It was a Sunday; we were driving home from my Grandparent’s house in South Philadelphia, and like usual I had my cheek plastered to the window of my mom’s car. I was, like always, trying to just maybe get a few minutes of shut eye before I had to start my weekend homework. Today was different. I remember my dad calling my name and I just let it go, thinking that he knew I was trying to sleep. Then he said it again, with more force in his voice, and I figure I’d better get up. The next ten minutes, the conversation between my parents and I was a complete blur. I just remember hearing one word: cancer.
My dad had been diagnosed with throat cancer at a doctor’s appointment just two weeks before he told me. He was scheduled for about seven weeks of treatment, every day of the week. Because throat cancer is definitely curable, my mom and dad, and everyone else assured me that cancer would no big deal. I believed them. Little did I know that not only would throat cancer put a temporary dent in my dad, but it would also impact me and my family forever.
In the next couple months, I saw my dad; the man I never thought could be weakened, taken to his knees. I saw the hair recede from the back of his head, his weight slowly drop, and the usual skip in his step fade away. But what I also saw was my dad give cancer a fight, I saw him give it his all, I saw him put his power of will against cancer’s and I saw him win. I saw cancer take him down, but when it did, he took it down with him. And when he eventually rose up, he made sure that cancer did not rise too.
Cancer, and the way my dad defeated it, made me realize that I was put on this world to fly. Not fly as in flapping wings or flying a plane, but fly as in dreaming so high and so wide, and one day being able to choose which dream to pursue. After being on the sideline during my dad’s treatment, how could I ever limit myself? How could I even think to doubt myself on achieving anything? I became empowered, empowered to fly.
My dad did the hard part, He had to work hard and endure so much. Me, I was right there with him taking notes, because although I may never be under the same circumstances, it was a time to learn. What I learned from my dad was that when the going get tough the tough get going, this idea will follow me forever. Everything happens for a reason. This I believe: my dad fought off cancer, so I could fly.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.