Mary, who writes the prostate cancer advocacy and action blog for malecare, (www.prostatecancerblog.org) wrote this comment to my post which does appear in the comments for that post. I thought that it was so thoughtful and insightful I would use it as its own post. Mary’s blog is well worth checking out and may be read at www.prostatecancerblog.org
I’ve been thinking about your post for a while… and meant to comment sooner. My dad made a comparison like this years ago – back when I was “just doing this because I love my dad.” Now – I’m still “doing this because I love my dad,” but also for many others who I’ve come to know and love as extended family still personally struggling with prostate cancer.
You know my father founded the Prostate Cancer Coalition of NC back in 2001. And I’d like to share with you a somewhat shameful realization on my part that may help to answer your question. When my dad asked me to be his volunteer note taker/ webmaster I just did it for him… not as the “believer” I am today, having become so through that experience.
He was tough as nails and there was no way this cancer was going to take him out… for a solid 5 years I was 110% sure this was just a bump in the road for him – but I dug spending time with dad and we had fun working, planning and organizing. I didn’t really understand what it meant when his sugical follow-up uncovered bone mets… nor did he share with me that the he’d been told he had about a year to live at that same time…
Now – I look around me at the patients who volunteer with the coalition today… “my guys” – and I think when they talk to their kids they, like my father, can’t stomach the idea of scaring them when, in “dad’s mind,” they’re often just getting out on their on… starting careers and families… coming into their own.
I don’t know if it would have been right for my dad to give me a reality check when was given his own prognosis… but I do think I’d have done things a bit differently… actually – a lot differently. When dad got really sick, I was glad to share his journey with him… I loved being with him and felt very very guilty that I took our time for granted.
I think what I’m trying to say is, we truly are, to quote Albert Einstein “here for the sake of each other – above all for those upon whose smile and well-being our own happiness depends, and also for the countless unknown souls with whose fate we are connected by a bond of sympathy” – but that has 2 sides to it… one is being there for the people you love – the other is letting the people you love know that it is time to be there for you. It sucks when you realize you didn’t, but should’ve.
Being there might be making calls to legislators, going for Dr. visits, or just plain going out to dinner – or on a fun family vacation… What I know now – it is a true gift to be able to be there for someone you love.
Sorry I didn’t comment sooner – unfortunately I’ve been MIA for a couple of weeks as I just lost my grandmother/ last living biological grandparent to pancreatic cancer… I had to disconnect for a while to be there for my mother, aunt, uncles, cousins, and my “step” grandfather – the only grandpa I’ve ever known:)
You guys are important! Let us fight for you/ with you/ beside you… I’m sure I’m not the only daughter out their who is both grateful and glad to be somewhat defined by the experience.