“Listen Adam and Libby,” said my dad. Meanwhile, my mom sat next to him with tears streaming down her face “your mom has been diagnosed with colon cancer. She is going to be okay though. We will get through this.”
My eight year-old self asked, “hmm…cancer?”
I was unsure of what to think about a cancer diagnosis but knew that it was not good considering my mom was in tears. Although my mom’s diagnosis was not even the beginning of hardships to come, you may be asking yourself…how? How at eight years of age was that not the worst news you have ever heard? But it wasn’t, it was just another hurdle.
My dad left for Iraq when I was only five years old. I had convinced myself for the first couple of months that he was just on a very long vacation. He was gone for 14 months. Fourteen long months of my mom being an only parent, my brother and grandpa each becoming a father figure to me, and family and friends pitching in to take me to school and gymnastics practice, but somehow we made it work.
Even when he came home, he just wasn’t himself, as anyone would be coming back from war.
He decided to move out of our home. He wanted to be alone, unbothered, and keep to himself.
At this point, my mom’s cancer diagnosis did not seem so bad. But when the doctor told my dad that my mom had stage IIIC colon cancer, his purpose and passion changed.
He immediately moved back home and cared for my family.
He found joy in fundraising for cancer. He even came up with his own crazy fundraising ideas — such as a Polar Bear Dip in Northeast Ohio. The Polar Bear Dip consists of jumping into a freezing cold lake to raise money and awareness for cancer. This event continues to grow every year. He made flyers and hung them all over town to promote it.
He also started a fundraising event called Climb for a Cure along side advocates Chris Ganser, Brian Threlkeld, and Evan Conant. They founded Climb for a Cure because they knew if survivors could fight colorectal cancer, they could climb a mountain.
Just yesterday, over 90 colorectal cancer survivors, caregivers, and advocates made the climb to the top of Quandary Peak near Breckenridge, Colorado. My dad and the other founders have raised not only thousands of dollars over the years but also vital awareness of the importance of screening.
Raising awareness lit a fire within him to help others. I get the chills every time I think about how selfless he has been throughout my mother’s cancer journey.
Fight Colorectal Cancer changed my parents’ lives forever. For years, they attended Call-on Congress, and they met so many spectacular people along the way.
But then my dad was on to the next great adventure. “When I turn 50 I am going to walk across the country,” my dad would tell people and my mom would yell at him out of embarrassment.
Our family would laugh and joke about about my dad’s journey across America and up to a year ago none of us really thought he would follow through with it.
And then he found Fight CRC, and knew there was a way to turn it from “walking across the country” to “walking for a cure,” which made him even more motivated.
And that’s when it finally sank in,“Wow this thing really is going to happen.”
To date, he has walked over 1,500 miles and through ten states. We miss him all of the time. Some days are harder than others, especially when I need gas money, or when I need help moving to my new apartment (LOL). But seriously though, we miss him a lot.
For all of you that have followed his journey, you can really see how impactful it is. We keep reminding ourselves that he is truly making a difference for so many people.