I will never be the same as I was before. I see things differently than some of my friends ever will at the age of 20. Sometimes I envy my friends for getting to have their fathers in their lives and getting to experience new things with them. They get to have their fathers at their college graduation, have them walk them down the aisle, be there for their firstborn child and meet their grandchildren. There are so many things as a girl that you want your father to be around for, and I envy anyone who gets to experience that because I lost my chance. I cherished every last moment I had with my dad and tried to make the best of it.
In July 2014, I received the scariest phone call of my life while I was at work. My mom called and told me that my father had had a stroke and they were rushing him to the emergency room. I rushed out of work and met them at the hospital. By the time I arrived there they were preparing to take him back to surgery. We got a few minutes to tell him how much we loved him and then sent him off. After they took him back, the doctor came in and told us what they were going to do and the risks with this surgery. After we talked to the doctor they took us to the ICU waiting room and we waited for what felt like HOURS. Finally, a nurse took us back to see my dad. The surgery had gone well, but he would not be able to respond to us because he was sedated so as not to pull out his breathing tube.
My dad began to recover very fast. He moved from ICU to IMU to a rehab facility to regain his strength before he would be able to come home. Three weeks after his stroke he was released from the rehab facility to come home. It was such a good feeling to see him progress so fast and be able to gain most of his strength back and see him walking again and just happy to be home.
But, little less than a month after his stroke, in August, my dad began to decline very quickly. We did not have any idea what was going on so we rushed him to the emergency room to run tests and to do another CAT scan of his brain. Once in the ER, it felt like forever for the test results. The doctor finally came in and told us they had found a tumor in his brain on the CAT scan and they wanted to do a biopsy to see if it was cancerous. The following morning we were back in the ICU waiting room once again waiting for the surgery to be done. We thought it would take a short amount of time, but it was much longer than we thought. When the doctor finally came in, he told us the biopsy showed the tumor was cancerous. They had removed as much of the tumor as they could, it was Glioblastoma multiforme (GBMbrain cancer). I was in total shock and extremely upset. The only thing going through my head was “This could not be happening, everything was just fine. He doesn’t deserve this!”
After finding out my dad had brain cancer, my entire life changed. I was now juggling school and helping to take care of my dad. We found out this cancer is terminal, one of the most aggressive cancers there is and the median survival is only about 15 months. We decided to do the standard of treatment which was radiation and chemo for six weeks. After doing the standard of treatment, we had to wait about a month to do another cat scan to see if the tumor had shrunk. At this next CAT scan, we found out that chemo and radiation did not work and that a new tumor had grown. More devastating news that we did not want to hear. My dad started to decline quickly and I decided that I could no longer continue school and take care of my dad. I decided that being with my dad was more important than school, so I dropped my classes and focused on being with my dad and making the most of what time I had left with him.
About eight months after his diagnosis in March 2015, my father lost his battle to this awful monster. I got to spend his last Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Years’, and every other holiday right by his side and I am glad that I made that decision to be right there with him. That semester was one of the hardest semesters I ever had to go through, but it was a little bit easier to have so much love and support from family and friends. This fall I decided it was time to go back to school. I know that is what my dad would want me to do. I miss him every day.
Chandler, CareBOX Program Intern