“Cancer” one word, one word that bring people to tears when they hear it. People think they understand what it’s like but they don’t, until they see their loved one in pain in their last few days on earth because of it.
I remember 9th grade, when mommy and daddy had an overseas call saying that daddy was diagnosed with stage one prostate cancer. My grandfather has always lived a healthy lifestyle so it was shocking to know that he had cancer. Every day we would pray. I would even wake up at 5 am to attend the class mass at my school (I was in an exclusive catholic school for girls back then) which was at around 6 am. I prayed so hard, we all did. There was never a night that we didn’t pray the rosaty. Good thing, the doctors and the technology in the United States were the top of the line so after daddy’s radiation therapy sessions, we was found to be cancer free.
On the year 2014, my grandparents went home to celebrate their Golden Wedding Anniversay. It was their 50th year of married life, mommy and daddy went home earlier than expected and had their golden wedding celebrated a few months earlier. They celebrated it in June instead of October. I was beyond happy, to see them there, happy by each other’s side and full of love. We were so happy to know that daddy was cancer free, or so we thought he was. As it turns out he wasn’t. On the month of October, just a few weeks after my grandparents got back to the United States, daddy got confined to the hospital. We almost lost him. I remember how hard I cried seeing him with all those wires and tubes, how badly I wanted to be there with him but I know I couldn’t. He got out of the CCU but after series of tests, he was diagnosed with colon cancer. The cancer from his prostate recurred in his colon. My heart broke, first I thought of how it would be like without him, then I thought of Mommy, how much she loved him so much and how much she loves him still.
Daddy and Mommy went home the following year on holy week in the year 2015. Daddy, despite his pain was still so thankful for being able to be home and for being still alive. How I loved taking pictures of him and mommy as they held hands, how much I dreaded the day of losing dad. They want back to the US after the holy week but went home for Christmas which seemed unusual since they would usually spend it in the US but he chose to spend it here. Despite the doctor’s disapproval of him staying more than 3 weeks, they stayed here for more or less 2 months. When they got back, I gave dad a hug and he whispered in my ear “I thought I’d never get to be back home, maybe I would but in form of ashes…” I was fighting the tears, I had to show daddy I was strong and told him ofcourse he’ll be home, he would still be there in my oath taking ceremony after all. Days passes and everything was great. I would usually spend mornings watching him do his paperworks and all those highlighters he had. He gave mommy a bouquet of red roses on Christmas morning. I even have a video of them dancing that morning, mommy was in tears. Little did I know that it was our last Christmas with him. We didn’t know his cancer was spreading when they left for the US on January. When daddy resumed his chemo, he got weaker. By march he decided to stop his chemo and go home to PH for good in April.
The doctors gave him a permit to travel and he miraculously got to walk by himself without any assistance from anyone so he got to travel back home. It was April 6 when they got back to PH. We were waiting at the airport, all of the passengers were already out except for them. Then there I saw him, in his wheelchair being assisted by the people from the Airport. I barely recognized him, he wasn’t his usual self. I knew something’s wrong. Mommy was there with him like she always has been. Dad cried when he saw us. Daddy always wanted to see us smile, that even when he’s in pain, he danced when he got home and laughed with us. He even called my mom the director for giving all the directions to everyone on how they will bring him upstairs. I was the one who picked the curtains and the arrangement of my mom’s old room wherein they stayed. My mom was the one who picked the native recliner though. When daddy removed his hoodie, I saw how much he lost weight. I thought his vomiting was just part of jetlag but days passed he was still not feeling well. He would cry in pain, he always would and everytime it was my turn to look after him, God knows how hard it was to fight back the tears. I would go out of the room and call someone else to look after him first then I would cry. Why him? Why did it have to be my grandfather? Daddy was such a good man, he didn’t deserve all the pain he’s going through. My heart broke every single time I saw him struggling for his life. It was the morning of April 16 when daddy passed away. Part of me was happy he was no longer in pain but it was more of a depressing feeling actually. Flashbacks of my childhood played through my mind, how he used to baby sit me as a child everytime my mom and papa were at work, that time I copied him shave his face and I shaved mine too, when my mom forgot to pick me up at school when I was 5 and just when I was about to cry he came to bring me home, how he called me “attorney” first and how we both looked forward to my oath taking ceremony when I finally become a lawyer but these are all memories now because he’s gone. When I finally got enrolled into law school, I almost broke down in tears knowing that he could’ve been there and he would’ve been so happy if only cancer didn’t take him away from us. If only cancer didn’t have to ruin it. If only cancer didn’t happen, he would still be here and mommy would still be happy. If only cancer didn’t happen, if only.