It is funny, having a conversation with my “tweenage” daughter just a few days ago, and then confirming it yesterday, turning 13 years of age, there was no magical transformation. She was still going to be my “Ting Ting”, a nickname along with a few others that I call her at times. She was not going to possess any super powers other than the charm she already possesses. There were not going to be any new special privileges given to her. So after wishing happy birthday to her, I asked her if she felt any different officially being a teenager. She said, “no.”
But what Madison fails to realize, is that her turning 13 years old is really a big deal. She may not realize it, but as her father, I certainly do. She may be turning her attention to her next milestone, allowing her to be eligible to drive, but as she looks to the future, I am looking at the past. Madison turning 13 is really a big deal. It is certainly a big deal to me.
Unable to have biological children due to my treatments for Hodgkin’s Lympoma, it was an opportunity by the country of China to allow what no one else was willing to give a cancer survivor, a chance at adoption. My cancer survivorship was no issue for Madison or her sister, who was adopted a couple of years later.
But my daughter’s birthday is also reminding me of another issue concerning my health. In 2008, I officially became a cancer survivor dealing with a lot of serious, permanent, and progressive health problems. And as my health was turned over to one of the top hospitals in the country for cancer and survivorship, I met the doctor who would spearhead my survival with one goal in mind. And I quote the words I will never forget from Dr. O.,
“I can’t stop the things that are happening to your body. I can’t reverse the damage that has been done. But what I can do, is slow the process down. I want to make sure that you not only see your daughters graduate high school, but college, maybe if they get married. But I want to help you see your grandchildren.”
It seemed like an odd conversation at the time. After all, my oldest was only around 5 years old. But I had just survived a near fatal heart episode, and with awareness, and surveillance, and history not on a survivor’s side when they do not receive the proper medical attention, I knew that Dr. O. meant what he said. He wants to make sure that I see my daughters grow well into adulthood.
I am not worried that my oldest turning 13, means that a clock is running out for me. Quite the contrary, Dr. O. is in fact doing everything he can to make sure that my health stays solid enough to see the ultimate milestone for me. But in the eight years since, while it has not been easy getting to see Madison’s special birthday, I know that I am doing all that I can, and Dr. O. is doing all he can as well as everyone else involved in my care to make sure that I continue to see more birthdays ahead for both of my daughters.