“Your Dad had his physical. . . prostate count was high. . . saw a urologist. . . had a biopsy done. . . Dad has prostate cancer.” These are the important bits I remember from the phone conversation with my Stepmother Wednesday night. My reply consisted of several minutes of unintelligible snotting and snorting noises as I broke down. Dad has cancer.
People in my family often forget I have medical knowledge from my 8-year stint as a medical transcriptionist. My stepmother informed me his cancer was, “medium.” Through my tears I almost giggled because it sounded so absurd. Medium cancer. Pizzas are medium. Fountain drinks are medium. Dad has medium cancer. What does that even mean? Sure it’s better than Large or even XXXL cancer. I don’t want to be told, “I’m sorry you’ll need to visit the Big & Tall Cancer hospital.” Dad has medium cancer.
I’m a self-described Daddys girl. . . one of four Daddie’s girls. Two days later it’s still inconceivable to me. My Daddy isn’t a large man. He’s barely taller than I am without heels (my heels, not his). Just to clarify. Still, this is a man whose booming voice and “look over the top of the glasses” move could always put me in my place. Look up the word “salty” in a dictionary and there’s a picture of my Daddy holding a wrench. As a life-long machinist I’ve seen him with countless cuts and scrapes but I’ve never heard him complain. Oh I’ve heard him string a batch of curse words together that would make Buford T. Justice blush but I’ve never heard him complain. The blue-collar cowboy has cancer.
Upon my Stepmother’s sage advice, I waited till I had several crying jags before I called my Dad. I wanted our conversation to be void of uncomfortable silence and snot noises. When I heard his voice it was hard to hold it together but I did and within minutes he was the one giving the pep-talk, not me. He referred to his medium cancer as being, “goofy,” and in a true Larry Gordon moment said, “why hell, Baby, this aint nothin. Your ole Dad is tough as nails.” He even hinted the whole thing could be a conspiracy for the insurance companies and the doctors to get money out of him. That’s when I knew he was okay. Sure, he’s putting on a brave face because that’s what Daddies do. I’ve only been a parent for nine years and I’m fiercelyprotective of my children. Turns out, after 39 years as a parent, you’re just as protective.
This year for Father’s Day, just like we always have, my siblings along with their families plus Dad and my Stepmom will gather at our house for a BBQ. Through the course of the afternoon there will be tears and hugs because that’s how we do but there will also be laughter. ‘Cause that’s also how we do. The Gordons are firm believers in the power of laughter and nothing is off limits. By the end of the day it wouldn’t surprise me if we haven’t named the tumors or come up with an inappropriate cancer song.
I’m still scared, I’m still weepy and through the course of the next few weeks/months, I will surely need to dig deep for strength and pray for it daily. However, I can’t let the fear win. I’m all about laughing in the face of adversity. Typically it’s a loud boisterous laugh that scares small children. Still.
My Dad is already a big fan of the t-shirt slogan I’m seriously considering having made, “Screw you, Cancer. You are rude.”
Medium cancer, I have no time for your shenanigans. Good day, Sir. I SAID GOOD DAY!
June 18, 2010 at 11:05 am
Well said, friend. Love you. And I will take at least one of those shirts!
June 18, 2010 at 12:56 pm
Oh shugs. My daddy had XXXL cancer. Your family is strong – you are so lucky to have an amazing support system. ‘OlTough as Nails Gordon will come through this. I know it. “Screw you, cancer.” That makes me laugh.
October 23, 2010 at 11:05 pm
I wish you and your dad well. I think it’s a slow growing cancer, right? It’s still such an emotional drag. I feel for you.
October 25, 2010 at 1:55 pm
After a radical surgery in August to remove the prostate, Dad is cancer free and doing well. He returned to work a few weeks ago and although he’ll always have some pretty crummy side affects of the prostate removal, he doesn’t let it show. “Emotional drag” is right and I know you’ve experienced your fair share of that recently with your own Daddy. *hugs*
July 17, 2012 at 7:37 pm
I realize I’m reading this long after the fact, and I’m happy for that as I already know of the happy ending. But this was brilliantly written.