My dad, Paul Leary, woke up on July 30th, 2012 with what he thought was a pinched nerve between his shoulder blade and spine. After a week of self medicating with Ibuprofen, he went to see our family chiropractor, who did x-rays, which showed nothing unusual. Dad had some numbness and tingling going down his arm to his last two fingers on right hand. Within a week, the strength in Dad’s right hand and arm was significantly reduced. An MRI was ordered and that same afternoon, Dr. Steve called to inform my Dad that he had a tumor in his cervical spine. Dr. Steve had already scheduled an appointment for my dad with a neuro-surgeon for the next morning. We saw Dr. Stroink at 8:30, the next day. She did additional CT’s in her office and informed us that Dad’s spinal chord was almost completely compressed by the tumor. We were to go straight to the hospital, and she would operate the next morning. She didn’t want to risk Dad falling or having any kind of bump because it could have severed his spinal cord and we would have lost him right then.
After about 5 days in the hospital, we got the final results of all the tests and scans…our lives were turned upside down. Dad, at the age of almost 52, was diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic adeno carcinoma of the prostate. It had invaded many areas of his body.
My daddy was a fighter – he went through numerous treatments and fought his cancer for almost 4 years. He even continued his work as a mechanic up until May 2016. Early June 2016, we went on our final family vacation together to Lake of the Ozarks. It was difficult because he was clearly uncomfortable and exhausted, but we got to spend that week playing Uno when he felt up to it and just being together. When we returned home, his health declined rapidly. On June 16th he agreed to Hospice Care. On June 19th, Father’s Day, he gathered all four of us kids around his hospital bed and told us that he was tired and didn’t know how much longer he had. It is heartbreaking to watch your daddy suffer and not be able to do anything about it. It is devastating to tell your daddy “We will be okay daddy. You can let go now.”
On June 28th, 2016 our Superman went to be with God. He took his last breath around 7:35 pm. He was surrounded by his mommy, wife, children, siblings, and doggies. We sang to him, we prayed for him, and we told him it was okay to let go even though that was the hardest thing for us to do. I fight Prostate Cancer for my father – my hero, my superman. It has now been two years since he passed and our lives will never be the same.