For over a year and a half my father had been suffering from chronic headaches. After going to several doctors he was diagnosed with nasal pharyngeal cancer in early February 2011. A small tumor about half the size of a golf ball was discovered in the nasal pharyngeal cavity which needed to be treated with chemo and radiation therapy right away. We were told that the odds of beating this type of cancer were good, however we were unaware that he already had stage four cancer.

When my parents picked me up from the airport several months later, I almost didn’t recognize my father.  I had always thought of him as the strongest man in the world, but for the first time in my life he looked weak.  He had lost 20 pounds and most of his hair and just walking to the bathroom exhausted him. He was in constant pain from the radiation treatment and by the time I made it home, he had not eaten for almost four months.  

The first few days I could barely keep myself from crying in front of my parents. I didn’t want them to see me upset. I wanted to be strong like my father but I felt helpless just sitting by as the man I once knew shrunk before my eyes. In the months that followed I decided to document my fathers cancer. 

What follows is the journey my family was forced to take. 

Thank you mom and dad. 



After wearing the same hospital gown for three days my father, Armando Sanchez, is changed by my mother Rachel, his wife of 34 years, in his hospital room at Saint Agnes Medical Center.  In addition to changing his clothes my mother helped him brush his teeth, wash his face, and gave him a light bed bath with a washcloth. 

My father watches my mom water plants outside from the patio door in their kitchen.  Before he started his chemo and radiation therapy, my dad would often do yard work outside with my mom. But after three months of treatment even getting up to walk to the door left him weak and tired. 

The infusion room where my dad would go five days a week to receive 1000mg of saline.  

Days after receiving a PET scan my father and mother wait for the doctor to tell them if his cancer has gone into remission. 

The saline my dad would receive five days a week. 

After waiting for six hours in the emergency room, my mother and father sleep in the their room at Saint Agnes Hospital.  During both of my dad's stays my mom slept in the reclining chair next to his bed.  

Before going to bed my mother checks the sores caused by chemo treatments in my fathers mouth with a light from her cell phone.  Because of his sores my dad could only take a few sips of water at a time and was in constant pain during the weeks following chemo therapy. 

My father pulls on a strand of my mother's hair in the emergency room at Saint Agnes Hospital after collapsing while trying to enter the cancer center across the street.  This was his second trip to the hospital in less then three months.  "I don't want him in the hospital," My mother said. "I want him at home."

Before putting him to bed my mother rubs lotion on my dad's back.  Although he had already completed his radiation therapy, my father was left with a sever gag reflex and burns on his back.  

Exhausted from sleeping in the hospital for three days, my mother watches television while sitting next to my dad.

While waiting for the doctor to see them, my father puts his feet on my mother at the Saint Agnes cancer clinic.  

My dad leaves the infusion room at Saint Agnes Hospital with my mom after receiving his first blood transfusion. A month later, on their 35th wedding anniversary, my dad was declared cancer free. 

My father walks back to the house after cleaning windows in the backyard. Five months after his cancer had gone into remission he started working outside again.

While my father was receiving treatment he started to lose his hearing and developed a constant ringing in his ears. Several months after his cancer had gone into remission, his condition did not improve. After visiting an audiologist it was determined that he had lost 50% of his hearing and it was unclear when or if the ringing would go away. 

After being fitted for his hearing aides my dad tries to adjust them in the mirror at the audiologist office. 

During his third visit to the ENT, ear nose and throat doctor, my dad is given an endoscopic nasal pharyngeal exam. An endoscope over eight inches long was inserted into his nasal pharyngeal to check for any signs of cancer where the tumor used to be. 

While attending a christmas candle light service in El Paso, Texas., my mother begins to cry in the arms of my father as the congregation sings "Silent Night." "We just had so much to be grateful for," she said. 

My dad moves from one side of the roof to another while taking down christmas lights. 

My father waits in a patient room for a follow-up exam. "You just have to go one step in front of the other. How long it will go I don't know," he said. 

My mother and father walk along the beach in Santa Cruz, Calif. Although his cancer is in complete remission he still has to receive a PET scan every four months for a year. 

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