After Losing His Son to Cancer, Father Pays It Forward

 In Events, Patient & Family Stories

Terry and his wife were visiting their son in Denver when the bad news arrived. “It was a Wednesday,” he recalls, “and I was sitting in the living room when Pete walked in, threw some MRIs down on the coffee table and said, ‘I have a tumor.’ It didn’t dawn on me that it was cancer. He was just in his early 30s.”

But it was cancer. Biopsy results received two days later proved the tumor was osteosarcoma, an aggressive bone cancer. “That was August of 2005,” Terry explains. “Then things just snowballed.”

“Pete’s degree was in molecular and developmental biology from the University of Colorado in Boulder,” Terry notes, “So I’m sure he understood better than any of us what was happening. We just kept clinging to hope.”

Pete was determined to keep life as normal as possible for those around him. He scheduled his chemo and other appointments in such a way that his colleagues at work weren’t aware of what was happening. Only when surgery to remove his leg became necessary did his coworkers learn of his long struggle with cancer. But neither the surgery nor clinical-trial drugs could stop the cancer’s progression.

“In the beginning,” Terry reflects, “you pray to God for a miracle. In the end, you pray for an end to their suffering. We didn’t know much about hospice, but they were able to lessen his pain and brought so much compassion to all of us those last two months. And Pete was able to stay at home.”

“The day Pete passed – it was September 11 – the hospice team was just great. They helped us with details, like calling the coroner. They had also helped him through some financial matters prior to his passing. There are so many things that have to be done that most people know nothing about.”

Years later, Terry’s appreciation for the care his son received remains strong. He dedicates his time to creating art in memory of his son, and giving back to the community.

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