Sunday, February 05, 2006

4 years ago...

My Dad was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

My version of the last several years- some dates/facts/numbers may be slightly off- but it's to the best of my remembering- which isn't perfect. (Wouldn't want someone to go James Frey on me).

He was on active duty with the Utah National Guard and was doing security for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. He was staying in the Barracks so my mom didn't see him for several days. One night he was supposed to be license plates on cars and checking them against some list, but he couldn't process the information or comprehend the numbers and letters on the license plates. So his soldiers (I think he was in charge) tried to cover for him saying that he must be tired or too cold and had him check cameras (take a picture to make sure it was a real camera) and he couldn't figure those out either. He went to the first aid tent and was told to go home and go to the ER. He drove home (and wasn't sure how he did that) and my Mom was immediately concerned because he couldn't read!

They went to the ER and after a CT scan found the tumor. That was Saturday night. Monday morning they operated. He was told that he'd never fully recover, he'd never regain the ability to read, comprehend numbers, be allowed to drive, go back to work or even be left alone. He was also told that with this sort of tumor the survival rate was 0%. Most people died within 6 months. If he lived that long then he'd maybe live to see 18 months. After that the chances of living longer were low- like 5%. No one with a gioblastoma multiforme had lived longer then 5 years.

My Dad is the definition of steadfast and faithful. We prayed, we fasted, he had blessings, and six weeks after the surgery he was back at work. His outlook was positive. After a year of no seizures he was driving again. He had a full recovery in every sense of the term. The doctors were amazed. Us? Not so much. Maybe at the time, but now looking back it doesn't surprise me that he's beaten all the odds. His faith in Jesus Christ and the power of the priesthood is unshakable.

The tumor began to regrow at about 2 years. The doctor's said that this was it- that they could try some chemo or radiation but it most likely wouldn't work. Then it did. The tumor growth stopped. But Dad wasn't back to normal. He had changed a bit, but was still working.

This has been the pattern over the last several years. He does good, then has a setback, is bad for a while and then recovers miraculously- but not quite to the point where he was before the setback.

But it's been a significant four years for our family. In that time I've had 3 children that I'd been told I wouldn't be able to have. Spencer got married, Katie had a baby, Sarah got married and had two babies, Sarah got sealed, Jessica graduated from High School, Hannah went on a mission and returned, Jessica got married, Sarah got sealed, Barbara graduated from high school, Rebecca and Angela grew from kids into teenagers. A lot has happened, I can't imagine him not being around for it.


Fast forward to lately. He's been really struggling. They say the tumors are growing again. He's got rapidly spreading cataracs, he's weakening again and hurting a lot. Then on Friday he fell. My mom had quit her part time job because he was needing full time care again. She took Angela to lunch for her birthday and when she came back my Dad had fallen down and hit his head. He also cut his arm pretty bad. She with the help of a friend of my Dad's who was coming for lunch were able to get him into his chair. He's slurring his words and has no strength on one side of his body. He can no longer walk. It's looking bleak. I've speculated that he may have had a stroke which caused the fall. The signs/symptoms that he's experiencing seem to point in that direction. My mom asked the doctor but he said that significant growth of the tumor would manifest in the same way. So there isn't really a way of knowing.

So there you have it. It's been a long four years full of emotional ups and downs and 'what ifs'. But it's been four years of growth and changing in our family. I believe that we're a stronger knit group because of this, that we've learned compassion and patience and what a strong capable woman my mom is. I've learned a lot about marriage and selflessness and most importantly love by watching her as well. In lots of ways I can't believe that it's been four years already, but at the same time it's hard to remember that it's not always been this way.

6 comments:

Linsey said...

I am sorry to hear about your Dad, but it is so great of you that you have found such blessings in such a difficult thing.

Alissa said...

HUGS Ambre. I can't know the pain you're going through, but always know I'm here for you. To vent, to cry. Whatever. Love you girly.

ubercyl said...

A wonderful story. Thank you.

MOM said...

I've been thinking of this anniversary too, especially with the olympics on again. I guess I'll always connect the two events.
It's sure getting harder. I keep thinking that Heavenly Father is seeing if we really love each other enough to be together forever. Hope we pass the test!
Thanks for remembering. Love, Mom

John M. Broast said...

Your story is sad but also heartwarming. In October of 2003 my Dad was diagnosed with Gioblastoma Multiforme. They told him it was grim from the beginning. He has undergone 2 surgerys and received so much radiation and chemo it is incomprehensible. My father is a man of faith. He refuses to give up his fight. Seeing him change like he has is heartbreaking. But we all will eventually get older and weaker too. It is just a matter of when and why. I pray that your Dad and mine both have miracles. I feel we have already had a miracle in my family because he is still with us. May God watch over you and your family and bless them all with His grace. It will get us through the difficult times knowing that we have a true Faith that our Holy Father will embrace us and our stricken loved ones during these times. Love and Prayers to you. John

Anonymous said...

Ambre, my heart goes out to you as my father, too, was diagnosed this year in March with a Gioblastoma 4 Multiforme. Devistating news to our close-knit Christian family. Each day that passes, I see my father grow weaker and it breaks my heart. I pray for miracles daily and feel frustrated that I cannot find a cure to save this great man who is loved so much. God Bless you, your family, and I will continue to pray for miracles. Elizabeth