How My Dying Father Taught Me to Be a Positive Athlete


y dad is an amazing man. Unlike most men who act and look macho like they know-it-all, my dad doesn’t try to hard to humor anyone, sits in silence and speak up only when he knows he can contribute. Best thing is, he can cook, and cooks like a master chef and he takes care of babies like a full-time nanny does. I’m not saying he’s the best dad in the world because he’s my dad, but because I learned so much from him that improved my life tremendously all these years.

Before he was diagnosed with just a month to live, he went through a liver transplant to remove a 10cm tumor in 2008 and led a happy life till 2011 when he suffered a relapse that made him defeated and bed ridden.

The 10cm tumor was due to hepatitis B which he found out about when he was 35 years old. As the cancer cells attacked and spread throughout his body, we found him having difficulties in breathing, and hunching lower and lower due to a bad dull pain shooting through his back bone every other day. It was tough to see as much as there was nothing anyone could do, even he.

His Deathbed

As days went by, his condition got so bad, he had to stay in bed clad in diapers and no chance to shower. As his main caregiver, it was actually tougher to see him lying in bed than caring for him. He never ever threw tantrum at me while battling the unbearable pain he had to suffer.

Cleaning him up is painful for him as I had to wipe his back and shift him around to make sure he doesn’t suffer from any skin irritation. This process hurts a lot as moving him means allow the tumors in his body to press on his bones further. It’s so difficult when you can’t see where are the affected areas and trial and error just made him suffer more.

Lucky Hand

Yet, throughout this difficult times, he often cracked jokes, we couldn’t help but laugh at. He called himself a baby with legs of an old man. When his left hand was immobile, he lectured his right hand saying that it’s lucky that it can still move.

After his liver transplant in 2008, doctors gave instructions for him to take a jab every month to control his hepatitis B condition, and he has to take this jab for life. And fast forward to the day in bed, our family doctor advised us that he only had a few weeks to live, hence there’s no need for the jab. It’s $500 per jab, he thought we should just save up the money. We got what he meant, but thought it’s out of respect we asked him and not decide for him.

You Are Dying

It was actually the most difficult time of my life, having to ask my dad if he wanted the jab since he was going to die. Of course I wasn’t that blatant, but my question would have brought that meaning across to him and God knows what he interpreted it as.

To my surprise, he said “Absolutely, just go on with the shot!”. Seriously in all that pain and agony, who in the right mind would have cared about the jab? If I were him, I would probably not even give an answer.

Anyway, we gave him the jab, and my dad died in his sleep a few days later.

At the end of it all, I thought, nobody will ever understand how he felt, the pain he went through and the “what ifs” in his head.

The Baggage

As an athlete, I tend to over think and worry while I practice and compete. These led to many problems not only for the outcome, but they overflowed to my teammates as well. My teammates had to carry that burden for me and we slogged and trudged together due to the baggage I left behind.

My dad took this baggage in his own hands. Yes we had to clean him up or pay for his medical bills, but those were part of the game, we are his teammates willing to go through tough times with him. That’s also because he was willing to play his own game as well by making things as easy as possible for us by being positive and cooperative.

At the end of the day, anything has to come to an end, why not keep a positive mind and make the best of it?

Your Turn

Is there something bothering you when you are competing? Can you let it go and make the best out of it before it’s over? Let’s discuss.

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