Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 27th 2016 Contents • Twitter: @GuardianTT • Web: guardian.co.tt
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2016
Losing both parents to cancer, Gary Griffith describes the pain
His Cabinet appointment to
the post of this country s
Minister of National Secu-
rity in September 2013 was
a victorious and proud
moment. It was one Gary
Griffith would have loved to share with his
parents. However, all the former Defence
Force captain had were memories and the
pain of going on without them.
Both his parents, then in their 70s, were
diagnosed with cancer in 2012. His mother
had cervical cancer and his father had prostate
The news was already difficult to accept
but, what made it more difficult for Griffith,
was that for both his parents, their cancers
were at an advanced stage. The doctors
advised that he should prepare for the worst.
It was so difficult for Griffith that he did
not discuss the diagnoses with his parents.
"I could not talk about it with them. I just
didn t know how to approach it, as we refused
to believe there was no hope of recovery," he
told the T&T Guardian.
In a bid to extend his parents lives, Griffith
began what he called the long road of ther-
He accessed medical care at both public
and private medical institutions.
Despite the notion that public services are
not the best, the former National Security
minister said his parents received optimal
care at the National Radiotherapy Centre in
"The care given to them at St James was
exemplary. They operated with a level of pro-
fessionalism and, many times, staff went
beyond the call of duty."
But this care would end very soon for his
mother. In early January 2013, within a matter
of weeks of her diagnosis, she died.
While still coming to terms with the loss
of his mother, his father---who now lived
with him and his family--- died five months
It was a difficult period for Griffith and
his family. Even though love and support
came from family and friends, he admits that
he is still grieving.
"I still have not fully processed the expe-
rience, even though years have since passed.
Through it all, I had to set my own thoughts
and feelings aside to ensure all energy was
focused on them. It was a surreal experience.
It still is."
In an effort to cope, Griffith embraced his
new ministerial appointment and buried
himself in his work, just so he wouldn t have
any time to think much about his parents.
Jokingly, he said, "I guess it worked out
well for the country as crime went down
From the time of their diagnosis to the
time of their death, Griffith said it took a
He explained, "Caring for someone who
is terminally ill is a very challenging activity
especially if that person is a parent. The most
difficult thing is seeing someone who is
always in control, in a condition of being
completely dependent upon you.
"It requires patience, focus, understanding
and a measure of strength. You have to pre-
pare yourself mentally and emotionally for
the outcome. It helps to have support during
this time of care. Sometimes you have to be
prepared to do everything, from bathe, dress,
feed, provide medication, everything. It is a
Asked if there was ever a secret fear about
his own health, Griffith says absolutely not
as he believes in prevention.
As a matter of fact, because he lost both
parents he ensures various tests and annual
check--ups are done and according to him,
thankfully he is in perfect health.
In this month of October, known the world
over as cancer awareness month, Griffith
made a plea for people to take heed of the
disease and be mindful it could happen to
anyone when they least expect it, therefore
always practise preventative measures.
Describing the disease as "hateful," Griffith
said, "It is very important to do your annual
medical checks. It may not be the most com-
fortable experience, but it is a life-saving
one, as the screening makes the difference
of early detection, management and treat-
ment. Make it a mission."
Though Griffith misses his parents and
wished his mother had lived long enough to
spend more time with her grandchildren as
this was one of her last wishes, he believes
they both lived very full lives.
Of his father, he said, "My father I think
was prepared. He lived; he saw his name live
on. His grandson is Gary Griffith III."
Caring for someone who
is terminally ill is a very
especially if that person is a
parent. The most difficult
thing is seeing someone who
is always in control, in a
condition of being
completely dependent upon
you. It requires patience,
focus, understanding and a
measure of strength. You
have to prepare yourself
mentally and emotionally for
the outcome... It is a
FLASHBACK: Gary Griffith lays a wreath on the grave of his father, Gary Trevor Griffith, at
the Lapeyrouse Cemetery, Port-of-Spain, in July 2013.
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