Tri to Beat Cancer
Earlier this year, when I tentatively mapped out my year in races, I never guessed that I would be completing the Tri to Beat Cancer in honor of my dad. Two days ago, at the young age of 53, my dad was diagnosed with the most aggressive form of cancer, and two days ago I officially signed up for this triathlon in August.
I consider myself a fairly fortunate person. The first person that was close to me that I have lost was my grandpa (on Dad’s side) earlier this year. My family has been blessed, as we have experienced no serious illnesses or loss. That, added to the fact that my father is the strongest person I have ever met, contributed to the feeling of having the wind knocked out of me two days ago when I heard the news. My dad (a retired veteran after 20 years in the Coast Guard) regularly works two (or more) jobs, maintains two (or more) houses, is the personal mechanic and handy man for my whole immediate family, volunteers, and has still somehow always found time for me. I have never really known him to show any signs of weakness, and he only mentions something when he is in severe pain. Even today is no different. You would think he was diagnosed with a cold. I know there is no use worrying, and it is still very early in this “game”, for lack of a better phrase. But I can’t help but be afraid, among my other mixture of emotions that I am not quite sure how to read yet.
My dad is my rock, the person I have always trusted in every situation, and always turned to when I was unsure or scared or hurt. He has always encouraged me, and pushed me to be better, even when it was uncomfortable. He not only pushed me to be better, but he has given me the tools, and was my “pit crew” along the way, whether it be in school, relationships, sailing, triathlons, whatever I had in my mind to do at the time. He has taught me everything he knows from how to work on my cars, bicycles, and computers; handy things like sanding, painting, and small projects; nutrition and race strategies; to passing on life and experiences and wisdom. He has been my cheering team both in racing and in life. He has not only always told me I can succeed in everything I set my mind to, but he has truly believed this every step of the way.
Even now, I feel the need to turn to him and ask him how to feel, what to believe, let him tell me everything is going to be okay. But maybe now it is time the roles are reversed. Amongst all the growing pains that I have had in the past 25 years, some that my dad has been behind, and for which I now am thankful, maybe it is time I feel the pain of no longer leaning on him, but being his rock to lean on. Maybe now I can be his “pit crew” and offer support and comfort along the way. Maybe today I can be his cheering team, to remind him along this new journey that he is the strongest person I have ever met, and it will take a lot more than cancer to slow him down. Life is an endurance race, and it’s not even half over yet.