"When I was just eight years old, I lost my dad to cancer. He was diagnosed with a brain tumor when I was just five and given a 1% chance to live. The doctors told us he only had 24-48 months to live. (Can you even imagine? At the time I was eight and my baby brother was six.) He retired from the Air Force where he was a fighter pilot, and immediately underwent surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. It seemed to work - the tumor stopped growing! So, he went back to school and got his second master’s degree, started teaching math at my sister’s high school, started working to be re-certified with the FAA, and was even back to taking the family deep sea fishing every weekend (some of my most favorite childhood memories).
My mom recently told me that they truly believed my dad was going to be that 1%. Man, I can barely type that line without crying. I cannot imagine what it must have felt like to have that hope and think, we are the 1%. But, the tumor came back with a vengeance. That is literally how the doctor described it. My dad started treatment again and it was beyond terrible. Here is what I remember: I called 9-1-1 twice to save his life, he gained weight, he got weak, and he couldn't remember his own address at times… I literally watched as his disease/treatments took over his body and our lives.
20 years later... Team Rooster
It is hard to believe that it has been 20 years… I think of the things dad has missed, like moving to Texas, teaching me to drive, watching us play sports, and picking out my college. I'm heartbroken when I think of the things he will miss, like walking me down the aisle or holding his grandchildren.
I have pledged to do something BIG in his memory!
I figure there are two things I can do… sit around and be sad or do something about it. Ever since my dad passed away I have done everything I could to help find a cure or all cancers – I have walked, ran, cycled, trathloned, donated my hair, worked golf tournaments, given up birthday presents for donations, and the list goes on and on.
Why do all this for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS)? LLS funded the research that discovered chemotherapy. Chemotherapy, used by just about every cancer, gave me four extra years with my dad that I never would have had.
I am excited to say to date I have completed 4 of the 20 events and Team Rooster has raised $30,000! As one of dad’s favorite songs says, 'we have a long way to go and a short time to get there,' but what other choice do I have? One of the greatest parts of this is that once Team Rooster hits $100,000 we will get to name a research grant after my dad. How amazing is that!?!"_________________________________________________________________________________
Megan Rouse is the captain of Team Rooster. She has dedicated herself to completing 20 events and raising $100,000 for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in honor of the 20th Anniversary of her father's death. She is the author of this monthly blog series.