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You never know what life is going to throw at you. July of 2008, life threw my cell phone from one service provider to another whose work to upgrade the local cell towers crippled my signal reception. It was a problem, but one that I was told would be resolved by December.
Before that happened, there was Saturday, November 1, 2008. Soon after leaving my Tae Bo class and despite constant contact with my phone, it alerted me of several missed calls from my Mom. She left a message telling me my Dad was in the hospital. None of us were prepared to catch, hit, or dodge this "thing" that life threw at us. Then, now, and for the rest of our lives, all of us wish it was buggy cell phone service, stupid lost car keys, a GPA-breaking big exam, or whatever trivial matter we were dealing with at the time.
In some situations, life gives you options. Then there are those other situations where, for better or for worse, no choices exist. Dad (and all of us) was bafflingly confronted with both scenarios in mid-January 2009. At that time, all we had were Dad's health, having recovered a great deal from the seizure and its complications, and the constant guessing as to what caused the ordeal in the first place. The only way to discover exactly "what" life threw was for Dad to have a biopsy through brain surgery. The other choice was to wait, see, and react to whatever would have happened next. Dad made the decision in minutes. I guess he figured wait-and-see in this situation was a non-option. At least, that's how I continue to see it.
Dad loves Soul, Funk, and R&B music from the 60s to early 80s. We would know Dad is home from work not by the sound of the car pulling into the yard, but from loud music pulling into the yard! Whenever my brother or I was home from Durham or DC, waiting for us were lists of songs to find. Those lists eventually dwindled as he got all the music he wanted. Not many new artists interested him. He would say something like, "With all the machines in recording rooms, you can make me sound like the best singer in the world!" Despite that, he did accept some current singers, like Alicia Keys. Although it's no surprise that my Dad heard her in the first place, I'll consider her music as one of many good things life threw at Dad.
Along with whatever life is throwing at you, there are consequences to what you do and experience--some good, some bad; all making you wonder if that other option was better. Mom, everyone else, and I played "what if" after Dad began experiencing complications the day after his brain surgery in March 2009. Learning the diagnosis, a grade 3 brain tumor known as an astrocytoma, a day or two later was one of the most painful things I've ever experienced.
There's no time window that shows what would happen with different choices or time machine to make that alternative a reality. My family and I could only make the best out of what life threw screamingly hard at us. The doctors provided treatment options; we (99% Mom) cared for and talked to Dad to coax him out of his stupor so he could start getting that treatment.
Although it felt much longer than a month-and-a-half or so, Dad became responsive sometime in April. I don't know if he had said it before this long-term hospital stay or if Mom had previously sung it to him, but it brought some measure of relief to us all whenever he would sing the words, "Everything's gonna be alright."
Dad isn't the only who left us last year because of a brain tumor. My cousin's brother-in-law succumbed to his own late November. When Felix was first diagnosed with it, his doctors didn't give him much time to live, less than 1 year. Despite that, Felix's family and friends came together to support him and each other.
He passed away 34 years later.
Who knows what life is going to throw your way from one day to the next? I sure don't, but I do believe this:
No matter what life throws, no matter the options before you or the consequences awaiting your choices, no matter how much you want to curl into a corner and cry your eyes out or celebrate with friends unseen for years -- you and your loved ones have to live out your situations and do what you can to improve it. You never know how far you can toss whatever life threw at you into fairer grounds until you try and take control of it.
A brain tumor diagnosis isn't easy by any stretch. I hope the efforts of other people and I will provide some support to these stricken people and their loved ones. If we can't prevent them from going through the pain my family and I have gone through, at least we can make it easier for them to say, "Everything's gonna be alright."
The Race for Hope - DC presented by Cassidy Turley raises funds to support innovative research initiatives and support services for brain tumor patients and their families. This amazing event relies on the dedication and enthusiasm of individuals, families, teams, volunteers, sponsors and donors. Thank you for your support in helping us find a cure for brain tumors!
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