Our story this week is by Karen and talks of her mum’s brave battle with cancer and losing her dad quite recently. It’s a sad story. Karen describes his detereoation and eventual passing at home, surrounded by family. She describes life afterwards and how her mum and husband have all helped one another get through an awful time in their lives that they contnue to live through. I adore her idea for the tattoo in memory of her dad, such a wonderful idea! Her advice to anyone reading this who is in a similar situation is to talk, remember both the good and the bad times and to celebrate the life of the one you have lost. Beautiful words. We wish you well Karen and send lots of love and thanks for sharing your story with us all.
“I would say talk, talk about the person who passed away, remember the funny moments and sad ones, laugh about them and don’t dwell but celebrate them as much as you can, and surround yourself with those who love you and can help you.”
My name is Karen Shrimpton, I’m 47 years old, married, no kids but 2 dogs which are Jack Russell/poodle crosses. My parents live with us, or I should now say parent (mother). I used to work for Virgin Atlantic until 2015 when I was made redundant, I now work for a company called Nippon Express, which is more local to where I live, and no more 12 hour shift work, I work 7.5 hours a day. It’s not everything, but I enjoy it and I love the people I work with.
I have lost many relatives, but my dad passed on the 21/05/17. A bit of background, my mum has had cancer for the past nine years, the last five years we were advised there is no cure but they can offer treatments which may help, she has been on over 50 bouts of chemotherapy, intermingled with full body radiotherapy, her cancer is incurable but she is still fighting. I honestly thought I would lose mum first, this time 2 years ago my dad was running errands for mum, helping out and as usual being his normal awkward self.
The end of 2016 I noticed that he was going to the toilet more than he really should, and although he wouldn’t listen to anyone else he would listen to me, and I asked him to see the doctor. After checks, he was referred to the hospital for further investigation. This was when we found out he had a blockage in his colon which might be cancer, so further tests. In February 2017 it was confirmed my dad had colon cancer, they was worried there was secondary cancer in his bladder, but upon further investigation it was how far the cancer had spread. They was going to operate to remove the biggest tumour, but my world fell apart when the surgeon rang me to say he couldn’t do anything as it was past stage 4, and spread all through his abdomen and into his lymph nodes and eating his bladder away. This was end of February beginning of March. They offered chemotherapy, but this would not help or prolong anything, so we were referred to the Palative care team. They were great, but dad became worse, around the 10th of May I had a phone call to say dad was bleeding out of his bladder, I had to rush him into hospital, he was there for 10 days, pleading with me to come home. I promised him I would and I did on Friday 19th May. Saturday 20th I was first down, dad was in a hospital bed at home, he was really upbeat and cheerful, joking he was going out to get his paper, he didn’t as he was too weak, I did. That night he went down hill, and by Sunday was hallucinating and then went into a sleep coma, myself, my husband and my mum were all with him when he left us, and although it was sad I was pleased he was at home where he wanted to be.
The first few days were very tough, I hardly slept or ate, and it felt like I was just going through the motions. I got through on sheer grit and determination, by the end of that week my body told me enough was enough, I felt awful. I’m lucky as I’ve had CBT therapy, I have a very good close network of friends, and all 3 of us (me, mum and my husband-Paul) talked out how we were feeling. I would be down and upset one day then my mum the next, but together we are a strong unit. I am also on anti depressants, due to the news of my dad, and I think this has helped me cope too.
When I went back to work, everyone has been really good, talking asking and helping, lots have lost their own parents or relatives and they have said how they coped, things to look out for, telling me to be strong but also to let out my emotions when I need to, that has helped. I’ve had quite a few lows, although I’m sure there will be more, one was when the funeral director brought round my dads fingerprints, I never got a chance to get them before, and as I thought I’d have more time with my dad never asked, and that was the last bit of my dad I have. Ive had this tattooed on me with his ashes, so he will always be with me.
The other was the night before his funeral, I hardly slept and had horrible dreams, but that has eased. I wouldn’t have done anything different, although I would have loved to have had more time to have done things with dad, the time we had was good, and I have some wonderful funny memories.
I’m not sure I could give great advice at the moment as I’m still going through this, but I would say talk, talk about the person who passed away, remember the funny moments and sad ones, laugh about them and don’t dwell but celebrate them as much as you can, and surround yourself with those who love you and can help you.
Since then I am having counselling once a week, this has really helped, I suffered with guilt and the depression and anxiety took over me, over a year has passed, and although I still struggle, celebrating dads birthday and Father’s Day with special gifts has helped. I have a tattoo which says ikigai which is Japanese for a reason to get up. Always remember, but try not to let it consume you. I still have my mum, and life goes on! Taking every day as it comes.
Thank you for letting me share my story, that’s been really helpful to put it down and share it, thank you xx
Dad’s fingerprint tattoo
Father’s Day Flowers
Acre Tree – where his ashes are xxx
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