Jessica was her father’s caregiver while he battled Stage II male breast cancer. Jessica continued going to college through her father’s treatment, though she and her family still supported him and each other in every way they could. The experience significantly changed her values and what she wants to do with her life moving forward.
I grew up knowing I wanted to make money, and that was it. So I went to school to be an accountant, and I was like I don’t really care, I just want to move out, make some money. But after my Dad got diagnosed with cancer, it really made me think about my values, and my big value is family now. I changed my major, I want to be a grief counselor, to help cancer patients. That’s how it’s really affected my life. I’m going from a six figure job, to maybe only like 50,000 a year, but it makes me happy knowing I can help people like my father, and other people who don’t have that support system.
Cancer’s affected me by giving me a positive outlook to help the community.
If he gets it again, we’re gonna fight through it, just like we did last time. We just have to stay positive, and always support each other. After these past experiences, you know you should always value your life, no matter what. You never know when your day is coming.
He was in the shower one day, and he felt something, and realized it hurt, so he went to the doctor. The doctor told him it was just fat tissue floating around, and he was fine. A year later, someone at his job passed away from breast cancer. And then he went to my mom, and said, “We need to get this checked out, I don’t think it’s nothing, it still hurts, it’s year later.” The doctor said it’s really nothing, it’s fine. My dad said he wanted to have it tested, so they had it tested and then the doctor realized it really was breast cancer… His big saying is that a second opinion is really valuable.
When my dad got cancer, it really made me think about, like, what am I going to do? What if my dad passes away? For two months, I really thought my dad was going to die. It made me think about how to help my siblings. My dad seeing that we all care for each other…I go straight home, I’m with my family all the time. It really strengthened us, we’re always together now. If anything happens, we’re always there for each other. No matter what, we’ll always be there.
We all were each other’s support. At the time, it was me and my mother. My little brother, with diabetes, we have to give him care too, so coming home everyday to help my mom, you know, there’s the bottles with the drainage, and just being there for Dad, to watch TV or something. He was at home all day by himself, so I would get off work early, and just go hang out with my dad. So that’s how I was a caregiver, and still to do this day, we’re his support system. He doesn’t really like to talk to people about it. When he’s upset, he always comes to me and my mom to talk.
Leon Hale Rapid City, SD
Tracy Huddleston Gladstone, OR