A year after my father’s diagnosis of prostate cancer, my family and I have learned that the saying, “one day at a time” is more than a simple saying, but a way of life when you’re dealing with such a sneaky illness like cancer. My family and I aren’t strangers to overcoming obstacles but when we got the news about my dad having cancer my mom, sister, and myself all wondered how did we get here? Is this really happening? And what do we do now?
“…when we got the news about my dad having cancer my mom, sister, and myself all wondered how did we get here? Is this really happening? And what do we do now?”
Once the initial shock wore off, we had a game plan. We eventually started taking each day as they came. And soon we realized that all things considered we were very fortunate. To have had (and to still have) the outpour of love and support from friends and family means so much. We realize now that family doesn’t necessarily have to mean you share the same blood, but you can share family in spirit and in the heart.
While cancer will always be something we contend with, it’s comforting to know we won’t be doing it alone. I have noticed my dad has changed some since his diagnosis; he is more reflective and reminisces a lot. Music also has played a big part in our journey. When my dad first started chemo, my sister started a chemo countdown where he wore his favorite metal and rock band t-shirts to his chemo appointments, then talking to the artists via Instagram and Twitter. Does music heal? Maybe not from the scientific standpoint. But it does help, not only the person going through it, but it can also help soothe and forget your issues for just a little while.
“I have noticed my dad has changed some since his diagnosis; he is more reflective and reminisces a lot.”
I also believe a positive attitude is everything. If you believe you can, you will. It’s important to remember too, that putting on a brave face also means being real about your dealing with. If you’re pissed, be pissed. If you want to scream or cry then do just that. I have done all of the above.
When you’re faced with something as scary as cancer, it can teach you very quickly what is important. I also know that we could have it much worse than we do. I know for me that what I used to think of as a big deal isn’t. And that I do my best now not to take for granted any and all chances that I am given to tell those how much they mean to me, and how much I truly love them.
“…it feels like we’re walking on this surreal tightrope. Where are we balancing between keeping a normal routine? We’re holding our breath once more with the next doctor appointment.”
For my family and me, it feels like we’re walking on this surreal tightrope. Where are we balancing between keeping a normal routine? We’re holding our breath once more with the next doctor appointment. It’s in these moments where I turn to music once again. And one song I leaned toward to the most during the beginning of this was a song by one of my favorite bands called, Jonathan Jackson + Enation. The title of the song is “Anthem For The Apocalypse.” “Would you look me in the eye? You have nothing to fear the storm will clear. I will hold you in the night.” It just so happens that on the day that this album came out on, July 14th, 2016, that was the day my dad had his first chemo session.
I took that as a sign that everything would be okay. This journey will always be one my family and I will always be on. Cancer will always be a close advisory for us. I see cancer now as the unwanted guest we can’t get rid of. But if that’s the price my family and I have to pay to still have my dad then, we can learn to live with cancer.
I guess that’s the in-between of living with cancer. Having to deal with it, manage it in a way where it’s not the main focus in your life, but you still know it’s there. It will always be there for us; for my dad.
In other words stay on top of treating it, but making sure it doesn’t topple you in the process.
“I see cancer now as the unwanted guest we can’t get rid of. But if that’s the price my family and I have to pay to still have my dad then, we can learn to live with cancer.”
While cancer does bring a lot of uncertainty with it, there is one thing I am certain of and that is cancer has chosen one tough family to mess with. And we will never surrender to it. We are ready to fight with everything we have in the years to come. Cancer has nothing on us. Adversity and fighting against unbelievable odds are what my family and I do best.
We don’t like it, but we learn to live with cancer in the best way possible. And we do what we need to deal with it at that moment. And believe me, there are plenty of moments. We learn to lean our strength as a family and remember that tough moments in the journey of cancer are part of the deal. If cancer has taught me anything is that when you find yourself in the middle of a pile of crap, you push through it. Because that is only part of the journey and not the entire journey.
Jessica is the founder/writer of the blog, “The Abler.” She is also the host of her own podcast, “The Many Faces Of The Abled.” She is a passionate disability activist. You can find her blog at https://seetheabled.blogspot.com.