The Unpredictable Side of Life
Until two months ago I knew almost nothing about cancer. I obviously knew it killed people. I knew there was not a cure. I knew there were types of treatment like chemotherapy and radiation, or even surgery to remove the cancer, but that was the extent of my knowledge. I never thought I would have to worry about cancer. I never thought my family would have to deal with one of our own having cancer. I sure as hell never thought that at only twenty two years old I would have to think about the possibility that I will be losing one of my parents.
When my dad was first diagnosed and the cancer had not been staged, I had a lot of hope. I prayed that treatment could slow the cancer down for years and possibly cure him. I thought he would have a hopeful prognosis, because something this tragic could never happen to my family.
His first appointment at the cancer center informed us that his cancer was at least a stage 3a. This was not the best situation, but I knew it could be a lot worse. There was hope he could live quite a while longer with a good quality of life.
His second appointment, and after more testing, revealed that the cancer has spread to his bones, liver, both lungs, and brain. Radiation was no longer a treatment option, only chemotherapy. Surviving was not a word that came out of the doctor’s mouth when discussing treatment. The doctor was focusing on preserving quality of life and slowing the progression of the cancer. The goal is ultimately to keep my dad comfortable for as long as possible.
The doctor did not discuss length of time my dad had left, nor did we ask. We shook our heads as he spoke about the type of chemotherapy that would be used, where each spot of cancer was throughout his body, and what to expect in the coming week. I was trying to digest this news that seemed to have happened so suddenly…
Flashback to my nephew’s birthday in the beginning of March, my dad sat across from me in the restaurant and he seemed perfectly fine. We ate, joked, and laughed as a normal family does. Everything was fine as far as we knew. Now, three months later, we are all finding out he has stage 4 lung cancer. It just does not seem real.
This experience is making me see the harsh reality of life for the first time. None of us know how long we have on this earth. I assume most of us think we will live well after retirement and maybe even hit 100 years old. We work our entire adult lives in order to save and live out our golden years in comfort, yet that can be robbed of us without any warning. The memories, love we share, and experiences are what we look back at in order to feel complete. Live your life for the people in it, not the objects you own or money you have.
moments of life
Everyone's life is made up of moments. Some are easily forgotten, but some become memories that last a lifetime. Some moments are magical and some are horrifying. Some seem like no big deal, but later become the fork in the road that changed your life. Sometimes we do not know when moments will become major memories, but sometimes you know right then that this moment will be with you forever, like a photograph in your mind.
In my life so far, I have had many major moments that turned into permanent memories. Most of them are positive, like graduating high school and falling in love. Some are embarrassing like the time I ran into a telephone pole and fractured my toe. But the moment a few days ago when my family's fears were confirmed, that my dad has lung cancer, will become another one of those major moments.
He had symptoms of a health issue for months, but was stubborn and assumed it was not a major deal. After seeing a doctor and getting some tests done they confirmed our worst nightmare.
The moment I figured out was when I listened to a seventeen second voicemail from my dad. Every time my dad has left me a voicemail in the past it had always started the same, "Hey Nad, it's dad", but not this one. He went straight to the point. He did not go into detail or cry, he just informed me that he would be going to a cancer center for treatment in the near future and if I wanted to I could give him a call back. He acted as though it was just another normal day, and a normal call, with average news.
It was far from average though. I was so upset thinking he would never be able to walk me down the aisle when I get married. He would not get to see me grow as a person and be apart of my life. This cancer could take his life and there is nothing I can do about it.
After the initial mourning, I decided not to let cancer win. I remain positive and pray that he will make it through treatment with a clean bill of health. Eventually, this situation will not be looked back on with tears of sadness.
This is one of those moments that will become a memory for me. This is a memory that will begin the triumphant story of how my dad kicked cancer's ass.
Dreams can become a reality
When I graduated high school several years ago, I was set to go to a four year university to get my degree and ultimately find a traditional job. I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to make tons of money.
Choosing business school five years ago was not a decision I put much thought into. I knew I would have room for advancement in my job and the pay would be good. I would work long days and my career would likely be my life. At the time I was okay with that. At that time I was not in love, I did not have my two babies (dogs), I did not live on my own, and I did not know how valuable time truly was.
I made it through seven semesters of school, and only had two more to complete, when I decided that the life I was working toward was not the life I wanted. People told me, and still tell me, to finish my degree so I have a backup plan. Finish my degree so I at least have a degree. Finish my degree for all sorts of reasons. These are the things I had also been telling myself for at least two years.
I continued on in school for the duration I did, because I was afraid that people would judge me. I was afraid that people would think I was doing nothing with my life. I was afraid people would think I had no goals. I was afraid... that was it.
I was afraid to follow my own dream, because it did not align with what other’s had dreamed for me. My passion was never to be an accountant or economist. My passion was telling stories.
Letting others control the way I choose to live my life is a thing of the past now. I have goals and dreams. I want to live a productive life where I am successful in whatever I choose to do. I made the decision to no longer allow others to influence what I do with my future. After all, I am the one who has to live the life that I build for myself.
I love writing, I love telling stories, I even like doing research and learning about new things. I have always been this way. I just know writers often spend most of their lives struggling because everyone cannot be the next New York Times best-selling author.
I am still choosing to pursue my dreams even though the odds may not be in my favor. Some people are content living their lives working a job they hate, just because the pay is good. Some people forge their own paths in order to follow their dreams. They choose happiness and freedom over money.