By: Scott Meller
I’ll never forget the day, it was May 5, 2015, the day before my 39th birthday. I was at work at Feldmar Watch Company with my father, as had been the case 6 days a week for the past 22 years of my life. My father had been feeling ill with a stomachache for about a week. He had gone in for a gastroenterologist appointment but there was no reason to believe it was anything serious, it was a stomachache. His doctor called and requested that he come into the office at 3:00pm. When he returned to our store at around 5pm he asked me to join him in our private office.
We sat down and he proceeded to tell me that he had just been told he had pancreatic cancer. I sat there, stunned by the news, while he explained that he didn’t know much yet, but that we’d learn more in the coming days as he began his battle with pancreatic cancer. He finished what he was telling me and left for home. I sat alone in our office, holding my head in my hands, tears running down my cheeks and a million thoughts swirling through my mind. Nothing was clear other than the distinct feeling that the lifelong security blanket my dad created by always being there for me was suddenly yanked away. It wasn’t the pain that he was gone, or that he had given up hope, it was the overwhelming sadness that nothing would be the same, ever again.
Over the following days, he had procedures to prepare him for his cancer treatments. He began his first round of chemotherapy, and after 8 weeks, we received news that the tumor had shrunk. The doctor tempered our enthusiasm about this news with the fact that shrinkage, while always good news in reference to tumors, is common during the first round of treatment, but not necessarily a sign of things to come. Sure enough, after completing the second round of chemotherapy, we received news that the tumor was no longer reacting positively to that treatment and that a more aggressive type of chemotherapy would be needed.
Looking back, I can see this was the beginning of the end. My father began his more aggressive treatment and really struggled. After each session he would become exceptionally sick and weak, requiring three to four days just to return to a mere shadow of himself. After a few sessions, he became so sick and weak that the cancer treatments were postponed until his “health” and strength improved. I remember one specific day when he asked me to join him and his wife for a doctor’s visit. He needed extra help getting in and out of the car, and a strong hand to hold while walking for balance. During the chat with the doctor, he told my father that he needed to eat in order to build up his strength or he would die. The visit concluded and we returned to their house. I was helping my father out of his car, holding onto him with him holding onto me so he wouldn’t fall. We were face to face so I took the opportunity to tell him, “dad, you need to eat.” He replied, “I can’t.” He loved food! It wasn’t that he didn’t want to eat, it was that eating made him so sick.
Over the next few weeks his condition continued to deteriorate. In just six short months after he was diagnosed, my dad, the superhuman, perfectly healthy and incredibly strong man, had been reduced to a mere shadow of himself by this horrific disease. In the early evening of November 30th, I played his favorite song for him, held my phone on the pillow close to his ear so he could hopefully hear, I held his hand, and I spoke the words, “dad, it’s okay, go ahead and go.” And he did, he took his last breath at 6:25pm.
After some time had passed, having spent many months thinking about him, remembering and recalling so many memories, there was one thought that came to mind and has stuck with me ever since. The day he uttered the words, I can’t to me. It was the only time, in my entire life, that I ever heard him say those two words. Pancreatic cancer had broken the unbreakable, it had taken my superhuman dad.
To-date, Scott’s LACC team has fundraised over $26,600 thanks to loved ones and employees from the Feldmar Watch Company. Since joining the LACC, Team Sol Meller has consistently been a top fundraising team. In 2020, when the LACC went virtual due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Feldmar Watch Company went above and beyond by hosting a mini LA Cancer Challenge run and celebration for their team. Scott refuses to give up and continues to honor his dad’s memory, by sharing Sol’s story, through his LACC team, and by continuing to raise awareness.
Stories from families & friends touched by pancreatic cancer often show the resilience and courage of the human spirit. Loved ones dedicate their time and effort every day to fight for a cancer-free future and every journey helps pave the way to a cure. Share your story, make a dedication and help raise awareness today.