the last days of Seth Colbeth .. written by Steven Colbeth
I clicked over to your WWW page since it too was listed in your email and wanted to expand on the statement, "...My Father, Seth Colbeth passed away on July 17, 1979 after being sick for several years battling cancer." It isn't discussed much, and I know you were young, so wanted to share my remembrance of his illness.
Although this is in chronological order there are huge gaps of time between some of this stuff.
About 2 years before he passed away he began having trouble digesting food. He said, "it feels like everything I eat just sits like lead in my stomach." He began a regimen of self diagnosis by reading every book he could find on the subject. (Nothing new for dad, he could read for hours.) Over-the-counter antacids seem to give him some temporary relief and when that began to become excessive dad and mom started going to a naturopath in Eau Claire. Again there was some temporary improvement but nothing lasting. He then went to Hudson to a Dr who said they were probably dealing with an ulcer and medication was given. Back and forth nothing was helping. At this point the story gets blurry.... I think things were getting serious and it was now apparent that whatever was wrong was getting worse. Not much was said anymore in front of us kids. I remember Mom and dad driving to the Mayo Clinic to find out what was wrong with him and dad was in pain and very sick. The Mayo Clinic was not excepting new patients and turned them away. Dad was sick and frustrated and angry. The next thing I remember was sitting in his hospital room in the cities and they were treating him for a bleeding ulcer. Medicine was given to stop the bleeding - "blood clotting" - medicine. He was in pain and he had charted out on paper his pain meds and the hours he could receive them. One time I remember dad getting mad because the nurse wouldn't give him his medicine and it was time and she told him that an ulcer didn't cause that much pain and he was simply getting addicted to the pain killers. I remember Grandma Anderson at the hospital with us and she was telling mom that something was REALLY wrong with dad and it wasn't just an ulcer. Again, this type of stuff wasn't discussed in front of me so I don't know what more was said. I think by his time everyone must have known that something was very wrong. Either that or it was denial. It had to have been apparent they weren't dealing with a simple bleeding ulcer. They scheduled him for a exploratory laparotomy to determine the extent of his ulcer(s).
Just before the surgery he suffered a heart attack (hum, could that be from all the blood clotting medicine? )He was moved to a room in intensive care after the heart attack and then to another room in cardiac care as his condition improved. Being sick to begin with, having been misdiagnosed from the beginning, a smoker for how many years, and now weak from the heart attack, he developed pneumonia in the cardiac ward and died. It wasn't until the autopsy they discovered he had pancreatic cancer that had metastasized to his liver. I remember mom telling people that the doctor said it was from all his drinking in his younger hears but although it is well know to have effect on the liver, I have never read any documentation to support that excessive alcohol contributes to pancreatic cancer. I do remember the doctor saying that it is a cancer that is very difficult to diagnose and even if they had found the cancer, at that time there was no treatment short of chemotherapy. The pancreas is one of those organs you don't live without. I remember Mom, grandma and me were at the hospital in cardiac care. Dad called each one into his room and talked to us. I can't remember everything he said but I can remember he said how proud he was of me and that I was to help mom with things. I know grandma came out crying as he had told her he was sorry for their bitterness to each other and had forgiven her for all her nasty behavior. I can't remember what happened with mom came out. Again I think that was hidden from me.
When your grandpa Anderson died, I remember mom discovering that sometimes prayer keeps people on earth who were meant to pass on and when you release them , well, God's will is done. ... I remember taking a shower that morning and thinking about mom's discovery about releasing them from prayer and letting God's will be done. I got dressed and came downstairs. I can't remember if mom was already on the phone or what but my next memory was of mom on the phone and she started crying. I kept bugging her, "what's wrong, what happened?" She turned to me - I think I might have asked her if he died because I can't imagine her just blurting out to me he had died. Whatever was said, I can't remember. The rest is even more blurry... I remember going to the hospital and picking up his stuff in plastic bags. Anyway... I wasn't sure if you had just written the ditty on your web page about him battling cancer for many years as a generalization to the public or if you didn't realize that he was never diagnosed with cancer while he was alive.
Ta-ta for now.