aldridge-161My dad has always had a way with words. His fingers float across the keyboard and effortlessly he writes a compelling, illustrative blog post. It isn’t as easy for me, so please bear with me.

When my dad first started this blog, his intention was to keep everyone updated on his journey through cancerland. Unfortunately, this is where the bus stops and he gets off.

Several weeks ago, the doctor first mentioned hospice to my family. We shrugged it off, knowing dad wasn’t ready. However, at that appointment we were informed that the current treatment was no longer containing the cancer; the tumors were growing. The side effects from chemo had become intrusive and dad was having more bad days than good. The question of quantity vs. quality of life was presented. Dad chose to stop treatments. For 5 years we have placed this fight in God’s hands and now is no different. God has a reason for allowing things to happen. We may never understand His wisdom, but we simply have to trust His will.

When stopping chemotherapy, the hope was that dad may get a boost in his quality of life. This didn’t happen. Without the chemo, the tumors continued to grow and his quality of life started to diminish. All of the treatments and weight loss have left him with very little muscle mass. Because of this, he is prone to fall. Sometimes his blood pressure drops so fast and he blacks out and falls. Either way, he was taking more and more falls. My mom does everything she can to help my dad, but she can’t be with him 24/7. She needs to run errands and get groceries and pick up his medicines. JD and I were starting to think hospice may be necessary, so my mom could get help. My dad had been on hospice 3 years ago, for a brief amount of time, so we knew they offer help for caregivers. We had a family dinner and talked to dad about what was on our hearts. I have 28 years of experience in getting what I want from my dad, but asking for this wasn’t easy. We brought it up casually, and talked about how much help it could be for mom. We then dismissed it; he had not said a word during the entire conversation. The next morning, my mom called to say that dad had decided we were right and they were calling Hospice Austin. My dad was hesitant. He had been on hospice before and came back from it, but he knew that this time was different. He knew that hospice was one step closer to death. We could all tell that this was weighing him down. He doesn’t want anyone to think he is giving up. We look at it like this: he has fought so hard for so long, that now he deserves to rest.

My dad is my hero. He finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles. Every morning, he wakes up and gets dressed. He’s trying to keep his life as normal as possible, but that’s getting harder by the day. He has been pain-free for 5 years, one blessing we continue to thank God for. Just this week he started having referred pain in his shoulder. Organs don’t have nerve endings, so they can’t physically hurt, but they can cause other places in your body to be in pain. My dad is experiencing this across his back and into his shoulders, caused by the liver shutting down. My dad is dying from liver failure, which is the less painful way to go. Once again, we count our blessings.

Hospice Austin has suggested that we plan our Christmas early. They don’t believe he will make it to the new year. No one knows how much time my dad has left, so all we can do is make every day count. My dad is very tired and very weak. Most days are spent napping and he struggles to find things to smile about. We are all scared, anxious and hurting. It is extremely painful to be helpless in the face of a loved one’s suffering. We all remain steadfast in our faith and look to Him for guidance through this difficult time. Please raise our family up in prayer, that we may all find comfort and peace.