Cowardly Cancer

IMG_7352–Cancer, the crabby, conniving, craven disease comes when you least expect it and tries to take everything away. It’s all a blur when a loved one gets the diagnosis. Nothing else seems to matter. The thought of losing my dad is too real, too painful, too heavy. I keep describing what I feel as a heavy box that is in my way. I can’t lift it. It’s immovable, stiff, colossal. It’s beyond my power to move it and when I try to lift it, everything hurts.

I’m grateful I got to see my dad in Spain, and I spent 3 days with him being at home, and then another 3 days in the hospital. I got there and went from the airport to the hospital, where he was getting his first chemo. He was weak and exhausted, yet staying focused on resting to beat the beast. We were there with him to see the first drops drip and make their way into our dad’s body. It was emotional, surreal, overwhelming to see what was happening. It’s all happened so fast. Cancer doesn’t take a break. It has a mission and relentlessly tries to beat everyone in its path.

The day after chemo seemed to be pretty normal. Papi rested most of the day on the couch, barely ate, and drank as much water as he could. Day two was a bit tougher and day three (on his 80th birthday!), he woke up feeling fragile and beyond sick. We called the doctor and he suggested that we take him to the hospital immediately.

We wheeled him in ourselves and they took us in quickly. The doctor had luckily called ahead so we didn’t have to wait long. After many tests, the conclusion was that his high glucose and anemia, along with the effects of chemo was what made him feel so lousy. He was having trouble breathing and was hallucinating. From the ER, they admitted him and told us he would have to stay a few days in the hospital. Definitely not what we had planned to do to celebrate my dad’s 80th.

Seeing my daddy so sick makes my heart tremble. He’s unable to do everyday things we take for granted. The man who was an athlete as a young man, the architect, poet, photographer that he is, who took me on his knee and pretended I was an airplane, who calls me Pelota (Ball) and invites me to learn about good wine and art. He lays in bed, hooked up to oxygen, an IV and bags of blood for a transfusion. He opens his eyes briefly to check who’s there and I smile at him. We take turns going to the cafeteria, and sitting quietly by his side.

The day I left him I felt frail and helpless. I wanted to lift him up and take him with me. I’ll take care of you papi. Come with me and I’ll never let you go.

He’s been in the hospital for about three weeks, and has only been able to tolerate one more chemo. He has decent days, and then something dips or spikes. His platelets, glucose, sodium, or his general well-being… and the doctors determine that he can’t get chemo until he stabilizes. We pray he can keep having decent days rather than the ones that drag and bring dark clouds over our eyes, not allowing us to see God’s design in all of this.

What is the purpose of such an illness? I don’t question God. I simply ask myself what can we learn from all of this mess? Is this a test to heal something in us? In our family? In our relationships?

Cancer challenges everything. Magnifies it and shakes it until you become so dizzy, you don’t know which way is up.

I pray to you dear Lord.

You who knew before my daddy was born, how long he would have to live and laugh with us. May we continue to joke with him for a long time.

You who knows that my dad is not always an easy man. Give him patience and peace.

You who created us all to be this family. Broken in some parts, yet solid and loyal. Allow us to grow closer, to heal what you feel needs to be fixed, and to continue to trust in you. Give us all strength.

If it is in your will, may our papi survive this and may we all beat this cowardly cancer who threatens us. Everything is possible in your name. Amen.


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