When we found out Dad had a mass on his pancreas and large volume peritoneal fluid in his abdomen in late December 2016 - early January 2017, I admittedly didn't know much about pancreatic cancer. I immediately delved into the research and, following a brief stint of disbelief, I quickly concluded, "We don't have much time left with him." Third leading cause of cancer deaths in the US. 9% survival rate. No early detection tests available. Simply unacceptable.
I wanted to fight for Dad's life, with him and with the rest of our family. I realized it would be an incredibly difficult journey for him to endure harsh chemotherapy treatment which, at best, maybe, possibly would keep the disease from further spreading for a minimal amount of time, while still maintaining an even somewhat acceptable quality of life.
And did Dad ever fight hard. He continued doing small jobs around the house and even got approximately 700 seeds planted for his “best garden yet.” He minimized his pain for everyone else’s solace. Sure, sometimes he’d get discouraged and say he couldn’t take it anymore. But the next day, he’d be back on his feet to continue the battle. On April 14th during a conversation with him, I broke down and said, “I just hate to see you suffering like this, Dad.” He weakly chuckled and said, “It’s really not that bad, Trish. It just feels like ya have to take a good shit.” And then I imagined the feeling of the pressure of the constant fluid build-up, of which he had 6 liters drained on a weekly basis since January. I equated it to having to “take a good shit” or being in labor, complete with tummy pains, cramps, and the urgency to release, all the time, day in and day out, without ever having relief. Even on May 4th, the night before he died, Dad said, “Aw, we’re gonna kick this,” all in attempt to alleviate his loved one’s worry and sorrow for him.
Dad went into the hospital due to his blood pressure being dangerously low on May 5th around 11am. I arrived by 12:30pm to be by his side. Around 6:15pm, I left the hospital room to wander the halls of Floor 3 and wound up taking a seat in a waiting area to sign up for Project Purple NYC Marathon 2017. Simultaneously, Jon called me back to the room just before 6:30 when Dad took his last breath.
Now that you’re gone, Dad, I’m still going to fight. Now I’m fighting in your name for those still living with pancreatic cancer and those who have yet to be diagnosed. You passionately threw yourself into so many projects throughout your life, Dad: your paintings, your garden, the countless children you taught, among many others. And now I’m throwing my heart and soul into this cause in your name, Louis Tamara.