Cancer affects the individual, yes; however, cancer also affects everyone who loves that individual.
Today, I give you my dad as he reflects on my childhood cancer [and] the failure of my heart 30 years after the end of my treatment through his father-eyes, from his tender-heart, and in his own words:
“’It’s always the other guy.’ That’s the unwritten rule, isn’t it? Then a life altering event happens and your world is changed forever. What starts out as a constricted pupil turns out to be a serious problem. Your thought process changes from “carefree” to weighing the consequences of each decision you make.
Nothing is simple anymore; everything must be weighed in light of what might happen as a result of events of which you had no knowledge or control.
But, then your faith kicks in, and somehow, you know that your daughter is a fighter, and until you instill your fears in her, she will exude confidence in her ability to survive and get better.
So, you choke back the tears in her presence, and only permit them when you are alone. All the questions will be answered, and when it seems that you cannot bear to consider one other thing, a little girl with “peach fuzz” for hair says, “Daddy, can we huddle up?”. And you do as you are now “the other guy”.
We were told by the oncologists that the chemotherapy agents used might have latent effects on our daughter’s heart, but what other decision could be made.
You put this possibility out of you mind and invoke the “other guy rule” which you already know doesn’t work.
Fast forward 30 years and Stephanie’s heart was failing, and failing fast. This time the problem could be fixed provided we didn’t run out of time. By now, as a father, you know what needs to happen: a new heart. It is a matter of getting her to the place with the greatest likelihood of making that happen.
Through the power of prayer, the efforts of pastors, relatives, and friends alike, and the receptive physicians of the Cleveland Clinic, God’s hand guided us through the medical maze to get us to the best place for Stephanie just in time.
The cost of this was totally absorbed by one family who made the decision to save another person’s life when they could not save their own daughter’s life; a selfless gift for which we can never adequately express our gratitude.
From the highest of highs to the lowest of lows, having a child with a serious illness is one of the hardest problems to handle emotionally. And, until you have been there, you will never truly know its impact on yourself or how you will react.”
May there be no doubt, I am loved quite fiercely [and] my parents persevered alongside of me as they breathed life, not fear into me no matter how dire the circumstance.
Republished with permission of Stephanie Zimmerman, daughter of Doug and Co-Founder of myHeart, yourHands.