A Father’s Day Tribute to My Dad Who Was Not Defined By Cancer

I wrote a Happy Father’s Day post dedicated to my Dad in June 2011.  In that post there was this passage:  “As I celebrate Father’s day this ear, I am so grateful that my father has survived his bout with stage 3 colon cancer.  And as of today, he is cancer free and in great health.”  Just two short years ago we were celebrating survivorship.

Not long after that original Father’s day post, my Dad was once again diagnosed with cancer.  The colon cancer had returned and metastasized in his liver; this time with one tumor and major surgery was required.

In January of 2012, he had a liver resection done to remove the tumor.  After 1/3 of his liver was removed, and an extended hospital stay, he entered into rehabilitation center for what would be a long 2 month journey, to begin to get his strength back.  He fully recovered and was once again free of cancer.  This however, did not last long.  In December of 2012, he began to have warning signs that the cancer had returned.  After a brief stay in the hospital, our worst nightmare was realized yet once again.  This time his colon cancer was back and once again metastasized in the liver.  Three tumors were found, his cancer was now advanced stage IV.

Dad SleepingThis Father’s Day I am dedicating another post, this time in his memory.  My Father lost his brave, courageous battle with cancer this past April.

So today I want to share a little piece of the man my Dad was, and pay honor to him because his journey with cancer is why I started Layers of Love.  But my Dad did not let cancer define him.

On the morning my Dad passed away my nephew posted a photo of facebook of my Dad smiling while eating crabs and titled it “simple pleasures.”  If there were ever two words that described my Dad “simple pleasures” would be it.

My Dad lived his life enjoying the simple pleasures.  He loved fishing, following sports, especially baseball and the Phillies, relaxing on his back porch with a cigar, and he savored a good meal.  He was happiest in the company of his family and friends.  He didn’t need to be the center of attention, in fact, he would just like to be sitting quietly enjoying the banter and conversation of everyone around him.  On his last stay in the hospital, I was talking to him about our conversations in the car on the way to various appointments over the past few years. At the end of that conversation he looked at me and said, “I just love to listen to my children’s conversations.”

Simple pleasures.

My Dad above all was an honorable, giving man, a protector of his family.  On the last few days of his life even though he was unable to speak, he continued to shelter my siblings from his pain and illness. In fact, in the 4 years that I went with him to each doctor visit, I never once heard him say he had pain. He never mentioned pain until he came home one final time into the care of hospice. He took actions and made decisions as much as three months before he passed away that would prove to spare my Mom added heartbreak and sadness.  On the last three days of my Dad’s life, he taught me more about honor and giving than he had all of my life.  Even today, because my eyes are wide open, he continues to give me gifts. Honorable and giving to say the very least.

Enjoying the sunrise over the October ocean waves, rising early to brew coffee and sitting quietly to read the morning paper, watching Chase Utley hit a game winning RBI, sitting and listening to his family’s conversation around him……

Simple pleasures.

Layers of Love has been a bit quiet lately because I have taken time to be with my family.  Behind the scenes, we have continued to field private requests and have remained active shipping blankets to both individuals and infusion centers all over the United States.  Our mission will never stop.  As long as there is a chemotherapy patient we will continue to provide a brand new fleece blanket to give them comfort and warmth as they go through their treatment.  I started Layers of Love because of a need and a passion.

This is what I wrote in my welcome post over 3 years ago on this blog:

“The first time I sat with my parents in the waiting room of the Cooper Cancer Institute, I was struck by not just the number of patients who walked through the door, but by how many of them carried a tote bag with a fleece blanket tucked inside.

As my mom and I walked my dad in for his appointment, the reason became apparent – the temperature in the treatment room dropped considerably. The first thing my dad said as he settled into his chair was, “I sure wish I brought my blanket with me…it’s cold in here!” Not only is the room kept cooler, but as we all soon learned, being cold is a side effect of chemotherapy.

While hospital blankets are of course provided, they are the standard, thin sort. Hardly the type I’d imagine would provide any real warmth and comfort. Judging by the blankets other patients chose to bring, fleece is the fabric of choice.”

I know my Dad was incredibly proud of what Layers of Love has become over the past few years we began to grow and help more patients.  He was as passionate about Layers of Love as I am.

To quote my original Father’s Day post from 2011 “So to my Dad I say, Happy Father’s Day, I love you.  In honor of you, Layers of love, my passion (and yours) continues to go on.”

My Dad

In the days since my Dad lost his battle with cancer we have been overwhelmed by the donations of brand new fleece blankets in his memory.  Next week Layers of Love will begin to share photos of all the generous donations we have received.  We are truly blessed and grateful for everyone who has sent us blankets.  You have brought my family and I plenty of comfort and warmth. Thank you. 

Advertisements

Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Deeds

As you may or may not know, Layers of Love was born and has lived almost solely through the power of social media.  When I first had the idea for Layers of Love it was born because of a dear friend’s words to me in an email late one night.  20 words that  brought Layers of Love to life.  Said over the internet.

Layers of Love was born.  And we have lived primarily through social media since our launch back in February of 2010.  Twitter, Facebook, our website and here on our blog.  That is how we have spread the word.  That is also how we have met so many wonderfully incredible people doing so many incredible things.

“Individually we are one drop.  Together we are an ocean.”  ~Satoro

I am a firm believer in that quote.  We at Layers of Love believe in one blanket at time, one patient at a time.  We do what we can to help as many chemotherapy patients as we can.  We do all of this through the generosity of individuals, most we’ve never even met.  Our blanket donations come from not only across the state and all over the country, but the world.  We don’t accept monetary donations, only fleece blanket donations.  Because solely of the generosity of others we have succeeded beyond our wildest dreams.

Hang on because this is where the story of Layers of Love gets even better. We have the fortune of, through Twitter, meeting a wonderful woman. Enter cancerHAWK.  She found us through twitter.  She was looking for a project for her daughter to take on for her upcoming bat mitzvah.  They decided on making blankets for Layers of Love.  We have a full blog post coming up soon with much more on her daughter.  She is an amazing young woman. You would think this is where the story ends, right?

Wrong.

Let’s get back to twitter and our friend cancerHAWK.  Let me introduce her.  Her name is Robyn.  Robyn started a campaign over a week ago on Twitter.  For every new follower she received for the week, until October 31, she would donate a blanket to us.  Each new follower=a new blanket for a chemotherapy patient.

WOW.

JUST WOW.

We at Layers of Love were floored.  Generosity that we couldn’t believe.

Last week I had the pleasure of speaking with Robyn.  She was one of the most inspirational women I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.  What she has done is amazing.  Robyn lost her husband Alan, to a rare form of cancer July of last year.  She has 3 incredible children.  And as she states on her blog  “When I ask myself what can I do with the lemons that have been thrown my way, I know what Alan would say. He’d say, “Make Lemonade.” cancerHAWK is my lemonade.”  One thing she said during our conversation has stuck with me ever since, “If I can make someone’s journey brighter, that’s what I want to do.”  

That is simply beautiful.  She is one beautiful woman.

Her very successful twitter campaign gained her 148 new followers.  Which in turn means 148 blankets donated to Layers of Love.  One woman, one campaign, one GIANT generous heart.

Layers of Love can never adequately thank her for all she has done for us. Giving the gift of not just a fleece blanket to a chemotherapy patient, but giving the patient comfort and warmth, and letting them know that they are not alone in their battle with this terrible disease.  The gift of a handmade blanket does provide them with warmth to help with the terrible side effect of the chemotherapy treatment but it also provides warmth for their hearts, it’s comforting to know that someone they have never met does care.

THANK YOU Robyn.  Thank you for your generosity. Thank you for your inspiration. Thank you for your beautiful heart.  Most importantly, thank you for you.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Be sure to follow cancerHAWK on twitter.

Visit the CancerHawk Blog  The real deal for cancer patients & their caregivers….

“Like” CancerHawk on Facebook

In advance of our upcoming post on Robyn’s daughter, you might want to take a look at the Get Cozy During Chemo blog.

Comfort and Warmth

Since this blanket drive has started I have heard from so many that the one common denominator in going through chemotherapy was for the patient to have something near them to provide comfort.  The story of a breast cancer patient having a small silk blanket to put underneath her shirt to provide comfort as she went through therapy is just one small example.   There are many cancer patients who have a strong support system, whether it comes from their friends or their family or both.  However, there are many patients who are battling this terrible disease alone.   With your help our blanket donations will not only provide comfort and warmth but also help the patients who are going through chemotherapy to know they are indeed not alone.   Every time these chemotherapy patients will use your donated blanket, they will not only have physical warmth & comfort, they will have that very same feeling in their heart knowing they are not alone.  We are so grateful and thank you for your fleece blanket donations.  Together we are all making a HUGE difference for chemotherapy patients.