About Christina M.
My dad, Greg Cesena, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in May of 2015. He had suffered from what he thought was insomnia and panic attacks for years, doctors insisting the right combination of meds could alleviate his symptoms. After one particularly horrific night he called my mom, Lilia Cesena, at work and told her he needed help, that he didn’t know what was wrong but that something definitely was. They made an appointment with our family doctor for that day. His blood work showed he was so severely anemic that he should have been hospitalized, the insomnia and panic were symptomatic of something else. They scheduled more tests. A mass was eventually found and biopsied. My dad had not had a colonoscopy at 50, he was 60 when they found it. He likely had cancer for at least 10 years. The day he found out my mom took him to Jamba Juice for wheatgrass shots and they vowed to fight it. He promised he’d live to 85. He was scheduled for a colon resectioning in June, I was getting married in July…it was all supposed to be routine. He suffered an infection and a few setbacks but did in fact walk me down the aisle. Greatest day of my life. Once he was strong enough post-surgery he began chemo and radiation. He only completed one round before he suffered a catastrophic colon rupture and nearly died. He spent 8 weeks in the hospital, 4 in the ICU. He lost 100 lbs (he had been an ex-bodybuilder in excellent shape), couldn’t stand, couldn’t walk. My mom would make him protein shakes in the morning and bring them to the hospital to supplement his meals. She spent every waking moment with him while also working full time. When he came home she learned how to administer IV meds and change his colonoscopy bag. He eventually regained most of his strength and even returned to work for a period of time. My mom managed all of his care. She and I split chemo and other medical appointments. She studied ways to improve his diet and treat the cancer holistically in partnership with traditional medicine. She organized vacations for them to go on (Alaska! Mexico!) to enrich their time. When he became too sick to work she made his meals every day so that she could go to her office and he would be well fed. As he continued to decline, lose his strength, his appetite, his joy, my mom kept trudging along. She continued to work so that they’d have double health insurance and he could continue to be treated at City of Hope, she made adjustments at the house (more comfortable chairs for him, rails in the shower, re-landscaping the backyard so he’d have an outdoor retreat when trapped at home) and she never lost hope. When my dad entered hospice she gave him every ounce of dignity she could. She honored every wish and was the truest incarnation of love and devotion. After 30 years together, 28 years of marriage, 2 kids, 2 grandkids, a home, a life well lived, my dad died holding his true loves hand. My mom, as a wife, as a caregiver, was the picture of love and devotion I am so grateful to have seen it.