With summer finally here, it’s the perfect weather to have a BBQ, and that’s exactly what we did at our BBQ Fam Jam—but to us, the event is so much more than just another BBQ! It’s an event where Jack's members can meet and spend time with Jack's volunteers. It’s the perfect opportunity for everybody to meet the great people that create this Jack's family.
*This is the second of a two part blog series on parenting through cancer. Here's part one.
Hashing it out with Kyle, my Jack-to-Jack Coach – who’s also a dad.
Eyes blurry, I found myself dazed waiting in the Gilda’s Club lobby while my wife was inside taking a Qigong class. My wife had recently been diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer. She “beat” cancer six years prior, but it was returning like a two-headed monster. And it was bad.
This isn’t a rant about toxic masculinity. On this Father’s Day, my mission is for you to be inspired by men.
I’m 33 years old. My big brother Kyle is 40. And I’ve always looked up to him. Despite the scar in my eyebrow from the ping pong paddle that supposedly slipped from his hand. And that other time that he convinced me to chew up a vitamin that was NOT a chewable vitamin….
Ever wonder what it’s like to be a caregiver for a loved one with cancer? Imagine you're riding in a plane (your life) without a care in the world and all of a sudden the pilot comes on the intercom and says, “folks, there’s something wrong with the plane (cancer) and we all have to exit. Exit the plane…” You mean jump and then free fall, hurtling towards the earth with no idea what you are doing or anybody there to guide you? Now you’re starting to get the idea of what it’s like in the first days and weeks of finding out a loved one was diagnosed with cancer and you have the responsibility of being their caregiver.
A conversation with the Angel Foundation and an adult who's been in my kids' shoes.
People say thing like, ‘kids are resilient,’ ‘they’ll bounce back,’ and so many platitudes.
The truth is, I’ve had a hard time getting over some of the stuff I’ve seen with my wife’s cancer, so how can I expect our kids to just take it and get up off the mat?
I didn’t know, so decided to reach out.
I turned to Emily Rezac, Program Manager of the ‘Facing Cancer Together’ program at the Angel Foundation, for answers. This program offers kid-friendly activities and Camp Angel, a summer camp, to help kids who are dealing with a parent with cancer. Events are designed to teach healthy communication and coping skills for kids.
I contacted Emily to learn more about the program.
It was a normal, though slightly bleak, Sunday afternoon in April and caregivers came from across the metro area to leave our situations, challenges, and stresses behind us and focus on one thing: Who had the biggest WhirlyBalls of them all?
The quick answer: Bob.
But as with most things, it is the journey -- not the destination. So, join me in a little bit of stopping-to-smell-the-proverbial-flowers. (Which I might add, if it hadn’t been so cold all month there might have been a few more of in the ground.)
With a rare exception, none of the gathered caregivers had heard of WhirlyBalls and frankly did not start in the mood of competitive spirit. After signing waivers which none of us could really have completely read, we were provided a quick overview of this sport which was described to us as the long-lost love-child of bumper cars, lacrosse, and basketball.
I arrived early at the Common Roots Café for the March Jack’s event, Nintendo Switch Boot Camp. Kyle was setting up.
Alan was there as well and remembered me from a previous Jack's event. Nice. I must really make an impression, I thought, not knowing if it was good or bad.
Kyle started by introducing himself. He told us about Jack, a man who had ‘cut through it’ so many years earlier with his inspiring message of ‘Serving the Caregiver.' This was the mission of Jack’s Caregiver Coalition. This was why Kyle was here, and he served us well that afternoon.
He then introduced Merrick, his son, and our instructor. He wore camo and shades. He had his work cut out for him today. His mission: to teach a bunch of old, video-game challenged guys how to play Switch MarioKart.
By the time Tracy was tested for multiple myeloma, we were months into utter panic. Her back pain was worsening and several weeks before she had cracked something in her back when standing up at our son’s baseball game. She drove herself to the ER and was given pain killers and told it was a muscle cramp. The next morning, she fell on the kitchen floor and I couldn’t pick her up.
When the diagnosis finally came, I was in a fog of denial and panic.