One day, Dad was winning a golf tournament. Nearly the next day, he had what was thought to be a stroke and life changed as we knew it.
Mom and Dad were visiting Dad's sister outside of Houston. Dad played in a tournament his plays in each year. This year he won. Mom and Dad stopped by my sister Carla's house to spend the night before heading home. On April 9th, an hour after arriving back home in Alabama, my dad couldn't talk, move his left hand and had all of the classic signs of a stroke. Mom called my sister Cheryl and my brother-in-law Ross who is a surgeon to get Dad to a hospital. During the drive and while at the hospital, he suffered seizures.
Testing was done and it was determined that Dad had a brain tumor. It was difficult to diagnose because nothing fit into the category of stroke or tumor completely. We decided to wait on surgery to see what effect the medicine would have. Surgery was postponed after Dad got a staph infection in his left arm.
On May 9th, Dad had surgery. The tissue of the tumor changed as the surgeon removed each piece. Finally, it was determined that the tumor was a stage four glioblastoma. Additionally, the tumor had intertwined itself on a major vein in Dad's brain. Complete removal was not an option. 90% of the tumor was removed. There were some rough times during the surgery and the first few days. He had a lot of bleeding in the brain during surgery. He also suffered a lot of swelling in the brain that was pretty scary for a little while.
After a lot of days in ICU, the hospital and the rehab hospital, Dad was sent home. He started chemo and radiation treatments and did very well. Really no side effects. The weather was always perfect as was the traffic for Mom and Dad's journeys to Birmingham for treatment. We had a great visit together for the 4th of July and got to do some fishing. I also got to take Dad down to the lake where he got to hit some golf balls.
On August 2, Dad bottomed out quite a bit. My sisters and their families took my mom and dad to Florida for a little relaxation and to celebrate the end of his treatments. Dad grew lethargic and unresponsive. They returned home to Alabama and admitted him back into the hospital. After testing, new very small tumors and one large tumor were found in Dad's brain. The doctors were stunned that he could grow new tumors during chemo and radiation treatment. He was moved back to rehab on August 8th. New experimental treatments were discussed. Things seemed to progress some over the next several days. Dad returned home on the 24th. He continued rehab at home and had visitors come by.
On October 2nd, testing showed that the tumor had grown. He had no use of the left hand or left leg. He seemed to be having some vision problems as well. The doctors stopped the chemo treatment. They weaned him off of the steroids to try and help with the psychosis to give him some peace and improve his quality of life. He was no longer a candidate for the experimental treatments.
We were blessed enough to have a clear period of time with Dad on October 12th. He was funny, clear minded and visited with us for several hours. He had all of his kids and Mom with him.
On October 18th, Dad passed away peacefully with Carla, my wife Sally and I with him while home movies were playing on the TV.
It's not great story but it's not a sad one if you look at the big picture. In a way, it's inspirational to me. Dad was funny and had his humor the whole time. Regardless of the pain or the indignity of the situation, he never lost his sense of humor. Our faith remained strong throughout the journey. It continued and continues to strengthen during the hardest times. I hope this story and our journey can help other people in the journeys their lives take them through.
Philippians 4: 6 - 7
"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs and don't forget to thank him for his answers. If you do this you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus."