Tuesday, 14 July 2015

My dad - cancer and wheatgarss

Cancer is a hard topic to write or speak about. People cringe out straight away when they hear the word as it carries the possibility of the worst. I guess that's why my dad kept his in secret till the last minute and postponed to share his story for so long even though his one is a success...but let's start at the very beginning.

What I knew and how I felt about it

When I was 24 years old I lived and worked in the next big city (Pécs) about 40 minutes bus-ride away from my childhood home and I spent every other weekend in my parents’ house. One day dad started complaining about some pain in his testicles, but being a stubborn man who doesn't like to go to the doctors, he'd just put up with it and tried to dull it with painkillers. We kept telling him to seek professional advice as the weeks went by and the pain just got worse. Eventually he went and came home with no news which seemed to be good news at that point - they did an X-ray but didn't know what is was, he got some more painkillers and was told to go back if it gets worse. So if they don't know what's going on, it's all OK, isn't it? Well, about a month later I just arrived home from work when I got a call from my dad asking where and how I was and just casually mentioning that ' actually I'm in Pécs as well. I'm in the hospital, getting an operation in a minute..." What the @!$£%@!!! What's going on? Why didn't I know about this? I didn't even have time to ask all my questions, he was so calm and made it sound like a routine thing, that it made all my worries go and I just new it'll all be OK. I went to see him after the operation and he told me that it was cancer, but they didn't know till a few days ago. They decided to operate him as soon as they could as they waited for too long anyway. But it's all going to be OK now.

Phew! How lucky is that? - did I think. So life carried on and although he had to go for a radio therapy, which he told me to be a precaution to avoid any leftover cancerous cells spreading I felt like everything went back to normal.  The little I knew about the illness and the procedures and the little time I actually spent at home, the easier it was to not even get suspicious. I saw only the beginning, how my dad gets a bit tired sometimes and really sensitive to all smells and fragrances due to the therapy and very, very agitated by them. But my mom and he were acting so normal. The only change I noticed that my mom had moved the coffee maker in the conservatory so my dad wouldn’t smell it...the coffee he used to love and drink every day. After I decided to move to the UK in November 2005, I knew literally nothing about this as they never mentioned it, when we were talking on Skype or writing e-mails. I even visited home in April the following year but still not suspected anything. Sometimes I wonder how I could be so naive...or ignorant? Mind you my dad has always been quick tempered, (as was I) so the mood-swings he had didn't get me suspicious at all.

Another year went by and I was working loads to pay my student loan back, so I didn't even make it back home until everything was almost fine again. He once just started talking about wheatgrass and how he thinks it’s a wonderful thing and wants to start growing it on a bigger scale. It was a bit strange as he had never been into farming before – that was rather my mom’s territory. He built a website (he is a self educated programmer along with so many things he's been doing in his life) and as the months went by they were sticking to the project. By the time they have admitted to me that he did have a secondary cancer in his tummy, had two unsuccessful sessions of radio therapy but my mom convinced him to start drinking wheatgrass and a within a year his tumour was gone - it didn't really cause any pain whatsoever...I got very puzzled how it could all go down without me knowing, but I was very happy that he is all well and healthy so I didn't bother with the rest of the details. My dad's a survival, he got through cancer and that's all that matters.

The facts

It took my dad a couple of years to share his detailed story on-line (http://www.xn--bzafl-fsa8i56b.hu/index.php?page=magamrol).
It took me even more to actually read it - only dared earlier on this year - and I was balling my eyes out. I still get really emotional when I think about all the pain and suffering and confusion he must have gone through - we never talk about this for obvious reasons. He kept everything in secret to prevent his daughters from suffering (I have two younger sisters), he's not going to moan about it later either, he's just not that type of person.

So it was true that the first time he turned up at the doctors, they didn't recognize the cancer - no comment. A month later when he got worse they sent him along with the month-old result to the bigger hospital in Pécs (where I lived at the time), where they decided to operate him ASAP. I don't think he even had time to realize the seriousness of it either it all happened so fast. So fast that he couldn't even get an appointment for the heart testing, that is normal procedure before operation to determine whether he is in danger - no comment again.

It was also true that the primary reason for the radio therapy was meant to be a precaution but along the planning process they found the secondary tumour (approx. 4cm) in the abdominal area, so they carried out the treatment concentrating on that. After the first session and the following 6 weeks waiting period there came the time of truth when he got the result of his checkups - the tumour hasn't reacted at all. Decision: let's try again, this time even stronger. I'm not going to go in detail with all the side effects that it caused, but it was unfortunately all for nothing as the second round was just as useless as the first. So the obvious next step in modern medicine is chemo therapy, but my dad has always been against this treatment. According to him nobody who he ever knew survived this treatment, therefore he refused to have it. I'm sure there are more advanced solutions nowadays than 10 years ago, but I would probably still do the same today. I'm not going to encourage anyone to follow his steps; it's everybody's own choice. He didn't do it to prove anything to anyone; he most probably was just simply petrified and felt that accepting the therapy would be equivalent to suicide.

What else is there to do after you refuse professional help? They obviously were very shocked and thought my dad went crazy, but couldn't say anything else apart from "Well, come back for a check up every two months." Later on the doctors added that after consultation they reconsidered his options and decided that the chemo wouldn't have helped anyway after the two radio therapy sessions. (Thank God he didn't do it then!!)

This was the time when my mom started talking about wheatgrass, which we (mom, me and my two sisters) were already very familiar with. But my dad has always been picky about his food so he never touched it before. After doing his research on the internet about its benefits he gave in and started drinking it every day, since he felt he had nothing to lose.

So there it was, the time of the first check up after 2 months and the results were unbelievable: the tumour got smaller. After another two months they noted further shrinkage. The doctors were very proud of themselves and explained it as the result of the previous treatments (Yeah – whatever). So it went on every time he had to go for his scans until the fourth time (that was over 8 months already gone without any medical treatment), when the lump reached 10mm, which professionally is not classed as tumour anymore, so his check up period's were lengthened to 6 months. 

Somewhere along the line, when my dad realised his recovery must be the effect of the wheatgrass, he decided to build the website to spread the word, to give hope to other people too. He always says, he also changed his diet, had less red meat, drank a little good quality homemade red wine and ate garlic every day just be utterly honest, but he truly believes eventually the wheatgrass saved his life. For the last few years he had been in contact with several people who were in similar shoes, many of those have also had similar success implementing this juice in their diets.

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