The hardest part was not being able to hug my dad while he was radioactive.
My dad was treated for early-stage prostate cancer by having irradiated seeds implanted in his prostate. The seeds were “live” for about three months, during which he was instructed to stay about six feet away from small children or women of childbearing age, especially who might be pregnant. Since I’ve been trying to get pregnant for a year and a half and my daughter is three, it was hard for us to keep our distance. We talked from across the room and blew kisses.
The other challenge was more of a test of fortitude. Before the seeds were implanted, my dad had five weeks of radiation treatments at Inova Alexandria Hospital. Somewhere during that five weeks, blizzards began descending on the DC area. My parents live 10 miles from the hospital. We live five miles away. My parents’ neighborhood must be accessed by traversing a few slippery hills and tends to remain unplowed for at least a week after major snowstorms. Add to that my dad is not the most confident of drivers, having grown up riding New York subways and learned to drive in his 20s. My mom prefers to cocoon in the snow.
So after one storm hit they called to see if I wanted to pick my dad up to take him to his 6am treatment the next day. I drive a Honda Civic. I secretly arranged for a friend of my parents who drives an SUV to give him a ride. My parents do not like asking people for help. As we waited for the next blizzard to arrive, we came up with Plan B.
My brother-in-law is a wiz at finding bargains online. He located a four-wheel-drive vehicle we could rent for a week at a reasonable rate. My dad moved in for two weeks and we drove together every morning through the snow to his radiation appointments. One morning as we drove there it was clear, and by the time he was done and we drove home, another blizzard had arrived. Thank goodness everyone else stayed home because we were driving 10 miles an hour the entire way home and not stopping very long at any intersections.
I am extraordinarily grateful that my dad is healthy now. We can hug anytime we want and he can read stories to Zoe while she sits in his lap.
That’s why I’m participating in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life to raise money for cancer research and treatment. My dad, my sister, and my husband plan to join me in this effort. To contribute to our team, visit http://main.acsevents.org/goto/BetsyRosso. Join me in honoring my dad or paying tribute to someone you love who has lived with cancer or who has died because of it. Thank you.