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Welcome to Coleson's blog. We've created it to keep friends and family updated on the journey we are about to embark on.. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement during this time when it matters most.

Monday, October 6, 2014

My First Super Hero

This post is dedicated to the first Super Hero in my life, my Dad.  As I write this, he is fighting his last courageous battle, and soon will raise his white flag.  As with all of my other lost loved ones, Cancer has finally found another unique way to take him.  Three years ago, Bladder Cancer won a battle against my dad, leaving him bladder-less,  but did not win the war.  My dad was wounded but came out victorious. It slowed him down temporarily but he rebounded, changed his life plan and became strong again. Little did we know that Cancer too was re-strategizing.  This time it sent in faster, stronger troops, that could stay undetected for longer, covering more area and had iron clad defense.  They sent in Mesothelioma.  For those of you who are not familiar with Mesothelioma (though you may have seen advertisements on TV for the victims of it), it is a rare form of cancer that is found in the thin lining of the lung, chest and the abdomen and heart, its cause is Asbestos.  It can lay dormant in the body for decades, leaving many of the victims wondering where they might have been exposed to it.  My dad has always been a hard working man and could have been exposed from a variety of sources over his 74 years.  He first passion is farming and he has done so for most of his life.  He held a variety of jobs during his teens and early adult hood including electrical and construction type work.  He spent 34 years as Director of University Services at Michigan State University.  He purchased an old farm in the early 70s and with much love, turned it into our beautiful family home.  The same home where my mom passed from breast cancer 34 years ago and where he too will take his last breath.  I am thankful and I know he is too that he can spend his last days here with all of us as opposed to a hospital.  And I am thankful that we have a chance to say our goodbyes as well.  As so many of his friends have been able to do as well.  The phone has been ringing non-stop and our door barely closes before another friend stops by to deliver food or say their goodbyes.  My dad once joked (modest as he is) that he wasn't sure anyone would come to his funeral so I am glad he knows now just how influential and loved he was.  My dad could be a little rough around the edges, a savvy business man, direct and with little patience but most of all a very hard worker who expected the same of others.  He also was very fair, social and likable guy.  I think this combination of traits earned him a lot of respect.  He was also very smart and wise, wiser than I gave him credit for as a teenager.  I don't think I got away with as much as I thought I did, I think he just picked the times that he thought I needed a little more fatherly direction. In fact some of the stories he shared with us during this past week were some of those times.  One of his favorite stories he has often shared with me was when I was a little girl, perhaps 5 years old, when I said one day, "Daddy, I wish I had a full-time mommy".   While my mother had been sick spending most of my toddler years in the hospital before passing when I had just turned 4, we had several nannies.  How it must have broken his heart to hear me say that.  But it wasn't long after that when my wish came true and he met Aggie. Though they didn't marry until I was 13, she filled that role from the start.  We are all so lucky to have her and I am especially happy that he had 32 wonderful years with her.  I can't and don't want to imagine what it was like for him at the age of 40 left to raise us 3 girls alone.   He always said, "You girls raised me". 
This last battle started for him just before labor day when he went to the ER with chest pains and lack of breath.  He had a Plueral Effusion (fluid around his lung), which they drained over 1 1/2 liters of fluid from only to reveal a mass.  A few days later they took a biopsy of the mass.  A few days later he was released from the hospital but not before seeing the lab diagnosis of the mass as "malignant mesothelioma, sarcomatoid type".  He went home with this information but without being able to talk to an Oncologist.  He had to wait 12 days before seeing his oncologist but in the meantime we had all done some research on Mesothelioma and knew there was not going to be a happy ending but that there may be treatment options including surgery, radiation and chemo.  When he finally got into the Oncologist, they were not certain it was Mesothelioma but rather it could be his bladder cancer had metasticized. Which if this were the case, there was no hope.  They were going to have Mayo take a look at his labs/scans to help confirm the diagnosis.  In the mean time, they had set up an appointment at University of Michigan who were more specialized in Mesothelioma.  That appt was 2 weeks ago Wednesday.  Clarity came with this appt.  They were certain of the diagnosis of Mesothelioma, the rarest, most agressive, most untreatable form... It was too large for surgery or radiation and he wasn't strong enough for chemo.  He was sent home, with the number for hospice care.  
At this point in time he was already weak from his prior hospital stay, but he was finally able to put his mind to rest with the diagnosis and prognosis.  He was at peace with knowing his future and was content with his past.  We didn't know how long he would have but it became clearer every day that it would not be a year.. then it would not be months.. then it would not be weeks and then not even days.  I came home last Tuesday just in time for him to have 2 last days of relatively understandable communication. He was able to talk to all of us girls and be able to say what he wanted to before he went.  The last few days since we have seen him slip away more and more...although did I mention he was stubborn?  He is... and his mind will just not let him go. He still shows us an eye roll or a raised brow when we talk to him.   But it is never easy to watch someone so strong be in pain and not be able to do a whole lot to help.  We have all said our goodbyes and now are just waiting for him to say his.     

This is about all I can write for now.