Even though I thought something was up — my parents had been oddly quiet for several weeks — the confirmation was still hard to swallow.
For the last two years, my dad has had six surgeries, and we just found out earlier this week he has to have another. His appendix burst, revealing colon cancer.
Part of his colon was removed to stop the progression. The incision developed a hernia. The hernia was removed. The surgery made his heart rate irregular, so he needed a valve added to regulate it. And now, the hernia surgery failed, partly due to a bad doctor and partly because he’s overweight.
Though I count my blessings every single day that he’s officially cancer-free, the aftermath of such intense procedures has left him physically weak and emotionally defeated.
But if anything good can come out of all this stress on my family and the pain my dad has suffered, it’s what the experience has taught me about love.
(Or rather, how it’s completely shifted what I once thought was important and what I value now — on the other side of the trauma, bravely holding my dad’s hand and reminding him to breathe through the fear of another surgery.)
In more ways than I could ever count, here’s how my father surviving cancer has transformed my thoughts and beliefs on love:
1. My wedding will mean nothing if my dad isn’t there to walk me down the aisle.
As a child, I would prance around in my dress-up clothes and march down the imaginary aisle of my living room to marry my dad.
Through those bright and eager eyes as a five-year-old, my dad was everything that a so-called Prince Charming should be. And now, as I’ve watched him never give up and never back down from any health fight (no matter how scared he was), he embodies so much more of what I want in a future partner.
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