Fought For Country: Not For His Own Fight Against Oral Cancer

Dear Eva,

My father hasn’t eaten in 5 days and barely drinks water. He continues to refuse a feeding tube even though his weight dropped from 158 to 120. He doesn’t complain but his health is going downhill fast. Radiation for his oropharyngeal cancer ended almost 3 months ago! Our whole family is begging him to save himself. As a warrior in the Vietnam war, he drove a tank and set traps in the jungle single-handedly He cares about his country but doesn’t care about himself. I want him to rediscover the fight and save himself. What can I do?

From Billy

Dear Billy,

Your father is making a very personal decision by refusing a feeding tube. He fought for his country at the expense of his own life. Maybe now, for the first time, he is the Lieutenant/General and making his own executive decision.

Respect your dad and support his decisions. Believe in your heart he is doing what is best for him (and ‘his country.’) Continue to tell him what you love about him. Tell him WHY you want him to fight instead of barking orders, even if those demands come from a place of love. How has he impacted your life and infused it with wisdom? Be specific. The more intimate you are with him, the more open and honest he will be with you. Speak to him from a place of love instead of anger or judgement. This can foster communication on a deep level. Perhaps, your dad will share intimate details of his experience and why he is making the choices you can’t understand. People who haven’t been through this disease can’t understand what it’s like to lose the ability to swallow, speak and taste which most of us take for granted.

Your love of your father is admirable and I wish you courage,

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