My dad has always been the strong one. The one who could fix anything, and I mean anything. As I was growing up he collected old Cadillacs. He would rebuild the engines, sometimes restore the interior and then would re-sell the car and make some cash. We never had less than 65 or so cars on our property. Out of all these cars, only a handful were drivable. They all needed something. But they were ALL special to him. He even named them. He called them his savings accounts. He knew that even when he had NO money, he had these cars and he knew than in a bind, he could get money fast. I always dreamed of restoring an old car with him and keeping it forever.
He always had BIG dreams. He wanted to retire early to fish for the rest of his life. So when he was almost 60, he talked my mom into moving to Florida. The rest of the family was in Idaho, but he was determined to get warm and close to the part of the ocean he wanted to fish in. He went to Marine Mechanics school and graduated at the top of his class. He toyed with becoming a fishing guide. My mom got a job at Disney World to pay the bills while my dad was in school. After my dads schooling, he got a job at Sea World. They never made it to the water. They got comfortable. Its been 5 years and they are still in the Orlando area…and miserable.
But worse…dad started getting sick. He started loosing weight so fast and had no desire to eat. Doctor said it was his gall bladder. They scheduled to remove it but when my dad couldn’t even get out of bed because he was in so much pain, my mom took him to the emergency room. That’s when they found the spots. On his pancreas. And his liver. And…his lungs. Just the month before my brother-in-law was diagnosed with Multiple Meyloma (cancer of the stem cells) and my mother-in-law was diagnosed with Lung Cancer in January.
Its been 8 months since he was diagnosed with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer, metastasized to his liver and lungs and its been hard. We (me, my husband and our 2 kids) moved to Florida to be with my dad. Then as he was recovering and my husbands mom was getting worse, we moved to California to be with my MIL. We stood by her side as she fought a loosing battle. She was strong, but the cancer was stronger. She passed away on September 1st. She will be GREATLY missed. She was a legendary woman.
Through my dad’s roller-coaster ride of chemo, hospitalizations and the regular pharmacy that is on the kitchen counter that consists of his hourly medicines, we have watched him battle and do well. He has amazed the doctors. Pancreatic Cancer is the most “lethal” cancer. It is detected so late that there is only a 4% survival rate. His original prognosis was 6 months to a year.
His dreams have changed. He just wants my mom by his side at ALL times. She had to quit her job to be with him. How do you handle this when you still have bills to pay.
Its been 8 months.
My mom can’t do this alone. I flew back to FL to help. I convinced them that we want to help and care for them both, but we have to do it in California. That is where the rest of the family is. So we are in the middle of a massive liquidation sell. Everything must go. Our time is short.
And now I am seeing the signs I don’t want to see. Dad is falling asleep in the middle of meals. Even if we are at a restaurant. Mid-bite he falls into a deep unconscious state.
He is confused. As he is staring at my feet while I was driving him to the doctor this morning he asks me where the dog is. As if I had the dog the size of a small horse down by my feet. He’s confused and I’m getting scared.
I am not ready to watch him fade away and the cancer take over his body. I need my husband by my side to help me. I need to be back in California where we will be surrounded by support and people who truly understand. I need a shoulder. And if I need this support, love and personal touch so bad, I can NOT even imagine how bad my mom needs it.
We don’t have much time left and I’m scared.