Category Archives: Stupid Cancer

The Bow Tie

For nearly as long as I can remember, my dad would comment on how cool it would be to have a REAL bow tie. He once said that he thought being able to tie a bow tie was a skill that classy men had and seemed to be a dying art.

My dad didn’t own a bow tie when I was a kid. As my dad’s 50th birthday approached (January 28, 2011) I was in full-scale wedding planning mode and decided that I wanted to give my dad that opportunity to be the man in the tuxedo, tying a real, bow tie.

I searched a few stores and ended up in the men’s department at Macy’s. They had a wide selection of bow ties, including the classic, black satin bow tie. The cashier asked me while ringing up the bow tie, “does he know how to tie this?” He didn’t know who it was for, what it meant or any of the back story but I answered, “He will.”

Dad’s surprise party 50th birthday party had to be changed from a surprise party in Ohio to a planned party at my parent’s home in Pennsylvania because my dad’s cancer treatments were taking a toll on him, making travel tough. For his birthday, I gave my dad his bow tie and a link to a how to video on YouTube.

I’ll never forget that smile when he opened his bowtie

A week or so after his birthday, I received an email from my dad with several in-progress photos of him tying the bow tie. Read the rest of this entry

These Things Take Time

I was wondering about something random on my drive home from work the other day and I thought, “I should call dad. He would know.” It took me a minute or two before I remembered that I can’t call my dad.

It’s been almost a year and a half since my dad lost his battle with cancer. Sometimes that seems like a long time but the other day, it felt like I could just pick up the phone and call him like nothing ever happened.

I keep the people that I call most often on my favorites menu on my phone and the number listed after Brad’s was my dad’s. Three months after dad died, I removed him from the favorites menu but couldn’t bring myself to delete his cell phone number. It took several more months before I could delete his number completely, even doing that brought me to tears.

Time may bring healing, but it’s a slow process. As more time passes, it’s easier to tell stories about my dad without feeling angry or tearing up.

Today would have been my father’s 52nd birthday.

Treasure Your Father

Father’s Day is this weekend and it’s tough. Every holiday is tough when you lose a parent, but especially the ones meant just for them.

Last year, I thought Father’s Day was rough, but my dad was still here. Dad had been admitted to the hospital on the second day of our honeymoon and we had no idea until the last night of our cruise when we were back in range of U.S. cell towers. He was still in the hospital on Father’s Day, but I got to call him and talk with him. This year I can’t.

A couple of weeks ago, I ventured into the card aisle on a mission for birthday and sympathy cards during lunch. I like to think that I’m pretty good at shopping for sympathy cards, I know what words brought the tiniest bit of comfort to me and I know that glitter is never appropriate, it’s like fake cheer. While walking through the aisles of cards, I ended up in the Father’s Day section. I thought for about two seconds that I could pick up a card for my father-in-law while I was there… I couldn’t even pick up a card without feeling like I was going to burst into tears.


Reading with dad at a very early age

Although nice, none of the commemorative ornaments, Relay for Life luminaries or photographs can take away the ache associated with missing your father. No one tells you Read the rest of this entry

The C-word

I’m pretty straightforward when people talk with me about cancer. It’s a word that strikes fear into the hearts of many and quite frankly it’s not a word that people talk about enough… except of course in October. This month is breast cancer awareness month, with all the pink things, pink ribbons and talk about boobs, I think we’re not only aware of breast cancer but that we think it’s stylish to “show our support.”

What we’re not aware of are the other things that people should know about cancer. In October it’s all pink, but what about the other months? How much dark blue did you see in March for colon cancer awareness (the closest to my heart gets top billing)? How about orange all through September for Leukemia? Anyone celebrate June 5th for National Cancer Survivors Day?

There’s a month/week/day for something all year-long. Stop just being aware of breast cancer in October and be aware of health 365 days a year. Take those special awareness events to try to understand a new illness and how it affects more than just the body. Do more this month than buy a pink coffee mug, find out the risk factors and preventative steps to take to reduce your risk of breast cancer. Next month educate yourself about lung cancer (and diabetes).

Everyone knows someone who is affected by cancer, for some of us it’s closer than for others. It’s sad when cancer awareness is stylish instead of supportive or proactive. Cancer awareness is not about wearing a ribbon and October is not all about pink, it’s learning and understanding at the very basic level what cancer is and how it affects people.

After my father‘s four years of surgeries, chemo therapy and fighting – I’m aware.

Fact: Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the third leading cause of cancer death in both men and women in the US, with about 141,210 new cases and 49,380 deaths this year. {source}

Related Posts:

What I should have said at my dad’s funeral

My Dad

Go to the Doctor!

Seriously, it could save your life.

It’s the time of year when everyone seems to come down with something. And now I’ve started to see tweets and Facebook statuses about long-term illnesses that are being passed over as annoying.

It freaks me out to see people say things like:

  • “Day eight of feeling like death.”

  • “Two weeks and the migraine is still here.”

What I should have said at dad’s funeral

I admire the strength that it took for my family members to share memories at my father’s funeral this weekend.

I was unable to hold myself together enough to speak. Had I spoken, I would have talked about ties.

I’ve been thinking a lot about ties lately (I do mean neck ties). During my dad’s time as both a pastor and an engineer, he wore a lot of ties. I remember as a little girl I used to love looking through my dad’s ties. For Father’s Day one year, my sister and I took this fabric that was green and white checked with big lady bugs on it and sewed it onto an old tie that my dad had. He wore it to church that Father’s Day Sunday, and almost every Father’s Day after. He even wore it on Father’s Days after we grew up and moved out. I wish that one of those years we had taken a picture of dad in his Father’s Day tie.

One Sunday, when I was in middle school, dad was preaching and had gotten extremely animated about one of his main points. His tie had turned backwards so that the tail and tag were facing out. Our family discretely motioned for him to fix his tie. Those motions must not have been clear enough, because he smoothed his tie instead of flipping it back over. By the end of his sermon, his backward-facing tie was laying very nice and straight.

While I was growing up, dad had expressed several times how cool he thought it would be to own a real bow tie and tie it himself. For his 50th birthday this year, I wanted to get him something special. So I bought him a very classy black bow tie and looked up the instructions on how to tie one for him on YouTube. A week or so after his birthday, I received an email from my dad with several in-progress photos of him tying the bow tie. One of my cousins shared on Facebook recently that he remembered my dad as a man who when he wanted to do something, he learned how. That was how dad was with the bow tie (and many other things in his life).

Dad went to a great deal of trouble to tie that bow tie and wear it when he walked me down the aisle and when he danced with me at my wedding.

It’s the little stuff that sticks with you, the stuff that can’t be captured in an obituary.

My dad

Father’s Day was a little rough. My father has been in the hospital for two weeks now. I thought about him all day, but we didn’t go visit. When I called, he didn’t feel much like talking.

My dad is quite a man and he’s been through a lot. When my dad was 16, he lost his own father. Even though he never really talked about losing his dad, I know that in many ways, it affected how he related to all three of his children.

When I first learned how to drive, he decided that I should at least know how to drive a stick shift vehicle. He took me for a drive in my brother’s little 5-speed car. We left our neighborhood and kind of went exploring on back roads where I could practice shifting gears, stopping, starting, etc. He didn’t have a clue where we were, and neither did I, when all of a sudden we came around a curve and were headed down a steep, curvy road that made me panic. He took a hold of the gearshift and said, “clutch when I tell you to.” So I clutched and he shifted from the passenger seat until we were back on normal roads.

Read the rest of this entry