I remember the occasion as if it were yesterday. We were invited to my brother's home to celebrate my father's 60th birthday. We were all there and having a good time when Dad invited some of us siblings to the front porch to tell us something.
"I have some bad news. I've got cancer. It's in the bladder and I will be beginning treatment soon."
We were all hit hard with the news. Dad's mother and father had both died of cancer, although nobody had yet been diagnosed with bladder cancer, or worse still, died of the disease. Dad's younger brother had also died of cancer at age 53. We were all afraid of any cancer diagnosis.
But Dad received his treatment, painful at times, no doubt. And he has gone in every year for consultations and tests to make sure there is no recurrence. And, thank God, there hasn't been any bad news in 15 years.
Today, my father celebrates his 75th birthday. I called him last night to talk about his success in the battle against bladder cancer. Since he doesn't need many material things these days, I decided to make a donation to the Childhood Cancer Fund on his behalf so that those whose family life is disrupted with a diagnosis of cancer for a child will receive a home kit that the whole family can use to discuss the treatment and understand what to expect.
Since Dad has had cancer and his eldest son has had cancer, it somehow seemed an appropriate birthday gift.
"Congratulations, Dad! We celebrate another birthday today with far better news than what we heard 15 years ago. I hope someday to hear my sons congratulating me on reaching my 75th birthday...only 22 years away now. "