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Lessons From My Father’s Fight Against Cancer

My father has been battling cancer off and on for the last fourteen years. He recently participated in a clinical trial that was very wearing physically, but unfortunately did not arrest the progression of his disease. Before his body had a chance to recover from the clinical trial he started chemotherapy in an effort to beat his cancer into submission.

During the past few months while speaking with him on the phone on an almost daily basis it had become obvious to me the he was becoming weaker and weaker. I felt strongly that I needed to make the trip from North Carolina to Florida to see him as quickly as possible. I wanted to spend time with him before he lost any more strength or mobility.

I arrived from the airport fearing the worst about my father’s condition. At first glance it appeared as if my fears were correct. My father was a man who in my childhood was 6’4” with broad shoulders and bigger than life. I now saw a man who was appreciably thinner, pale, with gray hair. He reminded me very much of my grandfather in his later years.

As the weekend progressed and my father and I spoke, I was struck by his determination and will to keep on fighting. While the side effects of the chemotherapy were severe, dehumanizing and bordered on debilitating, I could tell that rather than be embarrassed by his predicament he was just determined to get past what he viewed as a temporary condition.

He fully expects to return to his normal, daily life and refuses to feel sorry for himself. As I thought about it I realized that his practical approach to crises and refusal to let his ego stand in the way of a solution to a problem has been a role model to me my entire life. I’ve never heard him ask, “Why me?”. In fact he’s explained in the past that questioning why a situation is what it is usually does nothing to bring about a resolution to the problem.

I left North Carolina fearing that this would be the last time I would see my father. I left Florida filled with the belief that this strong willed, 79 year old man that I love has the desire and will to keep on fighting despite continued physical discomfort. As long as the chemotherapy can control his cancer I am sure that he will continue his positive and practical approach to living his life to the fullest. Now that’s a philosophy we could all learn from.

Thanks dad.

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