• Lydia Chu

My father-in-law's battle with Prostate cancer

My father-in-law was diagnosed with prostate cancer about 2 1/2 years ago at the age of 87. He's currently almost 90 years old.

My parents-in-law in Nepal around 1958

A year after my father-in-law was first diagnosed with prostate cancer, my mother-in-law also found out that she had a rare form of cancer called Multiple Myeloma. Her condition progressed pretty quickly and in less than four months, she passed away surrounded by her loving family in May of 2018. Even though I was part of the family for only a short time, I was lucky enough to have met one of the most loving people I have ever known.

My parents-in-law as a young couple

Last time I saw her was just few weeks before she died when my husband and I went to see her in Portland where they had lived for the past 30 years. Even faced with death, she was kind and gracious, and I can never forget her warm smile as I said good-bye to her to return home to Davis. It was going to be the last time I would see her before she would leave us two weeks later.

Exactly a year after my mother-in-law passed away and two years after the initial diagnosis, my father-in-law has learned that his cancer has metastasized. Just within the last few weeks, he has lost tremendous amount of energy and is in need of daily assistance.

When he was first diagnosed, he went through a successful chemo treatment and was given a good bill of health. Since then, he has been on medication to subdue the cancer and thought he was doing well, but now, his CAT scan clearly shows that his condition has worsened. The cancer has spread to his liver and lymph nodes, and without additional treatment, his cancer will continue to progress. Given the options, my father-in-law has decided to not go through another treatment and instead, has chosen to live with it however long that might be.

My father-in-law at age two in Congo, Africa

My father-in-law was born in Congo, Africa in 1929. His parents were dedicated medical professionals who took his young family to Africa to do missionary work.

From a very young age, it was very obvious that my father-in-law was gifted in so many ways. He started playing tuba and trombone since he was 12 years old and played in his last concert recently as three months ago. Not only was he a gifted musician but he was also a natural athlete who played volleyball through his college years. Most of all, he was an intellectual young man who had a passion for helping others. He graduated from high school at a very young age and entered college when he was just sixteen years old. It was in college where he fell in love with a beautiful, intelligent woman who was going to be his lifetime partner for 67 years.

My father-in-law helping the sick in Nepal (2nd from the right)

By the time my father-in-law finished medical school at the young age of 24, my mother-in-law had also finished her nursing school. They got married soon after and had two children before they decided to go to Nepal to help people who needed their service the most. My in-laws were humble, caring people who loved helping those who were less fortunate. Just like his father before him, my father-in-law committed to becoming a missionary and with a blessing of his loving wife, took their young family to a developing country of Nepal and lived there for six years taking care of the sick and built a very needed medical clinic that still stands today.

Receiving TOYA Award in 1961

In 1961, at the age of 32, my father-in-law received a TOYM award ( Ten outstanding Young Men) for his amazing accomplishment in Nepal. When my in-laws moved back to the US a year later, my father-in-law went back to school to become a psychiatrist while my mother-in-law stayed at home to raise five children. My father in-law was a loving husband and a doting parent who worked hard in everything he did. After moving around from California to Minnesota and few other places, my in-laws finally found home in Portland, Oregon where they lived in the same house for over 30 years until my mother-in-law passed away last year at age 89.

For the past year, since my mother-in-law passed away, he had moved into an independent senior community where he has been doing remarkably well. He was enjoying the place he was living in and meeting new people. He was also planning some special trips with each of his grown children. Last December, he successfully went on a cruise with my husband's younger brother and had a great time, and for this coming October, he had plans to go to Mexico with my husband (his eldest son). To prepare for the trip to Mexico, he was even learning how to speak Spanish. It would have been a special trip for my father-in-law and my husband especially since it was the exact same trip my father-in-law took with my mother-in-law years ago. They had loved life and had made many special trips during their lifetime.

Among many of the great accomplishments, the biggest thing they had achieved was raising five children to become caring and wonderful people. As my mother-in-law laid fading away, all five of her children rose to the occasion and did everything they could to take care of her in her last days, and today, as my father-in-law gets weaker by the day, everyone has gathered around once more to take care of the father they love and respect so dearly for the remaining days of his life.

Nothing lasts forever and neither do we. Mortality is part of life that we all must face someday. Yet, it's never easy to see our loved ones leave us.

My paternal grandparents passed away before I was even born, and my maternal grandparents passed away when I was very young so I never had to mourn a death of a close family member until last year when my mother-in-law passed away. Losing my mother-in-law and seeing my father-in-law slowly losing his battle against cancer has been difficult, and I can see the pain in my husband's eyes as he tries to cope with losing his parents he loves so dearly.

My parents are 80 and 84 years old, and even though they're currently in pretty good health, I know they're not going to be around forever. I can only imagine what it's like to lose your parents since I'm still lucky enough to have them in my life. Even though I was never really close to my parents when I was growing up, we have grown very close over the years, and the thought of losing them someday aches my heart. Our loving parents bring us into this world, raise us to be kind and caring human beings, and love us unconditionally. Our parents give us part of themselves that we can never give back and in return, we try to do the same for our children. I know my parent's love for me will never die even after they're gone.

As I sit here and write this about my father-in-law who has given so much to the world, I can only hope that I can do the same. As with my mother-in-law, I didn't have much time to get to know him well but in the short time I have known him, I got to know a great man with unimaginable talents who lived a fulfilling life as a loving husband, a father, a missionary, a grandfather and a father-in-law. I feel fortunate and honored to be part of his life.



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