A cancer diagnosis is one of the most shocking things to hear and share. As an 11-year-old, I was not prepared to hear “Your dad has cancer.” Ten years later, as a 21-year-old, I still have not forgotten the feeling that I had after my mother shared the diagnosis.

My dad was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, which had invaded his spine’s bone marrow through multiple tumors. When my dad was first given his cancer diagnosis, he was told that if he lived, he would likely never walk again or do the things he loved, like golfing or boating. My parents tried to protect my brother and I from the scary reality that my dad was facing.

During the summer that my dad was diagnosed and treated, my brother and I spent the majority of time at the houses of friends and family, so my mom could be with my dad and protect us from seeing his battle with cancer. Telling people that he had cancer didn’t feel real, and I couldn’t accept the possibility of losing him to cancer.

The reality was that in the months following his diagnosis, my dad would go on to receive chemotherapy, radiation, and a stem cell transplant. My brother and I didn’t see my dad much during these treatments and procedures, but we visited whenever we could. It was hard not having my dad home, and when he finally came home after he finished treatment and rehab, I was so excited. I created a giant poster for him and couldn’t stop hugging him once he got home. My dad coming home from treatment was a blessing, but it was just the start of his healing. The thing that is so scary about cancer is that there is the possibility that it can come back.

No two people have the same experience with cancer. Although cancer can do a lot of things, there are also a lot of things cancer can’t do. It can never take away love, someone’s determination, or spirit. Throughout the whole process, my dad never stopped fighting to beat cancer and he told us that our family and having more time with us is what kept him focused. My dad beat the odds by going into remission, walking again, and playing golf.

His fight didn’t stop there, after he survived cancer, he began doing research, donating to cancer organizations, and talking to people in the community about his journey. When my dad heard about anyone he knew being diagnosed with cancer, he reached out and gave advice about doctors and treatment facilities he had used. His journey inspired me, and it is just one of many examples of the strength of the cancer community.

No matter how lonely a cancer diagnosis can feel, no one is alone in their battle. The doctors, nurses, and organizations dedicated to helping those touched by cancer and their families are there every step of the way. Additionally, outside of the medical field, the community of cancer survivors is unparalleled in strength.

Throughout the process of a cancer diagnosis, it is important to find comfort and support from friends, family, neighbors, and teachers. Looking back on this experience, I was blessed to have such a strong support system help me to get through the coping process. Everyone will go through their own journey, but everyone should remain hopeful because one day there will be a cure.

Throughout his battle with cancer, my dad showed me that the values of strength, determination, and hope can go a lot further than you think. He was the strongest person I have ever known and beat cancer after being in remission for five years.

When he was diagnosed with cancer, I was in seventh grade, and after he beat cancer, I was lucky enough for him to live on to see me graduate high school, as well as attend my freshman year of college. My dad lived every day after his cancer diagnosis to the fullest until the day he died in 2018 following a sudden heart attack. Losing my dad was the hardest experience, but it was a gift to still have that time to spend with him after his cancer diagnosis.

My dad always told me, “you are stronger than you think.” I want people to know from reading this blog that although there are things we can and cannot control, it is important to have hope and never give up. Now more than ever, health and wellness are not guaranteed, but we must always fight on for ourselves and the loved ones we have lost because there is still so much to live and hope for.

Today and every day, I am choosing to fight on for my dad, and I know if he were here, he would be joining me to help with my work at the Wellness House of Annapolis.

Clare Costa circle

Article by Clare Costa, Social Media Intern at Wellness House of Annapolis 

Clare Costa is a senior majoring in Integrated Marketing Communication at Pepperdine University. As an Annapolis native, Clare is excited to give back to the community through her marketing internship with the Wellness House of Annapolis. When asked why she chose to intern for the Wellness House of Annapolis, Clare said, “As soon as I found out about the opportunity, I couldn’t wait to start. As someone who has seen my loved ones battle cancer, I feel connected to the mission of the organization, and I value the work the Wellness House does to support the cancer community.”