BENEFITING: American Cancer Society
ORGANIZER: American Cancer
EVENT: 2018 Pittsburgh Marathon
EVENT DATE: May 06, 2018
Hi there! Thanks for taking the time to read about my (dad’s) story and considering making a donation to a charity that I feel so strongly about.I thought April 13, 2016 was the worst day of my life, the day that I found out that my daddy, 59 years old, was diagnosed with late staged esophageal cancer. Until 6 months later, on the morning of October 26th 2016 when I got the phone call that he had passed away.When we learned of his diagnoses, we were all so scared. I know my family tried to keep information minimal to keep us from panicking, but it was bad from the beginning. My heart told me that “there was no way that this would go further than a few treatments” Of course I thought nothing can happen to MY dad. I was angry and frustrated- I wondered (and still do) how such heartbreaking things happen to the best people. To say that my family and I lived on a complete rollercoaster for the next 6 months is truly an understatement.In the midst of all the back and forth with UPMC Shadyside Hospital and his many visits to Hillman Cancer Center, My now husband (my fiancé at the time) and I were simultaneously planning our wedding day. J.R. had proposed to me the year prior and we were quickly approaching our wedding date in August. At the time of our proposal- there was no thought in the world that my dad was sick. We felt like we were living a fairytale and a nightmare all at the same time. My dad was In and out of the hospital, taking chemo treatments, trying so hard to manage the cancer pain. Trying to live our lives at the same time, we were always anxiously keeping tabs on his health and progress, checking our phones for updates, getting through the workday, fighting traffic and making our way to either the hospital or his house to help organize the pain medicine he was on and to just spend quality time. We thought about canceling the wedding. It was too much to handle and it felt so selfish to plan the happiest day of our lives while living through the absolute worst. My dad insisted that the wedding go on. There were times when we didn’t think he’d make it.
Cancer is an absolute nightmare. For anyone that’s been through it or watched someone go through it- my heart is with you. I never in my wildest dreams thought something like that could happen to me or someone so close to home, let alone my beloved dad. For those who Survive- you’re incredible and for those who pass away- in my mind, you’re even more. You’ve left behind your families and perhaps gave up so much dignity and pride in the midst of your fight. We’ve cried and struggled missing my dad every single day. He was awesome, point blank. He was brave and strong and not only to his 4 children (I fall second in line) but to anyone that he was close with. My dad was a single parent, awarded 100% custody over the four of us 15 years prior. He played the role of mom and dad like such a champ and he loved us like crazy. He loved his family and when it came time for him to be home with Hospice- that’s where he wanted to be. For his final 16 days in the twin hospital bed in his room, we all surrounded him every day. He had the best advice and the funniest jokes and was so warm and so respected. My dad was so strong that on August 13th he put on a tuxedo, walked me down the aisle and twirled me on the dancefloor to a Frank Sinatra song, like he said he would. That day was what he was pushing for so hard and two months later- we said goodbye. He was so proud on that day, it’s like he was given new life just for those moments. If I’ve learned anything from watching my daddy fight so hard for his life was that there were so many people willing to lift us up as a family and offer support at any second of the day. I realized that time is so precious and that the little things really are the big things. I talked to so many families and friends of people that are affected by cancer and that most often when you explain a scenario, that person has been through something similar or truly knows someone who has. I learned most of all that you don’t realize how strong you are until that’s your only choice.This is my 3rd year running the Pittsburgh half marathon as part of the DICK’S Sporting Good’s corporate team but my first year raising money to fight cancer though the American Cancer Society. I am running because at the end of my daddy’s battle he just couldn’t walk anymore. My dad lost 100lbs in 3 months and although he was so physically weak, he was truly mentally strong until the end. The man that loved to drive his car and to race across the lawn in the back yard couldn’t stand on his own two feet. I am running because he used so much energy just to sit up in bed and was out of breathe with such little activity. I am running because for the rest of my life I’ve vowed to do things he’d be so proud of and impressed by. With the smallest amount of money raised, I hope this dedication brings warmth to other families and friends who have witnessed such heartache after losing someone to cancer or are helping another survive.