Memories of Grandpa Dying with Cancer

I am recalling how my paternal grandfather died of a rare blood cancer — multiple myeloma. It is very rare–it is reported that the occurrence was around 5 people in 100,000 population.

Grandpa did not last long from the time he was diagnosed, because his cancer was already on stage 4. He did probably feel a lot of pain in his body already, considering that this was a blood cancer and cancerous cells circulate all over his body, but my grandfather was long suffering and did not complain at all. He never even went to the doctor. For whatever pains he felt, he just probably took some pain killer and rubbed the area with liniment or oil. The only thing that we saw was weird in him was that the mole on the side of his nose kept getting bigger and he would scratch it to remove it. We did not really mind it as he was not complaining of anything. It was my Grandma who kept going back to the hospital.

But one day, while walking he was walking on their concrete pathwalk, he fell face down. He was a really bloody mess, as the pavement was not very smoothly finished. We rushed him to the hospital and we learned that the reason for his passing out was that his blood sugar levels were soooo high already–way overboard at 650. And he wasn't even diabetic. Little did we know, that was already his body malfunctioning because of the cancer.

The attending physician already suspected something and referred us to an oncologist. We did not know what an oncologist was, and then we were told that an oncologist was a cancer specialist. Then we asked if my grandpa had cancer. The doctor could only say that they have to take tests.

The test turned out to be a very painful test–a bone marrow biopsy. My grandpa was made to roll on his side while a needle the size of those tetra pack drinking straws was inserted in between the vertebrae of his lower back. The only anesthetic given was that on the surface. My brother, who was holding him to keep my grandfather steady could not help the tears roll from his eyes. But my grandfather never even said "ouch." He just winced a bit. When asked if it was painful, he only replied "a little."

Well, that day, we learned of the worst news, which had only confirmed the doctor's suspicion. It was multiple myeloma and my grandfather was on the way out. The doctor immediately had him on oral chemotherapy, but grandfather did not last until his second dose.

My grandpa was the bravest person I have seen in terms of pain. He was a war veteran, so it probably explains why he was trained to endure pain. Or maybe because he wanted to reamin strong for Grandma.

While he was dying, he held on to dear life, probably worrying about Grandma, who was also incapacitated. We were all already crying by his side as well as telling him to surrender his spirit to Christ, but he held on. That was the first time we saw death creep up on the person. First his feet turned ashen, and the grayness went up to his legs. Next that we saw were his hands. He was breathing really hard–gasping for air. Eventually, his limbs became gray and the only things that were probably alive in him were his head and heart. The heart only pumped blood to his head. The rest of his body was already dead.

But he held on. Perhaps, he wanted to be reassured of something.

Eventually, my mother remembered to bring my crippled grandma by his bedside. Grandma was not really in herself anymore, so we had to coach her to tell Grandpa that she was going to be fine and taken care of by the rest of the family. When Grandma said that, it only took a few minutes before Grandpa took a deep breath and released the last traces of air from his lungs.

Grandma died about a month or two after him.

Such was Grandpa's experience. What we saw was only a short period of suffering for him. But we really did not know the extent of the pain that he had when we were not aware of his condition.

Well now, only memories remain.

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