Day 8: Starting Over as a Cancer Survivor
In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I’d like to share a story of strength and courage. This is not a breast cancer story, but one of lung cancer and small cell carcinoma.
My family has had its share of the ugly “C” word, beginning with my sweet daddy. My daddy, like so many men of his generation, smoked for many years. After a heart attack in 1996, he took the advice of his doctors and quit smoking which did his heart good. Unfortunately, however, the damage had already begun in his lungs, and we received the horrible news that daddy needed surgery in 2001. The surgeon removed 3/4 of his left lung. To say now that I love the air my daddy breathes is an understatement.
The faith of this man is a strong, quiet one. The kind that moves mountains without a spoken word. The kind that children have before the world has had a chance to cause doubt. Daddy’s is the faith that you see but hear very little about. He’s not been one to preach, condemn or judge others. Instead, his hand is always reaching out to help those who need it, and while as a police chief, he had to hold law breakers accountable, he always offered help where he could. There have been many would-be wayward boys come by as grown men to thank my dad for something he did for them in their youth.
My dad is not a worrier, but like all cancer patients, he is a warrior. The doctors have said that his most recent cancer (small cell carcinoma that metastasized to the lymph system) may return. Not once has he mentioned that he is scared of its return. He endured the painful radiation treatment that turned his skin to raw meat. And now, even with the memory of that pain, his attitude toward his health is optimistic.
- He remains busy. At 77 years old, he still works part-time driving for a rental car company.
- He eats fruits and vegetables, drinks lots of water and tries to walk for exercise when he can (even after a hip replacement surgery.)
- He is prompt with his doctor visits for re-checks.
- He is in bed early each night to get plenty of rest.
- He is active in church.
- He enjoys every minute he spends with his friends and family.
There are numerous stories of survivors who turned their illness into a cause. Stories of people who begin businesses to help those who need wigs, colostomy supplies, sunscreen, emotional support, nausea medication, and many others that have changed the treatment and prevention of cancer; but my dad’s story is simply one of tremendous fight, heart and strength. His family is his cause. He has survived a heart attack, lung cancer, hip replacement surgery and the aforementioned diagnosis of small cell carcinoma. But with each diagnosis, you could see in his eyes that he just wasn’t done with his life yet. Not that he really has a say in it, but if a will to live and faith as strong as a mustard seed has influence over our Father, well, then we have heard from Heaven. Daddy will be 78 in a few days and to celebrate we’ll take up his cause – in fact we will be his cause and be blessed as a result.