My dad has cancer.
He's had cancer for a long time now. Almost as long as my little boy has been alive. I remember when we first found out. It was just a couple of days before my home was struck by a devastating C3 hurricane. I remember looking out into the night, the winds still howling, seeing through the dark at the destruction of my home, my property, my neighborhood. I remember just standing and crying and saying, "It's too much. It's just too much." For one of the very few times in my adult life, I cried and I couldn't stop.
So now, we wait for his latest scan, to see if he's clear for a while. We hope so. Last year at Christmas, he was in the hospital, an infection in his arm threatening his health, his life even. Now is better. He's feeling good. Things are stable. It's his birthday today and he's made a milestone. He's Stage 4 but he's hanging in, fighting it with that grim, Midwestern determination.
Since my dad was diagnosed, I've lost two friends to cancer. Carol, who was 40, passed away from ovarian cancer, leaving behind her wonderful daughter Meagan who just turned 18.
Beth, who was also 40, couldn't fight off the breast cancer that had robbed her of her own mother at the same age. She left behind 3 beautiful little boys and a husband we should all be so lucky to have.
I know now what I didn't know four years ago. You fight with your heart and with your spirit. It's not just in your body but in all of you. It's sadly ironic that Beth and Carol, both young and vibrant, are gone, leaving behind more than half their lives, their children and families who love and miss them still. My dad, who has lived his life, seen his family grown and gone, fights on.
Merry Christmas, Beth. Your boys will never forget you and I know you watch over them always.
Merry Christmas, Carol. Your daughter is a beautiful, amazing girl and you could only ever be proud of her.
I miss you both.