I know you were wondering why this title? Why is Cancer a gift? I found myself thinking those same questions when I read one of my favorite blogs, Everything, and Nothing from Essex. Really why would people believe cancer is a gift? As I continued to read the words that were so eloquently written, I began to see the reasoning behind it. So here are my thoughts as to why Cancer could be considered a gift. Let me first say that for those that don’t know both my sister and my dad died of cancer. My sister died 22 years ago while I was pregnant with my first daughter and my dad we lost almost three years ago. So I have seen first hand what cancer can do to a person as well as to a family. So with that being said here are my reasons that I would consider cancer a gift.
- Gift 1 – A stronger sense of family– When my sister died I felt lost. Although I had three older sisters, Karen was my best friend. She was the one that I grew up with as my two older sisters were eight and nine years older than me. When she died, I felt I was floating adrift. I didn’t have the relationship with my older sisters that I had with Karen. So when I started having my girls, I made sure that even though Maddie is six years older than Gracie with Mikaela in between them that they have a strong bond. I placed spending time with the immediate family when they were little at the top of my list. They are now each other’s best friends. In fact, Gracie feels lost now that they both are away at college. So the gift I got from losing my sister is that I was determined that my girls would have a strong bond so no one would be left out.
- Gift 2- A Legacy of Giving Back– My dad was a huge member of our community. He was involved in so many organizations that people just knew who he was. He had a massive heart for the disabled and the elderly in our community. He was involved in so many organizations that gave back. And when he died I was determined to continue his legacy of giving back. But differently and that has made me look for opportunities to help those in our community.
- Gift 3- Fond Memories – If you had asked me several years ago when my dad passed if I would ever be able to look back and remember him, all I could think of were his last days in hospice care. Those days my dad fought hard to stay with our family. We were fortunate too that his final days, his nurse at the hospice center knew him before he was sick when he was chief of police and knew what a hard working man he was. That was a blessing for us to know that my dad wasn’t just another patient.
- Gift 4- Realization Just How Special Someone is– I knew before my dad died how involved he was in the community but it never really dawned on me how much he was involved and how loved and respected he was. When news broke that my dad had passed, officers from 4 different departments came to the hospice center to escort his body to the funeral home. Watching not only those officers but veterans from the community come together to be on hand as his body was taken to the funeral home was an eye-opener. Not only that but they stopped traffic at every stoplight so that my dad, a fellow officer, would have a proper police escort to the funeral home. The night he died the sheriff stopped by our house to express his condolences and offered his honor guard for the ceremony. We of course accepted. The evening of his visitation I kept watching one particular member of the honor guard who looked like he would break down in tears. I remember asking my mom about him later, and she said my dad taught him how to be a police officer. Wow right.
- Gift 5- Never taking for Granted Time– We never know when something will happen, so I hold my family tight. Sometimes too tight if you ask my girls.
- Gift 6- A New Appreciation for the American Flag– Until you see an American flag draped across the coffin of a loved one and see it folded as Taps is being played. And then it is handed to you; you will never really know the sacrifices that are made. My dad died from exposure from Agent Orange used in Vietnam. Even though he didn’t die in the war, his body became his ultimate sacrifice.
These are just some of the gifts that cancer has given me. I could write more, but I can’t help but think that those words Cancer as a gift came at a time when I needed them the most. On December 22, it will be three years from the day we were told that there wasn’t anything more they could do for my dad. Being able to spend one last Christmas with him made it even more special.