Yesterday our family got some devastating news: my sweet Daddy has cancer. It still feels strange to see it in writing. It’s weird to say to someone. It feels like I’m speaking on behalf of someone else’s family, someone else’s daddy, not ours. To say we’re in shock is an understatement; he went in for his well-adult checkup recently and we all expected it to go like it always does: quietly good. All his labs are usually perfect, all his vitals are pristine, every little thing always checks out for him because he works so hard to stay healthy in every possible way. And here’s the kicker: he hasn’t had a single symptom. Not one. So when one of his labs came back elevated, I didn’t think anything of it. I thought he’d go get it redrawn, get the correct results back, and get a pat on the back for his good health like he does every year.
But yesterday, we got the call in a matter-of-fact way that all was not well, that his labs had come back elevated and alarmingly so, that the biopsies they did (which he compared to a nail gun) were abnormal and we all heard the c-word no one wants to hear: cancer.
It’s easy to let my mind wander to the terrible what-ifs and to picture him undergoing chemo or radiation, to think through the possible surgeries, to plan out the probable down time. I hate all the inconveniences of cancer, its non-discriminatory nature, its pervasiveness through age, gender, ethnicity. I have long researched cutting-edge cancer treatment options for sport, thinking someday they might come in handy for someone who’s experiencing cancer and undergoing treatment, hoping that I might be able to share some hope with someone who desperately needs it. I never thought it’d be our close-knit little family and especially not my wonderful dad.
Here’s the thing: my dad is a worldly veteran. A hero to those in the Air Force, Army, and in the schools where he taught kids healthy habits and coached every sport under the sun. He’s invincible. He has an incredible heart and a deep love for our family that has carried us so far through tough times. He has an unmatched green thumb and compassion for those who are less fortunate. He is a Godly man with an unshakeable faith and so deeply empathetic. He’s a man who has unflinchingly jumped out of planes and who always seems to land on two feet no matter the situation. He’s someone who can pack a bag and move to Saudia Arabia, Guam, and Germany with the same ease and adroitness. And this news doesn’t change these facts, but it does color everything he does from this point forward with trepidation, uncertainty, even fear, all of which we’re not used to seeing in him.
And of course however he copes is okay, because he hasn’t navigated this path before. I can’t remember the last time he had to go to the hospital, or even the last time he had a cold. I can’t imagine what goes through his head when he thinks about what lies ahead of him, and we’re enough alike that I can assume the worst-case-scenario is running rampant through his thoughts. The silver lining is that he’s the toughest guy I know with the strongest determination, and I know we’ll get through everything cancer throws at us. I just know our family would give anything for him not to have to go through it in the first place.
I’m writing this out to process it and to share it with you so you’ll know the reason for sporadic posts in the future, but also to thank each of you who have reached out to let us know you’re praying for my dad and our family. It means so incredibly much and it’s the strength we need to get through these rocky weeks of initial testing and treatment. I’ll continue to post updates as I know more and thanks again for praying.