If You Know a Dad With a Sick Child, Please Do This for Him

I’ve always wanted to write about the dads, but I could never find the right words, the proper tone or the emotion behind it. Perhaps because I was trying to be empathetic to them and put myself in their place, or at least my husband, Rick’s, place. But I never could because he’s Dad and I’m Mom, and it’s just too hard to switch spots and understand what each is going through.

Perhaps since our son, Sam, is done with treatment and I’m able to look back at the last four years, I can better understand the world of the dads whose children are diagnosed with cancer — dads who are as equally affected as moms.

One thing I remember so vividly is Rick holding Sam when they told us he had cancer. I remember my knees weakening and holding onto the counter and screaming. I turned to look at Rick and he had a steady stream of tears running down his face and simply asked, “What next? What do we have to do?” When I wasn’t functioning, he was. When I couldn’t make phone calls, he did. Most importantly, when I was with Sam, he was with our other son, Eli. It was a struggle for both of us because all we wanted was to be together, and we were often apart for days. Another amazing things about him: Even when things were really rough, he went to work. He went to work with a smile on his face and his head held high, all the while wanting to be home with his family to comfort Eli, be with Sam and support me.

We’re not the only ones who’ve faced this. Many families do, as it’s often the dad who continues to work while the mom is the caregiver.

If you’re reading this, and you know a dad with a sick child, buy him a coffee, quietly tell him how much you admire him and shake his hand. He deserves it.

They’re the ones who won’t complain, the ones who cry when nobody is around. They tell us everything will be OK, and we believe them. They quietly struggle with watching their family, the very thing they have help build, fall apart. Once the dust settles, they have the tools to rebuild.

They’re often forgotten in the chaos of childhood cancer. They are the forward motion when everything comes to a halt. Thank you to my incredible husband, Rick, and all the dads out there who sacrifice a hell of a lot more than most people see. Thank you.

A version of this post originally appeared on Chemo and Donuts.

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