My dad on his birthday celebration in 2011, a year after his surgery. He looked so good then.
It’s almost 2 months now since my dad has passed away. I thought I’ll write about his fight against cancer, and his last moments with us.
After my dad had his liver surgery to remove the cancer tumour in May 2010, he had been doing pretty well. Almost every 9 to 15 months, he had to go back to do TACE when there were other tumors found in his liver, he recovered well from TACE, never had any side effect, and usually was up and about the following day.
Early 2015, he was told there were little pimple like cysts found in more part of his liver, and he had to start another treatment. He started on Nexavar, an oral chemo drug. That was about the same time we started him on Naturally Plus Product to help fight the cancer.
He was doing alright initially, and then the side effects kicked in. Dryness of the hand and foot (which caused cracked skin), constant visit to the toilet due to frequent bowel movements, loss of appetite, increased thyroid level, hair loss. He was always having stomach discomfort, and overall because he wasn’t eating much, he became physically weaker, however, he was alert and mobile.
As Nexavar was not helping him much with controlling the cancer marker reading, by end of 2015, Dr requested him to switch to Inlyta. Although the cancer marker was improving, the side effect was immediate. He got tired easily, became weaker, started getting water retention on the leg which caused discomfort. Second week into Inlyta, he became extremely weak. We were in Japan on a holiday; my sister, who was his main caretaker, was messaging us and telling us he was getting weaker, had difficulty in walking, getting diarrhea, feeling nauseous and his blood pressure was very low. Making us all worried and wondered if we should cut short our trip.
We decided to stop Inlyta.
Although he slowly built back his energy, the damage was already done. We almost couldn’t make it for our family trip to Bali because of his condition. He made the decision to go ahead although he had to be on wheelchair due to his swollen legs caused by fluid retention, a symptom of thyroid.
We had a blast in Bali, spent Christmas there, all 15 of us! Dad although on wheelchair, was alert, watching over the younger kids at the pool and (literally) roaring at them when they misbehaved. He was also beginning to walk more.
When we came back from Bali, he was admitted for a couple of days because of cellulitis on his legs, nothing major, but just to be on antibiotic.
Almost every weekend, we were at my sister’s place, spending time with him. We were also planning to rent a villa for Chinese New Year so we could all be together for 2 to 3 days. I tried to have lunch with him on work days too, and on one such occasion, he actually said he didn’t know how long more he had. I almost cried.
Middle of January this year, as he was regaining his strength and getting better, he decided to go back on Inlyta to control the cancer. Again, all the side effect came back, and he got weaker than the last round. He was admitted again to drain the fluid which was accumulating in his abdomen. After that, his health went down hill even after we stopped Inlyta.
From being able to sit up on his own, he had to be lifted; he spent most of his time sleeping and he was in a lot of pain, always asking about the next dose of pain killer just after eating the current dose.
On Chinese New Year day, he was having so much difficulty staying up for the tea ceremony and family shot. It was his last.
My dad during the Chinese New Year Tea Ceremony
Feb 12th, 5th day of Chinese New Year, I was taking a blood test at the clinic because I was running a fever since 1st day of Chinese New Year, my sister called and told us to rush to her place. My dad was showing signs of his body shutting down. Hospice who was providing him support told my sister so when she called them and let them hear the way he was breathing (differently).
We got to their house around 9:30pm. Dad was breathing differently, as if labored, he acknowledged my arrival, but didn’t speak to me. All my siblings were there at his bedside. When my sister asked if he wanted ice cream, he actually looped his pointer and thumb together, indicating ‘little bit’. We fed him a little ice cream to cool him down. We changed him, and then left the room thinking he would need his rest.
My sister went to check on him slightly after 10pm. Her loud shout roused us out of our drowsy state. All of us rushed to the room to see what had happened, and saw him took his last big breath. He left, with all of us by his side.
The last few weeks of his life, he has brought the family together like never before. To know that he’s no longer in pain, and he would be reunited with my mom lessen the grief a little, but we all miss him deeply.
A strict boss and a man full of principal and integrity, he spent 3 quarter of his life working in the bank and then at the church right till the last few weeks of his life. We don’t know how many lives he’d touched or affected until we speak to the people who came to pay their last respect.
I’d never said I love him before (nor did he), the last hug I gave him which he received awkwardly was when he sent me off at the airport to further my studies; and now I’ll never have the chance again.
Loudao, we all miss you ok?