My father was diagnosed with stomach cancer at the age 78. I can remember i was only about five years old. It was one of those rare father and son moments were my dad took me to the park to enjoy nature and eat a couple of hot dogs. It would be the first and last time my father and I would bond closely as we did that hot afternoon at the park. I quickly ate my first dog, when my father asked me if i wanted another one. I hesitated slightly, because i knew how strict he was about maintaining a healthy diet. My father was not one to over eat , smoke, or indulge in adult beverages, so he expected no less from me. ‘Yes dad’, i answered my father, and he quickly went into his pants pocket and gathered just enough money for my second helping.’ Wow, i thought to myself, my father is in a rare mood today’. As the hot dog vendor strolled away, i wondered if i could of gotten away with a third one. It was a memory however short, and very sweet that i will always remember of my father.
Later on in my life i married and my father and i drifted further into the abyss, of who cares. Still this man was my mother’s only love and her first partner for over 45 years. The time came as it did every year for my dad to take his yearly trip.
At the age of 78, he should have focused on a yearly physical. In mid air over the U.S. he began to feel severe stomach pains. He thought that it was nothing, probably something he ate the night before, carelessly blaming my mothers cooking. Once he landed at his destination, the pains grew in intensity. So bad were the pains, he stayed at a hotel, and caught an early flight back home. My mother was surprised to see him return about two weeks early from his trip. My father explained to my mom, that he might have an ulcer or food poisoning, and for now he just needed some rest. Funny thing my dad thought the next morning as he awoke. Though the stomach pains were decreasing, ‘where is my appetite?’. He is not a big eater, but every morning he liked his muffin and coffee, this morning he felt no hunger pangs. Neither did he the next day or for the rest of the week. On my mothers insistence, he went to a doctor. My father was never big on doctors or any type mass screening for potential health issues.
The doctor heard my fathers symptoms, and ordered an endoscopy procedure. The doctors and my fathers fears were confirmed, stomach cancer. How could this be my father thought, ‘ i have worked so hard all my life, never smoked, never drank, maintained a good healthy weight level all my life, for what ?’. The doctor had no answer for him but only to say that from the report, and pictures the endoscopy took, the cancer was there, and had been there for quite awhile, maybe five to ten years. A yearly physical would of caught this at its early stage, but now, the cancer was at stage 4.
It had begun at the opening to his stomach while a tumor was blocking the passage to his stomach. It had spread to his liver, and at this point removal of the tumor might cause him to die during operation. The life from my mother went away from her face. My father looked down at the floor and realized that his time was coming to an end. Had he begun early physicals in his 50’s he surely would of caught this cancer in time before it could do any life threatening damage, or at least he would had a fighting chance. Mass screenings would have detected something wrong with his G.I. tract. This would have been the red flag that could of saved his life. But it was too late for all that now, after some attempted procedures and a possible surgery that never happened, he was left to go home and deal with his fate peacefully.
It was then that my father and i were once again united and exchanged words of hope and forgiveness, to gain each others acceptance once again. The stomach cancer took my father’s health quickly, even at 78 he was a picture of a fit man who i thought would most certainly out live my mother. But the stomach cancer tumor prevented him from getting any food down past his throat to his stomach, but this really didn’t matter since he had no appetite. He basically lived his 45 days after the diagnosis on a liquid diet. But even that was painful for him to swallow. As he could no longer get out of bed ,i laid next to my father and put my head on his shoulder, hugged him, and began to cry like a baby and told him ‘ i wish we could go and have a couple of hot dogs together again dad at the park ‘. About a week after, he died. Who knows what causes cancer. My father didn’t’ seem to fit the profile of a high risk to cancer. But i learned cancer doesn’t discriminate. Doesn’t’ distinguish sometimes a healthy lifestyle from a reckless one.
The point of this story, hopefully if someone reads this, and if you are 50 or over, please go for mass screenings for your health. Sometimes a huge bus goes from town to town sponsored by Walgreen’s, http://www.walgreens.com and gives you one for free. Also, Natrens probiotics are good for immune systems, which can be found on http://www.amazon.com. Whatever you have to do, do it for yourself and for those who depend on you and love you, before its too late. If you have a love one over the age of 50 encourage a mass screening of their health on a yearly basis. Preventing stomach cancer is difficult, but early tests can mean between life and death. Miss you Dad!