I was eleven years old when lung cancer took my father from my family and me at the age of just fifty. Almost twenty-three years later, I still remember the day he started complaining about the "pinched nerve" in his shoulder, and I definitely remember the day I found out the diagnosis was much more painful and horrifying than that. I can picture the dark, cold nights at the hospital watching the nurses dart in and out of his room, making sure the bags of morphine and whatever else was on the menu were still full. I remember the day he was sent home, unbeknownst to me at age eleven, to spend his last moments here on Earth with his wife and three sons.
For months I watched as the hospice nurses, along with my strong, devoted mother, did the best they could to keep him comfortable as he physically wasted away to only a shell of himself. However, his light-hearted spirit was there until the bitter end.
I will never forget the Sunday Reverend Sydnor brought communion to our house for my father. Before he left, he asked my father how he was feeling. After sitting patiently through a few colorful descriptions of what my dad was going through, he asked him "is there anything else I can get for you?" to which my dad quickly responded, "Yeah Charles, I'll take some sun, sand, a beach chair, and a Miller Lite please!" The treatments and medicine had chipped away at his mind and made him a bit loopy, but that was still my dad in there.
I am very thankful to have had the very little time I had with my father. I'm even more thankful that, years later, my amazing mother battled and beat breast cancer while managing to care for three stubborn boys. She is an incredible woman, as is my cousin who beat breast cancer, and as was my aunt who passed away from lung cancer two and a half years ago.
I am extremely proud to be a member of the Massey Alliance board! This disease has been a recurring theme in my life, and I am determined to do my part to help VCU Massey Cancer Center continue to propel us towards a world without cancer!
Your partnership would mean the world to me. Thank you.