Our Dad

15-03-2021 15:00 pm

Below are a few of my most favourite pictures of my dad. If you are new to my blog, my dad’s name is Roger, and he is pretty awesome! Like most mums and dads, my dad too has his weird moments. But all in all, I wouldn't trade him in or upgrade him for all the money in the world.

So why am I writing about our dad?

Last summer, dad was diagnosed with bowel cancer. Yep freaking cancer! Whatever course or direction me or my family were heading last year, any and all plans got thrown out the window and we were all thrown smack-bang head-first into yet another full-on life crisis. Our world as we know it, revolves around the one person in our life that needs us, my dad. If you know my dad, then you know that he is the last person on the planet to complain, about anything. But I'm not sharing my experience or rather my dad’s cancer story to complain or drum up sympathy. I'm sharing our experiences because there are thousands of stories like ours in the world. 

But imagine being diagnosed with cancer during one of modern history’s worst pandemics? The one time when a cancer patient and their family needs a fully functioning support network, and all that the medical staff and facilities in a country like Norway has to offer. But guess what? Because of all the mini lock-downs in Drammen and Norway, everything stopped. That fully functioning support network was nowhere to be seen. Not for dad or for us.

That doesn't mean that dad hasn't had world-class medical care. Since he was officially diagnosed July last year, it took less than 2 weeks before dad was called into his first appointment. And then another appointment, and another appointment. To sum up the number of appointments dad has had - let’s just say that dad has averaged between 3-4 hospital appointments a week. While dad has undergone chemotherapy and or radiation treatment, he has been in and out of hospital almost every day. 

Keep in mind that every day that dad has been trying to save his own life, my little sister and I have had home-schooling during a raging pandemic and second outbreak of Covid in Drammen. We had to self-isolate for almost three and half months to protect dad from being infected by Covid. We don't get days off because dad is sick, or going through treatment that makes him feel even sicker than he already is or because he is having yet another operation. Guess who takes care of us and dad the second he comes home from hospital? Keeps us focused, follows up our home-schooling when we hear nothing from our teachers and basically keeps our entire family from falling apart - because that just doesn't happen on its own? You guessed it, our Mum!

To put everything into perspective, dad has had 8 weeks of chemotherapy treatment, and 25 radiation treatments, prior to two major operations - one operation on his lever and the other on his bowl. Click on the links to watch the videos, which will give you an idea what chemotherapy and radiation treatments are. Seems harmless, right? Imagine getting sicker with each treatment. It couldn't possibly get worse? The treatments are designed to target the cancer tumors - to stop the cancer from growing and spreading. For dad, his cancer had already spread to his liver by the time he was diagnosed.

 Dad's first operation in late November last year, was removing the cancer that had spread to his lever.

Dad's second operation on the 4th January this year was a double, which means that his doctors not only removed the cancer from his bowl but also performed a second surgery while they were in the vicinity. Dad also had colostomy surgery.

Read here if you are interested in knowing a little more about what type of cancer my dad has.

Dad's selfie right before his first operation. Photo credit: O.R Bøhn

The gigantic machine at Ulleval hospital in Oslo. Photo credit: O.R Bøhn

Dad’s doctors are hopeful that dad too will survive his cancer. We have no choice but to believe them. But deep down, we are all terrified for dad. Just like covid, each treatment and operation has been like a wave that has washed in over our family. Every operation has some level of risk involved. The more complicated the surgery, the bigger the risk. 6 hour long double surgery is a pretty big risk. At home we prepare for the worst, and hope (and pray) for the best. Thanks to Covid, me, mum and Sydney sit at home waiting impatiently because we are not allowed to go to the hospital to wait for dad. Dad goes to every appointment on his own, with NO support network around him. We try to keep busy. Mum normally has hours of different activities planned for us. After a few hours, we end up watching a movie that none of us are really interested in, waiting for dad's surgeon or nurse to call us with news. We play the horrible waiting game each and every time.

After dad’s last surgery, dad was convinced that he was now cancer-free. Mum refused to be fooled. Life isn’t always that kind, she said. 6 weeks later, and dad was told that he now had three new cancerous tumors in his liver. Over the last 4 weeks, he has been preparing mentally and physically for yet another surgery, and it hasn’t been easy. Anyone that knows my dad, would most likely not describe dad as a “fighter”. My mum is! Survivor, fighter, superhero – basically the same. Maybe my dad isn't the "fighter-type" like my mum, but I know dad won’t give up fighting - because we won’t. We are only 8 months in since dad was diagnosed. For us it seems like a lifetime has already passed. We can’t give up. We refuse to give up for dad but also for us, because once we are over the humps called Covid and cancer, then I want to travel the world again with both my parents and do all the things that we used to do - with dad.

We love our dad, and all his weirdo moments because that is him. So, if you see my dad even if you don’t know him, say hi – or if you know someone else that has cancer, send them a message. You will never know how much it means to cancer patients when they have the support of their friends and family, near or far. Never underestimate the healing powers of kindness.

Good luck with your surgery on Thursday dad.

We love you!

Deep discussion with dad about his shoes. (2020) Photo credit: V. Svebakk

Dad's "superhero" moment. (2020) Photo credit: V. Svebakk

When you laugh even at the small things in life. (2020) Photo credit: V. Svebakk