I attended my brother’s funeral recently. Cancer took him, just as it’s taken other members of my family and just like it tried to take me.
While I stood there, trying to comfort my family members and reflecting upon my own memories, I couldn’t help but reflect on all that cancer has taken from us – some of the strongest and most vital men and fathers I’ve ever known (right along with our mothers, sisters and children). It’s easy to say that we’ll take a stand right now – to end cancer, and I do believe it’s important to aggressively pursue better diagnostics, treatments and life-long follow-through for all types of cancer.
But, right now, I’m just thinking about the human factor. All the names (and faces) we’ve lost.
I started blogging as a letter to my son because given my history (and my family’s history) with cancer, I wanted to give him something that would stay with him, some small consolation. But, I also firmly believe that cancer is NOT all.
- Cancer can’t take family. Yes, we’ve experienced loss, but at times like this, we see family come together. We realize – perhaps more than ever – what we mean to one another. And, we see how precious our community of family and friends really is.
- Cancer can’t take experience. We still have the memories of what we’ve shared. Those we’ve lost have left marks upon our lives. We will never be the same.
- Cancer can’t take hope. I know the idea of hope is such an elusive concept. How do we define that thing that (for some) is the very reason for carrying on. Hope that things will get better … that the loss will mean something … and that (somehow) tomorrow will be a better day.
I refer to myself as “DaddyNewbbie” because I’m still figuring it out as I go along. I’m a newbie (I always will be), and I often feel that my son is teaching me more than I ever could impart to him.
I want him to know, though, that he’s stronger than he knows, and he can survive any losses that he will experience (though I will fight to the death to protect him from any pain I can spare him).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: St. Louis native Don Jackson, co-organizer of the Albuquerque Dads Group, is founder and CEO of Daddy Newbie, where a version of this first appeared. The three-time cancer survivor is father of two.