December 2015

Student accepting the truth

In the past year, my father was diagnosed with lung, breast and throat cancer. This is his third time the breast cancer has come back; the lung and throat cancer is something that is new.

The fact he has given up on life but has not been honest with his children – claiming, instead, that he is fighting for his life and saying he will not give up — is the most heartbreaking part of all of this.

Knowing that a parent is dying is one of the toughest things a person ever has to deal with. The slightest thing sets me over. Trying to finish my undergraduate career and landing a job has gotten harder due to the magnitude of the worry in the back of my mind.

My father and I aren’t as close as I would like us to be, due to his wicked and dishonest ways. We don’t speak often and it had been months since I had seen him in person. I had seen pictures and people told me he had lost a lot weight, but I wasn’t expecting what I saw when he walked into the house of a childhood friend. He was like a ghost. His skin had no color and his eyeballs popped out and I could see every bone in his face.

I knew at that very moment that my father was dying. The screams of my shocked sister and the scream of a child in the background who was startled all hurt my heart. I knew I had to be strong because my father began to cry because he knew death was defeating him.

At that moment he got himself together and tried to be his normal self – witty, carefree and that New Yorkers attitude. But my father isn’t what I saw; the man I was looking at looked like a character from the Michael Jackson “Thriller” video. His voice sounding like a man sinking underwater that comes up grasping for air.

Cancer is very serious and sometimes people get tired of fighting. My professor, Mrs. Marjorie Newman, said to me sometimes people get tired of fighting and loving family members should support their decision. Sometimes you’re not ready for the person to give up, but respecting and loving their decision is the only medicine they want and need.

— Johna Mitchell