A month later, Dad went back to the doctor after a night out with yellowing skin, numbness in his fingers and shivering. He was given blood tests and an ultrasound on his liver, and was told he had liver cancer that had spread from his bowel.
Dad was given one course of chemo but his condition deteriorated very quickly and got to the stage where he could no longer even move. We were told that Dad’s liver was failing and that there was no cure. The specialist said it might have been curable if it had been detected earlier.
Dad’s death was a tragedy that affected our entire family. We love him and miss him terribly. I think about Dad and his final weeks every day. It came as a complete shock that this could happen to someone so seemingly healthy and strong. If only Dad had been sent a bowel cancer screening test like so many others. I regret not pushing him to take the test or have the colonoscopy that might have saved his life.
Since Dad’s death, my father-in-law decided to take an FOBT test and discovered that he has bowel cancer, too. Luckily, it is still in its early stages and can simply be removed. So my father’s death has helped save at least one life, and I hope that sharing his experience will raise awareness of this silent killer, and help to save even more lives. Our whole family has been tested now.
I didn’t know much about bowel cancer before Dad died. I always thought that you could tell if you had it by checking for blood in your stool. I’ve since learned that not everyone with bowel cancer – Dad included – displays symptoms. I would encourage everyone to get tested early. Don’t wait until you see the signs, because it might just be too late.
Bernadette, in loving memory of her father.