Day 124: Grandpa and a Very Bad Word

“Cancer” is such an ugly word. Yesterday when the doctor diagnosed my grandfather with bile duct cancer, my family’s hearts collectively dropped. Grandpa had been in and out of the hospital for months, so an announcement of this magnitiude wasn’t totally unexpected. He had successfully beat prostate cancer at age 66, and now in his mid-80s, he’ll undergo another surgery in an attempt to remove the new cancerous cells. The prognosis reveals that Grandpa’s chance of living for at least another five years is a meager 15%.

For as long as I’ve known him, my grandfather has been a man of few words. Although he’s soft spoken, the things he does say have a lasting impact. As a young girl eating dinner together, he’d tell me, “Take all you want, but eat all you take.” His message never failed to give me pause. Would I be able to finish that extra scoop of rice? Did I greedily put too much chicken on my plate? This was Grandpa’s way of expressing his generosity while reminding me not to be wasteful. He’s also a gifted piano player who can listen to a song then play the entire melody back by ear. When I was child, my elementary school had special “Show and Tell” days. While my classmates showed off their furry pets and shiny new toys, I brought in my grandfather to play the piano – no sheet music required.

Recently, Grandpa met N at a family gathering. As we departed, he shook N’s hand, looked him in the eyes and said “Take care of her.” I was slightly embarrassed at the time, but I’m thankful to have such a loving family member. My grandfather’s new bout with cancer is a reminder of the cold, hard truth about mortality. We can’t prevent certain diseases from taking hold, but we can determine what state our bodies are in if and when we’re affected. My focus on healthy eating and exercise will hopefully set me up to have the best chance later in life. I’m a pragmatist and the concept of death doesn’t frighten me. I’m at peace with the fact that my grandfather has reached old age and led a fulfilling life, surrounded by wonderful people. Even so, that doesn’t mean I’m ready to let him go.

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14 thoughts on “Day 124: Grandpa and a Very Bad Word

  1. shibliobop says:

    I’m so very sorry you’re going through this. I am also extremely close to my grandfather who was recently diagnosed with cancer as well. I wish you and your family the best of luck. It is never easy to contemplate losing someone you cherish.

    • Thanks for the kind words. I’m so sorry that your family is also going through the same ordeal. We’re hopeful that the surgery will keep the cancer at bay. Best wishes to us both.

      – K.

  2. SO very sorry – my grandfather was just diagnosed with cancer 2 months, though he was unfortunately told he only had a few months left. It’s wonderful that you have memories like the one you do from when you were a young girl…we are both very fortunate to have known our grandfathers as long as we have. 🙂

    • Katelyn, it’s a shame to hear about your grandfather. I’m all about keeping the old memories alive, and creating new ones too. Based on your blog, you seem like such a chic and awesome girl. I’m sure he’s proud of you.

      – K.

  3. K, I wish your grandfather a speedy recovery. He sounds like such a life-loving man – that should help!
    My Mum’s been fighting cancer as well. It’s tough but does make all of us around appreciate life and those we have a lot more..

  4. alexisdeluca says:

    Your grandfather must be so proud….sometimes words are all the inspiration we need to carry us….(heart)

  5. Joyce says:

    I’m so sorry to hear this news. Damn cancer. I hate it.

  6. chasitykay says:

    I love this post. My grandpa has always been a strong influence in my life and several years ago went through a similar situation with prostate cancer. It’s no fun. And I hate the word ‘cancer.’ But he always taught me to look on the bright side and enjoy life while you can. Grandpa’s are always so wise.

  7. Irish Katie says:

    *huuggsss you*

    I am incredibly sorry to hear of this. I hope he does become part of that 15% …and 15% with a good life still. Nevertheless…I know this is hard for you and your family

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