It was November 2013, shortly before Thanksgiving, when we learned the news that would change our lives forever. Our dad, the light of our lives, our mother’s love & soulmate since 17 years old, had Stage 4 Gallbladder Cancer and the top doctors at Sloan Kettering told us to prepare ourselves for the inevitable. There was nothing they could do; we had found it too late. I watched as my father, so strong all my life, hung his head and sobbed. He knew what was to come, but for us, his family, we would not give up so easily.
That Thanksgiving, we felt there was not much to give thanks for. How could this be? Dad would start chemo in the coming weeks and we hoped by some miracle it would shrink his tumors enough to make surgery a viable option to save his life. We visited more doctors, top in the field, in search of a new drug trial, cutting edge research, homeopathic remedies, anything that could help us save him. But there was little out there and we learned that the prognosis was grim. Gallbladder cancer was rare and often did not present any symptoms until it was too far progressed.
The chemo seemed to work initially and Dad was feeling ok, but then things quickly took a turn for the worse in the Spring of 2014. We made a trip to Johns Hopkins in May 2014, only to have our hearts broken again to find out they could not help us there either. “We’re very sorry” they said, “We wish you the best”. It seemed the medical profession had given up on Dad.
He decided to try a new chemo pill since the infusions were no longer helping and making him sick. It did nothing for him and his oncologist was now recommending options to “make him comfortable”. We knew what that meant.
As I watched my dad’s health quickly deteriorate, I desperately researched more options – genomic sequencing and targeted immunotherapies, tumor ablation, things I had never before heard of, but we were desperate to find something that could save him. It was now the end of July 2014 and Dad was slipping away. He was not speaking much at this point and when he did, he often wasn’t making sense. We were losing him and in August 2014, 5 years ago, we had to accept that he would soon be gone.
August 21, 2019 marks the 5 year anniversary of his passing. We miss him everyday and think of him always in joyous moments and in sad times as well. We marvel at how life has changed and go on without him and feel great remorse at all he has missed in the last 5 years and will continue to miss. All the milestones, achievements, & memories without him. A life taken too soon by this awful disease.
We know that he is missed greatly, not only by us, but by so many friends and family who loved him. To commemorate this 5 year anniversary, we would like to ask his friends and family to honor the life of Glenn Berger by making a donation to fund cancer research. We can only hope that one day, cancer will be no more and other families will not have to experience the heartache of losing a loved one to cancer ….
We have set donations to benefit CanLiv Foundation. Part of the Global Liver Institute, CanLiv is committed to advancing knowledge, research and treatment of cancers of the bile ducts, gallbladder & liver.