In October 2009, my dad was having some pain in his stomach/abdomen. A month later, he visited his gastroenterologist thinking that it was just some major heartburn. A CAT scan revealed spots all over my dad's stomach and other internal organs.
The doctor sent my dad to an oncologist. The day the results from further tests were available, I flew to St. Louis to be with my family (mom, brother and dad) to hear the news. It was Stage IV stomach cancer - translated: inevitable death, with no certainty of exact timing.
The oncologist - the winner of numerous awards and accolodaes for his work in the field - was as objective and impartial as one could be about the situation. We asked about the options for treatment, mostly to give ourselves some sense of hope that maybe a miracle might happen.
The only suggestion he had was that my dad undergo very aggresive chemotherapy, which at best would delay the spread of the cancer through my dad's body. The conclusion to the proceess in the long-term, of course, was still inevitable.
We went home with great sadness that day. We started researching things on the internet, hoping to find some alternative approach somewhere in the universe that might somehow change the prognosis. There were many such approaches in places around the world that claimed results against all odds.
My dad, whose decision it was to make about his own life, chose the path recommended by the oncologist. After all, he thought, any course of action would yield the same outcome in the end.
I flew back to Cleveland to continue working, calling everyday to hear how things were going. A month later, I flew to St. Louis to spend a few days with my dad and family. By that point, he had lost 100 pounds and was mostly bedridden due to exhaustion and nausea that came as side-effects of the chemotherapy.
About a month later, my dad passed away. He lived the last months of his life fighting deseparately to stay alive and be with his family, having been professionally given only one option for doing so with the other option of doing nothing. He chose to fight and, unfortunately, he and the rest of my family lost.