Tuesday, April 30, 2013
I HATE PANCREATIC CANCER
Y’all read this, and read until the end, because I am asking for everyone’s help. He smelled of Old Spice aftershave and smokeless tobacco. You could spot him in a crowd in his Liberty overalls and his “brogans” typically with dog leash in hand with a big drooling bloodhound on the end of the leash; with a big ol’ smile across his face. He liked to call people by their first and last name, and would often say “This is Jackie Sheffield” when on the phone with friends and even family. He was a simple man, with simple dreams, who wanted to live his life doing the things he loved. I loved that man with all my heart :) --- I was sitting at my desk at the Journal, typing up articles for that weeks paper. It was July 25, 2011. Days before my 25th birthday. My daddy had went to the hospital the night before. He’d had gallbladder surgery around three weeks earlier and he was still experiencing excruciating pain. Sunday night, they’d decided to keep him...acknowledging that that shouldn’t have been happening. My mama called me that morning....around 11 a.m. I remember asking “What’s the latest? What has the doctor said? How’s daddy doing.” And my mama said hesitantly, “Well, they’ve found a mass on his pancreas.” Of course, my mind was going a mile a minute with questions like “What does that mean? Could it just be a cyst? What does that MEAN?” Mama just stated that the doctor’s didn’t seem to think that it was a cyst and she would keep me posted. Doctors came and went. None of their news was positive. The next day was one of the few times that Rheba and I didn’t go and visit daddy. Mama called me again on her way home, I could hear the tears in her voice. I will never forget her saying “Aleta, they think it’s pancreatic cancer, and they’ve told your daddy that he only has a year to live.” Words cannot describe what I felt at that very moment. People often ask me, “How did they find it?” Like a majority of cases, they found my daddy’s too late. His had already spread to his liver by the time they found it. At that point, there was nothing that they could do. Chemo would only be a manner in which to prolong his life, it would never cure the cancer. Here is what my daddy experienced: He lost a major amount of weight; he had pain in his right abdominal side; he got very sick when he ate; and I can remember him sitting in his recliner with his shirt off and actually seeing a lump on the right-side of his stomach. All of these can be symptoms of problems with your gallbladder, which is precisely why they didn’t catch it quicker...as daddy said, “Everyone at the hospital, including the janitor, told me it was my gallbladder.” Watching a man that you thought could conquer the world go from being a very robust, active man become a very pained shell of the person that he was is a very hard process. I will say here that pancreatic cancer is a very painful cancer. Dad couldn’t eat, couldn’t even stomach the smell of food, he couldn’t get comfortable sitting. His liver was so swollen that when they went to put in his feeding tube, they said that he wasn’t able to eat because his liver was literally pressing on his stomach. I won’t get into all that we faced, but it was very, very difficult. Nothing...Nothing prepares you to hear your daddy telling the doctors “I just want to live...I just want to live.” I tell y’all this, to tell y’all that on Friday...my heart just broke. I sat at my desk at the ELC, trying to fight back tears and keep it together while at work. I learned last Friday that another great, very loved man, Mr. Tony Cruse, in Trenton has just found out that he has pancreatic cancer. He has a family; has a young, teen daughter. My heart just broke for this family, having walked in those same shoes; having gotten that devastating news. I hated to think of someone having to walk down the same road we did. Then, after asking Chris to send me the articles, I was so proud of how our little community is coming together to honor and support Mr. Tony. This Thursday, May 2, The Cracker Box in Trenton will be donating all the proceeds that they make that day to Mr. Tony and his family. The Cracker Box is open for both breakfast and lunch, and I am PLEADING with y’all to go there at some point that day and either order food or donate. There has been a scholarship fund set up at Capital City Bank for Mr. Tony’s daughter, Grace Cruse. And on May 15th, there will be a luncheon held at the Trenton Community Center to honor Mr. Tony for his service to the community. I beg all of y’all to come out an support this family in their time of need. And please, please, lift them up in prayer.