The Day I Learned of My Father’s Cancer

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“I went in for a routine check up,” he said. “But the doctors found something. I have prostate cancer.”

It didn’t feel real. My dad wasn’t even 55. How could he have cancer?

At first, I was calm. They found it early. There are great treatment options. “We’ll get through this,” I thought. “My family is strong. We can get through anything.” But as time went on, fear crept in. And the more we learned about my dad’s prostate cancer, the more worried and depressed I became.

According to the American Cancer Society, one in nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer.

And while most men diagnosed with prostate cancer do not die from it, it’s still the second-leading cause of cancer death in American men. And my dad’s cancer wasn’t “normal” prostate cancer. In six months, his PSA score skyrocketed, scaring the doctors and my family.

When I told friends and colleagues about my dad’s diagnosis, I often received sympathy, but “it’s not a ‘bad’ cancer,” people said. They didn’t understand.

In the first few months, I spent days at work choking back tears. I was exhausted, worried, and scared. But worst of all, I told myself that I was fine.

If I didn’t acknowledge my sadness and fear, I didn’t have to deal with it. But I was wrong. After days of holding it together, I would often fall apart.

I decided I needed to emotionally face this head on. I had to deal with this reality, painfully acknowledging every aspect of it.

When I did this, something amazing happened.

I felt better.

My family took a trip to Italy this past January. We laughed, we drank wine, and we enjoyed every minute of our trip.

Two weeks later, my dad had surgery to remove the tumor. The recovery was hard, but today he’s cancer-free.

Cancer is hard. It shows you the humanity of family members that you’re not ready to see.

But it also has small moments of joy. Like when we had to stop making jokes because my dad’s laughter hurt his incisions. And the outpouring of support we received from friends and family.

Most of all, I’m grateful for the joy that my dad is cancer free, and that this experience brought my family together closer than ever. Although we can’t control cancer, with time, reflection, and healing, we can control our reaction to it.

Tags: Cancer

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Christina Musgrave

Christina Musgrave is a recipe developer, food photographer, and writer. She’s always looking forward to her next meal.... See Full Bio

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