Today is World Cancer Day.
I write this in honor of my father, Robert Lee Westcott, who lost his fight with this horrible disease on October 1st, 2013. He was 61.
I’ve refrained from writing about him and his battle for awhile. Mostly because I didn’t know what to say that could honor him in a way he deserved, but I think it’s time.
His battle with cancer, and his resulting passing is one of the reasons my blog just stopped in it’s tracks last year. That, and planning a wedding can do that to people.
Nothing around me was more important than him. Spending time, finding a cure, caring for him, and watching him fight a losing battle. I spent countless at his bedside, holding his hand, rubbing his swollen feet, getting him Big Macs and just talking about everything but his cancer.
My dad was one of my best friends. I feel lucky to have had such a great relationship with him, one that still continues to this day. I feel him everyday, see him in everything, and hear his voice in my head. Not one day goes by that his influence isn’t around me, embracing me in a warm loving light.
He’s here. I feel him.
He was diagnosed with cancer in July of 2013. We weren’t sure what kind, but it was everywhere. We had hope, but the doctors told us that if everything went perfectly, he only maybe had a year left. A year. They let us know to brace for the coming months. He made it to October.
He passed 12 days before I married Charlie. I walked myself down the aisle with a small box of his ashes tucked into my sash, pressed against me. It was the only day that I didn’t miss him. Maybe it was because that day was so crazy and hectic, but I like to believe that it’s because he was with me.
As we ordered more tests and scans, we found out it was Advanced Stage IV pancreatic cancer. He never had a chance. I think that if maybe, my father wasn’t “my father” he would have gone to the doctor sooner, and maybe he would be here today, but even the doctors told us that had we caught it early, he still would have only had around a 20% chance of survival. Sometimes with cancer that’s just how it is. We lose wonderful people. Too fast. Too soon. Like my daddy.
He was the kind of man who would give you the shirt off his back, the last dollar in his wallet, or even his lunch if you were hungry.
He always supported us in a way that at first didn’t seem very supportive, but in the end you always knew he was your biggest fan. He never pushed us into things we didn’t want to do, but always made us try. As kids my dad would always say “It does my heart good to see you kids eat…” and I naturally assumed he was crazy, because who says that? But now that I am a mom I understand what he meant.
That was the thing about my dad, he was always full of all kinds of great and sometimes seemingly useless advice that sometimes never made any sense until one day it suddenly applied to you and you’d think, “Damn him! He was right again!”
He was always right. And everyday I learn that lesson even more. He’s still here, teaching me lessons in the things he taught me years ago. Things that never applied until yesterday. That “a-ha!” moment.
He would always tell me “After I’m gone, you’ll remember these things I tell you, the way I remember my father telling me…”
That’s the thing… his legacy. The legacy he left for me to continue with my own family.
I’m so glad that I got 32 years with him. He taught me so many things. He left such an impression on me that I will never ever get over him and his passing, just learn to live with it better. I know he’s watching over me, and making sure I am ok, and my family is ok.
Cancer can’t take that away.
It can’t break bonds, or disprove love. It just makes them stronger.
I miss him, more than anyone will ever know, or care to understand. I am my father’s daughter, and I realize that more everyday. It makes me smile and makes me cry at the same time. I wish I could tell him what he meant to me, what he still means, but I think he knew.
I think he still knows.
“But if I lived, til I was 102, I just don’t think I’ll ever get over you.” – Colin Hay
I love you daddy.