Those two words were all my mom needed to whisper over the phone, because in that instant—that single breath that it took her to muster that phrase— my entire world stopped turning. Again.
My dad has been cancer free for more than a decade. I remember the day he was first diagnosed like it was yesterday. I remember seeing him for the first time, stepping off the airplane when he was in the middle of chemo—bald head, missing eyebrows, and all; and I remember that joyful day when we got the official word that he was in remission.
But today, eleven years, two months, and fifteen days later, his cancer is back. This time it’s in his liver, lymph nodes, and a few other places.
His doctors are shocked. We’re shocked. I mean, of course there’s always a stupid chance it could come back, but having it rear its ugly head now, 10 years down the line, just seems like a cruel joke. Right now he’s getting poked, prodded, and pinned, as they try to figure out what type of cancer it is and where it’s coming from, so they can get a prognosis.
He’s going to fight it again—he has to fight it again; he will fight it again—but it’s going to be hard, much harder this time. I know how much of a toll it took on him the first time, and it’s going to be a bitch the second time around. But he can do it. He’s overcome so much, that we know he can beat this.
As for me, my stomach will be in knots, and I’m officially holding my breath, and constantly sending prayers up until I hear that they’ve killed every single last stupid cell again. I may only be two states away from my family right now, but it feels like I’m half a world away again. The fact that I can’t be there to help my mom and brother makes my heart ache.
*Written on July 20