Define Fairytale Ending...

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Things that we believe aren’t always what we want to believe. When my dad was diagnosed with Squamous Cell Carcinoma, in his tonsils, this became very apparent. This is the second most common type of skin cancer and only has a one in ten survival rate. We wanted to believe that he would beat the cancer. We all wanted to believe everything would be all right. Although I was only twelve, I knew that the odds were against us. I knew I was going to lose my dad.
For about a month leading up to his diagnosis his tonsils had swollen so much that they filled most of their throat. His surgery had been pushed forward a month because he was having such a hard time breathing. Three days later my mom got the call with his test results. That night she sat the family down and broke the news to my brother and I. At that moment no tears were shed but over the next few months there were many opportunities for them to fall. With our game faces on we were ready to fight till the end, the end that we didn’t see coming.
The next six months my brother and I had no parents. My dad nearly lifeless up in his room, my mom at his side. My mom had taken it upon herself to become my dad’s personal nurse so he could stay at home instead of the hospital. The fear of her children growing up without a father drove her every decision, nearly to the brink of insanity. She didn’t know that she was just postponing the inevitable. The radiation concentrated on his neck quickly made him unable to eat and he rapidly began to lose weight. On two occasions he had to stay at the hospital because he was too unstable to be at home. Soon after the diagnosis, a PEG tube (Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy tube) was inserted into his stomach so he could obtain nourishment without having to eat. This once strong man was brought to his knees by this relentless disease. With everyday his energy faded, restricting him to only his bed except for doctors appointments. I didn’t see much of my dad for the next few months. It was as if he had already left us, but without the sadness as if he actually had. I don’t remember when it happened, i just know it did, but eventually my dad had to get a chest tube as well. Then what I saw was no longer my dad laying in his bed, but a dying patient in a hospital, a shadow of the man he used to be.
After six months when he was finally done with his chemo and most of his radiation he started to improve. First my brother and I were allowed to spend some time with him while he lay in bed. Then he gradually started making short appearances down stairs for a few minutes. Every day the image of the man who had claimed to be my dad started to fade and my dad’s true self started coming back into being. I started to believe that everything was getting back to normal, the way I wanted it to be. As time continued to pass he was nearly back to normal. He could eat soft foods, spend over an hour at a time being social and his eyes were no longer listless.
As our household got back to normal in one aspect, another was spiraling out of control. Everyday my dad was regaining strength and wanting to reclaim his position of the head of the household. Only problem was when my dad was undergoing treatment my mom became the head of the house hold and became a much stronger woman that she didn’t realize was within her. She realized she liked this strength and didn’t want to be smooshed back into the box that had trapped her unintentionally by my father. With every fight they became more distant. With every fight they became more bitter, until they were done trying. That was the moment I lost my dad. My parents never saw the tears or the pain that they caused my brother than I, we wanted to be strong for their sake. I can’t speak for my brother but with every feeling i tried to suppress, it would just get replaced by pain. In the end it wasn’t the cancer I lost my dad to, it was the undiscussed feelings between my parents it brought out and ultimately led to their divorce.
What happens if you believe in something so strongly and it gets disproved, comes undone, or just plain fails? Your next move, whether its what you want to happen or not, defines you. Unfortunately this story doesn’t have a fairytale ending. My family never mended itself and the destruction it caused me has yet to be repaired. I would never have imagined that what I wanted to believe would be so far from reality.





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