We all have a cancer story. You have yours. I have mine.
They are the same story. One story, one antagonist – many protagonists. Too many protagonists.
Many heroes. More every day.
The heroes of the cancer story are our mothers, our fathers, our grandparents.
Our kids. Our life partners. Our friends. Our co-workers.
We are the heroes of this story.
It is a gripping story, a real page-turner. It has all the elements, including the most important element of any compelling story – after every chapter, we ask the question, sometimes with dread, sometimes with a thrill of anticipation:
What happens next?
In the United States, what will happen in 2016 is 1.6 million people will be diagnosed with cancer, and an estimated 595,690 people will be killed by it. That’s about the population of Milwaukee, the 31st-largest city in the country.
But that’s not how the story ends. Not even close.
This year, more than $125 billion will be spent in the U.S. on research into cancer prevention and a cure. We will see more stories about promising breakthroughs like the one that emerged earlier this week from the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science: Excitement at New Cancer Treatment.
Stories like this enrich the narrative, a narrative whose foundation is hope.
Oren Miller embodied hope, even when poised on the edge of eternity, as he publicly began to acknowledge that his cancer journey was near its end. When hope faded, there was grace.
My own contribution to this great, awful, story of us is influenced by and intertwined with that of Oren Miller. I have shared it with only a few – family members, close friends. I will share it publicly Saturday as a member of a panel at the fifth annual Dad 2.0 Summit: Striking Back – the Galvanizing Effect of Battling Cancer.
When I do talk about it, when I tell about my contribution to the sprawling saga of cancer, I will share a dais with three people who inspire me beyond words: Beth Blauer, Oren Miller’s incredible wife; Mark Hedstrom, who heads up the well-known men’s health initiative known as Movember in the United States; and the incomparable Jim Higley, who gave me my first chance to do something good in the name of fighting cancer when he invited me to write a blog post on behalf of the Testicular Cancer Awareness Foundation in 2013.
My story is your story. The time is right to share it. Now, when it is new enough to feel real, but when enough time has elapsed for perspective to begin to take hold. Now, when I know enough about my part in this tale to perhaps help someone else make sense of theirs.
We all have a cancer story.
When I put out the call last week for other fathers I know to share theirs, the response was strong.
Their stories are yours. And mine.
And here they are, vignettes that will tear out your heart or sooth your soul. Some will do both, and so much more.
The story of cancer is your story. It is my story. It is ours. It is still being written.
There are heroes yet to rise. But rise they will.
What happens next?
We will write our own ending together.
David Stanley, Dads Roundtable: Seven Rules You Should Follow When Visiting Someone with Cancer
Charlie Capen, How to be a Dad: Harry Potter and the Curious Cancer
John Taylor, Good Men Project: Life After Cancer – the Suck of Survival
Bryan Alkire, KZoo Dad: Every Parent’s Worst Nightmare
Brian S. Marks, Dashing Dad: Cancer Needs a Better Publicist
Jason Greene, One Good Dad: Kids and Grief – Dealing With My Children as they Grieve
Michael Moebes, Dadcation: F**k You Cancer