“Son, your Dad has cancer.” My mum said as I was in the middle of making my bed.
“What!?” I burst out saying in complete disbelief and anger.
“He’s only 47, he’s my dad, he can’t have cancer!” I said as my eyes welled up with tears that I tried to hide from my mothers eyes.
It was August 25th 2015, a bright beautiful day, the sun was shining and you could hear the birds sing in the green leafy tree tops. The skies were bright blue with some grey clouds approaching from the distance. However this was a great day, one of a kind to be honest as Glasgow doesn’t see much sun, (That’s maybe why there’s a Scottish stereotype of white skin and ginger, iron bru, like hair) so I open my bedroom window and inhale the warm, humid summer air.
“Ahhh, today is going to be a good day” I said to myself.
Today was a big day, a huge day in fact. It was my National track and field championships. Something I’ve been training relentlessly all year towards. I was in the best physical condition of my life, I felt like Rocky Balboa going up against Apollo Creed, the underdog about to stamp his authority on the National scene.
Like I always do, I go down stairs, get the coffee on and make a big bowl of hearty porridge with nuts, raisins, honey and just a dash of cinnamon (Cinnamon always made it that little bit more Christmasy). This always fuelled me for important days; little did I know how memorable this day was going to turn out for me.
This was the first time I was home for months, I lived in London, working as a personal trainer. I was sitting at the dinner table watching television, anything to pass the time and keep my mind from drifting towards my race and using up my nervous energy. Usually my Mum and Dad are really upbeat when I get home, they are always asking me questions, sometimes too many that it annoys me most of the time because they haven’t seen their only Son in so long. However today was quite the contrast, I sat there at the table and nothing, not a single word from them. They just sat on the couch watching television too. It was I that was asking the questions.
“How have things been, have you guys decided if you want to go on holiday yet?” I asked.
“No maybe not this year, maybe next year.” My mum replied hesitantly.
“Aw okay, usually you go away for the September weekend to Gran Canaria do you not?” I asked.
“Yeah Son but not this year, we don’t have the money just now, your mum has been working a lot to pay for the mortgage and other suff.” My dad replied.
This seemed really weird to me as my mum and dad love spending the September weekend in Gran Canaria, They have been doing it for the past 6 years. Something wasn’t right I thought.
“Are you having money problems?” I enquired.
“Yeah, well, your dad has had a few sick days this month and hasn’t been getting his usual monthly wages. So I’m having to work double shifts to pay the bills.” My mum replied.
Something didn’t seem right but I couldn’t put my finger on it, maybe it was that I was very focused on the day ahead, my mind was wondering off and taking me through the race of my life that I was about to take on. Not knowing someone else had their own race of their life; my dad.
So as I walked upstairs completely oblivious to what was going on around me, I think as a teenager you don’t think panoramically at things in life and what is going on round about you. As a teenager I had quite a self absorbed personality that I feel most teenagers have in this day and age. This “Facebook” generation has completely engulfed us as a human race and has really corrupted and poisoned the human mind, we walk around like zombies with phones in our hands as if it is our life support machine and I don’t think we will ever get rid of this Facebook generation, will we?
As I was making my bed and laying my competition clothes out on the bed making sure I had everything I needed “Singlet? Check. Shorts? Check. Spikes? Check. Warm up tracksuit? Check.” I said to myself as I go through my mental checklist.
“Sean, can I tell you something?” My mum asked.
“Yeah sure, whats up” I replied. Not knowing that the next sentence I was about to hear would change my perception of life forever.
“Sean, I know you have a big race today and I know there is no easy way to tell you this. I didn’t want to tell you over the phone when you were down in London but your dad has cancer son.”
My heat sank, that blind panic feeling you get when you wake from a nightmare when one of your loved ones die and you feel its real for a split second, I had that. I could feel pins and needles run through my veins and all over my face as if a snake full of venom bit me, it was the same feeling I had when I crashed the car when I was younger and thought I was going over the bridge, my life flashed before my eyes. It was that exact same feeling of shock. I couldn’t believe what my mum just said, why me I asked, why my dad, why my family, this only happens to other people not my family. You see and hear people with cancer everyday but you always think “No that will never happen to me or my family, always someone else but not us.”
I gave my mum a hug and told her not cry and that everything will be okay, my mum couldn’t see the tears in my eyes as I made sure I stayed strong for her and dad. Feeling her hands shake as her hands were clasped round my back, I could feel the soft tear drop fall on my neck. I was completely devastated and shocked at what I had just been told. I walked downstairs and my dad gave me a look that he knew there was nothing we can do but hope and pray that we can hold strong as a unit and fight this destructive and toxic virus off.
“How are you feeling dad?” I asked.
“Don’t worry son, we will beat it. My time isn’t up yet.”
I picked my dad up off the couch and told him “If I’ve got my strength from you, you will make it, I know you will. Cancer may have started the fight but you will win the war.” I said with a tear in my eye and hope in my heart.
August 25th 2015 will have a permanent place in my heart and mind until the day I die, this was the moment where I knew that we as humans are not invincible, but yet we live every day like we will live another. This day shocked me to my core and told me to fight for my dreams and goals because that one day might come where your fight may be done.
“Today I will do what others won’t, so tomorrow I can do what others can’t.” – Vince Lombardi.