Thirty two years ago today, the world lost a man that I never knew. From what I’ve been told, he was smart, funny, ambitious, and very loveable. He was also my father.
|My Dad and I on my Christening Day (one of the very few pictures we have of us together)|
He and my mother met when they were in college. He was the man of her dreams and they married in 1977 shortly after graduating. In 1978, they welcomed my brother in to the family. They bought a house and I was born in November 1979. Just two short months later in 1980, he passed away. He was taken by Melanoma Skin Cancer. He was a young, vibrant man who had a brand new family and his whole life in front of him and it was all taken away. They found out he was sick while my mother was pregnant with me. She had told me that it was a good thing that I was conceived when I was because if they had waited just a couple of months they would have known he was sick and never had me (thank God for timing). During the year that he was diagnosed he underwent surgery and chemotherapy. When I was born my father couldn’t be there because he was in a different hospital trying to fight for his own life. That day, he asked my Uncle to save an “It’s A Girl” cigar and smoke it the day that I married since he knew he would never be there to see it.
|My brother, me, and my Mom on my wedding day ("It's a Girl" cigar in hand)|
Honestly, I find it hard to see a silver lining in this story. My mother ended up raising my brother and I as a single mom even while her own health began to decline for unrelated reasons. Before I reached the age of 30, I had lost both of my parents. Although it may not be a silver lining, the lesson I takeaway is to do everything in my power to prevent this from happening to my family and my children. My father was living in a time when the dangers of the sun were not well known. That is not the case now. I see the dermatologist every six months, I regularly check my body for any changes, and I tell anyone who will listen that they should do the same. I harass my brother to make sure he sees the doctor. I offer up my opinion about family member’s moles that are revealed by tank tops at summer barbeques. I know, I’m a lot of fun! People joke all the time about how they are just going to “fry” at the beach or how they don’t care if they get cancer because they love the sun. Well you know what, it’s not really a joke. People get skin cancer. People die. So my public service announcement today, in honor of my father is to ask everyone to think about their body, their skin, wear sunscreen, and see a doctor if you’re not sure about anything. It could make all the difference in the world.