“Moments after I returned from my trip, I held my dying father’s hand”

The first time I hear the word “tumor”, I don’t quite understand what it is. Surprised, it takes me a few minutes to connect this word to another that I know better: cancer. Until then, my father seemed to me eternal, invulnerable: now he is doomed in the short term.

This announcement comes into my life like a clap of thunder in a blue sky. That year, I was 17 years old and I was entering the final year. After a difficult adolescence in terms of social integration, I am finally beginning to overcome my shyness and to blossom. I joined a group of scouts, with whom I set up a humanitarian travel project in Vietnam. We have to leave at the end of the school year, just after the baccalaureate exams. I remember this period as particularly happy and significant in my life.

At home, everything is fine too. I live in Clermont-Ferrand [Puy-de-Dôme] with my mother, my two brothers and my sister. I also kept in touch with my father, even if he lives a little too far, in Paris. Our relationship is special: he is both tender and difficult, very funny but very demanding of his children. He has always been very present in my life, despite the distance. He is a practicing Catholic, quite a traditionalist and often awkwardly proselytizing. Me, I am at the age of the first discoveries, I discover the pleasure of the party and the moments shared with my friends.

“Everything changes”

One day in October, everything changes. On a perfectly ordinary Thursday evening, I find my mother and my brothers huddled together in the stairwell. They speak in low voices and give me worried looks: I quickly realize that something is wrong. They tell me lip service that my father has been hospitalized, that he is between life and death. It was my grandfather who forced him to go see a doctor, after realizing that he no longer spoke properly.

Everything happened very quickly: my big brother went straight to Paris to be with him. It was then that I was first told that my father had a brain tumour, but I only half understood what that meant.

Finally, my father wakes up safe and sound, but the operation was not enough to remove the tumor. Chemotherapies and radiotherapies follow one another: the doctors give him two to ten years. I try to be optimistic, I cling to the figure of 10 years, telling myself that it is still a long time. But seeing my father’s weakened and sick body, I have to suppress the intuition that it will be much faster.

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