Bang the Drum: A Face of Courage

Many of you know my story. You've passed through this site and have read something about me losing my mami to cholangiocarcinoma (gallbladder cancer) last year. What you might not know is that my papi is a cancer survivor. Five years ago this September, I sat in a doctor’s office with my parents and my sister and heard the news that I already knew was coming. I must’ve appeared detached with my notebook and my questions because I remember the doctor asking me if I was a case worker. Um no, I’m just anal retentive thankyouverymuch.

Papi had stage II laryngeal cancer. He’d already had surgery to remove a polyp from his vocal chords and so the next steps would be radiation. After the diagnosis, it was almost as if they had told him he had high cholesterol or something. At no point in time did I see him anything other than “let’s get the gloves on and do this”. I knew from day one he would be okay in the same way that I felt deep in my gut that mami’s cancer was a whole different beast that we’d never seen before.

Through the appointments with the radiologist, the measurements, the discussions, he was strong. We were happy about that but, it was more than that. I remember we were in the waiting area of the cancer institute one day and started up a chat with a lady there. Her husband had the same type of cancer and had also been battling depression. She took one look at dad and asked how he was doing it.

See, when you get radiation, especially on your throat, you are in a good deal of pain. The first few days are okay but later on, it’s even difficult to swallow saliva, let alone food. A lot of people lose weight and have a hard time getting through meals. We’d read all of the pamphlets and booklets, came up with shakes and ways that he could eat his food during this time. Everyone gets those and everyone knows what needs to be done.

Doing it, is a whole different thing. And man, did dad do it. He actually GAINED weight during his treatment. We had a week or so before his radiation started and so he prepared by increasing his calories. He would blend his food when he couldn’t swallow well and would will himself to do so when chances are every cell in his being was telling him to do otherwise.

Papi was determined that cancer wasn’t shit to him. I thought he was crazy. But, just like I realized that mami wasn’t in denial but rather was at peace with her path towards the end, papi was determined as all hell that this wasn’t changing his life. Do you know this man was remodeling the master bath when he got diagnosed and he continued to do the work?! Like a remodel. A new bathroom. Knocking down walls, putting in a bathtub, the whole shebang!

Yes, it took him longer than it would have if he had not been going through radiation. Some days he would do very little and often he would be seen sleeping on the couch because radiation makes you super tired. There were days that mom would get mad at him for not resting but, he wouldn’t listen.

When speaking to others and having them tell me what they went through with a similar treatment, I can’t imagine the pain he was feeling. But he never talked about it, just fought on. And, I’m glad he did. Five years ago this September, my dad was diagnosed with cancer and he kicked cancer’s ass.  In the face of everything that has happened since, I’ve grown to realize that doing that takes a lot more courage than I ever thought.

This October, Ford Warriors in Pink® has launched its first ever produced documentary, “Bang the Drum: Living Out Loud in the Face of Breast Cancer.” The film honors 11 men and women breast cancer survivors who have demonstrated strength and courage in their battle with its “Models of Courage” program. 2012 marks Ford Motor Company’s 18th year of support for the breast cancer cause. In that time, Ford has dedicated more than $115 million to the breast cancer cause.

You too can get involved in this tremendously worthy program! When you buy Ford Warriors in Pink apparel at, 100 percent of the net proceeds go directly to support breast cancer awareness all year long.

To keep connected, be sure to check out Ford Warriors in Pink on Facebook and follow@WarriorsinPink on Twitter.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Ford Warriors in Pink. The opinions and text are all mine.