Offensive Thinking

Brain tumors suck. Hi, I'm Patrick btw. This is my cancer blog. My "normal" stuff is over here.

Being a Father With Cancer

Yes, she's going to hate me for putting this picture on the Internet in a couple of years. Totally worth it though.
Yes, she's going to hate me for putting this picture on the Internet in a couple of years. Totally worth it though.

Another eight months have passed, and I’m still alive, nothing out of the ordinary in my last MRIs. I just upped my Keppra again because of some minor focal epileptic episodes about once a month.

So let’s start with the big news: in August, after almost nine months of waiting, I became the father of a beautiful daughter! I wanted to blog about our decision to become parents and all the thoughts that went into it already at the beginning of the year, but alas, so much to do and so little time, yadda yadda (excuses, I know). Oh, yes, we also bought a house and car and moved about seven days after she was born, but that is a potential story for another blog post.

My wife and I always knew that someday, we wanted to have kids. It was just a matter of time. Then, this whole cancer thing happened and suddenly, nothing was as clear and easy as it once was: will I even be fertile after chemotherapy? What about my life expectancy, is it morally and ethically ok to bring a child (or children) into this world when the probability is quite high that they will lose their father at a young age? Will my wife be able to take care of them on her own? What will happen if suddenly, my cancer leaves me disabled and my wife needs to look after me as well as our children? When and how are we going to tell them that I’m terminally ill and how will this knowledge affect them?

To be honest, we don’t have all the answers to all the questions. But we spoke (and speak) about everything openly and we are both aware that it is very well possible that, at some point in the (hopefully very distant) future, my wife will have to raise our children (or at least, our daughter) on her own. Yes, we are both dreading this day, and no, it obviously did not prevent us from fulfilling our dream of having children.

I myself lost my father to cancer when I was already an adult, at the age of 27. I therefore know how hard it is to lose a parent, even if you’re already grown up and living your own life. On the other hand, I’m really grateful for the time I had with my father. I hope it’s going to be same for my daughter. She also gives me one more big incentive not to die anytime soon, so my motivation is quite high. I try to spend as much time as possible with her, as all parents should. She makes me really happy, even when she’s keeping us up at night or, after coming home, exhausted from work, I have to walk up and down the living room with her on my arm for what feels like an eternity so she stops crying. Frankly, I wouldn’t miss all that for the world.

Actually, I count myself lucky that, even with cancer, I’m able to have children. Before chemo, we decided to store some of my frozen sperm at one of those special facilities, in case I would be rendered infertile. Fortunately, everything was ok afterwards and our daughter could be conceived naturally (more fun for both my wife and me, too ;)). As a male cancer patient, I also have the advantage of not needing to worry about what happens if I need treatment during pregnancy, unlike female cancer patients do, or while still breast feeding.

Being a father of course changed my perspective on my illness. My last MRI was the first one with my daughter. Before, I was of course worried about the outcome, but always thought well, if something comes up we’ll figure it out, and I know that my wife is strong and can get by on her own. This time, I felt the responsibility as a parent. There is this tiny human being that is totally dependent on her parents, so now I am a lot more concerned about me not being able to look after her any longer. Makes me a bit more nervous about my MRIs than before, I have to admit.

So all in all, I guess we’ll figure out most of it as we go along, like all parents do. I’ll try to keep you posted. To quote one of my favourite movies again: never give up, never surrender.