Hi Daniel’s Mom (or dad),
Thank you for your comforting words. I’m very sorry for your loss. Cancer is diabolical and it doesn’t even spare our young people.
I am still so very angry that it took my son Joey! I am also in awe of how he dealt with it over his 16 month ‘journey’ as he called it - always with hope and humour. As I mentioned before, he chronicled his experience in a YouTube podcast, Having a Ball (yes, his humour is quite apparent there already, in the title), but there were also of course plenty of dark moments. I have thousands and thousands of text messages from him from the past years, long before his cancer days - and scrolling through them this past week I saw he’d sent me a message in March 2020, cancelling a dinner at our home because he said he’d had backache and nausea for several days. He thought it might have been food poisoning.
Only 4 months before, I had had backache and nausea myself and after a couple of days I went to my GP and he immediately diagnosed gallstones, sent me for a quick scan and out came my gallbladder! No problemo, didn’t even spend a night in hospital. So WHY did I not encourage him to go to the doctor? Being young and in good health, he didn’t have a GP (we don’t in Switzerland unless you’re ill), so why didn’t I make him go to mine??? I have always known my son inside out and I knew he was a procrastinator, so why didn’t I? The extent to which his testicular cancer had metastisized means that it is quite possible he already had it then, more than a year before his diagnosis. If I’d been more responsible, it’s quite possible my son would be alive today! After all, testicular cancer has a 97% chance of recovery.
My elder son, who’s been an absolute rock for me (to make maters worse, my quite-a-bit-older husband had a stroke this past year and he’s taken our son’s death extremely hard too), said that I have nothing to blame myself for. After all, Joey was a man and his health was his responsibility. I know that, but the guilt doesn’t go away.
We have always been global travellers and I’d miss Joey so much after only a 3-4 week absence. He was a joy to be around, as I’m very sure your son Daniel was too, but now knowing that I will never ever see him again just makes we want to scream all the time. It is unbearable. True, the edges of my grief are all still very raw. Today two weeks ago he was still able to enjoy a ‘garden party’ in the little park behind the hospital, attached to his IV stand with enough Fentanyl to kill a horse. This was a garden party that went on for 5 days, with his many friends bringing snacks and wine and beer (not for Joey, of course). I have a beautiful phone of him, with my next to his wheelchair, which I will treasure forever.
But then the next day he was to start radiotherapy, not to ‘treat’ anything, as we/he had already been told there was no treatment possible anymore, but to cauterize the tumours that had gone into the nerves. It was supposed to buy him a little more time - a few weeks? - before he was to go to a beautiful hospice near us. He had resigned himself to it, a wonderful private place where family and friends could come 24/7, where he could still tick off a few things from his bucket list.
But it was not to be. The next day he developed a kind of blockage from the many drugs he was on and they had to sedate him in order to do a scan. The doctors warned us that he might not ‘wake’ up, that he might just let go. They said there was no medical reason for this as he was young with a strong heart and good kidneys, but his treatment over the past 16 months had been such - operations, numerous chemo protocols, a stem cell transplant - the he’d had enough. Over these past months whenever the suffering really got too much, he’d repeat his mantra over and over: I can’t take this anymore, I can’t take the anymore.
And so after spending the night in his room with him, my on the bed next to him, my husband and elder son on long chairs, we noticed his breathing had got raspy. Nurses and doctors came but they said there was nothing more the could do. We all held him and told him it as OK to go, even though it broke our hearts. Minutes later he died. The doctors told us it was very likely he had heard us.
Ouf. I long story, and I apologise. It is all I can think about. I cannot function. I can’t leave my bed. I’ve worn his pyjamas for the past three days, but your advice of getting out of bed and taking a shower is one I shall take tomorrow. How does one ever ever get over such a loss? I’m prepared to lose my husband of 44 years - he’s in his early 80s - but not my child.
Thank you so much for listening - and ‘bon courage’ as we say in French here, to you, Daniel’s Mom