Dad is supposed to be the breadwinner of the family and he always takes on the responsibility for keeping his family safe and happy. He is supposed to be an ironman in his family, and his children revere him. He is never supposed to cry and he can with stand all the extreme calamities of the universe. Many children take up the profession of their dads since they adore all that he does. Such is the wonder of a Papa.
I had a dad who was as strong as Superman and as tough as a hurricane. Nothing could bend him over in life, but then he was diagnosed with prostrate cancer, stage 4. I could see all the above disappear into thin air. He fought the disease until the end, but gracefully bowed down to it. He could not take the burden of being dependent on people to help him with the simplest of tasks—walking and get around became difficult since the cancer had spread into his bones, making them brittle and painful with each movement.
He fought with a brave heart and a constant smile. He had a strong desire to get well and get back to work. He kept his briefcase next to his bed, which seemed to inspired him. He used to go to bed every night with the hope that the next morning all his pain would be gone, but unfortunately the next morning when he tried getting up, he felt great pain and we could see him becoming disheartened.
His strong desire to get better and get on with life was contagious. There were times that even we wanted to give up, but seeing his determination made us believe he could beat it. Till the end he was making plans for the future but, in his last few hours on this earth when the disease had taken him over to the point where he had difficulty in breathing and speaking, he realized that the Almighty had something else in store for him. In his last hours, he made sure he rewarded all the attendants who looked after him in the hospital, and said goodbye to all of us with a peaceful expression on his face and a gentle smile.
After seeing him in such turmoil, I always wondered, why was it not detected earlier? What are its symptoms? Can a person survive from this cancer if detected early?
Prostrate cancer is regarded as a “silent killer” since its symptoms can be deceptive and are not specific to prostrate malfunction, making it difficult to detect until the later stages.
Early symptoms usually include: frequent urination, urgency in urination, having a delayed or a slow start in the urinary stream, pain while urinating, dribbling urine or leakage, blood in urine or semen, tenderness in the bones usually in the lower back and hips, and swelling in the legs. While these symptoms are general and often not related to prostate cancer, they should always be checked out.
Preventive measures can be taken by getting annual checkup for men 40 and over, and maintaining a diet that is low in fat and high in fresh fruits and vegetables. Research indicates that men who have the lowest rates of prostate cancer are vegetarians and those who follow a “Japanese diet,” which includes foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids (found in cold-water fish), soy and legumes, green tea, and high in Vitamin D. Since, this disease is treatable if detected in time, getting regular checkups is imperative and will help save fathers, sons, husbands, and brothers from the pain and danger of this disease.
I remember my father often. He was a great and strong father, yet gentle at heart. He always made sure we got the best of everything, and he could never say no to us or his business associates. Today they remember him as one of the kindest people they’ve met in the business world. He had his share of difficulties in his work but never saw him give up on any project no matter how big or small his success. Nothing ever beat him—but this disease.
I am proud to have had my dad in my life and I pray that his soul rests in peace. I hope that I can adapt some key points from his attitude toward my life, and I truly hope that this essay encourages at least one man to get screened for prostate cancer.
Adios, Papa! You will be dearly missed, but know that I am so proud to be your daughter.
Ruchira Khanna is a technical/grant writer and works for the environmental community.