09/12/1957 — 12/20/2012
My dad fought a 5-year battle with melanoma.
His battle began when he showed me and voiced concern over a suspicious looking mole on the right side of his abdomen. I agreed with him that it didn’t look good and encouraged him to have it checked out. My dad had his mole assessed by a doctor, and it wasn’t long before we were told “I have skin cancer.”
When my dad was first diagnosed with melanoma I didn’t know much about it and thought is was “just skin cancer” that could be cut away and you could forget about it. Was I ever wrong! My dad underwent surgery and a year of Interferon treatment. I will never forget the suffering my dad experienced while taking this treatment.
Exactly a year later it was discovered that the cancer had spread to the lymph nodes under my dad’s right axilla. During this episode I began to worry and thought this could be much more serious than I had originally thought, but I still had hope following another surgery and radiation series.
The reality hit July 2012 when an emergency room visit and x-ray showed that the cancer had spread to my dad’s lungs and spine. It was not long after this that we were informed that the cancer had quickly spread to his kidneys, bowel, breast, and brain within weeks. It was at this time we were told my dad was terminal and only had a year left. As it turned out, my dad would only have 5.5 months left.
During these 5 months my dad fought hard, but it wasn’t long before he found himself in the hospital yet again. In the hospital exactly 5 years from the time he was first diagnosed. Only this time he wouldn’t be coming home.
My dad spent 1 week in the palliative care unit at the Tom Baker Cancer Center and 1 week in the hospice.
My dad left this world to begin his next journey on Dec. 20, 2012.
Jaymie Wittgruber, daughter