ANCHORAGE - There are moments in your life that shape you and that change you. For me it was seeing my grandpa cry because the man who could fix anything simply didn’t know what else to do.
My grandmother was diagnosed with uterine cancer when I was in my early teens. She and my grandfather are people who I have always seen as strong. They are people that to this day I go visit when I need a safe haven or just a hug.
My sophomore year of high school my grandmother went to Seattle to have surgery. I had the scariest time of my life that week.
She came out of surgery just fine, but recovery for her was incredibly difficult. It was the first time I remember seeing my grandpa cry.
She was taking painkillers and was in a haze, but she was in an incredible amount of pain. At one point, she didn’t care about recovery, she just wanted to end the pain. When she said that, my grandpa put his head in his hands, turned to the window, looking over sunny Seattle and began to sob. I still remember the way his face looked, with tears running down his cheek.
My family left the room and gave him a minute to regroup. A doctor walked into the room and closed the door to adjust her pain medication.
Even when that day was over, there were still many more hard times to come.
As the holiday season arrived, my family – especially my mother – spent many hours at my grandparents’ house: putting up holiday decorations, cooking dinner and doing Christmas shopping.
When Thanksgiving and Christmas rolled around, my family, along with my aunt, uncle and cousins, opened gifts at my grandparents’ dining room table so my grandma wouldn’t have to travel and she could easily lie down and rest.
The holiday aromas were familiar, but not seeing my grandma in the kitchen was odd.
During all of her treatments, she was almost completely incapable of tasting her food. But on Christmas that year she said it was probably the best meal she had ever had.
As a family we all got through the season, and these days my grandma is back to her cooking, decorating self – and she probably started Christmas shopping last January – but there were a lot of tears shed that holiday season.
It brought unusual emotions from some of the people I wasn’t use to seeing cry: my grandma, my mom, my aunt, my uncle, my brother and my dad, but the hardest person to see was my grandpa.
If I could take away that pain, the pain that caused a family of the strongest people in the world to crack, I would.
And that is why I am asking for your help tonight. All television networks will be hosting a Stand Up to Cancer research telethon, so your family and mine don’t have to go through such a heartbreaking experience.
If you can’t tune in you can check out their website at www.standup2cancer.org.