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Daddy's Battle: A Story of Strength, Love and Loss

Updated on October 31, 2012
Dad on his prized Harley Fat Boy
Dad on his prized Harley Fat Boy

The Beginning of a Nightmare

July of 2011 my father drew my mother's attention to a lump on his neck. After visiting his regular doctor, he was sent to an ENT specialist who assured my mother and father that he did not think the lump was cancerous, just a thyroid cyst but they performed a biopsy just in case. A couple of weeks later the doctor called to inform my father that the tissue samples did test positive for cancer and that the prognosis was "not good". My father was sent on to an oncologist who explained to him that not only did my dad have cancer but he had signet ring-cell carcinoma which is one of the rarest and most aggressive cancers a person can get. Dad didn't want to know the specific statistics but when he was out of earshot my mom dared to ask. The oncologist informed her that there was a 5% five year survival rate and the other 95% of patients were usually gone within a few months to a year.


Right away my father underwent an aggressive regiment of radiation and chemotherapy which left him exhausted and in pain. After just a few short weeks he was only able to work a few hours at his 30 year long career as an auto mechanic. Not long after that he was no longer able to work at all. The lack of something mechanical to do drove my dad so crazy that my mom started purchasing puzzles and complex remote control cars for him to tinker with. He also still lit up when my younger brother came to visit from Portland, Oregon and he still did his best to be the devoted husband, father, grandfather and brother he had always been. Our family still went on our fall trip to Florida and it was such a gift to be able to build more good family memories while there.

A Losing Battle

The oncologist and radiologist tried every combination of treatments that modern medicine had to offer, but sadly it was clear that none of them were working. The tumors had spread and grown to further places on his neck, shoulders and chest and the doctor said they had most definitely spread to other more vital places below the dermis. On July 6, 2012 it was agreed that my dad be placed on hospice. For a few days he almost seemed normal again. He regained his appetite, although it was mostly only for peanut butter and jelly, donuts and ice cream. Then just a couple of weeks later he started to deteriorate quickly. After a while he needed too much help going up and down the stairs to his bedroom and so my mother was forced to order a hospital bed to be placed in the front living area of their home. Blankets were draped over the french doors to allow for darkness and privacy so dad could rest.

The End of a Great Man

Dad lived long enough to see his 56th birthday but just two weeks later on September 4, 2012 he drew his last breath. My siblings and I were all present at the house as well as my mother of course. He and my mother spent 31 wonderful years together and I couldn't have asked for a better father and friend. People came from all over to pay their last respects, our friend and pastor delivered a touching eulogy, my sister spoke some very touching words, and I myself offered an antidote about how my dad kept all of my grade school clay figures even though they were hideous. Several other friends and family offered their kind and touching words, all different aspects of the sort of man my father was. My dad's greatest fear was not death, but the cancer going to his brain and making him "not funny anymore". I'm proud to say he still maintained his sense of humor until the end. We were all truly blessed to have him in our lives and I know he is resting peacefully now, probably finding humor in the fact that a misprint on his first grave marker made him younger than my mom.

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    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 3 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Wow. Moving; touched my soul in places I thought were sealed-off from society.

      dcollins, you are a terrific writer. I cannot put it any plainer. Your dad was like my dad, a tinker and fixer. My dad passed eight years ago, mom, four years ago and my sister, last January, so now I am alone.

      I admire you so much for publishing this piece. And how disciplined your thoughts were as they turned into text.

      Wow is the only expression that came to mind.

      I would love for you to follow me on HubPages. I am sure that I could learn some of your sensitivity if you would do that for me.

      God bless you in your future writing and days of life.

      Peace be to you.

      Kenneth/ from northwest Alabama

    • brblog profile image

      Bruce 4 years ago from Chicago, Illinois

      Thanks for your story - to many go too soon . . .

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      So sorry to hear of the loss of your father, but it sounds like you made some wonderful memories together that will last for a lifetime. He must have been a really great man to know.

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 5 years ago from South Carolina

      My condolences on the death of your father.

      This was a beautiful tribute to him and it sounds like your family was able to spend some quality time together before his passing.

      How amazing that he was able to retain his sense of humor till the end, especially since losing that was one of his greatest fears.

      Voted up across the board except for funny.

      Welcome to HubPages.

    • old albion profile image

      Graham Lee 5 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi dcollins3. Another lovely and well written hub. You bring a tear to my eye with this post. Your dad looks to me like a guy that did it his way. Not one to follow the track, but one to go out and leave a trail.

      Voted up and following.


    • craiglyn profile image

      Lynda 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Condolences on the loss of your dear father. What a wonderful hub you have written for him; please know that he is still with all of you - try to watch and listen for the signs. My husband passed too on September 4th but in 2010 - and I see and hear the signs every day that he is here. Big hugs to you.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      It is pretty unusual to see a new writer write about personal experiences. This was quite beautiful and I would have loved to have known your father. Excellent job my new friend. Welcome to HubPages; I think you are going to do quite well here.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 5 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      I am sorry and sad to read this article. Tears are rolling down my cheeks. My heart goes out to you. I am sure GOD is taking care of yr dad in a nice place. Cancer is horrible and act up fast that no one knows what is happening. I admire your courage to write this hub. Good job. Voted, up, interesting and awesome.