Cherish Every Second

Late last year I was taught by a greater force that life is timed for everyone. It was late October when my uncle elected to take his own life. Less than a month later, my dog, who I had grown up with for more than half of my life, had to be put down. Much of this year passed without any problems. However, when I thought everything was on track, I was delivered a bombshell in July: my father was diagnosed with esophageal cancer.

The news was devastating to learn. Obviously whenever someone is diagnosed with any form of cancer, it’s devastating. I had no idea how much it would affect my psyche for the next few weeks. I didn’t know what was going to happen next and for that matter, my family didn’t know that much either. I was afraid that my father’s time was very limited. Wouldn’t you be afraid of that? My father talked to me about my fears and gave me some very important advice going forward: don’t act any different; treat every day as if it were a normal day. It’s easier said than done, but I have taken his advice and treated every day as a normal day.

When I began telling people close about the situation at hand, they sent me their best wishes for my family and father. People still come to me and send their wishes to my father and ask how he’s doing. My girlfriend has been extremely supportive and my friends are helping me take my mind off of this daunting situation. For everything they’ve done, I thank them for being so supportive, so caring and just being there to talk.

On the day before my birthday, my father told me of what was going to happen. Starting in September, he would be traveling to Ann Arbor every weekday to get chemo and radiation. After that period, he would have time to recover and build strength for major surgery in November.

When I first heard him talking about chemo and radiation, I couldn’t help but think about how chemo affects people. I’ve seen on television shows and heard from people that chemo makes people very sick and that they lose their hair. So naturally, I was expecting the six-week treatment schedule to be difficult. I expected the worst to happen in terms of chemo side effects. It didn’t happen.

My father went from September to October with barely any problems. I was surprised that all the way through this, there was no significant problem. It’s been about two or three weeks since my father’s last chemo session and he’s already back at work. It’s a great thing to see him being active again.

With that said though, this is all just half of the plan. First and foremost, this is major surgery, and while I expect nothing but the best from the University of Michigan Hospital, I can’t help but think of the risks of major surgery. Second, I don’t know what happens after the surgery and from what I know, I’m not sure my family knows either. When someone asks what I’m scared of, my first answer will always be the unknown. I like knowing what happens. It scares me – I’m sure it would scare you too – to not know what to anticipate.

Despite this, I plan to keep the course I’ve stayed on this entire time. Treat every day as a normal one. Don’t get wrapped up in something you can’t control and just enjoy every moment you have in life, because it would be a shame to have a pessimistic outlook on life. I hope the people who have supported me throughout this period continue to do so because they’ve helped me a lot more than they could ever imagine.

All of this brings me back to what I said in the opening: life is timed for everyone. That itself is kind of a scary thing to think about, because we don’t know our expiration date. With that said, it’s important that you cherish everyone who has been in your life and has made a positive impact on you. Whether it’s a friend or family member, let them know that you appreciate them and that you want to be with them as much as possible. Talk with them. Go to a game with them. Do something with them. Make them know that you care about them.