In October of 2012, my father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in it's later stages. He'd been experiencing extreme pain in his lower back and began to go in for tests. Initially, they believed it to be a secondary cancer, the primary being liver cancer, but it was eventually concluded that it was pancreatic. Around this time I was doing my HSC, and was just completing school. When we found out it was serious, I decided to take a gap year from my studies and become dad's full time carer.
Over the next few months dad spent quite a bit of time in hospital, mostly to keep his pain under control, and even spent his last birthday in hospital. There were some really lovely times we had there, like the time he refused to wear his gown the right way, as he didn't want his back exposed to the world. I would sit with him in hospital for 8 hours a day most days, just so he wouldn't feel alone or bored.
As the months went on, we were told he's be lucky to make it passed May, so we began to focus more on keeping him at home, and less on the chemotherapy, which just made him weaker and stopped working the way we intended. His tumor had doubled in size. I remember that day so well. Dad was so down on everything. He cried. He cried only three times in the 9 month battle. He never ever gave up though. He fought so hard, and maintained his independence so well.
Last month, his state worsened quite considerably and he began to require 24 hour care. I tried to do it, but 5am talks with dad would compromise my ability to be able to be up later in the morning to make sure he was doing okay. We got in carers to help, but we only required them for a week before we decided it's best dad goes to a hospice. We took him to the palliative care unit a few suburbs over, and they advised that we bring him into the hospice permanently. My father had no concept of what was going on. He thought that they were taking his children (my brother and I) away from him. He began saying, "No, I need to look after my kids. Don't take my kids." To which my mother responded, "You have looked after your kids, and they have looked after you. You have done amazingly, Peter. Now you need to start thinking about letting others look after you."
My father passed away 5 days later on July 15th 2013, with my mother by his side. He was 55 years old, and I miss him everyday.