Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Back in November, very unexpectedly, we found out that my daddy had prostate cancer. When I really think about it, most people do find out kind of unexpectedly that they have cancer. I guess what I mean is that he didn't feel bad, he didn't have any "symptoms". He was having routine blood work done while at work and when his PSA levels came back, his numbers were off the charts. Of course after the initial blood work, there was lots more blood work, ultrasounds, biopsies, CT scans, bone scans and the works.  
I vividly remember the afternoon that our fears were confirmed and we found out that my daddy did indeed have prostate cancer, and that it was very aggressive. My parents were at the doctor's office, while the rest of us were at work biting our fingernails and pacing the floor. Around 2:30 I couldn't take it any longer and I text Owens to see if he had heard anything from Mom. Nothing. I finally sent a text to Mom and waited. When her reply came back through I hesitated to check it. I sat and waited. At that very moment, in my mind, my daddy didn't have cancer. If I checked the message, then I might find out otherwise and I didn't want to know. So, I continued to wait. After two or three minutes, which felt more like two or three hours, I checked the message and my heart broke in half. My chest felt heavy and my stomach hurt. I was scared. I was sad. I was angry. I didn't understand it and I didn't want my daddy to have cancer.
Finding out through a text might sound a little impersonal to some, but it kind of works for our family. We're all sort of emotional, so talking and actually saying words out loud doesn't always work. We can text, process the information and then talk. 
And that's what we did. We processed those words, "It's cancer", all afternoon and then we talked. Or tried to. I remember wanting to call my daddy so badly, but not knowing what to say. I was afraid I would crumble and I wanted to be strong. I was afraid he would know I was scared and I wanted him to think I was brave. So, I talked to Travis and Owens and my mom. And I sent texts to my daddy. Nothing long. Nothing serious. Nothing sad. Just, "I love you". 
While we are emotional and while talking doesn't always work because we can't seem to get the words out, when we do finally start talking, we talk about everything. Nothing is really off limits. So, when I finally found the strength to call my daddy, I wanted to know how he was. I wanted to know how he was feeling and if he was having a good day or a bad day. 
There have been lots of good days since that day back in the fall. And there's been lots of not so good days. Days where my daddy didn't feel good. Days where he's been more tired that he knew he could ever feel. Days where he didn't want to go back for another treatment. Days where we thought nine weeks of radiation would never end. Days where we felt sad and scared and angry. 
The weekends have been our saving grace. Fall weekends were spent at the farm, riding fourwheelers. We took a trip to the mountains. The winter brought the holidays and a night camping. And the spring and early summer have brought weekends at the lake and time on the boat. Each weekend has gotten us through another week. And now, nine long weeks have passed.
And today my daddy finished his radiation. All done. Complete. Forty-five days behind us. 
Today was one of the good days in this roller coaster called cancer.
It was the day where we could all gather together. We could smile. We could feel good. We could be happy.
We could come and watch my daddy ring the bell. The bell that signifies the end of radiation. The end of nine weeks. Ringing the bell is a pretty big deal.
While we were waiting on my daddy to finish his last treatment, someone else was able to ring the bell. She had the biggest smile on her face and everyone in the waiting room clapped and cheered for her. 
And when my daddy rang the bell, the same thing took place. He had a smile on his face that I've never seen before. A different kind of smile. A smile that I will never forget. And everyone in the waiting room clapped and cheered. It felt so good.
We know this journey is not over. My daddy will continue to need hormone injections every six months through the rest of this year. And he will need to be seen periodically by his doctor to make sure his cancer is completely gone and doesn't return. 
But today we could stop and celebrate. Celebrate the end of radiation. Celebrate my daddy's strength and determination. Celebrate our family.
The family that I am so thankful to have. These last nine months have not been easy ones. They have tested our strength and courage and faith. But through each day, each week, each treatment, we supported one another, encouraged one another and loved one another. 
Today was a good day. And I love a good day. 

Happy "End of Radiation" Day, Daddy! I love you and I'm so proud of you. 


Kathy Hardison said...

What a day it was for sure! Our family unit has been "a rock" through this and for that I will be forever grateful. I love you to pieces, Skeeta!

Roddey said...

Awesome post Heather and what a fabulous day! What a wonderful family y'all have, love y'all!

Kelly Lee said...

Beautiful post Heather. Love all of you so much! I know it meant the world to him to have all of you there this morning to celebrate this milestone!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful words...However, not what I should read before going to school after already finishing my make up for the day! I cant wait to see everyone this summer!!!

Anonymous said...

I guess I should have signed my name!

Anonymous said...

A very good day indeed!!! Loved seeing all these smiles in your pictures...made my heart swell with happiness for the Hardison family. Thank you to our Heavenly Father for this wonderful day...Love Phala & Lyn and family

MJP said...

What a beautiful post. Way to go, Heather's Daddy!

Elizabeth said...

Beautiful post!! You can tell in the pictures what a genuine family you all are! Will continue to pray for your family!

Anonymous said...

So well written. Go Team Gator! Lovevyou all!


Lexie Loo, Lily Boo, and Dylan Too! said...

What a beautiful post! So glad he's doing well!