The Day My Life Changed
It all changed at 2.00pm on Thursday 10 February 2005, when the fight of my Dad’s life began!! I will never forget that day. It was 4 days before Noah my first born was to turn one and two days before my eldest sister Carissa was to get married.
Dad was so unwell; we knew something was really wrong. He told mum he felt like he was rotting from the inside out. Mum decided to stay home with Noah so Carissa and I took him to meet with the doctors and get his blood results.
We sat in Dr Scott’s office at Prince of Wales Hospital Randwick and he informed us that Dad had AML – Acute Myeloid Leukaemia. Dad was a very unwell man and Scott informed us that he was not even sure if he would survive the week, his cancer was so aggressive.
True to dad’s form straight away he said so.... “what is our plan of attack” tears were rolling down mine and Carissa’s face but we were both trying to hold it together for Dad and keep strong – but at the same time digest what we had just heard “CANCER”. Carissa is a nurse so she knows a lot more than I do so her brain was running at 100 paces faster than mine. I was still stuck at cancer!!
Scott said Dad needed to start chemo straight away, he asked could he at least wait until after Saturday so he could go to Carissa’s wedding. Scott’s reply was “NO you may not even be here by then we need to start chemo NOW.”
Scott said to Dad “Gerard do you realise you have the fight of your life on your hands” and Dads reply was “Scott, this is not a fight try feeding four children and a wife through floods and droughts that’s a fight....” Dad being a farmer was so tough mentally and then said "I will be fine you just do what you need to do and start the chemo and leave the rest to me!”
The fight began
And so our fight of AML began at 5.00pm that afternoon. Mum and Marita my little sister rushed to the hospital, my brother Nicholas flew in from Melbourne and the rest of the family were notified.
Dad named his cancer “THE BASTARD” and he had the most amazing strength and attitude of any person I know. He was always so positive and very rarely had a bad day but whenever one of us was struggling to make us laugh he would say “don’t worry Bub we won’t let the bastard beat us.”
Dad fought long and hard over the next few months and did not leave that hospital for 3 months.
From that year on my life changed forever and my gorgeous dad was always going to have “the bastard” to deal with and so our 10 year journey began. A world of hospitals, doctors, appointments, chemo and the list goes on.
Looking back on those years now I have no regrets and even though my life changed forever I would not change it. I was able to spend hours and hours with my gorgeous dad, some days solving world issues and some days just sleeping beside him but it was always precious dad and daughter time. I devoted 10 years to my dad and even though they were 10 of the hardest and most devastating of my life they were also some of the most precious moments in my life that I will cherish forever.
Dad always said we must turn a negative into a positive
That’s what I did with his cancer. It was an awful disease that ripped my family apart and took my best friend, mentor and beautiful dad away from me far too soon. Then on the other hand if I try and look at it in a positive way it allowed me to spend precious time with my dad. Looking after him, spoiling him, driving him to appointments, at times he lived with us and if he had not of been sick this would never have been the case.
Remember cancer patients always need blood donations.
Find your nearest donor centre here.
You can also support the Leukemia Foundation to help find a cure.