My father was diagnosed with cancer almost 2 years ago and through the
really, really hard times, I tried to keep my sanity by writing. Your site
on grief made me cry, but also made me realize that I am definitely not
alone as I'm dealing with my father's cancer. I'd like to submit a letter
that I wrote late one night when my father was going in for his 4th brain
--- Christine M. Walko --- Pennsylvania
I want to say thank you for being such a wonderful father. Though you've
brought us many a struggle with your various ailments over the years,
you've taught me more about life than any other experience could have.
It's been tough. You've thrown more at me than I ever thought my 21 years
could handle. You've taught me that nightmares can come true.
Finding out that you have terminal stage IV cancer, out of nowhere, on Christmas Day;
what does one even do with that as part of reality? But it was from that
pit of desperation and fear that hope somehow sprang forth. My life did
not end at that moment and neither did yours.
Dad, you've taught me what heroes are made of: how to go in and do what you
have to do, even when it's hard and scary and you know it's going to be
painful. As I sat at your feet through many chemo sessions, I saw an
incredible person. I learned how precious life is. It was worth the toxic
chemicals that were pumped into your vein. It was worth the horrible side
effects including loss of hair, strength, and abscessing finger nails.
As I am constantly immersing myself in the world of medicine as a pharmacy
major, you've taught me to always remember the personal aspect of what I
will soon be calling my career; the part that seems to get lost amid the
exams, labs, and lectures. This is what pharmacy is about, people like
you, Dad, who are alive today because of what I read in my textbooks.
You've taught me that world isn't about money. What good is a 401K that
gives you 10 million at age 60 if you die at 59? Life is too precious, too
unpredictable, to be put on hold for 40 years.
You've taught me never to give up...even when it seems that all odds are
against you and medical professionals only give you a few months to live.
Don't believe in anyone who doesn't believe in you. As long as their is a
tiny chance, you can be the exception because you are like no one else.
But, you've also taught me not to fear death. Fight the good fight, but
know that you can never beat God.
Dad, you've taught me how amazing and resistant the human body can be.
Surgeons have opened you up and touched your lungs, heart, and brain...and
they are still working enough to sustain life. God has done an incredible
job in creating us, why mistreat this wonderful gift? No one is made
perfect though. True beauty is shown on the inside.
As I look at you now, Dad, I don't see the pale, bald, slow man before me, I see my father; the
person who taught me how to ride a two wheeler, and how to drive a standard
shift car. The person who drove me to swim meets and sat there for hour
upon boring hour in the hot, humid pool bleachers, never complaining. The
person who built my loft freshman year at college in the hundred degree
heat. The person who went to work everyday, even though he felt physically
worse than I could ever imagine, to his daughter a wonderful chance at a
promising future. That's who I see--and that whom I see is the most
beautiful person I can imagine.
Though it's been hard getting through the days after learning of your
diagnosis, I'm thankful that from this disease I have grown to appreciate
every day of my life at such a young age.