February 5, 1997 is a date that forever changed my life.
That day, my dad, at a young age of 44, lost his battle to liver cancer. It was a devastating loss that not only affected me, but also my two younger siblings and my young mother.
Explaining the experience of losing a parent at an early age is... difficult. You can't really explain it. There's the obvious financial impact, but the emotional and psychological consequences are far greater. You can't explain the fact that you HAD to grow up fast, that somehow you suddenly became an adult. That you kinda lost two parents because your mom had to take a job outside the country. That it made you suddenly aware of your loved one's mortality and of yours.
I can try to tell you about these, but I'm not sure words exist to really accurately describe them.
Let me just say this: navigating your teenage years -- already a confusing phase -- without one of your parents is not an experience I would wish on anyone. Through hard work and my mom's perseverance, and with help of relatives and a bit of luck, my family survived my father's death. But we're one of the lucky ones.
Cancer has also taken the lives of two of my uncles and one of my grandmas. Cancer runs in my family, and I know that there's a good chance I'll get it myself in the future.
So this July 7th, I am stripping down and doing the Underwear Affair for all the loved ones I've lost, but also for the many kids who have lost their parent to this horrible disease. I am also running for myself and for everyone else -- because really, cancer doesn't discriminate and you might get it regardless of your race, body type or age.
One parentless child because of cancer is one too many. Please donate today to help fund research for cancers below the waist --- every little bit of help counts!