Today is World Cancer Day. I am reminded everyday that people all around us are fighting this disease. Yes, it is an ugly evil disease. But I learned a lot through my battle with it having watched the bravest man in the world fight every single day for entirely too long to LIVE to fulfill the His calling that God put on his life. God called my dad to be a husband, a father, a father-in-law and a papaw. He called him to be a follower of His and to preach, teach and spread the Word through singing and leading others to do the same. But in the end he taught me how to fight to live through the greatest struggle of our lives. I watched him fight to live a new day each morning, sometimes not knowing if he would even see the sunshine the next morning. But when I was disagnosed with cancer that final year of his life I looked back on how he accepted each of those horrible days he lived through in the previous couple of years. I remember a talk he and I had in my room before one of his most important surgeries, maybe in 2010. I told him in tears that I was so sorry that he had to have this done. He said something that would teach me a lesson 3 years later when my turn with cancer came up. He said “Well, baby, sometimes you just have to do what you have to do.” While 2013 was the worst year of my life, as I look back on it now, in a way it was the best year of my life. My Dad became a rock to me and that year we shared an experience that not many father and daughter’s have shared.
We fought this beast together. And my Daddy showed me how to fight it. At Thanksgiving 2013 as I hugged him goodbye I cried and told him that I didn’t know why God allowed Cancer to come into his life but I know that if he hadn’t then I would have never had an example to guide me through mine. I don’t know what he was thinking in the next month. But one month later God called him home. My Dad has always been there for me – ALWAYS! And at the end of his life it was no different. God blessed me in an overwhelming way to the very end! I’m glad to have had Mike Stokes as my Dad. I’m glad he fought for life to the end to teach me to do the same!