(This post is the second in a series written by Mary. Previous post link – The Beginning)
Dad had received the diagnosis that he had an obstruction in his colon and was immediately scheduled for surgery the next day. Everything happened so quickly. My dad’s surgery was scheduled for first thing in the morning. We planned for my mom to go with him to the hospital, and for me to come over as soon as possible. Finding a babysitter for three small children was not easy, but thankfully members of my church volunteered to help. Just as I was getting ready to leave my apartment the phone rang. It was the surgeon. He asked me if I was coming to the hospital because he had something very important to tell me. I told him I was on my way. At that moment I was very nervous, so I asked him, “What is wrong? Can you just tell me now?” He responded by saying that my mom asked him to tell me first if there was any bad news; she wanted me to be the one to tell her. That was why he was calling to find out when I was coming.
I froze. I just knew something was terribly wrong. I asked him again to please tell me what was wrong. He asked me if I was alone and told me I should sit down. I know that is never a good sign. The surgeon informed me that my dad’s diagnosis had changed. His dad’s obstruction was, in fact, a tumor about the size of a golf ball blocking the passage from his intestine to his colon. The tumor was diagnosed malignant, and the results of the PET scan showed that the cancer had spread from his colon to my dad’s lungs, liver, and lymph nodes. I thanked him for telling me and hung up the phone in shock. All I could think was, “This is NOT happening. Not to my dad.”
My dad was one of the hardest working men I have ever known. He came from a broken home and was shuffled between family members most for his life. He never finished high school but was always able to keep a job. He met and my mom at a young age, and they soon found out they were expecting the first of 3 children. Around the time their second daughter was born in 1969, my dad began to lose his sight. He was smart enough to realize that he needed to get a job that would ensure him life long health benefits for his family. He found a job with the state working as a janitor: he only needed to work for 10 years to be able to secure benefits and a pension. Luckily, he was able to hold on to that job until he went legally blind in 1979, the year I was born.
And now this. This new diagnosis was almost too much.