My Dad was born on September 28, 1941 in Chicago, IL. He grew up in Chicago and eventually became a Palatine, IL police officer. He was a police officer until 1987 when he retired due to an on the job injury and moved to NW Wisconsin with his wife, Jill, and daughter, Jennifer.
John has always had a love of the outdoors and the peacefullness of NW Wisconsin.
My family has had many struggles in recent years. In December of 1998 we lost our beloved Grandmother to pancreatic cancer. My Step-mom, Jill, went to Florida to be with her and care for her in her last days. Jill was in school to be an EMT and had to leave school to care for her.
Jill returned from Florida and started school again. In May of 2000, Jill found a lump in her breast. Cancer!! Jill had a radical mastectomy and has been on Tomoxifen ever since. Again, she had to quit school. I am happy to report she has been cancer free ever since. But, she had no health insurance because her and my father could not afford it. So here the devastation begins.
August of 2001, Dad is having chest pain. It was a mild heart attack. They did an angioplasty and placed a stent. He recovered from this and was given nitroglycerin just in case.
In the meantime, Jill started school again, this time to become a mediacl assistant. She finished up the first semester and then....
In November of 2002, we all had started to notice Dad's behavior changing. He was forgeting to pay the bills, started to have problems recalling recent events, and was having headaches.
By mid-December the headaches were getting much worse and he was nauseous. It was December 13, 2002 and Dad finally said, "I need to go to the hospital" We all thought it was related to him falling 3 weeks previously and hitting his head on the asphalt. He was taken to the hospital and was told he probably is just suffering from post-concusional syndrome. They had done a CT scan on him and the radiologist said it was normal, no problems.
Well they sent him home and said to rest. Well, as the weekend went by Dad got worse. By Monday morning his color turned grey and he was barely able to walk. We rushed Dad up to the hospital once more. After 45 minutes in the ER and another CT scan later the ER Doctor came out and said "We have called the helicopter from Duluth, MN to pick him up, he has a large mass in his brain"
We were shocked to say the least!! A mass in his brain, where did it come from, did it just appear? No, it had been there all along and the radioliogist missed it...he missed two tumors the size of golf balls in my Dad's cerebellum.
Dad was life flighted to St. Mary's Duluth, MN where he was admitted and had surgery 5 hours later. Dad pulled through the 3.5 hour surgery and ended up having a mild heart attack in recovery. But he was okay.
The Neurosurgeon came to speak with us and told us the good and the bad news...the good news was he removed 99% of the tumor.....the bad news was it is cancer.
I still feel like it was a nightmare, cancer?? How could this be? How can my Dad have cancer? Nobody in the family has had cancer.
Well, Dad recovered from the surgery beautifully. He was home on December 23, 2002....just in time for the holidays. But we knew this was just the beginning.
Jill once again had to quit school to stay home and care for my father.
By the end of January Dad had started his 30 rounds of radiation. By 3 weeks into it, we noticed the effects of the radiation. He was more unsteady on his feet, was forgetting things again, and he was tired. His last radiation treatment was February 20, 2002.
March 2002, time for a follow up MRI. Bad news....the tumor had re-grown...about the size of a dime. We were all devastated, but then again, we knew that there is no cure.
Dad started chemo every 6 weeks using a drug called BCNU. We had renewed hope. Dad has now had 7 treatments and will not have another.
The chemo has really taken a toll on him. He is unable to walk without assistance. He sleeps 12-16 hours per day and has major problems recalling the most recent events of his life. We are all praying fo him.
Jill has been unable to go back to school or work. She has been a true caregiver, wife, and mother. I pray that she can eventually finish school.
Dad has been given 6 months to live, but he has been deteriorating quickly. They have had many struggles in the recent past. Please help if you can, they do not qualify for any state or federal assistance programs. They have received notices of foreclosure on their home and have had to sacrifice food for Dad's medications. I have written many letters to Oprah, Dr. Phil, and many others for help, but have received no response. I have prayed and prayed for them and I am praying that there are good people on this earth that will find it in their hearts to lend a helping hand.