Useless. Helpless. Heart-broken. There is no other way I could describe the way I felt as I received the most devastating news of my life. The doctor left the examination space while my father lay on a cot. Cancer. The gigantic C that claims lives every day, yet I never anticipated it happening to myself or someone I love. I went rigid in the uncomfortable chair just two feet from where my father lay. I looked into his eyes, a difficult thing for me to do on a regular day, too intimate. The windows to the soul are powerful indicators of what someone is thinking when you know what to look for. This time, however, there was nowhere else I could place my gaze. He met it with his own naturally serene stare.
“How are you feeling?” I asked, struggling to swallow the lump that lodged itself in my throat.
“I’m okay, Son,” he said, his voice not even cracking. The water welling up in my eyes broke the barrier my eyelids created and two tears traveled down my cheeks. Here was this man, remaining stoic while just being informed that he was about to endure the greatest challenge of his life, and I could barely keep it together.
“We’re going to have to tell Mom,” I said, trying to think of anything else other than how incredibly terrified I was to lose my father, my role model, my mentor.
Fast-forward six months. My father has been a true champion. Doing everything he was told by the experts he consulted. Still working every day, refusing to take any time away from work and those that looked to him for healing, solace, or closure. Treatment was no walk in the park, and even though he never let it show, those closest to him, like myself, knew the toll it took. Nevertheless, he pressed on, at work and after. My mother, the bravest and strongest of us all, just enduring a loss of her own prior to the devastating news, was there every step of the way. She was, is and remains the glue of this family.
The fight continued on. Trips to specialists and research into alternative medicines was the post-work priority. Potential solutions and possibilities gave hope, while treatments and therapies ravaged my father’s health. It’s wild how the thing that’s supposed to save our life during this battle can just as easily be our undoing. And yet, it remains the primary form of treating such a deadly adversary. We went on this way for what felt like years. I did whatever I could to help, which usually took the form of managing our family business, while my parents worked tirelessly to find a means to provide my father with more time. With a chance to watch my brother and I hit those milestones in life that parents dream of when they first bring their children into this cold world.
I learned the definition of metastasized years ago in biology class. The word did not carry nearly as much weight then as it did when it was being described to me again on that sunny, summer day. My dad’s cancer has spread to other organs in his body. We were losing the fight like we stepped into the ring with our hands tied behind our back. I felt utterly powerless. I was going to lose my father and there was nothing I or anyone could do about it. Was I supposed to just accept it and wait for the inevitable? Was there absolutely nothing that could be done? I refused to believe it.
I had been on my own spiritual journey before my family was assailed by this indiscriminate disease. The universe is the most powerful force in existence. It is everything in us and around us and I had recently learned that one can interact with it through sheer faith and will. I remember the day after I learned my father’s cancer had reached stage 4. I was on my way to the office and my mind was racing with Why’s and What if’s. Then I decided, instead of letting fear take hold of me, I would use this raw emotion for something positive. I cried out aloud and mentally, putting my all of my faith and my will into a genuine decree.
“I trust you!” I called to the divine forces of this reality. “I know there is a plan and therefore I put my trust in you, the universe. You will do right by me and mine, and in return I will dedicate myself from this day forth to doing right by this world. Regardless of what happens, I trust you.”
It was all I had. So much was out of my hands, out of my control. It was a bittersweet serenity, but it was all I could manage. What happened next, I would accept wholeheartedly.
A few weeks, many rough treatments and plenty of struggles later, my parents caught wind of a powerful antioxidant in the form of a tea originally made in Canada. We had tried everything else, why not this last resort. This tea, Flor-Essence, is an infusion of herbs designed to stimulate the immune system. My parents purchased enough to last the next few months. My father would drink it several times a day in an effort to cleanse his body and assist his immune system in the war against a nearly unbeatable foe. He kept to this new routine and I maintained my faith in the universe as well as my promise to be beacon of positivity and kindness.
My father continued his treatment and monthly check-ups. When I received the news on that unforgettable day that my father’s cancer cells were shrinking, I didn’t want to jinx what could be life-changing news. So, I kept the faith but I knew the fight was far from over. If I’ve ever witnessed a miracle in the past, I did not fully recognize it for what it was. Probably chalked it up to coincidence if I even acknowledged it at all. With each doctor visit, however, news consistently stated the tumors remained stagnant or continued to shrink. A possible light at the end of this pitch black tunnel began to glow. Still, my parents kept the strict tea regiment and completely revamped their diet. It was after all, a team effort.
Then one day, after all the fighting, the struggles, and the hardships, there was one check-up with incomprehensible results. They were gone. The tumors were just gone. Shrunken into non-existence, if I remember correctly. Like I said, miracles weren’t something I looked for in life. But, I never forgot the day that I put my trust in the universe and soon after, my parents discovered the tea that we all believe paved the way for my father’s cancer treatment to do what it was meant to do. Of course, we don’t believe that this tea was a cure. It was a monumental effort on their part to turn my dad’s health around and make his body strong enough to win the war. The tea, I like to think, was like Gandalf’s cavalry arriving last minute at the Battle of Minas Tirith. For you non-LOTR fans, it was like any other cavalry arriving at the last minute to reinforce and reinvigorate his body’s immune system.
To this day, he maintains his routine of drinking that tea. My mother even drinks it on occasion. I still trust the universe wholeheartedly, knowing that the divine is not just here among us, but IS us. We are the universe and we need to take care of each other and ourselves. For when we do right by our neighbor and ourselves, we are rewarded in the most meaningful ways. That is how angels manifest in this world. Not just knowing this but acting on it is nothing short of divine.