In two-week cycles, Dov Siporin lives life.
During the first week, he receives chemotherapy at the Huntsman Cancer Institute and through a chemotherapy ball at home to treat his incurable colorectal cancer. The 38-year-old man lies on a couch in the basement of his Highland Park home as drugs empty into him, keeping him alive while, ironically, making him feel as if he is dying.
He does it all for the promise of those second two weeks — when he comes back to life as a husband to Tara Steele and a father to his son Matan, 8, and daughter Siena, 5.
"Being a father has shaped my response to this," Siporin said during the second week of his cycle, as his kids chased an ice-cream truck in the twilight. He had to decide whether to live or die when he was told, back in January 2008, that his cancer would, sooner or later, kill him.
"I thought about suicide," Siporin said, an atheist. "I thought, I may have to get a gun. But there’s no way I could do that to my family. I made a decision right there to spend as much time as I can with my wife and children."
The reason why » Each morning during that first week, Matan and Siena wake up hours before school and day care to descend into their father’s private hell.
Matan gently wakes up his father with a kiss to his forehead first, and then a kiss on the nose.
Siena curls up on the couch next to her father, and with her older brother propped up on an ottoman, they turn on the TV and watch the Disney Channel’s "Phineas and Ferb" together.
Sometimes, Siporin will awake for a blurry moment and catch his kids playing a sad variation of doctor. They play "cancer." But seeing his children as he opens his eyes is Siporin’s highlight of those days.
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Matan’s kisses in the morning are "the reason why I go through this," Siporin says. "Those moments give me so much of the strength to keep going."
Near the end of the first week, he feels better and forces himself to eat and drink.
The chemiluminescence of illness » Siporin is constantly looking for moments to remember why he continues palliative care that saps his will and resolve.
He doesn’t have to look far. He has his family, as well as his remarkable way of getting through a near-unbearable situation: Humor.
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