Tag Archives: Dad and Brain Cancer

Remembering Dad for his birthday anniversary June 4

Only Child and her Dad on the veranda of house where she grew up.

Only Child and her Dad on the veranda of house where she grew up.

Growing up – back in the grey ages of course, I spent some time with my dad doing simple things. He seemed to take on the role of teacher as well as parent. Family members used to say he was proud of his little princess. Yes, that was me. Hard to believe it now as I’ve turned into a motor-mouth opinionated person. There is a back story there but that’s not for today’s post. Today, I want to honour my late father – Albert Louis Joseph Eugene Langevin – because the anniversary of his birthday is this Saturday, June 4.

Dad was born in Montreal, Quebec in 1899. The Langevin family moved to Toronto when Dad was five – or so I’ve been told. Doing research in the Toronto City Might Directories for the early 1900s doesn’t show the Langevin family living anywhere in Toronto until  a few years later. And believe me I have looked in all the earlier directories – bending on my knees and moving four heavy directories at a time to a table on the second floor at the Toronto Reference Library. But some of the family history I didn’t know comes out in these short, simple directory listings. For example, I knew Dad didn’t serve in either World War – too young for the first war and too old for the second. But one of his brothers, Uncle Paul, did serve in the First World War. Considering Paul’s age at the time it wouldn’t surprise me if be lied about his age to get in. That was done back then.  From 1918 Dad worked for the Grand Trunk Railway and then the Canadian National Railway when the latter swallowed up the former. Dad worked in the main Toronto office, then on Front Street and connected to the big Union Station on Toronto’s Front Street. Most of his work life there was as a time-keeper. That might explain his penchant for insisting everyone and everything always be on time – no excuses. But his job gave Mom and I free train rides and that’s how we travelled for our summer holidays – to my Mom’s family farms near Lucknow and Mildmay, Ontario and longer trips to Detroit (more of Mom’s relatives there), Buffalo, Rochester, New York City and Quebec province.

Only Child's Mom and Dad a few years after they were married

Only Child’s Mom and Dad a few years after they were married

Dad married my Mom, Julia, when he was 40 in November 1939 and by the time I came along he was 49. He was often mistaken for my grandfather with his then grey, and later white hair. Yes, he spoke French in his earlier years, but lost that ability over the years living in Toronto. It was actually embarrassing when he, Mom and I went for a holiday in Quebec province when I was 14. We got away with English only in Montreal but not in Quebec City. Dad had to find a bilingual cab driver who helped us find a bed and breakfast to stay.

Only Child's late Dad under Mom's rose archway

Only Child’s late Dad under Mom’s rose archway

Mom was the gardener in the family – with me learning the green thumb tricks from her. But Dad had a few up his sleeve. When he mowed the lawn – with a push mower – he also showed me how to do it and let me do a bit. Same for watering the lawn. But when it came to the trees and shrubs in the front and back yard, he could be a bear.

You see, my friends and I used to set up our dolls and their “houses” (turned over doll or small people suitcases) for rooms. We would have kid-sized dishes and then we would go get “food” for our dolls. “Food” wasn’t berries from the garden, but we would pick and pull leaves from the big and small shrubs. Dad caught us at it once and came charging out into the backyard and gave us you know what for doing damage to trees.

Dad also taught me to ride a bicycle – but not until I was almost 10. I would sit on this 28 inch wheel bike with my short legs and feel barely reaching the peddles and feel terrified that I would fall off. But Dad held onto the front handle with one hand and the back of the seat with the other and steered me along the street. That got me some teasing plus from my friend the Bully. But I did learn to ride the bike on my own, albeit just on the immediate neighbourhood streets which had little traffic. My favourite place to ride a bike was on country roads by my cousins near Lucknow, Ontario. I would ride one of the boy’s bikes or one of the girl’s bikes – depends on whom I was riding with. The terrain might have been tough (gravel roads, not paved) but the only traffic – if any – was the odd car and tractor.

Dad also was very protective, perhaps over-protective as shown by his teaching methods. But I still loved him.

But, when he got cancer in his brain when I was 12, things changed so much. I found myself distancing myself from him. In hindsight I think it was a protective measure for when he was gone. Mom and I knew that the cancer would eventually kill him and it did when I was 16. He was 66 when he died.

I still miss you Dad.


Only Child Writes

Only Child with her parents at grandpa's farm near Mildmay, Ontario

Only Child with her parents at grandpa’s farm near Mildmay, Ontario. Sharon is holding one of her many dolls

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Albert Langevin, Canadian National Railway, cancer, Gardening, Mom and Dad, Only child, Toronto, Train travel

Only Child’s thoughts on cancer

Only Child  thinking about cancer and its causes and consequence.

Only Child thinking about cancer and its causes and consequence.

Cancer was the big concern yesterday. I was back in Aurora, Ontario to visit an old friend and read from my book Beyond the Tripping Point at the local library. The old friend and one of the other authors reading both have cancer. Which got me thinking.
It’s been almost 50 years since my dad died of brain cancer and we’re still trying to get the cure? Except for the long long time and some of the concoctions for treatment that come up, I do have respect for the researchers for at least keeping on digging for the cure.
My worry here is the treatments that are being used. In Dad’s time it was either slice or burn or both. (He had the latter only; it helped the first time, but the cancer just spread to another area of the brain, they couldn’t do anything, so he had what we now call palliative care).
One of the two people I saw yesterday had outlined her treatment plan for breast cancer in an email. It made me feel ill just to read it – that she would have to go through all that to maybe get better.
The other one has terminal cancer from what I can gather. She is on chemo – and has been for the past couple of years. Originally the high-dosed chemo made her so sick she was considering just dropping it and spending the rest of her days as is with her family. But the dosage was changed and the side effects aren’t so bad. Eventually the chemo will not help.
It seems like the “cure” is worse than the disease. And it is not always a cure. Who gets through the cancer into remission and who doesn’t seems to be a crap game. Sure, some of the chemo, surgery and radiation works. Some people who choose no medical intervention of the “regular kind” get through it. Same for some who choose modified treatment despite being told they should be more radical. Some try alternative treatment (either on its own or with regular medical). Some who are hopeful about getting better, do; some don’t.  Some who aren’t hopeful don’t make it and some do. Ditto those who are spiritual and those who aren’t. Attitude doesn’t seem to matter.
Then there is the question – with all those odds should they go through the treatment that will drag them through hell physically and emotionally, for a bit more time with their family and friends? Or should they just let it be and spend their time with their families and friends?
One exception here – some surgeries can cure some cancers (but not all). If the prognosis for surgery as a cure is very high, then maybe go with it.
It’s the chemo and/or radiation afterwards that I question.
Like my book’s title, we seem to be beyond the tripping point with cancer. I don’t know what the answer is but I have a few suggestions (besides the obvious – find a cure NOW).

  • Focus more on treatment that isn’t so drastic, so painful, and so debilitating. Did you know if you get radiation treatment you can’t go out in the hot summer sun without covering up? I know, I know – we should be more careful here because of the UV rays and skin cancer potential. But those who get “burned” don’t get radiation just for skin cancer.
  • Focus on more natural treatment.
  • Try to work more at the prevention end (research, getting the word out, and the rest of us – individuals, corporations and government – doing more about the environmental “polluters”).
  • The so-called average person can also do more about improving their lives using information already available. We’ve come some way with banning pesticides, the cfc elimination from refrigerators, etc., and the publicity on smoking causing cancer.
  • Something has to be done about too many cars spewing out toxins – they don’t just cause asthma attacks, but they cause cancer. See the Studies section in this Wikipedia article on Motor Vehicle Emissions http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motor_vehicle_emissions#Health_Studies From there link to the studies. And Google for more studies.These are just the tip of the smogberg.
  • More responsibility in automobile ads. Instead of just focusing on the car’s features and “low” price, how about some caveats? This is done with alcohol in relation to drunk driving.
  • Smokers need to quit and the younger generation shouldn’t start smoking. However, I don’t think they are getting the message and that might be because it isn’t coming at them as relevant.
  • Pay more attention to our diet. There is a lot of media attention to obesity and diet and diabetes and diet. All very well. How about some big publicity about cancer and diet? And the food manufacturers have to get in the act here, too, to help.

Maybe I’m being naive but when the treatment is worse than the cure; when cure as a result is a crap shoot, and when even the cancer instigators aren’t consistent (i.e., some who eat or inhale something cancerous don’t get cancer; and some who live healthy lives do get cancer, well…
Something is sure screwed up here.
It’s nearly 50 years since my dad died of brain cancer. Have we really come a long way since then?
Sharon A. Crawford
Only Child Writes

And I have no clue why my spacing disappeared when I save the draft of this post.

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Filed under cancer, Cancer Treatment