The beginning of the end

23rd August 2014

Exactly two years ago, I came back home from work to a relatively empty house (my two GSDs and cat were glad to see that at least one of the humans hadn’t abandoned them, which they assumed was the case every time someone left the building). My parents were meeting with our family doctor to figure out what was behind the pains in my dad’s abdominal area. I was a carefree 22 year-old, and the only real issue in my life (haha) at that point was an annoying co-worker related one.

Doctor’s visits weren’t unusual for my dad. There was a family joke — mention a disease/condition/infection and he would be so sure that he had a symptom. He had multiple doctors that he routinely visited, and I had given up trying to memorise who treated him for what. What was ironic was that he spent his whole life trying to not emulate his father in so many ways, but they both had ‘medicine bags’ and took a handful of pills with every meal.

As his daughter, I never accompanied him on these ’rounds’. To be honest, he felt uncomfortable and I — in all truthfulness — thought he was always looking for validation for something new he was convinced he had contracted. So on this occasion as well, I didn’t think too much of this visit.

My life changed that day, and for a moment, I was eerily aware of it. When they came home, my dad sat down in the living room. The news didn’t seem so bad, in hindsight — there appeared to be lesions on his liver, which could have resulted from the prolonged usage of steroids, for some of his other conditions. This was treatable, but he’d have to be admitted. So fine, we decided that I’d drive the three of us to the hospital the next morning.

At this point, my mother got up to begin cooking dinner and life seemed normal again. My dad had been admitted for small things on other occasions, so it didn’t scare any of us. Or so I thought. Because at this point, my dad looked me in the eye and said “Don’t be so relieved, this could be the beginning of the end”. I snorted, and told him to stop being so melodramatic, but I remember a chill running down my spine.
He’d never said that before, at least not to me. Maybe I want to tie up the loose ends, or convince myself that he was different, but I honestly believe that he had a gut feeling. I, like others (including his doctors, before that day) had lectured him continuously on the fact that if he just got up, walked a bit, tried to do something other than sit in front of whichever iDevice he chose, he’d feel a lot better. Sometimes, I even went to the point of telling him that things were only in his head.

But that day, he knew something the rest of us didn’t. I’m not saying the doctors who treated him before August 23, 2012 did a crap job. No. They treated him for everything they could see was wrong with him.

But somewhere, something fell through the cracks. I’m still grappling with that one.

“Colorectal cancer is the second most preventable cancer, after lung cancer. When the cancer is found early, initial treatment can often lead to an excellent outcome…
Colorectal cancer sometimes arises without any symptoms. For this reason, screening tests (such as colonoscopy and a test for blood in the stool) are recommended to detect the cancer early, when it is more curable.” (source)

From my limited understanding, it’s important for Indian males (it is more prevalent in males than females) who are 50 or above to get themselves checked routinely for any occurrence of this type of cancer. My dad was diagnosed at age 50 (stage 4, when the cancer had spread to the liver), and died at age 51.

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  • Reply Akash 23rd August 2014 at 6:11 pm

    Really sorry for your loss, I always put my foot down when anyone in my family tries to squirm out of routine but important health checks.I am very close to my dad and I cannot imagine my life without him. I know your dad rests in peace.

  • Reply Swati Kiran 23rd August 2014 at 6:51 pm

    Apart from the hypochondriacs there are those that also feel that not catching an illness when its minor and tackling it when it reduces them to shadows of their former selves is a macho thing to do.

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