On cancer

Yesterday was a hard day for our family….

I didn’t think about what I was going to say when I made that video. I just blurted out how I was feeling at that moment, I’ve never made a video before.

You see, my Mom, Dad, Aunty and I went into the appointment with the specialist at the Cross Cancer Institute feeling great about the appointment as we thought the doctor would just say that his levels had risen just a bit, nothing to worry about. It would take time for the levels to come down, and they will just keep an eye on it. Obviously that was not the case.

As we walked into the Cross Cancer Institute, I saw so many people sitting and waiting. Our waiting room was quiet. Chairs lined the halls, filled with people of all ages. All Waiting. Waiting for their turn to hear what the specialist would advise.

We were called into the doctor’s office, we all sat together, listening to the doctor explain the details in layman’s terms. He was very thorough and gave so much info that there was very little left to ask by the end of the appointment. We wore very little emotion on our faces, we all sat there expressionless. Like the wind had been knocked out of us. My Dad has the more aggressive type of Prostate cancer. There was no way I was going to break down at all, because that wouldn’t be fair to my father to have to comfort me when it’s him that has to deal with the reality that is cancer.

“Thank you for your time Doctor”. He left to explain the status of another cancer patient’s treatment in the next room. It was time to leave, digest the information, and Dad was advised to call back with what his decision would be. Wait? Seek radiation therapy as soon as possible?  Dad’s main worry after the appointment was in regards to who would look after his cattle. Yup, that’s my Dad, a soft-hearted man.

When we walked out of the doctor’s office into the waiting room, everything looked different. I smiled at everyone lined up still waiting to go for their appointment, and I thought: how is it we are here obviously dealing with cancer in some way…sitting, waiting, filled with anger, rage, sadness, frustration, and we are able to hold it together. We sit and we wait, reading magazines, looking out windows, inwardly hoping, inwardly praying. But we wear brave faces.

Everything looked different on the walk out.

We went to the nearby Southgate Centre for a coffee and a cinnamon bun. We didn’t say a lot, there were no tears, we just enjoyed one another’s company.

My Dad and I were visiting on a mall bench and looked up and thought the leaf art work in the sky light was so pretty…  Right after I took this picture, I looked to my right and my dear friend Tawny was walking by us. We never just accidentally bump into one another in the City.  Kismet.

We said our good-byes, and I drove home with the windows down, music turned up as loud as it would go.

I picked up my kids, fed them supper, sat down in my office and it all sunk in. I phoned a few of my sisters, and then I cried like a baby. And made that video.

But I want you to know something, despite the tears and the fears I shared, I feel very hopeful. My Dad is a fighter and I have faith he will make it through this second fight. I feel positive. At this point in my life, I’ve realized there is real power in sharing and connecting, and sometimes that means showing vulnerability.  It means we are not alone. There are others feeling the same frustration, pain, and anger.  One doesn’t have to put on a brave face all the time, it’s OK to show that emotion, and then move forward through it. By sharing, you create a circle of support that is so needed during times of trial.

cancer is that horrible disease that brings forward emotions one has never felt before, and often those feelings are just left within to grow and fester. Our family has always come together in faith and support. We believe in the power of prayer. My Dad asked me to share his journey with you so that he has people out there praying for him.

Sometimes, it’s hard to know what to say when you see someone in pain.  But, the positive thoughts, prayers, kind words, a hand reached out in support, a coffee delivered to your door, a phone call, an e-mail, a smile when you pass by…truly has the power to change the state of another’s heart. The strength of the human spirit is alive and well my friends. Thank you God for that.

There is power in authentic sharing and connecting. I believe it changes perceptions and it’s what makes walls come down. We are not alone, we are never alone.

So thank you to all our friends and family who have taken time out of their busy lives to support, care, and pray. We appreciate it more than you could ever know.

Thank you for all of those who have donated to our Team Hope for the Leduc Relay for Life.  http://convio.cancer.ca/goto/christinehopaluk
It’s the only way I know how to fight back at this time when I feel so helpless…not just in honour of my Father and in memory of my Aunt, but also for all of the loved ones out there who have been affected by cancer.

I will leave you with a blog post that I wrote before my Dad was diagnosed with Prostate cancer: http://christinehopaluk.com/blog/2010/08/07/at-the-farm-with-my-dad/

I love you Dad. Fight. Fight. Fight.

From my heart to yours,