My father was a runner for as long as I can remember. He'd come home from work change into his shorts & shirt and go out for a 5 mile job. He'd run around town with his Santa hat on Christmas morning, and most everyone in our little town knew him because of the amount that he ran. Nearly every weekend on Saturday or Sunday we would go to a different road race. My sisters & I literally grew up at the Falmouth road race, Clarence deMar marathon in Keene and the hundreds of other races in between. There was the annual Thanksgiving Day race in Andover, our trip to Burlington, Vt a bunch of times and of course there was always "Boston". We'd work water stops at some provide the biggest cheering section of all, decorate signs for my dad and run into the same people from the running community of New England. It's what my father loved and it's where we could be found as a family every weekend.
From first grade through my senior year of high school I never went to school on Patriots Monday. Not because it was school vacation but because it was known to be "family skip day" for the Kelly's in our district. "Marathon Monday" we all called it. My father would get up and go down to Boston early, park his car and take the first bus out to the starting line of THE marathon in Hopkington. We in turn would ride the train with anticipation and excitement and each and every year we'd go to our spot just past the 26 mile marker with just the 2 tenths left to go and we'd wait for my dad to run by. A few hours later he would. And despite the thousands of people that lined Boylston Street he would hear us.....every single year. Running, it's what he was passionate about.
Life isn't always fair, he doesn't get to run anymore.
He lost that ability when he was diagnosed with mesothelioma just over two years ago. You see mesothelioma is cancer in the lining of your lung that is caused by asbestos. My father was a pipe cover so he always made sure to wear his protective mask and go for his annual breathing check-ups. It was during one of those appointments that they found a mass which was later diagnosed as cancer.
Life isn't always fair, ya know, the job that he worked hard at for 20 something years to support my sisters, mother and I made him sick.
During my senior year of college he went through treatment for the mesothelioma. First chemo, then surgery to remove 1 of his lungs, diaphragm & the covering of his heart, then he had radiation. And for all intents and purposes the last year he's been doing well. Well of course for a person that has 1 lung and struggles to breath in extreme humidty, but honestly he was doing really, really well and we thought that things were ok. In May his oncologist told him that he didn't have to come back for 6 more months for another check-up, he was elated.
Then August came and he struggled to breath, and he started to get jaundis, and then it got worse and he ended up in the hospital. A whole slew of tests, needles, and doctors visits later he's been diagnosed with acute myelodysplasia (MDS) which is considered "pre-leukemia".
Life isn't always fair, just when we thought things were going to be alright we had the floor ripped out from under us.
MDS is treatment related meaning that he got it from his previous chemo and radiation. Doctors say that .5-1% of people that have treatment will get MDS. How F'n ironic?
Life isn't always fair, what was necessary to save my father's life in the first place also gave him this.
He's now deciding on what course of treatment he'll get, what type of chemo and how often it will take place. They're looking for potential bone marrow donors. But they don't even know if his body can withstand another surgery at all given the fact that he has one long and that it will extruciatingly hard on his body. Doctors say though that even with treatment 50% of the people with MDS make it 9 months, and the other 50% make it a little bit longer, maybe a few years.
It's awful. You're not supposed to worry about losing your father at 24. He's supposed to be there to walk me down the aisle, to see his grandchildren, to play with grandsons because he had all girls, to grow old & travel with my mother, he's just supposed to be there! What's worse is that I know how sad and scared he is, my mother is, my entire family is. And while I cry about it nearly every day, aside from emotional support I know that there is nothing medical that I can do to help. Suddenly nothing seems quite as important in life, and you realize that the trivial things aren't the ones that actually have meaning.
My father was never a smoker, in fact he never smoked a cigarette a day in his life. He was healthy and active, funny & sarcastic. He doesn't deserve this, bad things happen to good people and it sucks. I find myself getting angry with the world, repeatedly telling myself it isn't fair and asking why. I know that ultimately that won't help though.
I'm scared, more scared and sad than I've ever been in my entire life.
I told you.......
Life isn't always fair.