Topic: Our Wonderful Husband, Father and "Papa"
I have tried to write this message several times, but found it hard to put it in writing. It just doesn't seem real.
My precious husband of 39 years, my childhood sweetheart, the father of our children, and "Papa" to our grandchildren, died on Monday, March 5.
Dan was diagnosed on April 23, 2005. No one could have fought harder or tried harder to live. He had so much he wanted to live for---more time together with me, our 3 daughters, and our grandbabies. Since diagnosis, Dan left no stone unturned trying to find a way to keep this monster cancer at bay. His days were spent researching, making phone calls, talking with doctors, getting 2nd and 3rd opinions, keeping track of his medical records and all the details that become a part of your life when you're fighting for your life.
To say it's been a roller coaster ride is an understatement. We had so many great days when we received good news that his test results showed his tumors were shrinking--and even that the tumors were gone. We celebrated, but it always seemed these were followed by hospital stays caused by infections, fluid in his lungs--so many things that kept reminding us that the cancer was lurking, sneakily waiting for it's opportunity to show its ugly head.
And it did---this time causing untold misery to Dan by crawling (like the insect it is) into his stomach. He couldn't eat, could hardly swallow water. He vomited constantly, even without eating. A mediport was inserted to provide nutrition, which I learned to do for him nightly. Then Dan began to bleed internally. His stomach had been ravaged by the radiation and the tumor. He was rushed by ambulance to the hospital 3 times in one week--each time his blood pressure dropped dangerously low and we thought we would lose him. He received what seemed like countless transfusions. The doctors cauterized bleeding areas in his stomach at least 4 times. But it wasn't enough to have to fight the bleeding--septic shock set in. One day Dan was lucid and talking to us, saying he felt better than ever--the next day he was semi-concious, fighting to stay awake and incredibly weak. We tried to talk with him, to get him to rally again, like he always had done. We were sure he would beat this set back and come home and continue his fight.
It wasn't to be this time. After a few days, when it seemed the bleeding had finally stopped, he began bleeding again. The doctors told us there was no more they could do and to take him home and let him pass away peacefully. We still believed that he would rally, even while we made hospice arrangements. After all, Dan always came back. He would again this time. He just needed to come home and be around family. While we were next to his bed, talking to the hospice worker, she looked at him and said she didn't think he would make it through the night. After a few minutes she said, "He's dying now." We couldn't believe it--it was happening so fast. Our daughters held his hands, I layed next to him and held him in my arms. We told him over and over how much we loved him. After a few minutes, he took his final breath. It was so peaceful, just what we prayed for.
The pain and grief are unbelievable. God will help us through this, but it will be the hardest thing we've ever done. Dan was the centerpiece of our family. He lived his whole life for his family. He was always taking care of us, helping everyone in any way he could--even when he was so ill. He was always taking care of the needs of his family--running errands, helping out with the grandbabies and doing whatever he could to make life easier for everyone. He worried how his illness was affecting everyone and hated that he was making us sad. He wasn't afraid to die--he loved the Lord so much---but hated that his death would cause us sadness and grief. He didn't want to leave us. He tried so hard to live.
Wasn't it enough that he had to endure stomach cancer, and non-Hodgkins lymphoma? That he had to go through chemo and radiation twice before? Was cancer so determined to take over his body, that it would appear again, this time in a rare and terminal form that he had little, if any, chance of curing? He accepted all of this with so much strength. He always said that this was God's plan for him, that he needed to go through all of this for some reason that we couldn't understand right now. He fought, but he also knew this wasn't in our control. We prayed for healing and a miracle, but obviously it wasn't in God's plan.
We hate this cancer so much. It has been lurking around Dan and our family for the last 15 years in some form. Dan decided long ago to be cremated. He said that he wanted to burn up this ugly cancer--that this would be his last strike against it. Dan won his battle with cancer by not letting it take away his faith and belief that God was always by his side.
We miss him more than I can express and life will never be same for our family. But we know we will see him again one day, and that's what keeps us strong.
This site has been an incredible source of strength for me and our family. Thanks to all of you for sharing your journey. I will continue to read your stories and pray for each of you and your families. God bless you all.