By shaping my future actively I felt I had lost a bit of the victim status that cancer patients usually have. I was thinking about my last will and my patient decree. I really needed to know how I would deal with things in advance, because I had my children to think of. I needed to know the truth and I needed to be realistic. It was then that another unexpected disaster struck…
(What happened before?)
As I was not sure anymore whether my parents would die first or I would be the first to decease, we had set a date for discussing their last will and mine together. In a blended family like my husbands and mine this is a sensitive and important issue. I am an only child at least which makes it a little easier. We wanted to meet on a Thursday morning, while the kids were at school. When my husband and I were on our way to the coffee house, were we were supposed to meet, my mother called. She was hysteric. My father had had a serious stroke and was in the intensive care unit of a nearby hospital. We turned around and drove to the hospital instead of discussing my testament.
My first thought was that my father had had a stroke because he wanted to die first, because he couldn’t stand seeing his only daughter leave before him. When I arrived, my father was conscious. He had no idea where he was and I explained to him what had happened, trying to calm him down at the same time. My mother was helpless and it was up to my husband and myself to talk to doctors and discuss the next crucial hours with my mother. We would take turns at the hospital, my husband would be with the children.
Of course, I was under shock, but at the same time I felt calm. Calmer than I would have been without the experience of my own diagnosis, I believe. The last weeks had been so difficult for our family, they had changed our perception of a lot of things. In the coming days I spent a lot of time at the hospital. On the day after the stroke, when it was evident that my father would survive, he talked about his fear of dying with me – for the first time in his life, maybe.
My father recovered. He is still alive two years after the stroke. Today I am absolutely sure that it was caused by his unhealthy lifestyle and had nothing to do with my diagnosis. He only walks short distances now and needs a walking stick, but his physical condition is perhaps even better than before as he pays more attention to his health. He has never recuperated emotionally, though.
And that was an important lesson for me. After the stroke, he sort of gave up. He didn’t go out as much as before, he became very passive and lost interest in keeping in touch with his friends. He has become more and more indifferent to the outside world and stays home most of the time. It hurts to see someone leading such a restricted life although he would be able to be more active. It hurts to hear the words “I am too old, I don’t want to do this anymore”.
My father’s example has influenced me a lot. I might be ill, but I am not old. And I want to be as active as possible…for a long time. My conviction after his stroke was firmer: whatever the blood results told us and whatever the doctors said: I was going to make good use of my remaining days on earth – no matter how many of them I had left.
The story continues here