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I always believed I had a good understanding of cancer and terminal illnesses.  I've read about cancer and terminal illnesses, I have talked to people who have had terminal illnesses, and I have even written reports in school about different terminal illnesses.  But, in all that - reading, writing, and even talking with people who have terminal illnesses.  It still seemed to be an abstract thing for me - I couldn't really grasp it - I couldn't understand it - I didn't know anyone close to me who ever had a terminal illness and perhaps I felt like this is something that couldn't happen to me.  

In the fall of 2015, my father was diagnosed with stage 4 terminal cancer.  It was in his adrenal gland and some other parts of his body and the doctor advised that he has had the cancer for at least a year and a half and he only has about 6 - 12 months to live.  

I was working on a cruise ship at the time, and I received a message on my cell phone from my mom letting me know about the cancer - and the 'death sentence'.  My mom always makes EVERYTHING sound like it is the end of the world.  But it had been at least a good year - maybe two since I had seen them... I knew this was bad news.  I knew this was serious.  But I didn't know what to do - or say.  Last time I seen them - they both looked healthy - they sent me a picture recently and they both looked healthy and fine.  This cancer thing was still abstract to me.  

I love my parents - but, we've never really got along.  My family (like many others) is dysfunctional.  Since I turned 18, and left the house - I never really had intentions on ever coming back.  Nothing I did was ever good enough.  They never wanted to spend time with me - or listen - or provide any knowledge or insight to the issues I was facing growing up.  They also were insanely overprotective and never let me leave the house while I was growing up - and rarely was I ever able to have friends over while I was a kid.  It was miserable.  I remember trying to talk to my parents and telling them about how my day went at middle and high school - but neither one of them ever listened - their eyes were fixed on the television - emotionless - as if their brains were being reprogrammed by the stupid game and TV shows they were watching.  I was made fun of a lot in middle and high school - I was called names every day - and people laughed at me every day.  I didn't really have any friends and my parents had no interest in me.  The only thing I knew for sure at that time in my life was when I turned 18 I wanted to be in another state - that didn't touch the one where they lived. 

I never really called them or wrote.  But, as I got older (in my early twenties), I didn't mind seeing my parents at holidays.  While, we never really got along - dealing with them in short doses wasn't completely horrible.  But now - this message - terminal stage 4 cancer... I was mad, I was frustrated, I was angry, I was sad - concerned - and afraid of the unknown.  Immediately, my mind went to all the things I WISHED my parents would have done with me growing up - taking time to listen to me, to guide me and provide insight on life, on finances, on women, on everything.  I WISHED I wasn't kept inside all the time and allowed to have friends - and I WISHED that my dad would have taught me how to hunt, and play sports with me.  I didn't know how to deal with this news - I didn't know what to do!

I had been working on the cruise ship for about 8 months straight - working every day - Sunday through Saturday, over 112 hours a week.  I finally had a three-week break coming up and decided to spend two weeks in Miami and then visit the parents for the last week.  I was dating a Brazilian who lived in Miami and she wanted me to leave the cruise ship to live with her.  Then this family stuff was going on - and it sounded like my parents needed help around the house... And I had just received a promotion about five months earlier on the cruise ship - and the pay was phenomenal!  My bank account was loaded - mostly because of the promotion, but also because I haven't been on land for over 8 months. 

I was perplexed. 

I wanted to stay in Miami, keep my cruise ship job, and for my dad not to have cancer. 

I had to choose. 

My friend in Miami made it clear she would not wait and she did not want me to go back to the ship - period.  I have had many relationships over the years in many different states and my relationships never seem to work out in the long run.  I have been broke up with twice - and have broke (ended) the relationship the other times - typically because I get bored or I see something isn't going to work, so I end things.  Well, I really wanted to be with my Brazilian friend - and her demand wasn't ridiculous - she wanted to be with me (and I wanted to be with her) - and she didn't want me to be hundreds or thousands of miles apart.  I couldn't expect for her to wait for me - or make her put her life on hold.

I thought about the cruise ship job and being with her in Miami a lot during the first week and a half.  I am not the best at delivering news - and I wish I would have relayed the news to her better and with more heart than what I did - but I broke up with my Brazilian friend.  To this day, I relive that moment and the heartbreak - the expression - the sadness - the look on her face.  It still hurts.  I hated myself the moment I said I decided I was going to leave. 

I spent the rest of the week in a hotel there in Miami - alone. 

Now, heartbroken myself, I flew off to visit my parents and spend a week with them to see how they were doing and to learn more about this cancer.  

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