The last 30 days of my dad- a diary entry

Sept. 24 2016
The unknown by Julie Szaszpapa et eva

The fear of the unknown seems to be a recurrent concern for my dad through this illness.
Let’s go back a bit…
My father was diagnosed with a stage 4 incurable rare sarcoma back in late April 2016.
After finally figuring out what the best option would be to treat the cancer, the side effects of the disease and the chemo had taken its toll on my dad.
See, my dad is a mathematician. A rational mind. Things must add up. Problems and situations have always had a solution, or at least a hypothesis to knowing the result.
Problem is now, the result is unknown. Every second seems to be an unknown. His mind is getting frustrated, he can’t determine the next step. What are we supposed to do?
We got an agenda, a notebook, someone is always with him. Everything is written down. But that’s not good enough for him. If something happens out what he seemed planned in his head… confusion arises and he is scared.

He said it: “Unknown”. His lips trembling making the word out with difficulty, in a very weak voice. Making complete sentences are getting harder and harder for him to do. His train of thoughts being interrupted by pain, by fear, by sorrow, by fatigue.
So I am here. Trying to grasp every second I can have with him. Trying to reassure him, that the unknown is not so bad and can be good. Let’s be hopeful I tell myself again and again. But I feel it’s useless to tell him… I fear he does not even know anymore what hopeful means.
So I remind my mom. Let’s have hope that things will get better.

I understand now, what it is to be a care taker. To look into your father’s eyes and see despair. See his confusion with this fear of the unknown. Asking himself what happened? This was not part of the plan, of his calculations.

…30 days later, my dad had past. October 22nd 2016.

I hope you know now and you are not scared anymore. I love you papa.


What keeps me going –The Present Love


November 10th 2014

(Being a mom with metastatic breast cancer)


As I was walking my puppy this morning, thoughts came to my mind; wondering what has kept me going in the last 5 years. Yes soon it will be 5 years since my first diagnosis with stage 2b Breast cancer. After a surgery, chemo, radio, hormonal therapy, menopause 3 times, a separation, a fight for custody, a somewhat getting back to normal, the cancer coming back in my bones, another surgery, new treatments…it goes on…


I will be 35 this month. My daughter is 7 and a half(yes half is important at that age!) .


My day to day life is confronted with this now chronic illness. Having Metastatic breast cancer has force me to take it a day at a time. Throughout these last 5 years, my daughter has been a source for my fight. Having her has not given me any choices but to wake up each morning, even when my body/mind does not feel like it. She has helped me take things as they come, because that’s what children do. They live in the present and at this point this is all that matters: The Present.


That’s probably also why having a dog has been a blessing. This little puppy does not give me any choices; she wakes early and I have to care for her. The love in those puppy eyes is unconditional. Having her by my side makes me move. Moving makes me feel alive. Yes I am tired, but at least I feel better when I know I went for a walk and I was breathing fresh air. After we can all rest from a good walk.


Being a mother has pride in itself.  But being able to pursue this life commitment with an illness that has no pity, makes me appreciate a lot more the time I spend with my loved ones. From all this, I just hope that after my time comes, my daughter will be proud of who she is and always see her mom in herself. Call it egotistical, I don’t care, because she is who she is because of how I raise her and what’s she’s gone through by my side. She has grown up seeing and feeling her mom struggle, fight, being weak. But she also sees her mother go on, making meals every day, homework, laundry, errands, volunteering at school, taking care of family and friends and going to the hospital. This child is so loved. Of course I don’t do it all alone, but I try. When I can’t, it’s ok and she knows.  She loves me.


So, taking care of my self does not mean I put aside my child or responsibilities. It only makes me better to tackle it all. It’s all about love and who you love. I choose to love myself, my family and my friends. Everything else is second. If I got it wrong, so be it. It feels right for now. – Julie Szasz