Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Celebrating Survivorship

I was chosen to be the keynote speaker for the 4th Annual Survivorship Day Celebration at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.  They contacted me back in February and asked me if I would be interested in sharing my story.  Without a second thought I of course said yes!  I was very honored to have been chosen.  Although I was a patient there I had never been to this event.  It is a wonderful event bringing together cancer survivors, their friends as well as families.  It is a celebration of life.

When I found out about it I let my dad know and I asked if he would be able to be there that day.  He told me in an email (which was our main means of communication) that it was great news and he would be there if he could, if he was still around.  I wondered that much as well.  As the date drew closer I would bring it up and he began telling me he wasn't sure.  When I saw him on his birthday in April I finally saw how sick and weak he had become.  I stopped asking.  I still secretly hoped he would be there.  He died on June 2nd and I gave my speech a week later on the 10th.  Wondering how the hell I would still be able to do it I knew somehow I had to, it was too important to me.  I didn't want to let anyone down most of all myself.  It was very hard to get up in front a room full of people with all the sadness in my heart. It was hard to be at an event to celebrate my own cancer survivorship when he just lost his life to cancer.   But I did it, enjoyed it and hopefully inspired everyone there.  I even made them laugh!  Although I  had just lost so much somehow I hung on to my sarcasm.

I thought of my dad and wished that he could have seen me, that he could have been there.  In a way it was like he made sure he was....

Click here and  head on over to the page for the video clip of my speech.  Beware though it is 25 minutes long,  but I think it is worth it!  :)

Let me know what  you guys think!

Monday, August 11, 2008

More Dreams...

I keep having dreams about my dad which surprisingly makes me feel a little closer to him.  As I had said in my last dream post, I believe that this is one of the ways the dead can "visit" or communicate with us.  I am amazed at the messages I am getting from him.

About a week ago there he was again.  I also tried to write this one down to recall the detail although when I first woke up I had already forgotten some of it.  But luckily not the message within.  All I recall is him telling me that he stayed longer than he was supposed to , longer than his program was for.  Now I don't know how many of you believe this but I have always felt that when we come into this life we sign up beforehand for a program, meaning things we will go through both good and bad in order for our souls to learn while we are here.  I also believe in past lives, that I have been through here before.  So when he told me that, I asked him why and his response was "So you wouldn't have to be alone when you were sick."

I need to back track somewhat for you here for this to make sense.  About 6 months prior to my cancer diagnosis my dad had a brush with death.  He was rushed to the ER with a burst appendix.  They did surgery and the docs were all shocked that he pulled through.  They said they didn't have an explanation for it since he was in such bad shape.  But he did good and got better quickly.  When I was sick he was the only one in my family who was there everyday in the hospital, took me to all my chemo treatments, even offered to stay with me (to which I said "hell no")  which was so different than he was in our relationship.  He and I were always estranged but when the chips were down he somehow was there for me.  Even when I didn't want him to be.  

So this dream has left me wondering if he survived then so that he could be there for me when I had cancer.  Maybe this was him letting me know that to be true.  I would like to think that it was.  And it makes me all the more grateful to have had him there with me through it all.  

I only wish I had been able to return the favor when he was sick...