ever had, a healthy mind a healthy body was a theory he had but it wasn’t to be. Hearing the news that his PSA levels had risen twice consecutively hurt more than when I had originally found out about the cancer, my mind had gone into overdrive; could you really beat cancer twice? The second time around the options change, surgery isn’t an option because it has already been done, radiotherapy was on the horizon as were hormone injections; round two was about to begin.
The hormones have been started and radiotherapy will begin shortly, hope is in the air because after all if you haven’t got hope what have you got? Technology is a wonderful thing and new treatments are found all the time but when it’s a member of your family suffering the new treatments are not happening soon enough. The hardest part for me to grasp is that a few months ago my dad was healthy and since treatment has started he’s in pain and suffering from the other side effects of his treatment, I don’t think anyone wants to see their parent/s hurting. This time around my little brothers are older and are starting to understand more, as much as we are trying to avoid the C word you can see that their curious as to what is going on, children pick up on everything.
Cancer affects so many people on a daily basis but I don’t think you can ever understand properly until it’s your family going through it. Every cancer patient is a mother/father/son/daughter/brother/sister/grandparent and the whole family go through the emotions that it brings. My step mum has been brilliant through this whole process and can never be thanked enough. I donate monthly to cancer research if not for my dad but for someone else’s and I pray that one day a cure will be found. I pray and hope that we as a family can beat this for a second time around, cancer destroys so many lives a cure is vital. I’m sending well wishes to everyone out there fighting cancer, stay strong and remain positive.
Since writing this blog a new drug trail for prostate cancer has been stopped early because it is so successful, hope is alive.
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