August 16, 2011
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I’m a charity runner for the American Cancer Society’s DetermiNation Team. Here is the story of my Dad.
My Father passed away in August 16, 1981. Thirty years ago today. The death certificate basically said he died of pneumonia. What bullshit. My Father had battled cancer for almost four years. We found out right after I started high school. It first started in his lung. They removed the lung. Then it went to his brain. They removed the tumor. Then it settled in his lymph nodes.
All the while he tried to quit smoking but couldn’t. He had been a WWII veteran who received the Purple Heart fighting in the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes Forests of Belgium. He had started smoking during the war and could never quit. Ever. Even after removing one of his lungs.
My Father wanted to see me graduate from High School.
At the time the treatment for cancer seemed quite barbaric. I can remember him being so sick from the chemo drugs that he couldn’t get himself up from the bathroom floor. The brain tumor affected his eyesight. No one knew this until after a serious car accident where I was also a passenger. He was a man who could always figure things out, knew the right thing to do but he couldn’t fight what was killing him. He was scared.
My Dad died 8 weeks after I graduated. He was 55. I was 17. It was thirty years ago today. I can’t believe it’s been that long.
Everyone has stories similar to mine. Everyone.
My Father never saw me go to college and graduate, never sat with me in a bar and had a beer, never saw me do well with my career, never met his future daughter-in-law and never met my three beautiful girls.
I can’t remember what he sounded like and I can’t remember his laugh. Cancer took that away from me as well.
Right now it’s 5:28am, Tuesday, August 16th and I’m going for a run.