Today I’d like to offer something a little different from the usual Tips from Dad that you’ve grown accustomed to. This week you won’t find any local park recommendations, children’s books to read, or documentaries to watch. That’s because today is World Cancer Day, and given my personal history with the disease, this week’s edition is more of a personal challenge than a tip. Thanks for reading and we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming next week!
This was me almost exactly 6 years ago, getting ready for my first infusion of ABVD chemotherapy through a port in my chest that had been surgically installed a few days earlier.
It was the hardest, scariest six months of my life.
It was also the most loved, supported and divinely carried I had ever felt in my life. This was due to the incredible people in my life, many of whom are reading this right now and had my back during that entire journey.
Having gone through this myself, I can't fathom the fact that so many people have to deal with cancer on their own or at the height of a global pandemic or when they have a family to provide for or when they are children themselves. Cancer sucks. It doesn't care who you are or what your life looks like. It attacks unrelentingly and too often emerges victorious.
God has a plan, but it's so difficult to accept that when you're staring down a cancer diagnosis for yourself or a loved one, or mourning the loss of a life cut short by the disease.
I am one of the lucky ones. I survived and have suffered minimal lingering side effects--and some of the lingering effects are incredibly positive. Cancer humbled me in all the right ways, and I pray that I can make that humility last. I would not be the man I am today if not for the experience of having cancer and I've spent my remission years in awe of the fact that my life was spared when so many others are not. How can I live in a way that honors this merciful outcome? How do I transform survivor's guilt into unadulterated gratitude?
The first thing I try to do is share my story and make myself available to anyone who is struggling with cancer (particularly lymphoma) as a sympathetic ear or an encouraging voice in their battle. If you know someone in that situation, please use me as that resource. Here is my entire story. Share it with anyone.
The second thing I do is try to encourage you to reach out to people--those who are fighting actual cancer or another disease, as well as those who are fighting the cancerous conditions of their lives in this broken world, whatever that battle looks like for them.
Texts, emails, phone calls and greeting cards were my armor. The less expected they were, the stronger they made me. So I'm challenging you right now: Do that for someone else. You can probably already think of the person in your life who needs it. Do it as soon as you stop reading this. I guarantee that the minimal effort you expend will be magnified exponentially in the effect it will have on that person. I experienced it myself and have paid it forward enough to know that it's true. Honor their struggle and contribute to their fight.
May God bless all cancer patients, survivors, victims, caregivers, and their family and friends.