On September 19, 2019 my dad spent his 64th birthday in the emergency room with excruciating back pain. The doctors sent him home with some OTC pain medications and left it at that. The following day, the pain was no better so he went back to the ER and persisted they check him out. This time a different doctor was able to see my dads gallbladder was infected and needed immediate removal. From that surgery doctors first diagnosed my dad with prostate cancer. My dad has always been my biggest motivator in regards to my lupus. “You are a warrior, you can kick lupus in the ass” he’d always tell me. So I knew he was going to fight this illness now. He did chemo and radiation and changed his diet. We were ecstatic when his PSA levels dropped to 0 meaning he was winning his fight with cancer. December 2020 my uncle, my dads only sibling, passed away from COVID-19 in a hospital after we hadn’t been allowed to visit him in the nursing home for a year. Then my parents lost their house of the last 20+ years due to financial hardships. To say the stress levels were high is an understatement. My dads health next began declining. By September of 2021, my dads cancer had not only returned but mestastized and spread to the bone. His doctors put him on home hospice care and I when asked if there was a way I could donate bone marrow or how could I help and he looked at me and said “I’m dying, there’s nothing else.”
After that, I made what efforts I could to go spend time with my dad and when he got weaker and started telling my mom he was transitioning, I didn’t go too far. I watched my dad go from a strong, active man to a shell of the man I knew him to be. My oldest son helped my mom to lift my dad to change his sheets. I sat next to him moistening his lips and tongue. I told him I loved him and appreciated him for helping me raise my boys and being their first positive role model. Family came in and called and we spoke with him till the very end. Encouraging him that we would be ok. When he did pass, me and my boys were at my oldest sons football game. A game in which he kneeled after a touchdown in dedication to my dad, his only father figure growing up.
My heart hurts knowing that my dad is not a phone call or 5 min drive away for a hug or laugh. I cry almost every day missing my dad somehow. Whether its at the school events because he made sure to be at almost every event for his grandkids. From guitar recitals, soccer games, football games, or even just school awards and promotions. I will miss you dad, but I know the fight got to be too much. You are always my warrior. I hope to make you proud.
Rosadela Durruthy is founder of She’s Got Lupus, a non profit organization aimed to improve the lives of those living with chronic illnesses by advocating for mental health, healthy living and raising awareness.