I can’t quite believe I’m typing this. At the start of the year I booked Thursday off work – it would be my Dad’s 65th birthday and I booked it so that I could spend the day with Mum, reminiscing and supporting her. I was completely confident that Dad would have died months previously. It is almost five years since my Dad was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma, cancer of the bile duct. It was his 60th birthday celebration when we realised he was properly poorly and had turned yellow! I’ve written before of what has happened since then and earlier this year we were told Dad was terminally ill, with no treatment options left but chemotherapy. Once the palliative chemo was finished (a couple weeks ago) it was onto a new, and final phase, of symptom management.
Yet, amazingly, spurred on by the joy of being a Grandad for the second time, and inspired by the Olympics and Paralympics, Bobby is still very much alive and kicking. He isn’t as alive as he once was, he isn’t actually kicking, but he is still able to walk around and get himself up and downstairs. Dad’s scan results show that his tumour continues to grow and the cancer to spread. My parents have both separately discussed dying with me and both mention that they expect (and hope) that Dad’s death will be sudden and not a long, slow decline. The unspoken element of this is the simple fact that Dad has been on a long, painfully slow decline for the past five years but luckily it has been so slow that we’ve come to accept it without realising it or focusing on it too much.
As the paralympic ceremony closes, and we all take a moment to recognise exceptional achievements, I’m scribbling this blog post as a note to self about Bobby J’s embodiment of the paralympic motto ‘Spirit in Motion’. Dad has an amazing spirit, his own superhuman endeavours and ultimately what I consider to be a truly exceptional achievement in living with cancer, living not dying.