2012 was a year of mixed emotions. Happy occasions included our little man, Dempsey, joining the family in February and completing graduate school in May. We have a happy family of four and there are new adventures each and every day. I've watched little Tessa become an amazing big sister and enjoy the presence of her little brother who seems to be growing faster than Usain Bolt in a foot race. 2012 was also full of disappointment, sadness, and confusion with my dad's cancer returning. Who knew tonsil cancer could return??? We are approaching the one year mark of this discovery and continue to wonder what is next? Dad has his PET scan on Friday and with that we are anxious to see if the cancer is gone. Then we have to figure out if the doctors will be able to fix his jaw and improve his ability to speak. As we have traveled on this journey, I have learned a few things about this disease called cancer.
2. Cancer doesn't leave anyone out.
I look at my father who is in amazing shape. He's otherwise healthy and an upbeat person, but still, cancer found it's way into his body. Not once, not twice, but now three times.
3. You find who truly cares.
Our family has been blessed with so many of our past friends and neighbors who have reached out during this time. It stinks that it took this horrible disease to bring us all together, but wow, we have been truly overwhelmed. When mom and dad were in Baltimore for dad's surgery and when they had to live up there during the week for him to receive radiation and chemo, we had no problem getting someone to watch their dogs. We got constant offers of, 'How can we help?" and most often we heard from so many people who had been impacted by dad's positive and selfless attitude.
4. My mom is amazing.
My mom is truly the rock. I know she has her weak moments-we all do, but every night she puts together a milkshake for daddy to eat in the morning to help start his day off on a high calorie count. She is constantly cooking up food that she thinks he may be able to handle. She loves him no matter what-in sickness and in health is what I think of when I look at the two of them together.
5. People give unwanted advice and say awkward things.
I remember when I was pregnant so many people wanted to come and tell me their horror stories of labor and delivery or give me suggestions on how big my belly was and ask, "Are you sure there aren't two babies in there?" Really? I mean come on, telling me I would be the perfect spokesperson for teenage pregnancy just because I LOOK young and pregnant is NOT what I want to hear. The same goes for someone with cancer. They don't need forwarded e-mails with the top 10 ways to prevent cancer. Hello! They already have cancer, so trying to prevent it is not going to help.
6. Instead of this advice and awkwardness, just listen.
The person with cancer is still the same person. Don't treat them like they are below you or contagious. Don't constantly bring up serious topics and feel like a discussion is needed everytime you meet. Stop the unwanted advice and suggestions and take the time to listen. Listen to the person with cancer, listen to their family members who are impacted by this horrible disease, and stop giving advice on cancer. These people are already in touch with the experts and you are not one of them. Become an expert listener.
7. Don't blame God.
I have found solace and comfort from our heavenly Father in this whole ordeal. Prayer is like the hot cocoa on a cold day for me. If you are not sure what to do for someone with cancer, then just pray. Seriously, it goes a lot farther than you think.
8. My family is awesome.
I already knew this, but these two years have once again proven the fact that this family is awesome. My husband understands how sometimes I need a few moments just to shed a few tears or talk or just go visit with my mom and dad. Our family has always been tight, but we are even tighter now.
9. Young children can figure out what cancer is.
It stinks that my 4 year old knows what cancer is, but I am also proud of her for how empathetic she is because of all this. She has been known to go up to her Granddaddy and ask him how he's feeling and I think she subconsciously knows she and her brother are the best medicine for him.
Yes, this is not a list of my resolutions, but the lessons I have learned in the past two years about cancer. If you make any resolutions, think about how you might be able to fit in more family time or just to get in touch with someone who you've lost touch with. God bless each one of you as you go through 2013! Mom and dad got married on the 13th of September, so they're hoping this is their lucky year!