March 8th, 2016
| Caregiver: Colon and Rectal Cancer
A human being's first steps are often accompanied with video recordings, love, and heartwarming sentiments. Why then do we fail to acknowledge the last physical steps a person takes in their lifetime, and what does this mean? Read more below.
My family, like all families, has been met with many challenges in our lifetime. But few challenges ended up being as rewarding as being a caretaker for my father-in-law during his battle with cancer. Lolo Paul was a quiet yet proud soul, who battled hard but eventually succumbed to lung cancer.
Having the time and ability (difficult for many), our family chose to provide hospice in his home, where we all did our part in providing him with care. It wasn't easy but it provided him with as much comfort as was available amidst familiar surrounding and loving hands. It also allowed each of us to have precious moments with him that we each hold dear.
Towards the end of his fight with the relentless disease, his mobility became difficult, if not impossible. I clearly remember one night when he waited for me to come to his house so I could help him walk to the bathroom so that he could brush his teeth before going to bed. Although he struggled, with a little help and all the strength he could muster, he painstakingly accomplished the task. I can still see his face beaming with pride for the herculean task he accomplished. I was honored to witness him walk on his own power, for what would be the last time in his life.
It was a significant moment in his battle; because immediately thereafter he was bedridden, as the cancer accelerated its course to defeat his body, but not his spirit. When his feet left the floor for the final time, it foreshadowed his stepping away from invincible into the final page of life.
When I realized that I had just experienced my father-in-law's last steps, I was immediately reminded of similar, yet different accomplishments: my childrens' first steps. Parents all remember, with excitement and pride, the moment their children will their bodies to walk forward for the very first time. Even before the ubiquitousness of our iPhones and recording devices, we've always marked the memory of a baby's first steps as a significant hallmark in our childrens' lives. It's the moment where a human being's determination is met by muscle to empower us to move freely onto our own unique path.
Just as our first steps initiate our entrance into the journey of our lives, our last steps appropriately signify our exits, but rarely do we have the opportunity to witness a person's last steps.The same love, commitment and support that we hold our children up at the onset of their walk is the same we can hope to receive if we are lucky at the end of ours.
I encourage anyone if given the opportunity to honor a loved one's final steps with as much regard as their first.They are both equally beautiful bookends to our humanity.
Have you had a similar experience towards the end of a loved one's life? Share yours in the comments below.
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Anthony has had two loved ones taken by cancer and is a supporter to his many friends affected by the disease. He hopes that sharing his story will help other supporters assist those who are also dealing with cancer. He is the co-founder of an award-winning digital agency and, along with IHC founder Mailet Lopez, leveraged the talent and experience of their team at Squeaky Wheel Media to build IHadCancer.com.