If cancer had won, none of these pictures would have ever been taken.
If cancer had won, we would've lost my Dad before he'd even met 3 of his 4 grandchildren.
If cancer had won, we wouldn't have had a huge, rockin', blowout party for my Dad's 60th birthday.
If cancer had won, my children would have no memories of their PaDaddy, only stories that we would tell them.
But, cancer DID NOT win. Cancer DID NOT beat my Dad.
My Dad was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer in late 2010. I was pregnant with Grayson, we were planning on moving, my dad was planning on retiring, and my mom and dad were planning on moving too. It was a hectic time anyway, but throw in a cancer diagnosis on the most important man in my life besides my husband, and it was like my world had been turned upside down. Nothing was guaranteed, nothing was in our control, but we had hope, we had our faith, and we had amazing doctors, probably among the best in the country, working with my Dad and advising him towards the best course of treatment.
And cancer has not won.
Dad is in remission now, it's been nearly three years (WOW, just writing that blows my mind, it just doesn't seem like it's been that long) since his surgery, and he has had nothing but good check-ups since then (knock on wood :)). I am so proud of my Dad. I know that not only was it a horrible reality to know that you have cancer, but to have to have to think about your children, your grandchildren, your wife, and everything that goes along with your family during a difficult diagnosis must be extremely overwhelming. My very worst fear is dying young or unexpectedly, and leaving my children to have to figure life out without me, and so I imagine my Dad had some of those fears too, on top of his own worry for himself. But he was so strong, and so brave, and worked right through the hard times. Not to mention my mom, who was right by his side during the entire fight. She was his nurse, his advocate, his voice of reason, his comfort, and everything he needed. We were talking one time on the phone, a few days after his surgery once they had gone home, and after getting all the updates and latest on Dad, I asked her, "Mom, are you doing okay?" Silence. A few sniffles. Then, "Yes. I'm okay." She was SO strong, so supportive, and SUCH the mom I know, always the rock, always there and always supportive. She was feeling the same terrible things the rest of us were (if not more), yet she was being strong for him and or everyone else. I just couldn't be more proud of my Dad, and the way he has handled his diagnosis, and of my Mom, and the way she handled his diagnosis, and took care of him, and took care of us. They told us what we needed to know and stood strong and fought cancer as best they could.
And cancer has not won.
To those who have lost someone to cancer, I am so, so very sorry. To those who are still fighting, be STRONG. Fight HARD. Be BRAVE. And to those who have beat cancer, DANCE. LAUGH. Be with your family and hold them. Tell them you love them. To those who know those who are still fighting, be strong FOR them. Make them laugh. Be there to laugh with them. To cry with them. Be whatever they need you to be. To those who know those who have beat cancer, hold them when you can. Talk to them on the phone. Write them notes in the mail. Make them know that their fight was not in vain, and that the life they fought to hold onto has so much more to give them. Donate to cancer research in their honor.
Today, on World Cancer Day, we will be donating to the American Cancer Society in honor of my Dad. I pray that sooner, rather than later, this devastating disease will be eradicated, and no one else will have to deal with the heartbreak, the confusion, the unknowing, the anxiety, and the countless array of emotions that come with the disease.
But for now, cancer, WE win. LOVE wins. MY DAD wins. My Mom wins, my children win, we all win. We know you, we are watching for you, and you will NOT beat us. We are strong and in this together, and you will not win. We will pray for a cure, and you will not own us.
Dad, I love you and am so proud of you. WE WILL WIN!