I spent the day with my dad visiting his doctors — three of them to be exact — for his scheduled consult.
It has been almost a year since he had that routine colonoscopy where his doctor discovered several tumors in his large intestine. Right away he was advised to have a surgery for the tumors to be removed. After they removed the tumors, a biopsy was made and eventually we were told that he had cancer. To be more precise, my dad was diagnosed to have Stage 3 Colon Cancer.
His surgeon explained that they were able to take the tumors out, along with the nodes surrounding that part of his large intestine. But one node tested to be positive of having cancer cells. So my dad was referred to an oncologist for “preventive” measures — that is, to arrest the scattering of cancer cells in his body.
Our world seemed to have turned upside down.
My dad has always been our pillar of strength. He has a very positive outlook in life, his faith in the Almighty being his anchor during tough times, and he has always, ALWAYS been there for me and my siblings — guiding, protecting, supporting. He is what his label is — a father. So when we learned that he was physically ill, we were all at a loss. Our main question then was, “What now? What do we do?”
Yes, we were fearful. I was fearful. And I had a lot of questions. How can this strong man be sick? Who will hold our family together should anything happen to him? Why him? Why now? Why cancer?
It was a rollercoaster year for our family. My dad started with his chemotherapy treatment a month after his surgery. He was supposed to have 8 cycles of combination IV treatment and oral medication. He will be on medication for two weeks, have a week’s rest, then start the cycle all over.
The first three cycles were bearable. His only complaint then was that he was losing his sense of taste — and his appetite, eventually. It was getting harder and harder for him to take food in because he couldn’t taste anything but his medicine.
It was after his third cycle that the treatment started to take its toll in his immune system. We had to rush him to the hospital due to intestinal problems. He had a barrage of tests and the doctors searched high and low for whatever was causing the infection. He stayed in the hospital for ten days.
He was told to rest from treatment for about two weeks after that. Once his blood test had normalized, he then went back for another cycle of treatment.
After his fourth cycle, he contracted another infection. Once again, he had to be hospitalized. This time, he was there for almost two weeks. He underwent all kinds of tests, they had to monitor his platelet count, at some point they had to do blood transfusion.
That was a very difficult time for all of us. More than just being tired and weary, shuttling back and forth to the hospital, taking turns watching over him, there’s also the pain of seeing him lying on the hospital bed weak and frail.
It was after that hospitalization that his doctors decided to change his medication, remove the IV treatment and just retain his oral meds. Their rationale being the combination treatment is just making him weaker, keeping him from living.
He continued taking his oral medication for another four cycles. He didn’t have any episode of threats to his immune system and eventually he began eating well, his appetite little by little had gone back to normal. He also started gaining back the pounds he had lost.
After several months and several blood tests, my dad’s blood count (RBC, WBC, platelets) had gone back to normal. His tumor marker lies between the normal reference range.
His doctors told us that, as of this moment, my dad is cleared of cancer.
It was quite a year for all of us. First the shock that the news of my dad’s ailment had brought really caught us offguard. It has caught me offguard.
It’s like, there I was, living my day-to-day life, concerning myself with such mundane issues, then BAM! we are told that someone in the family is sick… someone had cancer. And then the reality hit me — I am not in control of the things that are to happen. There are things that I cannot do anything about.
It can happen to anybody, at any given time… even at the times least expected.
You try to be strong, yet you know that you have so many unanswered questions. You keep your faith in Someone bigger than you, yet you still find yourself in one corner at times, doubting and asking what if everything goes not the way you hoped or wanted?
Yet you still keep the faith. You hope, you pray and you stand in faith because you know that your faith will see you through.
I am thankful because of the good news that my dad’s doctors gave us today.
I am thankful because despite everything we have been through, our family stood strong and stayed together.
I am thankful because although there’s sickness in this world, there’s also cure… and there are people (may the heavens bless them) who will share their knowledge, their support and their care to help you get through whatever it is you are going through.
I am thankful for life.
I am thankful for hope.
I am thankful for tomorrow, simply because I know that it is a brand new day.
photo via google images