This I Believe

Will - Denver, Colorado
Entered on October 10, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
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Cancer changed my life, and I didn’t even have it.

Last year I excitedly came home to my family after spending time in Vail over the week of July 4th. I hadn’t seen them in a while, so I was very excited to return home. When I walked in the front door, I saw only my mom in the house, and she told me that we had to talk. At first I assumed I was in trouble, as most teenagers would, but she began to speak about my dad. She told me that while I was away he visited a doctor for a checkup, and returned with the shocking news that he had prostate cancer. As common as this cancer may be, it scared me and my whole family. I never imagined that the word cancer would be associated with my dad or anyone close to me. All I thought about were the detrimental or even fatal complications that could come from this diagnosis, and I couldn’t get it off my mind for weeks. My main worry was that before this time my dad and I had not been very close, and I often took his love and care for granted and did not reciprocate it. The cancer made me realize that at any point something could happen to a person Ilove, and I never wanted to live with regret about not improving out relationship. I would have felt guilty if he did not know how much I loved and respected him.

As time went on, the doctors began to kill the cancer with powerful radiation seeds implanted into his prostate. Although he knew of the potential side effects, he did not know their magnitude, and he was unfortunately afflicted with all the rare complications. He lived miserably for months with pain, intestinal and urinary problems, and insomnia. He changed his diet drastically, hoping to limit the negative toll the radiation had taken on his abdominal organs. But the diet and various medicines did little to help, and he was haunted his symptoms for months. Despite these drastic changes and stress, he would usually keep his morale high and act normally. I could never tell truly how he felt on the inside because he tried to keep his pain to himself. I was aware of the many tragedies caused by cancer and the worry that he might not recover or could die made it very stressful for me. We both tried to communicate and relate much better. We had more in-depth conversations and were much closer than we were before the cancer. That relationship still continues today.

I believe that without the cancer, my dad and I could have drifted even further apart and he would not have become the friend he is today. I believe that the possibility of tragedy brought me and my family closer together and taught me that I have to always treat people as if I may never see them again.