My husband is a man of many colors, a renaissance man with many cloaks and many talents. He is humble and kind and doesn’t think much of himself, which is ridiculous, but I can hardly change him or how he sees himself after 14 years. Much like myself, his soul was marred by our daughter’s cancer.
While I believe he has gone above and beyond in a way that many moms and dads often do not have to or cannot, even when facing such diseases, I believe there are many things in what he has done over the last 8 years since we heard the words “liver failure” and “cancer” that represent the best of what he is… a Chemo Dad in all his bad@$$ glory.
So this is my homage to you, Chemo Dads (and sometimes Chemo Older Brothers and Sisters). What you do is not missed. We see it and we love you for it.
- You are our rocks. You are the hug when we can’t take anymore. You are the hand on the small of our backs, walking down the hall at the hospital, letting us know you are there. You are the base on which we stand while we fight this disease. A house cannot standing without its foundation, and you are that foundation.
- You want to fix it. And while there is no “fix” for cancer, we see you doing everything in your power to try to figure out how. You read studies and books and talk to doctors and get information and fight hard to fix the unfixable.
- You learned to be the at home, emergency nurse. Even prior to nursing school, you learned to access a port, change the lines, handle all the medications and scheduling, and how to respond to the emergencies. You can flush and wrap the lines in seconds.
- You have given up so much. You stopped working. You gave up your career. You went back to school to become a nurse or an EMT or any number of things that will help your child because this is how you feel you can fix it. You took a job with three 12 hour shifts on so you could be home more with her. You changed everything, for her.
- You learned to cook and clean and manage the household alone. (and I’m not talking about bachelor pad standards, you kept MY house clean and managed to MY standards while I was gone, and I am NOT an easy woman to live with. Kudos, dude. Seriously… kudos.)
- You give us every drop of time you could. You drive countless hours on Friday evenings to get to the hospital hours from our house, just to sleep on a blow-up mattress in the hospital room with us. You never missed a weekend. I took your appearance to escape the hospital; I needed the breaks.
- Some of you guys take every doctor visit. Strictly for financial reasons, we needed Dan to work on the days that I had off, but so many chemo moms have told me that you guys are taking all the clinic visits, all the scans, all the infusion trips. That’s incredible.
- You are her world. She looks forward to everything with you, including doctor visits and scans. Because it is with you.
- When I couldn’t take it anymore, you’d take it for me. I come from a deeply Southern herd of painfully strong women. Because of the herd I come from, I firmly believe that a woman can, and often does carry the world, much like Atlas. Especially when it comes to her children. Not because daddy can’t or doesn’t want to. But because I am mom, and that’s my kid and I do it. (I’m territorial… give me a break.) However, sometimes I can’t do it. I drop the world, so to speak, and you… you pick it up. When I couldn’t handle seeing them put her under for yet another scan, you took the day off from school or work and drove her to the hospital and held her hand as they put her under. You held her when they accessed her port when the screaming sent me over the edge. When the PTSD takes me, you step up and pull me back. You lift that earth onto your shoulders, hold onto it with one hand, grab my hand with your free one, and haul me behind you as we trudge up that mountain. You are easily the strongest man I have ever met. You will never understand what it means to me that you understand that I want to carry that Earth most of the time (control freak… I know), but sometimes I CAN’T.
- You hide your pain, as if its something you can’t share. You can. Feeling pain or sorrow for your child or family doesn’t make you weak. It makes you strong. It means that you aren’t afraid to FACE the $hi+ being thrown at you and deal with it. You are as human as us moms. I get that you want to protect us, but that goes both ways. We want you protected to. And to do that, you have to deal with it. Dealing with it sometimes means you cry. Sometimes it means you scream and get angry and are in denial and want to fix it and feel lost. And that’s okay. You are still the most amazing man in the world to us, because you are dealing with the hardest thing we will ever face in this world, and you are being real about it. There’s nothing okay with watching your baby suffer. And you have the right to feel that and express it however you need to. ❤
- You don’t judge me for my freak outs. And you get that my form of an anxiety attack sometimes is to get short and angry at the closest victim. And you don’t take it personal. In fact, you pull me out of it. You have kept me sane and alive through this whole thing.
- You are the mom and dad to the other children while I am away. I can’t speak for my family on this, because our Histio Hero was an only child during her intensive treatments, so many moms have told me how you dads have stepped up while us moms were in the hospital with our sick kiddos. Ballet recitals, soccer games, homework, dinners, you were everything to the other children, trying to keep some normalcy for them in what is often not a normal world.
In short, you filled in every place I couldn’t. You sleep in the hospital when I couldn’t. You stood when I fell. You carried me and our family when I cried. And there’s no way to express what that means. You are the ultimate of all bad@$$es. You don’t get enough credit for what you do and what you have gone through. It’s always the mom of the pediatric cancer patient that people talk to, or about, or do things for. Well, as one of those moms, let me say that I would be nothing without my incredible Chemo Dad. I would be absolutely nothing without him.