My step-father, David, learned he had late-stage pancreatic cancer earlier this year. The news came so soon after his retirement that it was hard to believe it wasn’t a cruel practical joke. But, unlike a prank gone too far, there was no “Gotcha!” There was no nervous laughter from my mother on the phone, in Atlanta, to signal the “all clear.” There was only a sadness, and fear, so present that the rest of the world seemed to drain away for an instant.
A hospital visit for some untreated back pain had revealed something none of us had expected. David, it turns out, had been living with pancreatic cancer for quite some time. After the initial diagnosis, he wanted to visit Johns Hopkins for a full assessment. I found my way to Baltimore to be there with him.
The first time you see true fear in the eyes of someone you love is unforgettable.
But, in the face of fear and uncertainty, I have seem more bravery than I knew possible. I have seen David defy odds. I have seen him smiling while an IV delivers his chemo-therapy. I have seem him crack jokes with hospital nurses. I have seen him using every ounce of courage we have as humans to not let cancer define his life.
Though David sometimes looks a little worn out from round after round of chemo, I don’t see fear anymore. I see strength. I see love, and I see hope. I see a man who knows his story is far from over.
For future generations, this story does not need to begin in the first place. Pancreatic cancer has proven to be one of the most difficult cancers to treat. But, with the support of great friends and greater families, we can turn the tide.
Thank you for taking the time to read my side of David’s story. It would mean the world to me and my family if you considered donating to our cause. You can find more information here.