We’ve all seen the adverts on the TV, every 1 in 3 is affected by cancer. Whether that be directly, a loved one or a friend. Based on that statistic, it affects a very large amount of the world’s population. It’s an illness that breaks families apart and ruins the lives of millions. Cancer has become a taboo topic, it’s almost become a swear word in our language. We have even started to refer to it as the ‘C word’. People are frightened to discuss it, because of the destruction that it causes and the fear of upsetting the people who have to live with it, and the families of loved ones who have lost someone.
Having recently lost my father to cancer in May 2017, I felt that it was the right time to talk about it. Firstly, for my own benefit to help me grieve, but also for anybody else out there who is going through exactly the same thing. You are not alone, and there are other people such as myself who have had to witness the cruel, heartbreaking effects that cancer can have.
Breaking The News
My dad didn’t tell me and my brother straight away, because he wanted to protect us. We had gone on a family holiday to Jamaica in August 2016. Even then, I knew something wasn’t right. My dad was in a lot of pain and he wasn’t himself. It was only when we got back that he told me that it was cancer. There were no words to describe the feeling when the news hits you. It’s a numb feeling, and it takes a long time for it to sink in. It’s a natural thought process to think that it will never happen to your family, but when it does it brings home the scary truth that this can happen to anyone at anytime.
The Long Fight
The first few months were extremely difficult. Trying to wrap your head around the shit that has been presented to your family is hard! I can’t begin to imagine what was going through my dad’s head. The endless treatment of radiotherapy and chemotherapy completely overtook our lives. The treatment is long and intense. Watching my dad lose weight and be zapped of his energy and his ability to go about his everyday life was heartbreaking. Not long into his treatment we were hit with another bombshell.
The cancer was a rare form, and there wasn’t a cure for this particular type of cancer. The only thing that the doctors could do was to attempt to shrink the tumour as much as possible with the treatment and keep it under control for as long as possible. However, cancer cannot be controlled and it waits for no-one. My dad battled hard for nearly a year. I’ve never been so proud of anyone like I was of my dad. He never gave up and fought it right up until the very end.
The Start of the End
The deterioration of my dad’s health was quick and sudden. One minute we were all enjoying a family BBQ, the next minute we are all sat around a hospital bed. There was no time to process the situation and no words to describe the pain that we all felt, watching my dad get worse and worse. We knew the end was near, and he was granted his final wish and brought home.
He passed away on the 16th May 2017, at home with his family around him. That’s how he would have wanted to go. Not stuck in a hospital bed surrounded by strangers, but at home where he was most comfortable. Watching my dad take his last breaths was a contrast of emotions. There was complete devastation and heartbreak, but at the same time there was a sense of relief that he was no longer suffering or in pain. He’d seen all of his close family the day before, and he had decided that it was time to go. He went with everything around him that he loved…his family and a war film that was on the TV. He wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Bringing The Family Together
I want to give a special mention here to my mum, as she is the person who has had to deal with the situation every minute of every day. She went to every single hospital appointment, stayed at the hospital day after day and looked after my dad every step of the way. All this whilst trying to look after everybody else. How one person can deal with all this and still put on a brave face is unbelievable. She is truly inspirational. My younger brother Mike, who has had to deal with so much at a young age also stepped up to the mark and showed his true colours. I’m proud of all of you.
Even though our family has been torn apart, somehow we have all managed to pull together and become even closer. My dad would have wanted that. Family was everything to him, and he was never happier than when he was surrounded by his family and friends.
The funeral took place at Walton Lea Crematorium Chapel on the 26th May 2017. A tough day for all of us. Me and my 3 brothers (Mike, Rob and Alan) carried my dad in whilst the bagpipes were playing. I’d volunteered myself to stand up during the funeral and give a tribute to my dad. I read out a poem that can be found on the tribute page of this site, and also said a few words about my dad. I asked everybody there to remember my dad for all the joy and happiness that he brought to people’s lives, rather than the long hard struggle that he faced.
The amount of people that turned up to pay their respects was incredible. People were there that we haven’t seen for years. Even the landlady from the pub that my dad drank at was there. Made me realise what a popular man he was, and how many people that he actually knew. He had clearly touched a lot of hearts.
My dad will forever be in my thoughts, especially when my son is born, as I will be teaching him all about Grandad Yule, and what an inspiration he was.
I would really like anybody who is suffering through a similar heartbreak to get in touch, either in the comments section or message me directly.