February 4, 2020 is World Cancer Day. For some of us, the day carries special significance. Here Monica Lovas shares the story of her father.
No health practitioner wants to see a foreign spot on her patient’s x-ray, especially not when the patient in question is a loved one.
Monica Lovas and her sister grew up in a loving and close-knit family in the Ottawa area. Their parents had moved from Hungary in the 1950s to pursue a life here and give their daughters a better future. “We were always taking care of each other,” Monica says.
In 2002, with a degree from the best chiropractic university in Atlanta, Georgia, Monica came back to the Ottawa area to open her own private practice. It was challenging at first, like any new business, but she had enthusiasm to spare and didn’t mind the long hours. Her family was supportive as always, her father, Las, even becoming one of her patients.
“One of the best things about being a chiropractor is interacting with my patients. Listening to them, understanding what their health concerns or their health issues are.”
Then one day everything changed.
Monica was examining her father’s x-ray when she noticed something on his lung. She didn’t know what it was exactly, sought a second opinion, and took her father for a series of tests that would eventually lead to the devastating diagnosis: adenocarcinoma, a malignant cancer that might have originated from the gut which in this case had metastasized to the lungs.
Monica’s father, a physically active non-smoker in his early 60s, was given three months to live.
“Your life turns upside down,” Monica says. “I made a very difficult decision to leave practice and provide care to my mother and my father full time.”
They started chemo, but it made things worse. Monica’s father was having difficulty breathing, and the pleura around his lungs was slowly filling up with fluids. “He walked around with an oxygen tank and masks and had something akin to a shunt in his back to get the liquid drained from his lungs two times a day.”
The family tried everything they could, including a clinical drug treatment that made his skin turn green because it contained chlorophyll. The doctors warned them about this peculiar side effect, but at that point, Monica says, “you just have to swallow your pride and not care what you look like.”
Monica’s father eventually had to stop this treatment. And as the months stretched into years, the family rallied together to give him as much love and support as possible. “We did everything we could to make his quality of life as enjoyable and beautiful as possible.”
Monica’s father passed away in her arms three years after his diagnosis.
“That’s when I had another turning point in my life. I decided not to go back to practice, I wanted to go into clinical trial research. Because when you go through an event like that, a life-changing event, sickness in the family, you reflect upon yourself as well. You tend to make very calculated, informed decisions that maybe you’re not doing the right thing in life, maybe you need to go down a different path. And so I did.”
Monica became a clinical research professional and worked in that field for a few years before joining Accreditation Canada and Health Standards Organization. “I wanted to work for an organization that supports my own personal philosophy of trying to make a change in somebody else’s life.”
For more information about World Cancer Day, visit https://www.worldcancerday.org/