My Dad and the Orangutans

On a day in June 2000, a doctor performed a biopsy on my father that showed he had mucosal melanoma, a rare and fatal cancer.  The next morning, as I was standing in the shower, a shock wave of emotion and loss hit me.  In that moment, I realized that my family would never be the same again.  My father’s illness and impending death became a grim shadow in my life.
My life with the shadow was divided into two parts.  In my normal life, I continued running my business and taking care of my rescue pug, Tristin.  In my shadow life, I poured over medical research, corresponded with doctors, and reviewed all available clinical trials, trying to find a cure for my dad.
Finding a balance between my normal life and the shadow life was challenging.  Of course, nothing was more important that helping my father.  But what was the likelihood that–even if I devoted my every waking moment to keeping him alive–I could anything to save him?  Thus I alternated between guilt and despair, until his death in February 2004.

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