This is Joanii’s story of how she let her dad know that she was thinking of him while keeping his diagnosis a secret from the rest of her family.
I started running 2 years ago as a way to relieve stress and
lose some weight. I was 250ish pounds
and had my video game addiction left me with an extremely sedentary
lifestyle. My husband, daughter, and
father were my biggest supporters.
During my 4am chats as I drove into work talking on the phone to my dad
who was just getting off of night shift, he’d ask how the running was going and
then joking say “one day you’ll be running in Boston”. I’d always laugh and explain to him that I
was struggling to run a 5k no way would I ever run 26.2 let alone even try to
qualify for Boston.
In December of 2013 my father drove up for Christmas to
visit. It was a big deal as he had had
his eye removed 2 years before when they discovered a tumor in his eye, Ocular
Melanoma and due to taking care of his parents who had also passed from cancer,
he hadn’t left his town in over 20 years.
He was doing great and appeared to be cancer free (although he was never
able to undergo a full body scan due to the numerous pins and screws throughout
his body from an accident he had some 30 years ago). He’d wake up with me and chat as I had my
morning pre-run coffee. He’d talk to me
about my grandparents passing and how hard it was on them to allow him to see
them so weak and frail. He was emphatic
that no child whether young or adult should ever see their parents in that
state. I couldn’t see it then or maybe I
didn’t want to, but it was his way of letting me know his wishes.
My father left to return to Florida on December 30th,
2013 he stood in my front yard told me how proud he was of me and said “Cher’,
I love you”. It was the 2nd
week of February when I found out that my father’s cancer had returned (most
likely had been there all along), he was stage IV and had tumors in his Liver,
Kidneys, and Spleen. He swore my little
sister and I to secrecy and refused to allow either of us to be by his side to
care for him….it’s hard for anyone to understand but when my dad spoke you didn’t
challenge him…even at my old age of 42 and after all, wasn’t it his choice to
live and die as he wanted?
I felt frustrated and helpless to do anything for him as he
was adamant that he didn’t want to be seen in his condition and that he and his
girlfriend had things under control. It
was hard to put my feelings aside and honor his choice as the daughter in
me…the fighter he had raised me to be wanted to be there…take care of him….do
something. I was powerless…or felt as
though I was, unable to talk to anyone, post to him about it on Facebook, or
just plain cry (as even my daughter had no idea). A few days later I came across this app
called Charity Miles. I was in the midst
of training for my first ½ Marathon and with my dad on my mind was losing my
desire to train. Charity Miles was a
Godsend. Although it may seem small to
some, it made my training mean something.
More important it made me feel as though I was doing something to help
my dad. I chose “Stand Up To Cancer” and
began logging miles. Each run I’d post
to Facebook with 3 simple characters “4uD”.
He’d see my running and always like my posts. He totally understood the message I was
sending…4 U Dad. It gave me an avenue to
honor his request and allow him to leave this earth preserving his memory as he
wanted…strong and tough instead of the weak and frail unrecognizable sight the
disease forces one to become.
On April 7, 2014 my father died. It was unexpected that he would go so soon
after he told us of his diagnosis, I kept believing we had plenty of
time..plenty of fight. Even up to his
last days he was asking me about my training, when my ½ marathon would be and
that someday he’d see me running in Boston.
Losing him rocked my world to say the least I was devastated. I completed my half but it was bitter sweet
as I didn’t have him to call afterwards to share it with. In the weeks following I began running less
and returned to video gaming more. I was
depressed and felt utterly defeated by this nasty disease of cancer. We’d lost our battle and everything felt
pointless, training, life, everything. I
was simply going through the motions and hiding in my video game addiction.
Then one morning came the realization that I could carry on
my father’s fight for him. His body was
gone but his spirit could live on through me and I could make his fight mean
something. Cancer may have taken my
father but I wouldn’t allow it to take everything from me…everything I’d
accomplished (going from 250 to 182lbs).
I decided to give myself a push in the right direction and signed up for
my first marathon, the Shamrock 2015 in Virginia Beach. That gave me the push I needed to keep going
this past year. Every run has been done
using the Charity Miles app, each time signed the same “4uD”, making each step
count. It counts for me, for others
fighting this nasty disease of cancer, and for my dad. It’s his voice living on through my
feet. While it’s not the Boston he
thought he’d someday see me run…it’s MY Boston and its 4uD.
Joanii we are extremely sorry for your loss. We hope that your running journey will help with the healing promise. Remember #everymilematters -Charity Miles