Her Story: What It's Like Having a Parent with Cancer

This year, 1,685,210 people in the United States were diagnosed with cancer. My dad is one of them. In April 2016, my mom called to tell me that my dad had cancer. The day I found out it was advanced Stage 4 cancer, everything changed again. I remember immediately texting my roommate telling her the news and being absolutely speechless when I tried to explain what was going on.

My father is one of the strongest, funniest, and most intelligent people I know. And to learn he was sick made me feel like the world was ending.

Some of my most emotional moments through this timeline have been in the chemo room. You have to make the best of it. For 48 hours every two weeks, he is hooked up to the chemo pump; it’s the hardest two days of the week. Some of my highlights from being in the chemotherapy wing of Beth Israel Deaconess have been chatting with the nurses and volunteer cancer survivors.

There are adjustments you have to make to your lifestyle to accommodate someone going through treatment. For example, it’s important that you remind people to wash their hands when they're around someone that's sick. When someone has cancer, their immune systems are severely weaker than what they used to be, thus making them more likely to get very sick. Because of this limitation, everything that is fed to him has to be washed a few times in order to prevent any unknown bacteria. 

Another thing to realize is your parent is never going to feel physically or emotionally the same as before the treatments began. And that’s really hard. My father was able to run two or three miles a day. As of his latest surgery, he is unable to enjoy his favorite past time. 

There have been times when I feel incredibly alone and trying to act like everything is okay is extremely hard. It’s even harder when friends ask if everything is okay when you’re not feeling great, and you have to just put on a smile. 

There are times when I forget he’s sick. When we’re driving to Trader Joe's to get groceries and blasting “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” I don’t even remember the treatment going on.

In times like this, you have to look at the bright side. I’d like to thank my friends and family that have been there for me during this entire process trying to keep me thinking positively. You have to remember that better days are to come. There will be unpredictable bad days. There will be days when the hospital is the only place you'll be for the day. But there are so many good days ahead.

The most important thing to remember is that everything is going to be okay. 


If you or someone you know is affected by cancer and needs support, there are communities and helplines readily available: 

Red Cross Helpline: 1-800-227-2345

Cancer Support Community

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