Dad is home

It is with the heaviest of hearts that mom, Kelly and I share that dad passed peacefully this morning at 7:15 a.m.

They say when a loved one leaves this world, it happens exactly as it should. And today, we saw the truth behind those words.

For the last week, our family has been by dad’s side, watching and waiting as his disease progressed more quickly than any of us anticipated. This morning, Kelly and I both left at 7 a.m. to run home and see the kids before school. My mom was at my dad’s bedside telling him how much she loved him. He opened his eyes and listened, made eye contact with her, then took his last breath. Our prayers for a peaceful exit were answered, and my mom had that moment that so many hope for.

Thank you for your love, support and continued prayers throughout this journey.

The last photo of our “party of 11” was captured by our dear friend, Annie Wolny, last Sunday. 

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The photos below were taken on the evening of Tuesday, Sept. 27, mom and dad’s 41st anniversary. He stopped communicating and engaging the following day, but he made sure to let each of us know how much we are loved.  Forever and for always, dad and papa!

 

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Dad is going home

Yesterday was a heartbreaking day as we learned that there is nothing more the caregivers at University Hospitals can do for dad. His heartrate, blood pressure and kidney and liver functions are all being controlled by medication.

We have decided as a family to take him home under hospice care. We are sad and emotional, but also in a good place, relatively speaking. The goal is to be discharged tomorrow and go home to live life away from beeping machines, numbers, sleepless nights and lab coats.

We are so very appreciative of the care that he’s received during the last 10 days and over the last six months. His positive attitude and kind heart have had an impact on every nurse and doctor he’s made contact with. It’s not often that a nurse brings you a flower and a hug just because.

It’s ironic to reflect back on this journey and think about what we wanted from it. All we ever wanted was time. How much time likely depended on the person and our own expectations and realism. But we can all agree that it would never be enough.

In May, when he was in ICU, we had tough conversations like the ones we’ve had over the last two days, only to receive the greatest gift of all – more time. Our summer was full of love and memories, baseball, softball and soccer games, a CAVS national championship, car shows and even a family getaway. We were full of hope.

And, one thing that cancer never takes from you is hope. Hope and love. We have no idea what the future holds. We have no idea how much time we have together. And, I really don’t think any of us care. We are already making plans, starting with a pit stop at Braden’s 8th birthday party tomorrow afternoon, per dad’s request.

Tomorrow is never promised, for anyone. So live today to the fullest. Let my dad be your example.

Until next time,

Mary Beth

Prayers, please.

It’s 2016 AC. That’s after cancer. And for the last month, we’ve been trying to live life as best as we know how. Dad started immunotherapy on August 27 and had his second dose on September 7. He was tolerating it rather well, until a week or so ago, when he started acting more tired than normal and really wasn’t eating or drinking. We knew he was pretty down and out when he turned down plans to celebrate my 38th birthday at one of our favorite local pizza places, Angelo’s.

We took him to the ER at University Hospital’s main campus last Tuesday night, Sept. 13, for symptoms that were eerily similar to what we experienced last May when he was diagnosed with tumor lysis syndrome, which I talk about at length in “To hell and back.” He was lethargic. He wasn’t eating. He showed signs of confusion. He had little strength. Sure enough, his ammonia level was very high, and they admitted him for treatment and observation.

We are now on day seven in the hospital. I don’t believe I can appropriately capture what has improved or what has declined in the last week. Suffice to say he’s done just that, improve in one area and decline in another. We’ve been told ‘he’ll go home tomorrow’ multiple times. And, right now, we know tomorrow is unlikely but we are hopeful it’s coming soon.

Dad was initially treated for a high ammonia level and hypothyroidism. On Saturday, his heart rate spiked so high and his blood pressure dropped so low, that a cardiac care nurse from another floor, who miraculously happened to be stationed on the cancer floor that day and working as his nurse, performed an emergency procedure that quickly got everything back under control. We were told that she was his angel that day, and we truly believe that.

He’s had two procedures to remove excess fluid from his abdomen, withdrawing an estimated total of 10 liters of fluid, the equivalent of five 2-liter bottles of soda. The gradual increase of fluid overtime had led to a very distended stomach that was causing much discomfort and difficulty breathing. This has given him relief.

Yesterday, we learned that he has a form of liver disease, which was likely underway before the cancer traveled from the lung to the liver. This may be hereditary or caused by the medications he’s taken over the years for his knee replacement complications. Regardless, this is the root of all he’s enduring right now, and contributing to the intermittent confusion that is still present. He had a blood transfusion last evening that will hopefully normalize his complete blood counts soon. Today, he looks and feels pretty good but his levels aren’t yet where we want them to be.

A positive indicator is that his doctor wants him to continue with the immunotherapy as soon as he’s well enough. We choose to believe that this past week was just another set back and forward momentum on this journey continues.

Please, take a minute to say a prayer for my dad or send positive vibes our way. In just the last week alone, both he and my mom have missed out on so many things that mean so much to them, and to us. Life isn’t the same without them both being just minutes away. We need them both to come home.

Until next time,

Mary Beth

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Since dad wasn’t up for partying out, we brought my birthday party to him.

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We shared cupcakes with Nana and Papa in celebration of Braden’s 8th birthday!