On Tuesday night I got a message to call in and see my sister Vicki on the way home from work.
She had bad news. Dad was in hospital having had emergency bowel surgery the day before.
And the Dr thinks he has bowel cancer.
Wow! It came as a hammer blow! Pop had only been down to visit a few weeks ago and suddenly he's in ICU following major surgery and has cancer!! It was hard to comprehend.
Between us we rang the rest of the family and some close friends to let them know about dad's condition.
Vicki and I both agreed we should fly straight up to Queensland to be with him which we subsequently did on Wed afternoon.
He is in Nambour Hospital and is receiving wonderful care from the amazing staff. He is weak and tired, runs out of puff and has little appetite but has improved a bit each day. At present he has a colostomy bag but we are hopeful that that won't be a permanent thing. Today was very busy with a procession of doctors and other medicos coming to see him to discuss his treatment and management. It is likely that he will come home early next week but that will be followed by a succession of procedures, starting with further tests then radiation and chemo before another operation to remove the tumour. This should happen over the next 3-4 weeks.
It has been a traumatic and emotional time for Dad, and for Vicki and I and we are glad we were able to come and be with him. For a man who has enjoyed remarkably good health for most of his 76 years it has been very confronting to experience such sudden and serious problems.
Equally it has been confronting for me to see my Dad in this state, to see his vulnerability and mortality. My feelings and love for him have never been stronger, nor more necessary as we try to support, comfort and care for him.
I have to fly home to Victoria on Monday to go back to work but thankfully Vicki is able to stay on and help Pop with all that lies ahead in the next few weeks. She had just moved into her new home and was expecting the movers to deliver her furniture the day we left so the timing wasn't great for her. Needless to say, even something as big as moving into her new home was never going to be more important than caring for Dad. She's doing an amazing job. I wish I could stay here and help her with it but the economic necessities of life can't be ignored.