I published the post below on the 18 March 2009 on an old family blog. I thought I would post it here because nowadays the old blog is barely updated and lately I’ve been thinking a lot about dad. I felt that this piece deserved another posting on my personal blog.
Perhaps in an effort to deny it was happening or to delay its denouement, I have not mentioned my Dad’s cancer. Now, though, he has gone and it’s time I wrote about it.
My dad was diagnosed with brain cancer on 29 August 2008. We were told that same day that Dad’s cancer was terminal.
The brain cancer was a metastasis from a primary cancer somewhere else in his body. A couple of days later it was discovered that the primary cancer was in Dad’s lungs.
Dad remained in hospital for another two weeks, during which time he was given several blasts of radiology. This, in combination with a course of steroids, initially helped to control the symptoms and delay the growth of Dad’s tumours.
Dad went home to recover from this period and await judgement on whether chemotherapy should be administered. It was eventually decided that Dad would benefit from chemotherapy, but this treatment was much delayed because Dad got a very painful abscess on his bum. So painful was this abscess that Dad was unable to leave the house for any extended period – in fact, lying on his side was the most comfortable position for him. The abscess meant that Dad’s plans to enjoy life while he could were cut short.
Eventually, Dad was able to have chemotherapy. The treatment did make him feel unwell, but not as much as he had expected. He was able to get up and move around in pretty much a normal fashion.
One of the most uncomfortable factors in the chemotherapy was the, frankly, inept work by the RUH. Throughout his treatment there were many errors and problems with how the RUH looked after Dad. Actually, I feel that “looked after” is a misnomer. Quite often the RUH would leave Dad waiting hours for treatment. On one occasion they completely forgot about him – after five hours Dad decided to mention that he was still waiting to be called for his chemotherapy – and they admitted that he had slipped their minds! Bastards.
This, along with broken equipment, erroneous dates for appointments, lack of radioactive material for the radiotherapy equipment, and various other incidents, was infuriating for me, as his son, and worrying for us all. Dad needed help, and I feel the NHS let him down.
In January, Dad’s condition worsened dramatically. He informed us that he only had a matter of weeks left to live. We were all devastated by this, even though we knew that the clock was ticking.
Michelle, Grace and I all went to see Dad on the evening of 3rd February 2009. Dad was able to hold Grace for kisses and cuddles, but he needed help. He was very weak, and struggled to stand and walk, even for very short periods. It was incredibly upsetting to see him that way. Just seeing him struggling for breath when stood in the kitchen, looking for his pain relief pills, was utterly heartbreaking. I knew in my own heart that Dad’s time was almost up.
On the 5th February 2009, at 11.50am, Dad died.
I know that I will miss him forever.
Love you, Dad. R.I.P.