Help – Your thoughts & Prayers are needed – Blog 14

Keep Calm

Greetings everyone. The next three days are extremely important for my dad.

Today he starts Chemo Round 3 which will continue until Friday. It’s also the day he has decided to use the power of the anointed cloth that has been blessed and provided to him. As said in Blog 12 this is a cloth to help heal my Dad.

The cloth in itself though is only part of the story, the other part being you. I know by now that in reading this you are already thinking of my Dad, though in particular for the next 3 days your thoughts have never been more important.

My Dad firmly believes that he can beat this Cancer, though he also knows that he needs his family and friends to support him.

The Chemo treatment will take place on Wednesday 29th, Thursday 30th and Friday 31st. My Dad will be placing the cloth on his back where he had the biopsy for this same period of time and he would very much appreciate your positive thoughts.

If you get a couple of minutes to spare, please leave a message either on the blog or via the Facebook group. Any messages left I will relay to my Dad to help him in his fight.

I think I said previously I wasn’t concerned at all but writing this Blog this morning has been difficult as it has just made the whole thing seem real again. I guess it felt easy getting on with day to day activities but behind the scenes it never goes away. My Dad though is the one battling this bravely and at times you wouldn’t know he was even concerned. If fathers are meant to pass their wisdom and life lessons to their sons then at this stage he is doing a grand job and showing Steven & I just how strong we can be if we put our mind to it.

I love my family very much, a sentiment that whilst we all know is not often said. I love my Dad very much. My thoughts are with him at this time more than ever.

Thank you in advance to everyone for your thoughts and prayers. Col xxx

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Not so Unlucky – Blog 13

Taken February before the storm hit.
Taken February before the storm hit

My Spanish venture has temporarily come to an end with David & I returning to the UK yesterday.

It’s strange as I don’t feel worried or concerned at all. Not sure if this is an inbuilt coping mechanism but things all just feel rather steady at present and almost just seemingly ‘back to normal’.

My Dad continues to Trojan on with him doing his best to eat my mum out of house and home. Since it all started he has lost just over a stone in weight which all things considered is not bad at all. He started at 12 stone 10 and is now 11 stone 8.

A surprisingly positive side effect of the Chemo has been the impact it has had on Dads Psoriasis. He had it quite bad around his ears, head and knees though the treatment seems to have worked wonders on clearing this up to an extent.

He is still getting tired very easily, though insists to my mum that he is fine… Male pride can have positives after all. I guess it just means that he continues to fight for full health though I do hope he is finding the right balance and not over doing it. From when we were with them in Spain though he does seem to be in touch with what his body can do, so as long as he is listening and seeing the signs he will be fine. Plus he has my mum to reign him in as well as Alan & Sandra. Thinking about it I almost feel sorry for him…

I’d also like to thank all those that have been relaying messages to my Dad to and all the thoughts you have been passing on to me and the family. It really does help and every message is forwarded to my Dad to help keep his spirits high.

My next update will be on Tuesday 28th in preparation for Dads Chemo Round 3 battle. It’s an extremely important time for him with the X-Ray being done soon after and hopefully we will then have a little more news of how well he is truly doing.

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Healing Powers – Blog 12

Healing Powers

Chemo Round Two seems to have gone fairly well so far which is good news. Having completed Day 3, last Friday and contrary to popular belief my dad has remained up and about this time with the Chemotherapy not knocking him for six as it did before. He has fought harder to stay up and be in the lounge/on the veranda with his loved ones. This said, he does at times remain a little short tempered but he can be forgiven for this small side effect. Tiredness naturally will play a part in this and thankfully those around him understand this.

One thing that has changed though is that he now has no hair. It had began to fall out and from what I am told was not looking great as it had gone patchy. So he took the brave decision to have it shaved off which in turn has helped things look that little bit more ‘normal’ for him. A word I detest though you know what I mean.

One thing that is difficult is finding the balance of being overly positive versus remaining realistic about things. Fortunately though I am a massive believer in fate and do believe things happen for a reason. This isn’t my saying that my dad should have Lung Cancer, but I do believe that we are put upon this Earth for a time frame and it’s about what we do with the precious time we have and are given. The age old clichés of “There’s no time like the present”, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”, “Live for today” and finally “Power in positive thinking” all spring to mind.

It’s this last one (Power in Positive Thinking) that I want to ponder over for a while. For the first time since I started writing this blog my Dad spoke to me directly about it and has asked me to include something for everyone to read.

My father in law (David’s Dad) has given my dad an anointed cloth to use. In essence this is a Prayer Cloth used to heal the sick. The word ‘Christ’ comes from the New Testament Greek word ‘Christos’ which means ‘anointed’.

The theory behind this is that a priest has blessed the cloth and as such a contract between God and my Dad has been formed.  It was up to my Dad to accept this in the merit it was given or reject it based on belief. My Dad is by no means a religious man and this cloth was presented to him over 2 weeks ago with the clear instruction that he should only use it should he believe in its healing ability.

My Dad has accepted that in placing the cloth close to where he had the biopsy performed, thus forming a portal direct to his lung, that there could be some form of healing done. This may come in many guises. It is fundamentally designed to heal though if in healing my dad it lessens any pain and gives him an easier road to walk down then its ability will have been more than worthwhile.

On July 29th my Dads third round of chemotherapy will start. He has chosen this date to first wear the cloth on his back where the biopsy was performed. It’s also worth noting after Chemo round three, an x-ray will be taken in order to assess how things are going for him. In his words he feels that he will put every positive thought and means given to him to fight his cancer and this is where everyone reading this comes in to play.

Already the support shown has been incredible but I would ask on behalf of my Dads own direct request that on July 29th, 30th and 31st during which point Chemo round three will be carried out that we all just have a moment to think positive thoughts for my Dad. If you are anything like me you will be doing this daily anyway but for this short period my Dad wants all his friends and family to form a powerful ‘PMA Cloud’ to help heal him.

Whether or not you believe in God, fate or things beyond our own understanding please for this moment believe in my Dads Positive Mental Attitude. He is putting everything and more in to his fight now. He started off as a typical man suffering with flu but with thanks to everyone’s encouragement and well-wishing he is getting stronger by the day and continues down a road of pure positivity and hope.

A lot is happening between the 29th–31st July and as I believe in fate, I honestly think this is an extremely important time for not only my Dad but the entire family. My Mums friend of 40 years – Jane, is coming out on the 30th to see my Dad and support my mum. My brother Steven and his family – wife Nicola and two kids Jack & Niamh are also going out to see him on the 30th onwards for a couple of weeks. I think seeing the grandkids will do him the world of good. Also as I said previously this is the period of time that Chemo round three will occur and having previously filmed an episode for the BBC, I will appear on the telly on the evening of the 29th…. Of all dates this could have fell upon, it fell upon the exact date my dad is looking to the future and staying focused for his family. All of whom will be making an appearance in one way or another.

I guess if you have beliefs or not, please for this moment in time have belief in my Dad :o)

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Chemo Round Two – Blog 11

Death & Taxes

It’s odd as David & I traveled up to La Coruna on Sunday night and whilst I remain in the same country as my Dad, albeit a 10 hour drive away, it’s probably the first time since it all started that I’ve felt so far away.

I can appreciate more now how my other family and friends must be feeling, not being able to see my dad on a frequent basis. Getting information through a third party just isn’t the same as being able to get it up front. Though I continue to hope the basis of this blog does lend support to those that are far away. The irony of this fact though following some of the conversations I have had with my dad are that he now feels ready to return to the UK.

To be honest though he is not really doing this for himself but more for his loved ones. I guess for some people, in doing right by others you end up making choices that do match what you want.

My dad has worked hard all his life and having moved to Canals in 2008 he finally found a place he was proud to call his castle. The name of which the Blog is entitled after is actually derived from just how much they enjoy living here (‘Finca Lykitere’ – Think I like it here!). They have also made some fantastic friends whilst being out here. Some of whom have been a godsend both pre and post diagnosis.

My dad would have happily died out here, though none of us expected the rocky road to start just yet. Such is life though and Benjamin Franklins quote still rings true to me, which was also bought to life in one of my favourite films ‘Meet Joe Black’:

“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes”.

We will make the most of every second we have and my dad re-establishing himself in England is his way of setting his wife up and making her safe and secure and closer to her loved ones. It also means he gets to see more of his family & friends. He wouldn’t always admit it but he does love seeing them.

The week ahead:

This week for my dad had a planned doctor’s appointment on Wednesday 8th July to assess where we were at with things and plan in the next chemo session. The appointment was mixed having spoken with my mum last night. Nothing has really changed at this stage. It’s too soon to know if the first round of chemo has done any good or not, we always knew this would be the case. The good thing though is that all the side effects my dad has been experiencing are normal and none are out of sorts to what they would have expected to see. The side effects so far have included: Tiredness, Loss of appetite, Nausea, Vomiting, Weakness, Phlebitis, Shortness of breath, Change in tastes, Various pains, Hair loss and the inability to go to the toilet for a number 2 (see you were all right – he is full of c#@p).

I suppose one of the more distressing things was to discover that the right lung was also affected with the Cancer. Partly this should have been known as the type of Cancer he has is within the blood stream. Whilst the Left lung is where the main large tumor is, it expands out to the aorta and then across his entire blood stream and naturally also to his right lung. It’s no wander they are pumping him with no end of Chemo drugs to help his body fight back and stand a chance at shrinking the cancer which in turn will help extend his life expectancy.

Due to the intensity of some of the drug combinations though they do have a lifetime usage associated with them and so what he is having now can only go on for a maximum of 6 months. After this time if not before, the doctors will have to re-assess the effectiveness and decide just where things stand. The problem with the chemo is whilst it attacks the cancer cells it also attacks the body’s normal cells which is why it has to be halted and other treatments looked at.

At this stage unfortunately I am unable to tell you what the alternative treatments will look like once this initial chemo 6 month stint is done. It could be that the chemo has worked sufficiently to open up radiotherapy. It may be that he still gets chemo but using different drug combinations of which though may not be so effective. It could be he goes on tablets. We simply don’t know. The plan though is after the 3rd lot of chemo which is due to start on 29th July, then an x-ray will be taken and at this point they can assess where to move things on to.

As you’ll notice I’ve talked about the 3rd stint of Chemo. The second stint started yesterday immediately after the appointment! We suspected this might be the case though weren’t too sure. Therefore my mum and Alan now find themselves in limbo land waiting to see how much this round will get to my dad. Anything like last time then he will be tired by Friday and bedridden on Saturday & Sunday.

Fortunately though our departure was timed splendidly and we swapped places with the more angelic looking Sandra. She arrived this morning – (Thursday 9th). My dad stands no chance against my mum, Alan and now Sandra. So hopefully armed with the knowledge that he perked up after 8 days last time, he will be spurred on to be up and on his feet sooner this time making the most of the time he can spend with his new house mate. It also means he can wind my mum up sooner too, sneaking off to do a spot of light digging in the garden… Good luck with that dad ;o)

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Hair Loss and Moving On (Blog 10)

Forcing my dad to have another picture taken, though this time in the newly fixed rocking chair thanks to David
Forcing my dad to have another picture taken, though this time in the newly fixed rocking chair thanks to David

Whilst I appreciate for some women losing their hair during cancer is a very traumatic experience to say the least, (my mum would call her hair her Crowning glory). For a man though it is often thought that the loss of hair would have a far lesser impact.

Unfortunately this theory is now being tested on my dad, who has been saying to people, he’s not worried about the hair loss side of things as it doesn’t really affect a man that much….

Saturday (4th July) actually started fairly calmly. There was the odd argument here and there as the lack of talking about how each other is feeling is causing a bit of a rift. Mostly though observing from the outside you could put this down to lack of sleep – The heat remains brutal at 30c plus even during the night and a constant 33c in the shade during the day. I daren’t even ponder what the direct sunlight temperature is.

My dad though doesn’t like to talk about things and still doesn’t really understand pain, whereas my mum wants every detail so she can better provide for his needs. You can imagine though when asking someone oblivious to pain types, “What sort of pain is it?” the response isn’t going to be the most rewarding.

Battle over and after we all pitch in with our 2pence worth things steady off and happy times are restored.

The day plods on quite nicely and after a nice family meal and a bit of chatting I decide its time to make the most of the pool again. What I liked though is that after 15 minutes my dad came in to join me. Initially it was only David who I thought was going to come join me, though seeing that my dad has joined me instead, leaves us to it.

I love when I get time with my dad on my own. We talk about everything and anything from righting the wrongs of the universe to sensible stuff relating to family and the future. We also talk about the fact that I am due to leave the following day. It’s really difficult as whilst I know he will be looked after without a shadow of a doubt, it’s just not the same as actually being here with him. I’ve said all along we make the perfect team in terms of what each of us are best at doing for my dad. Mum and Alan will be great and I trust he is in good hands. Further support is due to arrive on Thursday too in the form of Sandra Brace. She’ll certainly be happy to kick my dad up the backside when needed – (Thanks Sandra :o)

One thing I do talk to him about whilst we are in the pool though is the fact he’s been snooping around the house when he thinks no one has been looking. (They don’t call us hawkeye – aka nosey for no reason). I know my dads cravings have started and without having caught him red handed, I know he’s been off and had a couple of sneaky cigarettes, and also had some wine every so often. The worst thing about it is that the doctors actually said he was okay to have ‘a drink’ a day if he felt like it and also would get away with having maybe 1 or 2 cigarettes a day though where possible to avoid. I tell him the game is up and whether I agree with him smoking or not, this was beside the point. The issue being that there really is no need to sneak around. He admits there have been a few occasions and doesn’t lie to my face which is all I can ask for.

My mum won’t know until she gets to this paragraph that the above conversation has even happened. I also don’t expect her to approach my dad with this knowledge.

She knows my opinions on the subject and now that my dad has admitted he is struggling, needs the support of his wife more than ever, and she clearly knows what she must now do. Guess they say only time will tell. All I will say on the matter is seeing his wife continue to smoke no matter how subtle or unsubtle it may be being done, the temptation is causing my dad to suffer. It might not be an easy time, but there never will be an easy or right time.

From my perspective losing one parent to lung cancer is going to be tough enough. The thought of potentially losing two just seems unfair, cruel and I’m sorry to say quite selfish. This at the end of the day is all just my opinion.

Back to the story though – my dad’s literally crest fallen at the thought of this latest side effect taking hold.

We had just had a lovely time in the pool and he’d just gone for a shower. During this shower though he has noticed some of his hair had started to come out. This is the saddest I have seen him. My dad has always had a thick head of hair. Suddenly this will/may all be gone. It’s not the point that he got me to shave it for him a couple of weeks ago and barely had any left. Its more this is beyond his control. He says he had hoped that this side effect would have passed him by. Clearly not the impression he’s been giving to friends around him. Male pride is truly a bugger to contend with. (Lord knows what he will think if he loses it in other areas as men quite often do!!!)

It’s the first time I’ve felt sad inside for him. Especially with having just come out of the pool not just 20 minutes ago with him focusing on the next 4to5 years. Yes, in his head he wants to go nowhere, so guess he just needs a little bit of time to adjust to this next chapter. You can begin to see why people suffer though when you have to face hurdle after hurdle after further hurdle.

We end the evening with a game of Scattergories and whilst my dad was unsure at first he soon gets into the swing of things and comes up with the craziest and most ‘out there’ answers. He clearly doesn’t win but remember – it’s the taking part that counts.

Sunday 5th July – David & I are due to leave later this evening so we all have the day to enjoy with each other. You’d be surprised to find that we haven’t vanished to the seaside or anything like that. Instead we are having a nice, normal and mundane day around the house. David is doing the odd job here and there, mum is on spring clean mode and the beds have all been stripped down to be washed (almost like we were never here). Alan is helping Dad with the Septic tank – not a job I wish to support with and I find myself packing, pottering around and trying to find a moments peace amongst all the craziness happening around me.

To be fair, today has been great. Nice, Normal & Mundane was just the tonic needed for everyone. It’s difficult to imagine that my dad was only taken to hospital just over a month ago and already we are gearing up for the first doctors appointment after having had his first chemo session. Having been admitted initially with low salts then discovering he had an aggressive form of Lung Cancer, we are getting ready for Round Two of Chemo. It’s amazing just how little time has passed by and I can’t thank the Spanish Health service enough for how smoothly things have gone so far.

Driving away was a really tough thing to do. My dads going nowhere fast and openly admits himself he is looking to the future no matter how difficult it maybe. It still doesn’t mean that each Goodbye isn’t going to be tainted with the fact it could be the last. Anyways, as my dad joked to the girl in the coffee shop at Plaza Mayor – “Regresaré”. Think Terminator and you’ll get my drift.

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A little update & HUGE Request (Blog 9)

King and Queen

 

The last few days have kind of been tough. I’m putting this down to mostly our desire to run before perhaps we can walk.

I think the weekend was a great success though energy wise may have somewhat zapped my dad. The good thing is he continues to remain positive and focused on the road ahead. The not so good side of things though is that he continues to be incredibly weak, easily tired, slurs his words and has started to revert to needing his bed again more and more.

Its one of those things – we just don’t know what is right or wrong and which way is up or down. It’s at this stage we expected for him to start experiencing all the standard side effects. Maybe its all just part and parcel of the Chemo’s plan…

My hope is that my dad is finely listening to his body and doing what he feels is required. After all he has started to request food himself, seems to be enjoying it and his fluid intake is mostly stable so no need to grab the funnel and pin him down just at this stage.  My fear is that he could be taking the easy option as lying down in bed is far easier than getting off his backside and trying. I know this statement sounds harsh but I am sure you can appreciate just what I mean. The best things is though we are all in tune together and there are zero arguments and we are at a good stage in terms of sharing the workload between us. Plus more relief arrives this evening with David GF making his Spanish return! J

A friend of the family has also just called round to the house whilst I am writing todays blog and my dad has just been woken from bed. He looks very weak bless him and looks as pale as a white bed sheet washed with a leading brand wash powder. The visit is brief though has given my dad another needed boost.

I do think it’s just that he over did it at the weekend. This weeks’ highlights have seen my dad freely get in and out of the swimming pool himself – was just for a 2 minute dip but he did it so a big achievement. He continues to eat little and often and his appetite is picking up though I feel for Spains chicken population – He’s had Chicken and Bovril, Chicken on toast, Chicken and yoghurt, Chicken cobs, Chicken on its own… you get my point. And for all those that were worried, he continues to be able to muster up a joke or two – this surely is the most positive thing going (ahem)!

 

Dads Joke of the week: (Bear in mind this probably works verbally better)

What is the most common Owl?

At this stage he hears you thinking and having several attempts.

Barn Owl you say. NO. Tawny Owl, NO. Snowy Owl, NO.

After a few moments you give up and ask.

He tells you the answer is a Teet!

I’ll let you work this one out from here…….

 

We’ve also had just a couple of short trips out locally which were okay. Today’s main blog picture is courtesy of the two massage chairs at Plaza Mayor Shopping Center. Clearly showing the King  & Queen at their best.

The other trip was to the local Rastro (Permanent car boot) – From here my mum has bought my dad a new vehicle – yes I appreciate you maybe be thinking he is in no fit state to go for a drive himself – you are not wrong. My dad is now the proud own of a wheelchair. My mum thought it would be a good idea for him. Not to use all the time though to give him the ability to get out and about and should he fall tired then be able to be pushed back – I’m sure he’s used to being pushed around by my mum anyway and so it will be an experience he is used to (love you mum).

New Wheeels

So all in all a mixed week – I do still think though he is doing admirably and this would not be possible without the love and support that has been shown to him from the vast amount of people not only over here in Spain but also back in the UK and the messages you have been leaving.

He thinks he is a fully fledged celebrity now and asks me daily how many ‘hits’ he is up to. Lol

 

One thing I am looking to do for my dad, well on behalf of my dad is to raise money for Cancer Research UK. (A few have already asked me to set up a page).

The main thing I am conscious of is that I don’t want to repeatedly keep coming back to you with event after event asking for more and more money.

So instead I thought it would be easier if I ask you just for a one off sponsor towards Cancer Research UK and in return I will participate in a number of events with the pure aim to help Cancer Research UK do everything and more to continue to support families and patients living with cancer with the hope one day that a true cure can be found.  I appreciate that this may not change the outcome for my family, but my dad has grandchildren and so without the help now, the future generations will still be stumbling at the stage we are at today.

My dad’s just giving page is as follows:

https://www.justgiving.com/Robert-TheBob-Garratt/

With thanks to gift aid, your donation is almost usually always higher than the amount pledged. i.e. you donate £10 and Cancer Research UK receives roughly £12.10 after fees.

I’ve included my dad’s story in brief plus the first few events I have lined up. If there is anyone you feel may like to sponsor, please please please share the address and feel free to share my dad’s blog too (www.fincalykitere.wordpress.com).

Much love and many thanks, Colin x