This post was sponsored by Aflac as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central, and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.
Growing up, I spent a lot of time with my paternal grandparents. They lived two blocks away, so I could skip down the street whenever I wanted. Afternoons filled with Chinese checkers, taking Pepe their Yorkie on walks and begging grandma to let me play in her miniature dollhouse.
Many weekends were spent sleeping over, and grandpa always drove me to grab donuts after church on Sunday. Twelve years later, and it still hurts terribly that grandpa is gone. He battled cancer for years, then had a stroke before passing just a few months prior to my second child
being born, who I named after him.
I remember getting the phone call like it was yesterday. Slumping to the kitchen floor as tears streamed down my face. Hugging my pregnant belly as my heart ached, knowing my firstborn son would never know the man that had a huge impact on my life. That my then 3-year-old daughter would barely remember the man who loved his grandchildren and his country.
My grandfather was full of stories from serving in the Korean War and working for the Union Pacific Railroad. He was equally stubborn and stern and huggable and kind, and he teased me relentlessly by calling me Lisa Marie, even though my middle name is Michelle. A man who taught me a lot, even as cancer was taking him from me.
What I Learned When My Grandpa Had Cancer
#1 You’re Stronger Than You Think
As I watched cancer take over my grandpa’s body, my love and admiration grew. He lost his hair and became very weak during chemo, but his teasing never let up. Grandpa was determined to be the same grandpa for us while he fought cancer, and grandma…grandma took on everything from figuring out appointments to taking care of insurance and bills, to living with the daily fear of losing her husband. She stayed strong in front of us under all of the overwhelm that comes with a person you love having cancer.
#2 Never Lose Your Humor
One thing about my grandpa is that he was a jokester. If he saw you pick your nose, he’d ask if you were digging for gold. When you fixed a wedgie, he’d ask if you were going to the movies, because “you’re picking your seat.” He lost his fingers on one hand in a table saw accident and loved to tickle us with what he called his “nubs.” His joking and teasing never disappeared, and it made him happy when we grandchildren would stop by so he’d have someone to mess with. His humor brought a smile to our faces when they were much needed.
#3 Be Prepared
I’ve seen first-hand how overwhelming cancer can be for families and friends of those diagnosed. Knowing the history of my family and seeing friends go through their own battles with cancer, I understand how important it is to talk about it and prepare for it as part of our self-care. With Aflac’s Cancer Protection Assurance* insurance policy, talking and preparing doesn’t have to be overwhelming.
While 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women will get cancer in their lifetimes, more and more Americans are living with cancer as a manageable disease (“Cancer Facts and Figures,” American Cancer Society, 2017). With Aflac’s Cancer Protection Assurance, cancer victims and their families can get financial help throughout the process. Grandma always talked about how expensive each prescription was, and the gas to get back and forth to appointments, and obtaining walkers, canes, special beds and things grandpa needed during treatment. I wish they could have had the help that Aflac’s Cancer Protection Assurance offers.
#4 Even Strong People Need Help, and It’s Okay To Need It
I’m pretty sure grandpa wasn’t thrilled with all the fussing over him when he was sick. Nor did he like it when he had to start being chauffeured to his appointments. He was a man that liked to do things himself. Over the course of treatment, he softened up and realized he wasn’t going to get through it without a support system. Don’t get me wrong; he’d let you know he wasn’t thrilled about sitting passenger, but there was love behind his teasing comments.
#5 Waiting Turns Into Regretting
I foolishly convinced myself I had more time, but you truly never know how much you have. Because of that, I now have regrets. Conversations left unsaid and no more time to spend together. Waiting turns into regretting if you’re not careful, and that can make the pain of loss harder.
While it’s been 12 years since grandpa passed away, a week doesn’t go by where I don’t think about him. Think about how cancer stole him from us too soon. My heart breaks each time I hear someone say they or a loved one is beginning their battle. While no one wants to fathom the thought of having cancer, I would urge you and your loved ones to look into cancer insurance, specifically, Aflac’s Cancer Protection Assurance.
With end-to-end care and support from detection and diagnosis, through treatment, and all the way to recovery, it’s a program to have on your side with their innovative and supportive benefits. Plus, policyholders have access to CancerCare, a service that provides emotional support from oncology social workers, support groups and online tools.
*Aflac Cancer Protection Assurance is a cancer/specified-disease insurance policy. In Oklahoma, Policies B70100OK, B70200OK, B70300OK, B7010EPOK and B7020EPOK. Policy may not be available in all states including but not limited to Idaho, New Jersey and Virginia. The policy has limitations and exclusions that may affect benefits payable. Refer to the policy for complete details, limitations, and exclusions. For costs and complete details of the coverage, please contact your local Aflac agent.
Coverage is underwritten by American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus.
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