RE-Defined: Cancer Awareness

Two years ago, I wrote Rethinking Cancer Awareness and the South Florida Times published it.

I’m pleased to say my attempt at raising consciousness about this debilitating disease has been re-published with The Coil. Please be sure to check it out and comment there or here.

Rethinking Cancer Awareness

Seven Lessons Reiterated in Seven Days

Re-blogging this in honor of my dad’s birthday, which is today. He’d be thrilled to know he was the subject of something so public.

On July 18, 2015, we laid my daddy’s physical body to rest. He had battled cancer for the previous three years. His death became more than imminent seven days prior. As a result, I was more involved with him and my family in ways that I hadn’t been in the past. Consequently, this list developed.

  1. Everyone has his or her own story about you. Each narrative offers the truth based on a different perspective.

My daddy was great for me until the age of 16. For the next 23 years, he and I didn’t have a close relationship. However, the multitude of phone conversations from his other grandkids implied that he was a wonderful father figure to his stepchildren and their children. For 21 years, he nurtured them and built relationships. Neither of these stories is “wrong.” Each one is just different.

  1. Accept someone’s apology before they apologize.

Three years ago, my daddy sat me down and apologized for not doing something simple for over 20 years: calling and making time for me. In my mind, I never thought he’d come to an understanding about our relationship, so I had created and accepted a mental apology from him years ago (something I saw Iyanla do). By the time we sat down, I was able to actually listen to him with my whole heart, instead of offering “my side” of things.

  1. If someone has decided to make an effort, then those current actions should matter.

For a large part of my life, my father always told me and everyone else he knew that he loved me, but his actions never matched. According to him, the “threat of mortality” made him call, text and Skype me as much as possible over the course of his final three years. Communication increased for that short time and these are the actions by which I choose to remember him.

  1. When you get to the end of your life, you don’t get to add more time.

I kept overhearing my stepmother describe how daddy just wanted a little more time. I imagine that no matter what we do in life, if we’re close to death, we’re going to want to barter for more time. But the reality is that none of us can. There is no 25th hour. The best we can do is plan for tomorrow, but live for today.

  1. You don’t have the right to tell someone how to live his or her life and you certainly don’t have the right to dictate how someone dies.

While in the hospital, my dad decided to stop eating. My stepmother honored his wishes by not offering an IV. Ultimately, this accelerated the rate of his cancer, and ultimately, his death. There were many who felt this an inconvenience and wanted her to do otherwise. We don’t have the right to suggest, tell or judge one’s life or death choices. Ever.

  1. There’s a difference between not being able to do something and not wanting to do something. Be honest about which you’re professing.

The past few days, I’ve observed quite a few people state what they can’t do. The reality is many of us should change the word “can’t” to “I don’t want to.” A lot of times it’s inaccurate to say “I can’t do fill-in-the-blank,” when most of the time, my friends, we can do whatever we set our minds to.

  1. Be compassionate. Be considerate.

Many people I associate with have the ability to see themselves in others. These people felt empathy at this time and attempted to understand what losing two parents might feel like. I’m grateful for them and how they communicated with me over the past seven days. They were considerate, and as a result made my life a little easier. In every situation, be compassionate; be considerate. It goes a long way.