Some sad news came to me last night. My husband's Uncle Tim, who is in his mid-forties was just diagnosed with liver cancer. It's pretty bad, five tumors. He's at the hospital right now and they are treating him for the pain. Of all my husband's family, and there are a lot of them, from his mother to his father including the grandparents, Tim is the one that made me feel most welcome when I first married my husband 17 years ago. At every family party and get together we chat. He's also the only one that has asked about my writing, what I've done, how it's coming along. An encouraging friend. Someone I care a great deal for.
When my Mother-in law told me last night, I had flashbacks to three years ago and my father's cancer. I got a call at three in the morning, the kind you all hope you never get, from my mother. They were rushing my father up to Denver, not sure he'd make it through the night. I live on the East coast and the trip was an 8 hour flight. Believe me, I've flown it many times and never has it been that long... I didn't know what was wrong with him at the time, just that he was sick and I might not make it in time.
In a time when family needs to be strong, mine fell apart. My sister who is bi-polar started having issues with her health and came close to going in the hospital several times during this time. My brother became instant a**hole, and wouldn't go to the hospital and refused to help. Staying home to work. I know it was his way of dealing with it, but it just lumped more on my shoulders.
My mother. The minute she heard it was cancer, she dropped to the floor and began to cry. She curled up in his chair for three days, a zombie and cried till her eyes swelled shut. Everything was left up to me, in a time when I'd like to have curled into a ball and cried myself.
They took my father into that hospital on a stretcher, the cancer was wrapped around his spine, causing the lower body organs to shut down. He had lost all ability to use his legs. What was killing him wasn't the cancer, but the poisoning of his own waste.
To make a long story short, a year after the ordeal, my father was on the reservoir in Pueblo water skiing. A testimony to all that you can beat it.
There are things that happen in our lives that define who we are. There are times we have to reach down and grab everything we have and fight. My father fought for his life. I fought to get him treated. You see, three weeks before he became sick, he was laid off from the construction company he'd worked for. Without insurance, living on Ramen noodles and beans, things were tight for my parents. My mother was mowing lawns to pay the bills, just to keep their heads above water.
Once the hospital treated him for the immediate threat, the toxins from the waste backup, they were going to release him. They knew he had cancer and needed treatment, but my parents didn't have insurance. We turned to the V.A. My father is an Air Force Veteran. It wasn't a war related illness, so they intially refused. A lot of blood, sweat and tears went into the process of getting him help. There were times when I didn't think I was going to be able to get him the help. I had door after door, slammed in my face. At the end of ten days of not getting anywhere, and my father on the cusp of being released, I collapsed in the sitting area in the V.A. and cried.
If it wasn't for a kind man, a staff member who pushed paper and processed medical bills, my father would never have received the treatment he needed. He got an application of hardship pushed through, and my father was transfered instead of released.
The doctors at the VA treated my father for cancer, but one staff member, a man who pushed paper, saved my father's life.
This holiday season, be thankful to the Doctors and those that treat us when we are sick, the soldiers who serve in the armed forces and the men and women in uniform that keep us safe at home. But also... be thankful for the little guys, they may not get the glory, but many are unsung heros.
Tim is in the same situtation and can't afford the treatments he needs. I'm going to the hospital today, to see if we can get Tim the help he needs. This time, I know my way around the system.
Wish me luck.