A Letter to My Younger Self Before My Dad Passed Away From Cancer


I’m writing to you to make sure you understand how important family is, and I hope you understand the moments you think are the end of the world are really just stepping stones in your life. Mom and Dad won’t have their health forever. Treasure them. Appreciate your time with your family. Go to Disney with them, take the family car ride to North Carolina and spend lazy Sunday afternoons in the pool with them. In the end, these moments are what matters.

You’re going to go through an awkward preteen stage. You’ll hide your face with your hair, crimp your hair and use Sun-In. Most of all, you’ll be reluctant to take family photos because you think you look less than perfect. Dad’s health will deteriorate, and when he dies, those photos will be your lifeline. Take the photos regardless of how you look.

You will be embarrassed to hold Mom and Dad’s hands in public. Stop that! Hold their hands as tight as you can and never let go. Stop worrying what other people think. Make tons of beautiful memories.

You will get your heart broken, but it’s not the end of the world, and it’s certainly not worth all that sulking. Your first marriage will be a colossal mistake.

Dad will tell you endlessly, “You can always come home.” Eventually, you will go home. But you’re going to waste time being angry, sad and disappointed. Throughout your divorce, Dad will become your anchor. Cherish these moments.

Eventually, you’ll meet your soul mate, and you’ll get butterflies every time you see him, not because you’re afraid, but because he shows you unconditional love and pushes you to be a better person.

In the end, you’ll realize your happiness isn’t the result of any man. Your happiness is the result of you. Read these words clearly — Mom and Dad were both right.

Dad is going to get cancer. Your entire world will stop spinning the day you find out. During Dad’s journey, try to remember Mom is human, too. Mom is going to be Dad’s caregiver, and you know her caregiving abilities are similar to Mother Theresa. She’s not going to say she’s exhausted until she’s ready to fall over. Hug her often and tell her you love her daily.

During Dad’s illness, your relationship with Mom will form an even stronger bond. As you watch her care for Dad, you will admire her for her strength and courage. She’s not just your mother; she’s the definition of bravery and selfless love.

Dad’s cancer journey will become your own personal crusade to restore his ability to eat. You’ll do everything you can to find “the one” who can help. You will watch cancer rip him apart bit by bit. He will die unable to eat or drink. Please cherish all the family meals you have with him. By the way, try the calamari. It’s nice that Dad pays you $20 to try new foods, but stop being so picky and eat the damn food! You’re going to like it when you’re older anyway. Trust me.

Accept what’s happening is God’s will and cherish the limited time you have with Dad. You’ll have a difficult time with this. Being angry at God only makes this road more difficult.

When Dad dies, you’ll have no regrets because you listened to yourself and told him tirelessly how much you adore him, and he will tell you with his last breath that he adores you.

Accepting Dad’s mortality will be one of most difficult moments in your life. Holding his hand as he takes his last breath will shatter your heart, and it will be at that moment you’ll realize Dad was right all along.

Hold your head high and be proud of who you are today. You have the fairytale father-daughter relationship. You have a family who loves you. You have your health. You are strong. You are blessed.

Follow this journey on Love Is Infinite.

The Mighty, in partnership with Fuck Cancer, is asking the following: What do you wish you had found on Google when you were first diagnosed? Find out how to email us a story submission here.

Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Cancer

Silhouette of a young mother walking and lovingly holding hands with her happy little child, while holding his baby brother, outside in front of a sunset in the sky.

To The People Who Said, 'I'm Sorry, I Just Don't Know What to Say...'

Dear people who tell me, “I am sorry, I just don’t know what to say…” – I forgive you. My baby brother was diagnosed with leukemia at age 9, and he was diagnosed with a brain tumor at age 20. I was diagnosed with metastatic adrenal cancer five months after his brain tumor was deemed terminal. [...]
boy and girl running away on grass

What You'll Miss If You Turn Away From My Family's Cancer Story

I recently talked to a support group about the experience my family has had with cancer. The years, the relapses, the “buy him time” treatments. Though I am not big on speaking, I am compelled to do these things because I don’t want anyone to feel alone in this. But as my kids get older, [...]

Humans of New York Post Sums Up Everything We Love About Nurses

This week, Humans of New York creator Brandon Stanton left the streets of New York City for a different setting — the Pediatrics Department of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. He’s been sharing the stories of patients and their families, but one post in particular summed up everything we love about nurses. “The MDs build the [...]

When We Overlook the Caregiver Who Needs Care, Too

Throughout my father’s journey with cancer and its aftermath, we would often tell my mother, “You need to take care of yourself! Go get your hair done! Better yet, get your nails done!” And then we would all return to our daily lives. Oh, the irony in telling the caregiver to take care of themselves. After [...]