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Trisha Torrey

Lessons from Dad

By October 1, 2012

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My father passed away yesterday. It was not a surprise - yet it was a big surprise. We knew he didn't have much time, but we didn't know how little time it would be. It's sad, and yet, because he's no longer in pain, it's a relief.

Dad's healthcare journey has been remarkable for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that many of the empowered patient attributes we talk about here are things he was doing long before anyone ever uttered the description "empowered patient."

I share this with you today, because he asked me to - he gave me permission to. Over the past several years as I've served as his advocate, we'd encounter something difficult with the system, and he would tell me, "Write that one down. Someday you'll want to write about it."

But I was a latecomer to his care. Dad was advocating for himself loooong before I ever jumped in to help.

Dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1986 - yes - 26 years ago. He had surgery, which didn't remove all the cancer. He has successfully battled his disease all these years, sometimes by collaborating with his doctors and providers, and sometimes bucking the system. (Yes - it's in my genes.) He did have radiation about 15 years ago. Over time, he took a few drugs, on and off-label. Then there were the alternative teas he ordered from Mexico for a few years. Throw in blueberries and pomegranate juice (anti-oxidants) and tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato soup - for the lycopene. He even took dandelion weed in capsules, although I can't tell you why.

His prostate cancer wasn't his only challenge. He was the victim of botched cataract surgery, and lost most of the vision in his left eye. He had a heart attack in 2009. He had back surgery (against his daughter's judgment) in 2011. The good experiences and the bad experiences were all learning experiences.

With my work in patient empowerment and patient advocacy, we agreed that I would keep track, but wouldn't write about our experiences until it would no longer be a violation of his privacy. And now, it no longer will be.

So watch this page over the next few years. There are lots of stories to share. I'll mete them out over time. My plan is to share them when the topic arises in another way, to illustrate what we can learn.

Dad was a wonderfully generous man throughout his life. His willingness - even eagerness - to let us learn from his experiences is an extension of who he was.

I won't be writing much over the next few days... we have family to gather, mourning to do, tears to work around...(an apartment to clean out, too.)

The loss of my father leaves a huge hole and plenty of sadness in my life. But I'll be pleased and proud to share his stories over time, and hope you find some inspiration for improving the quality and quantity of your life, too.

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Agree? Disagree?
Share your experience or join the conversation!


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October 2, 2012 at 12:07 am
(1) Maria Welych says:

I’m so sorry for your loss. I know about the hole you are feeling. It will lessen in time, but never really go away. Just focus on the good, and all the lessons he taught you.

October 3, 2012 at 9:51 am
(2) Keath Low says:

I am so sorry to hear about your father. You and your family are in my thoughts…

October 4, 2012 at 2:16 pm
(3) Eleanor says:

Thank you, Trish, for sharing you and your father’s journey with the rest of us. I am reminded today that I should use the term “patient empowerment” more often.

October 4, 2012 at 2:21 pm
(4) Diane says:

Trisha, my condolences. Losing my mom only 6 months ago (Dad passed away over 15 yrs ago) was a lesson in how bad the systems and people can be, as well as families in times of need. She was in home hospice care (a terrible controlling system) for over 7 months; my brother and I were her primary caregivers. She was 92, had complete faculties, was a wit, a pleasure, my best friend among my many close friends. And it still was too soon and a surprise, yes. You truly have my deepest condolences.

October 4, 2012 at 2:26 pm
(5) Steve says:

Thanks for sharing the story.

Good grief.


October 4, 2012 at 2:45 pm
(6) Char Brooks says:

Oh Trisha:

Sending you love, healing and support as you go through this. I can see the brilliance in your Dad’s picture and I’m sure you shared a special relationship. How wonderful that he had you along the way even though he was empowered way before the word became fashionable it sounds like.

Be gentle as you go through his things Trisha – do what’s a match for your grief and your feelings. I have a sense that he’d want it that way for you.

October 4, 2012 at 4:05 pm
(7) Marilyn Rowan says:

I am sorry for your loss. I’m sure you father’s passing will leave a void in your life and within your family. My thoughts are with you.


October 4, 2012 at 5:39 pm
(8) Bob James, M.D., J.D. says:

Trish: I am truly sorry for your loss. I lost my 92 year old mother in December 2010 after a dementia journey which taught me much more than it taught her. You will be in my thoughts and prayers. BJ

October 4, 2012 at 9:12 pm
(9) Denise Archuleta says:

Dear Trisha,

I am very sorry for your loss, your father, your hero. Peace, and blessings to you and your family.

October 4, 2012 at 9:55 pm
(10) gemdiamondintherough says:

Everyone has their own personal journey. It will be many different emotions over time, and then when you thought it was over, it may start again. Take time to process each one. I have enjoyed this forum, even though I have not been a part of it very long.
May you feel the good Lord’s hands surrounding you as you grieve and also celebrate the life that your Dad had.
It is my belief that he is resting now, as Jesus did in the grave and then arose.
I look forward to the great resurrection, when God will come back to earth to gather those who have chosen to love, obey and accept His sacrifice for them. It has been 5 years since I lost my Mom, my best friend. That hope is what gives me solace in times when I feel overwhelmed. That and the love and care of friends on this earth. Continue to Trust Him. He loves each one of us so much.
Blessing to you and your family.

October 5, 2012 at 3:26 am
(11) Jo H. says:

Heartfelt sympathy to you and your family, Trish. What a compassionate thing for your father to do – to be willing to share his experiences, to help others.

October 8, 2012 at 12:22 pm
(12) Kristy says:


My condolences to you and your family. Thank you for sharing this part of the story with us. I will be eagerly waiting to hear more abut the experiences that were encountered in dealing with the healthcare system.

October 8, 2012 at 3:02 pm
(13) michael says:

Sorry to hear about your experience with your Dad. May God continue to strengthen you with your mission and on your journey.

October 11, 2012 at 3:40 pm
(14) Anthony Cirillo says:

Trisha – I am so sorry for your loss. What a great way to honor your father by sharing his story with us.

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