From the father of an adult survivor of childhood cancer written through his father-eyes, his heart-tender, and in his own words on the lived experience of being told your daughter has cancer, then 30 years later that she needed a new heart.
“We tell ourselves it’s always the ‘other guy’. It only happens to other people, but then the unthinkable happens and your world is forever changed as you find that you are the ‘other guy’; your daughter has cancer.
What began as a constricted pupil turned out to be a serious problem, Ewing’s sarcoma, a type of childhood cancer. Your thought processes change from carefree decision making to the weighing of the potential consequences of every decision you make. Nothing is simple anymore; everything must be weighed in light of an event about which you have limited knowledge and absolutely no control.
But then your faith kicks in, and somehow, you are reminded that your daughter is a fighter, and until you infuse your fear into her, she will continue to exude confidence in her ability to survive and get better. So, you choke back the tears permitting them to fall only when you are alone.
Not all questions will be answered, and when it seems that you cannot bear to consider one more thing, a little girl with peach fuzz for hair says, ‘Daddy, can we huddle up?’, and so, you do as you are now the ‘other guy’.
We were told by the oncologists that the chemotherapy agents used might have late effects on our daughter’s heart, but what choice did we have but to move forward with treatment. You put the possibility out of your mind and invoke the ‘other guy rule’ which you already know is a lie.
Fast forward 30 years and your daughter’s heart is failing, and failing fast. By now, as a father, you know what needs to happen: a new heart. It becomes a matter of supporting her and her young family in their effort to get her to the place with the greatest likelihood of proceeding with transplant given her cancer history.
Through the prayers of many, the collective efforts of pastors, relatives, and friends alike, and a group of world-renowned physicians, God’s hand directed us through the medical maze and she received a new heart in her one of her many dark hours.
The cost of her new heart was completely absorbed by one family who made the decision to save another person’s life when they could not save their own daughter’s life; a selfless gift for which we can never adequately express our gratitude.
From the highest of highs to the lowest of lows, having a child with cancer is one of the most difficult things to navigate in this life, and until you have been there, you can never truly understand. My prayer for you is that you never come to understand.”
I would ask that you consider donating to CURE Childhood Cancer this evening knowing that every single penny will go to fund research that will hopefully save the lives and hearts of many while supporting the children and their families as they face the unthinkable, childhood cancer.
Doug (the ‘other guy’)