Parenting Blog

We Had a Good Run (Sponsored Video)

This personal story about my dad, cancer, and me is a sponsored post I wrote on behalf of the American Cancer Society.

We were the darkened house on Halloween night. We were the Miami Marlins. Cancer didn’t come a-knocking in a Jason hockey mask, nor did it buy a ticket to see a glorified Triple-A team play ball.

We had a good run, my family. For many decades, cancer was a word we did not speak, but not for shame or to shelter the young. It just wasn’t a part of our puzzle. We were luckier than most for a good long while. In an honest moment, we’d all have admitted that this impressive run of form couldn’t go on ad infinitum.

The American Cancer Society has been beating down cancer for a century. My dad has been battling it for about a year now. First it was spot after spot being scraped and examined, tests, and appointments to pour over results in windowless rooms with dank lighting and air that’s been breathed by many and rejected by all. Then it was the thyroid, which is no longer a part of his person. That bastard appendage was evicted abruptly and the healing process from the flare up is still ongoing. At one point a few weeks back, my pop was on some alien diet that basically had him eating oatmeal and egg whites for a month. He couldn’t even have bread, because of the iodine in all of it. So I made him four loaves from scratch with iodine-free kosher salt so he could get his carb fix on and enjoy life. Because when you are about to turn 75, when you’ve lived, loved, raised kids, started businesses, and played countless rounds of golf with one of the most ridiculous, albeit extremely effective, swings known to man, you gotta have your fresh baked bread. What the hell is the point of continuing on without the good stuff?

[I had a choice of videos to use for this post. I picked Josh Groban’s because my dad likes him, and this story, after all, belongs to him. And because it is pretty awesome to see anyone, celeb or not, pull out the Dead Poet’s Society standing-on-furniture-to-give-an-impassioned-speech routine in a very public space. Good on you, Mr. Groban]

My dad’s struggle has grounded us all. The word is spoken now, on phone calls to show concern or to simply know there are still people you love on the other end. I have been moved and deeply affected by cancer invading our personal space. I don’t like it one bit. I’ve been faced with my father’s mortality in a way that, in the course of everything that has and is going on, I never have. I cannot fathom what must be going through his mind, the internal monologue of a man who knows that the reverberations of the starting gun have long since been out of earshot. We still don’t go there verbally, because I don’t think either of us could handle saying certain words out loud in an empty room, let alone face to face with someone you love and admire.

ACS I Want More

I’m his youngest son by a mile, and I want more handshakes, hugs, vacations, smiles, laughs, and time with my dad. I’m nowhere near ready for things to end. I’d say the same on behalf of my girls to their pop pop. You hear that, cancer? Shove off.

Thanks to the American Cancer Society for giving guys like me more time with their kids, parents, lovers, and friends. ACS has contributed to the 20% decline in cancer death rates since the early 90’s, and has helped cut smoking rates in half since the 60’s. My dad used to smoke cigars, until he finally stopped in the last five years. That was not the doing of ACS however, but of my amazing niece. Thanks to her too.

Ongoing, the American Cancer Society is making sure that folks facing cancer have a free place to crash during treatment and a rides to and fro, and they will not stop fighting until everyone in this country has access to quality health care, lifesaving screenings, and clean air to take into their lungs. They are doing what politicians will not, it seems. And the ACS are undertaking a historic research project this year entitled the Cancer Prevention Study-3 (CPS-3) that will help them understand how to better prevent the disease and ultimately save more lives. Their goal with this study is to enroll at least 300,000 U.S. adults from different racial/ethnic backgrounds by the end of 2013. A tip o’ the hat to them, for all of that and more.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to the ACS for all that they do. And for allowing me to tell my and my dad’s story.

*This post is sponsored by the American Cancer Society.

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