Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - 8

Dear Cancer...

Dear Cancer,
It was right between chemo number five and six.
Against everything that you read on the Internet
I was going home to visit my dad. This meant
one week of airplanes and hospitals, the two
places filled with the most germs. As I prepared
myself to go home, I packed my steroid pills,
paracetamol, ibuprofen, more pain killers, eye
drops, Vaseline, mouth rinse, special toothpaste,
anti-nausea medication, special face cream, body
lotion, medical masks and antibacterial gel. I was
going to be over prepared, but I needed to be. By
chemo number six I was bald, bloated from the
steroids, felt like I had lost all control, was ready
to give up, and every time I looked at myself in
the mirror I cried. I had hit the low point of my
chemo journey and I was about to travel halfway
across the world. Oh yes, I lived in Barcelona and
my family was in Bangkok.
Of course everything was going great until
it wasn't. Fast forward to April and my dad is
now in an ICU no longer able to speak, walk
or eat on his own. For lack of better terms, a
hospital machine was keeping him alive. At
this point he was running out of treatment
options and there was one more treatment that
the doctors wanted to try. My dad had been
diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease
called CIDP.
I'm daddy's little girl. I always have been.
Tears filled his eyes when I arrived at the hospital looking like a cancer patient. I was a cancer
patient, one who only four months earlier had
found out that she had stage 4 metastatic breast
cancer. I was going to die from cancer. I didn't
know when, but it was much sooner than my
35-year-old self-had thought.
Just before being diagnosed I was offered my
dream job. I was going to move to Bangkok to

8

ELEPHANTSANDTEA.COM
DECEMBER 2019

FIGHTERS
be there for my family. But then cancer happened and suddenly, I was fighting for my own
life. Weeks before coming home I went to see
a therapist, she was going to help me decide
whether I would move home to be with my
family or whether I would stay in Barcelona
and continue to get treatment at one of the best
cancer research hospitals in the world. I wish
I could say that this decision was a hard one,
but after my father's private insurance refused
to pay for his last line of treatment because it
was too experimental, I knew I had to stay in
Barcelona where my doctor was working on
clinical trials and new medication was available if needed; and it would be free. Around
the time I made my decision to not move home
my father took a turn for the worst and so we
decided not to tell him yet.
I remember my last days with him so well.
At the beginning he didn't like seeing me with
no hair, I would show up to the hospital with
my many scarves. One day I asked him if he
wanted to see my bald head and he said no.
He wasn't ready. As the week went on and he
started becoming more comfortable with my
cancer patient look, I showed up rocking a
wig. It was a long beautiful wig and anytime
I wore it it would give me Kardashian vibes,
something the two of us giggled about. Once
we were able to laugh about my wig, I asked
him if he was ready to see my bald head. He
nodded his head yes. I showed him my most
frail self and he smiled. Through it all he still
saw his daughter standing in front of him. He
did prefer me looking at me with a scarf or
wig, but he knew that I was still his little girl.
The last few days were busy ones, as family
was flying into town to say their goodbyes and
we were all preparing for the worst. On one of
these days when my mom and brothers went
to pick up my uncle from the airport I stayed
at the hospital with my dad. At this point he
was on a lot of pain medication and he was
sleeping a lot. As I sat next to him, I knew I
had to tell him the truth, and so as he woke
up from one of his many naps, I took his hand
and told him my last truth.
I was not going to be moving home. I was
going to stay in Barcelona. I was about to finish
chemo and my oncologist had found a very
promising clinical trial for me. Just like my
dad I was fighting to stay alive and the best
chance for that was going to be in Barcelona.
As much as it hurt me not to be able to be in
Bangkok with him, I needed to keep fighting
for us. As I said these words, he continued to

squeeze my hand. He was listening and he
understood. He mouthed to the best of his
abilities "I love you," and we both burst into
tears as I told him I loved him just as much.
As I wiped the tears from his and my eyes, we
made eye contact and he fell back asleep. I sat
there listening to his favorite songs knowing
that I had given him what he needed to hear.
That day was the last time my dad was lucid.
I returned to Barcelona a couple of days after
with my brother. I was about to go through
chemo number six knowing that my dad would
die at any moment. And he did. I had chemo on
Friday and my father passed away on Saturday.
We waited to ease my post chemo symptoms
and on Wednesday my brother and I boarded a
plane back to Bangkok for my father's funeral.

Yes, I hate cancer because I wish my dad
could have died knowing that I was happy, I
was maybe someday going to have a family and
that even though he wouldn't be around for all
of it he would always be on my mind. Instead
my dad died knowing that I was going through
chemo, that I had stage 4 cancer and that I was
going to live the rest of my life on treatment.
At the same time I do not think I would
have been as strong as I was if it hadn't been
for cancer. When my father passed, I cried the
tears I needed to cry, but deep down inside
I knew that I would need to keep fighting. I
wasn't allowed to give up now. I would need
to keep moving forward, because that was the
only way I was going to stay alive. For myself
and for my family.
Cancer you have turned my life upside down.
I hate you for so many reasons, yet I don't know
if I would have made it through my darkest
days without you.
A N N E C E L I N E C OU R S O


http://www.elephantsandtea.com

Elephants And Tea - December 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Elephants And Tea - December 2019

Contents
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - Cover1
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - Cover2
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - 1
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - Contents
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - 3
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - 4
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - 5
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - 6
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - 7
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - 8
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - 9
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - 10
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - 11
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - 12
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - 13
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - 14
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - 15
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - 16
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - 17
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - 18
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - 19
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - 20
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - 21
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - 22
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - 23
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - 24
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - 25
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - 26
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - 27
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - 28
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - 29
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - 30
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - 31
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - 32
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - 33
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - 34
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - 35
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - 36
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - 37
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - 38
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - 39
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - 40
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - 41
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - 42
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - 43
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - 44
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - 45
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - 46
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - 47
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - 48
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - Cover3
Elephants And Tea - December 2019 - Cover4
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com