The nursery rhyme goes, “sugar and spice, and everything nice. That’s what little girls are made of.” This is one of many rhymes and lullabies my daughters heard from me when they were younger. There are still buzz words and phrases they hear from me, that remind them, I have not forgotten their childhood memories they have given me. Of course, that often more likely results in the teenage “eye roll”. I don’t care.
Those days are so long ago now, and Easter dresses and other holiday outfits, are now prom gowns and other formal dance dresses.
But this moment is more than just about inevitability. It is yet another milestone that I have been able to reach in my cancer survivorship, and with all the health issues I have faced because of that survivorship. In the past, many of my caregivers often accused me of understating and undervaluing the events that I have gone through, just because I keep on “keepin’ on.” It is all I know.
The reality is, and words I will never forget hearing from my cardiologist, I was dying back in 2008. It was “not a matter of ‘if’, but ‘when’ from a fatal heart condition.” Not my cancer, but an issue related to the radiation therapy I received for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma back in 1988. That therapy has cause many issues, just to my heart alone.
My daughters now old enough, did not witness my cancer journey, and were just toddlers when I had my life saving open heart surgery (the first of three eventual heart surgeries), so they really do not have many memories of that. As time has gone on, they have seen more of the issues I struggle with, but now they are older and can understand why.
They understand it goes beyond a Dad being all sappy and mushy as I cling to pictures with the Easter Bunny and playground games, and then look at them now, and lose it.
My doctors now know, I do not underestimate or undervalue the medical challenges I have faced. But boy do I celebrate each new milestone and event, I otherwise would never have seen had it not been for the medical experts and the science that found the cures and surgeries to help me heal.
I warned my older daughter that with this being her last semester of high school, these next few months were going to fly by. We are already through two months, and prom season is around the corner. Another milestone by all rights, I know I am more than lucky to be able to see.