Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Archive for the month “June, 2017”

Dad – The Next Level


I have just returned from a wonderful Father’s Day weekend visiting my daughters.  As I am prone to do, I packed as many things as possible into this one weekend.  As they expected, there would be some adventure, but also a lot of “nerdy” things such as visiting “Dad’s past life” such as my college and the very first radio station I disc jockeyed at (although that was a bust as it was closed for the Summer break – back in the old days, the station ran year round).

As far as lessons in life, I gave my daughters one of their most important lesson, the value of friendship.  As children grow, one of their most traumatic concerns, is losing friends.  This commonly occurs when either moving to a new city or school.  Of course, as parents, we always encourage our children, “you will make new friends”.  But do you have to lose your old friends?

My daughters learned this past weekend, you can keep your friends your whole life.  One of my life long friends, along with her husband, had invited us to stay with them while I was visiting my daughters.  My daughters were amazed that I had remained friends with someone from school, more than 35 years ago.  It was a wonderful weekend all around for all of us, including our hosts.  They enjoyed the company of my daughters who as usual, were on their most polite behavior, something I always instilled in my daughters as always being important.  In fact, there was quite a bit of interaction as we played table games, shared stories about all of us, and my youngest daughter learned a new talent courtesy of my friends, how to play the guitar.

Up to this point, it was just like old times.  Just Dad and his girls, having their typical time together.  Time frozen.  Part of our weekend though would include their request of the weekend.  To go see a movie.  Being back home, I knew just the place to take them, a drive-in movie.  My daughters had never been to a movie where you parked and watched the movie from your car, and the perfect movies were playing at this drive-in, Cars 3 and Captain Underpants.  Perfect.  Under normal circumstances, this is the way things worked.  My daughters make the suggestions, and I work out the details.  This time, they had a suggestion, “The Book Of Henry.”

Both of my daughters were emphatic that they wanted to see this movie.  I had not heard of this movie, so of course I “googled” the trailer.  Based on the trailer, I found myself second guessing if this was going to be an appropriate movie for my daughters.  During the preview, it was clear there were a lot of “grown up” issues being shown, child abuse, possible murder, and who knew what to expect with a movie casting Sarah Silverman (a raunchy, but funny comedienne).  Well, being the nerd that I am, I saw this as an opportunity for what it was, a learning moment.  I was sure there would be questions after the movie, and I was the right parent to handle those questions.

Do not worry, I will not spoil the movie for you.  With a PG-13 rating, the movie was actually geared and targeting young teens.  And the previews of the movie did not disappoint either as far as what I would possibly face discussing with my daughters:  death, child abuse, bullying, single parenting, alcohol, obscenities, and solving problems with violence.  While that list is daunting, it was far from the level of intensity of the Fast & The Furious.

By the end of the movie, all three of us had shared some laughs, and at least one, some tears.  As we left the movie, all of us shared our own view point of the movie, but one thing was clear, we all enjoyed it.  And then it hit me.  This was the first “grown movie” I had watched with my daughters.  There would be no more Toy Story or Despicable Me movies.  I am more than aware of how old they are, but now was aware of how old they had become.

I have now entered the next level of fatherhood.

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Cancer Survivor Day 2017


Today is Cancer Survivor Day.  And like millions and millions of others, I am one of those survivors.  In fact, this year marks my 27th Cancer Survivor Day.

These occasions are always a day of mixed feelings for me, because of those that do not get to celebrate with us today.  So it is important, that we do not lose the fact, that so many people were able to defy the odds, and beat their cancer.  Decades ago, cancer was an automatic death sentence.  Even back in the 1980’s when I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, the cure was not guaranteed.

For many of us, who were treated with such harsh treatments decades ago, have found ourselves fighting an ironic fight, fighting the side effects from the treatments that cured us.  We traded one fate with death, for another.  But because of us long term survivors, recent cancer patients are now treated with lower dosages with the same results, or even new medicines or therapies all together.  And as reported in the current issue of CURE magazine, the risks of late side effects for newer survivors is on the decline.  This is great news!

You may hear many of us say that we “do not want cancer to define us,” but in reality, it is unavoidable.

My battle with Hodgkin’s, along with the many serious late effects that I have to deal with, some on a daily basis, have taken “survivorship” to a whole new level.  From the day I finished my treatment, I learned that I will no longer pick my fights or challenges.  I will take each and every one with the same ferocity as I did my cancer battle.  I will take on employers, public figures, and have done so, with the frame of mind, “you will not beat me.”

And if there is anything I want people to know about me… I WILL NEVER GIVE UP!!!

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