Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Son's first hero; A Daughter's First Love

It's hard to believe that it was nearly ten years ago that I first heard the word "cancer".. Something an eight-year old shouldn't have to hear! The same age my dad was when his mom passed away from cancer. I don't talk about this much... Most people who know me, know that I don't open up very easily and I tend to hide the things I'm afraid of, even though it's constantly on my mind! I was young... But I remember every single part of that day. One of my parents would always pick me up after school.. Without fail! But that day was different. My aunt picked me up and she was late. She didn't hide it very well. I could see she had been crying and I had no idea why. I didn't ask! I wasn't sure I wanted to know. But right at that moment it hit me. I knew something was wrong.

My family was living at my grandmas house at the time while we were building our new house. I remember pulling into the driveway and running inside just to see my parents, or my grandma. Walking inside I had no idea what was really happening. Seeing my whole entire family there was quite a shock!! But seeing my dad crying... That was even more of a shock. I just remember everyone crying.. All in the front room. And all I wanted was answers. I wanted to know why! But all I needed was to hug my dad. And I did for a long time. When I finally asked what was wrong I knew they were hesitant.

My family has always been close. And my parents did the best they could to protect me when I was that young. They told me it was nothing and it wasn't a big deal! So I trusted them. Even though in the back of my mind I still worried! I'll never forget when I found out they lied to me. They didn't tell me he had cancer... That he was sick! And I felt absolutely betrayed, and angry! I know they did it out of concern and love, but I thought I was old enough to handle it, at least at the time I did. Boy, was I wrong!

Even after finding out he had A-Plastic Anemia, I didn't know the half of it. I remember noticing my parents were gone a lot after that, but I didn't know they were at the hospital that much! His chances weren't good... And I had no idea. I loved playing at my grandmas! It was familiar, and it was a place I didn't have to worry. So I was content with that. I didn't think much of it. I actually thought it was cool that we could give daddy shots at home everyday... And his hair was falling out! But I still knew something was wrong. Seeing my mom cry, going to hospital and riding in the wheelchair on my dads lap with the teddy bear he gave me before he went into the hospital, falling asleep in the room with him and making my grandma drag us out because we didn't want to leave them... Those are the things I remember! And then it was all over. He was fine, as far as I was concerned I had my dad back! He was in remission... And all that meant to me was that I got him back!

He was in the clear for a very long time! It became something that stopped worrying me. We never did move into that house we were building, because we were too busy with everything else. It turns out, that was probably the best thing that ever happened! I don't know what I would do if I had never moved here to Bountiful! I was in fourth grade when we moved here! I grew to love it over time. It wasn't until I was fifteen that things started up once again. Dad went to his check up and found that his counts were down. The doctors didn't know what was wrong, and after two years of research they diagnosed him with Myelodisplastia(MDS), which is a rare form of blood cancer. The doctors said they believed he got this cancer from chemo the first time. This time, my brother and I were older. We knew was happening, but that didn't make it any better... If anything, it made it worse!

Treatments started but it wasn't until the summer before I went into high school that they realized they would have to go to Texas for his bone marrow transplant. Again, my parents did what was best for us! They left for five months... And kept us in school here in Utah. We could have moved down to Texas to be with our parents, but they thought it would be in our best interest to stay here. So they flew down to Texas on our first day of school. It was my first day of high school... And it was hard enough, but knowing my parents were on a plane to Texas without me was even harder. I was fine. Most people who knew me probably had no idea that I had no parents around for months. Except for the people I was close too. Most people have no idea how hard it was on me and my family.. Because I hid it! I run from things... Its what I do best! And I ran from this as far as I possibly could. I realized just how important my parents were. Coming home to a house and knowing your parents won't be there isn't a very welcoming feeling.

I still am shocked at how much support people gave me. Even though I never talked about it with people, they knew it was hard. Part of me was so angry that my parents were away from me. That I didn't have them here with me and my brother. I took it very hard and I felt it was my responsibility to stay strong for my brother. So I was. I never let anyone see me cry! I put up a wall that no one could break down. My mom came home for my first dance. My dad was doing a little better and she wanted to be here. She got to watch me cheer for the first time at a football game... She got to see my life and how much it had changed while she was down in Texas taking care of my dad! It was hard for me to look into a crowd of people at a game and not finding comfort because my parents weren't there.

It was the small things that really got to me. I only broke down a few times at football games... Every once and a while I'd get thinking about how much they were missing and I'd cry, but my friends were there! And words can't describe how grateful I am to them for that! I never admit that my parents leaving changed a lot for me, but it did! No one could get through to me while they were gone and I ALWAYS avoided the subject... I didn't talk to my friends about it, my mom, or my family... I acted like it was all normal. Like there was nothing wrong. I found solace in my boyfriend at the time. And not many people understood that at all. I didn't even understand why I could only open up to him about it. All I know is I don't know where I'd be without that comfort. Call it weird, but his family became something special to me because I could be myself, and I didn't have to pretend I was okay for them. Most people, including them, still probably have no idea why I found comfort coming into their lives.. Or why he was the one who helped me feel like everything would be okay! One thing is for sure, I owe a lot for that. People that didn't have a clue how I was feeling were there for me... And they didn't even realize it!

It's weird to look back on it all and think it really wasn't that long ago! The thought of losing my dad would kill me. I have so much respect for my mom for doing everything she possibly could for him! And my dad truly is my hero! Going into the hospital and seeing him fight every single day for his life amazed me! The doctors say all the time that it was all in my dads attitude! Leaving us wasn't an option. My dad is the funniest guy in the world. He always has a smile, even when he was at his lowest. I couldn't be prouder to say my dad is the strongest man there is and he never stops fighting! I love him so much and I am so grateful for such an amazing example and hero in my life! Thanks Daddy for all you do and for believing in me. You're the one person who has never doubted what I can do! I love you so much! Happy Fathers Day <3 Read this article over again and am amazed at all the support through it all! Couldn't be prouder of my daddy!