End of LifeTrip for Terminal Father

My parents have been through the ringer these past few years.

In September of 2015 a tumor was found located in the brain of my father; he had been struggling with his hearing and had a constant ringing in his ear. After much testing and scans the tumor was found. Luckily it was benign; and they quickly performed the surgery to remove the tumor. The entire tumor was removed and everything went well; besides his hearing nerve which now has left him deaf in one ear.

In April 2016 it was announced that the state would be taking homes by eminent domain to build an over pass for the local highway. My parents unfortunately lived on the corner and their home of 40+ years would be demolished. They were told that they needed to be out by November 2016.

This home was where I grew up; where my four of my five brothers grew up; where my mother started her sewing business and had an extension built strictly for the use of her business. The state could not find a home that was equivalent to their home of 40 years.  

In July of 2016 while celebrating a family reunion in Park City my father had what we thought was a stroke. He was rushed to the local hospital and then was transported to the University Hospital back in Salt Lake City. He had multiple scans and another, fast growing tumor was found. He has cancer. Glioblastoma. The doctors didn’t give much information, besides they wanted and needed to do surgery fast. He had surgery the following week. The tumor had what the doctors described as “fingers,” fingers where the tumor had grown throughout the brain. It was impossible to remove it all.

In August I got engaged. It was a happy time and my father was so excited for his baby girl. Being the only and youngest daughter in our family, I was daddy’s little girl and we had such a special bond. It was during this time where we learned about the severity of my father’s cancer. Glioblastoma is a very aggressive cancer and only gave my father 6 months to live if he didn’t receive the treatment he needed. And with treatment he had possibly three years.

My father had started his radiation soon after he recovered from his surgery and he was to start his chemotherapy during the month of September. After much deliberation my fiancé and I decided it was best for us to rush the wedding before my father got too sick. This was the best decision for us. My father was able to walk me down the aisle and enjoy the wedding. This was a very emotional event for both my father and I.  A memory with my father I will never forget. My father underwent the aggressive chemotherapy and radiation, it had left a shell of once was my father. It broke all our hearts.

My parents were forced out of their home during his treatment and found a home in November 2016; it does not have the space for my mother’s sewing machines and the many rolls of fabric she has, but it was a house. My father was unable to help with the move and became very discouraged because he was the one who always was active and able and now could hardly stand without falling over.

And again, another challenge came my family’s way. My mother had been hiding her own illness. She had been seeing doctors for continual UTI’s but it was more severe than she let on. Her sister came down from Idaho to take her to a doctor and it was then we found out she also had cancer. My aunt, her sister, had uterine cancer and had a hysterectomy to remove the cancer.

Christmas was a somber event. Knowing both parents had cancer. My mother had her hysterectomy surgery but it was too late to catch the entire tumor. It had spread into her lymph nodes and she too, needed chemotherapy. Mother’s cancer is curable but if it were to return, it would not be. She has to go through a terrible treatment to hopefully banish the cancer for good.  

2017 has been a blur. Our family has been taking care of our parents and has taken them to each of their appointments. Neighbors brought over meals and offered any service they could. They are now both off treatment and are slowly recovering. My father’s tumor has stopped growing, at least for now. We are still unsure of the status of my mother’s cancer.

My father served his LDS mission in New Zealand and has always talked about his experience and how he would love to return. His birthday is in February and I would love to send both my parents to New Zealand. To have that time together and give my father the trip he has always wished for.

After research my husband and I found a cruise that will take them all over New Zealand and will be an easy travel for them, and is a cheaper option due to hotels and food costs.

Due to their medical bills and the new mortgage for their current home, finances are difficult for them. The family is trying to put together some money to make this trip a reality and I’m asking for help to give my father one last adventure.

The money will go strictly for my parents travel. For the flights, the cruise, and other travel costs. Any money that may be left over will go towards their medical bills or to make the reminder of my parents time together memorable.

Anything would be greatly appreciated!!

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Stephanie Larsen 
South Jordan, UT