This I Believe

Katie - Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Entered on October 10, 2006

The Importance of Family

Most parents do not survive knowing that their child has cancer, mine did. My oldest sister died of neuroblastoma. My other sister had her kidney removed when she was only three and somehow my parents managed to stay together.

I’ve often heard that losing a child will make you stronger or will ruin a relationship and destroy you. In the case of my parents, I think it made them stronger. I believe that during the tough times family makes all the difference.

My family has been touched a lot by cancer. My dad is an only child; however he and his cousin, Big Ken, grew up like brothers on their farm in West Virginia. When Big Ken was dying of esophageal cancer, he was unable to go upstairs. He had a hospital bed in his living room. I went to visit him and although I do not recall exactly what he said to me, I remember the room and still can picture it today. It was hard to say goodbye, but even harder to comfort my cousin Sadie after her father died. I wasn’t sure what to say, only that I would always be there for her.

A few weeks ago my dad was diagnosed with cancer, just like Big Ken. I was scared at first when my mom told me, but I know he will be okay. My parents are brave and I don’t know how they do it.

I don’t know how my dad’s cancer is going to affect my life. Last week, my brother was coming over and my parents were cooking us dinner. I was making plans to go shopping for a homecoming dress. I asked my mom if we could go that weekend. She could not give me a definite answer because she wasn’t sure if they would be out of town seeing doctors. My dad was cooking a turkey. He got really mad when the oven stopped working. He just threw the oven out. I think he was annoyed with everything going on his life and all the decisions he had to make. I went outside to help him. On the way to the garbage, my dad turned to be and said, “I’m sorry I’m screwing up your life.” All I could do was say, “Dad, you’re not” and I gave him a hug.

It’s hard not knowing what will happen. All I know is that I to support my dad in anyway I can. Whether it be accepting that I can’t make plans or just getting him wheatgrass smoothies, I will be there for him. It is hard not knowing if or how my dad’s cancer will affect my life, but I have found that it is easier to just keep busy.

I believe that it is important for family to stick together and support each other through hard times. I believe that my family will make it through once again.