We all have our reasons for Healthy Living, and here is mine: My Dad.
Dad was diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma in 2011. It began in his lungs and eventually ( and quite rapidly) spread to his bladder, kidneys and brain. He was diagnosed right after I moved 3,000 miles away, and so these past months have been some of the most trying, difficult, heartbreaking, character building and honestly miraculous months of my life.
I have watched him recover enough to play golf and travel just weeks after they removed his left kidney, seen him battle through the affects of not one but 2 different chemo medications, watched him reading the paper and discuss stocks just hours after brain surgery #1, and now, months after the radiation meant to kill the cancer still left in his brain, he finally needs my help. It’s quite honestly the least that I can do for a man who took care of me my whole life – who’s my adoptive Father as well as maternal (and only) Grandfather, and the inspiration, as well as the reason, for everything good in my life. It’s been difficult not knowing what is temporary, what’s permanent, or how much time we have together, since they gave him 6 months left to live over 2 years ago.
Have I cried a lot? You bet. Have I gotten angry a bunch? Hell yeah. Do I bawl every time I get off the phone with my parents? You betcha. Does it hurt being so far away? Jesus yes. Have I thought about moving back home? Every day. Is it extremely difficult to discuss? What, am I made of steel?
I don’t believe in feeling sorry for myself, but it hurts a lot to see and hear my Dad in pain.
And I must say, I’ve learned a lot. The first thing my parents told me after I suggested moving back to NY just a month after moving to Cali was, “Don’t even think about it. You have your own life and you have to live it and live it well.”
Man, was that one important.
I do get to come home often and though it’s kinda tough to admit when your parents know better than you, they really were right: it HAS been much better this way. I’ve grown a lot by moving and traveling and am much better able to help them, be patient with them, and speak with them kindly and openly. It’s definitely helped me put Life in perspective and throw a lot of my selfish needs and unhealthy lifestyle right out the window.
I don’t take a single moment with my parents or my loved ones, or the way I treat myself, for granted. At all. I’m not perfect, but I do my best to live the way that would make my own children (and that makes my parents) very proud. It’s been a series of beautiful life lessons and I feel very grateful to still have Dad around to hug and kiss and love on. Yes, you can blame the nasty chemo drugs that stole his appetite, his energy, his motor skills and his hair for why he’s still kickin, but ask him what his plans are next year, and he’ll have an answer for you. It’s completely his mentality, his bravery and his strength – completely – that has kept him with us. I truly believe that.
And after over 2 years of only my closest friends and family knowing about this, I share it candidly with you today. If it helps even one person out there to feel less alone, or to live a little better, it was totally worth it.
I hope this inspires you to hold your loved ones a little closer today, to value your health, to believe in yourself, trust your body to healing, and leave the bullshit at home. Not a single moment is guaranteed to us. I am beyond grateful to have made it this far and to be given the beautiful opportunities, family, friends & experiences that I have.
Life is short: do what you love and love unconditionally.
Love & Light