Celebrating Dads with a Child Battling Cancer on Father's Day
Sunday, June 19
Cancer dad. It’s a title that no one wants or knows what to do with. But, with Fathers Day just around the corner on June 19th, it’s time to recognize and uplift these dads, who are often unsung heroes for families enduring pediatric cancer. In this blog we provide some ideas on celebrating dads with a child battling cancer. While moms usually take on most of the caregiving responsibility, dads are often left with caregiving on top of working to provide for basic living and healthcare expenses. For up to 92% of affected parents, financial distress begins within six months of diagnosis and continues throughout the cancer journey.
The Unseen Struggles
Studies show that the stress of adequately providing for their family can lead dads to embarrassment and humiliation, fear, persistent thoughts and anxiety about money, reduced joy, feeling like they don’t deserve to express their needs, and feeling vulnerable to repeated financial stressors.
It’s known that societal and cultural pressures often lead men to limit showing their emotions and asking for help. Dads often hide away their hurt or do it in private where no one will see it. They feel like they’re just holding on and doing the best they can most of the time. There’s so much hidden beneath the surface for all of us, but it is tenfold for cancer dads.
The Unseen Sacrifices
With the pressure to provide, dads are doing whatever it takes to ensure that their child can get care. They put off their own health, reallocate savings from their retirement and children’s education, adjust careers, sell personal items, and work more. These are just to name a few of the financial sacrifices they make.
Seeing and Celebrating Cancer Dads
Father’s Day can come with a range of emotions for dads. They can experience everything from gratitude to love to anger–and all are entirely valid. They didn’t get the easiest hand when it comes to being a dad and having to uphold a heroic level of fatherhood. So here are a few encouraging ways to celebrate him this Father’s Day:
- Share the love. Send a hand-written letter or text to help dad feel loved on Father’s Day. Going beyond the “Happy Father’s Day, hope you have a great day” generics can really go a long way and help dad feel loved and appreciated. You can capture things you admire about him, recount a cherished memory, or write about the ways he is an amazing father.
- Help them reflect. With so much worry about tomorrow, it may be difficult for dads to focus on the present moment or be proud of the past. Help shine a light on their strength and encourage them to reflect on all they’ve done to get to today.
- Give him the gift of one of his old hobbies. Cancer dads often give up their hobbies or activities because their time is taken up by work and caregiving. What used to bring him joy that he no longer does? Maybe it’s an afternoon on a golf course, going for a hike, or maybe it’s just grabbing a beer at his favorite local spot.
- Have the kids create something for him. Normalcy is a coveted experience for families going through the cancer journey. Something as simple as a homemade father’s day card or drawing could the small thing that makes his day.
- Give him the gift of time. It may be dad simply needs time to himself, to rest, and possibly have his favorite meal or BBQ. Have the children join in and serve him or even help cook the meal if they are old enough to help.
- Dad’s have a legacy, even new dads. Have the children make a shadow box and fill it with mementos, photos of great memories, including his dad and grandfather. Add meaningful things, maybe a shell from a beach you visited with him or a rock you painted of something that has meaning between your dad and you. Give him some nostalgia.
- Makeover a children’s book. Find a children’s book with pictures but not many words. Use the pictures to share a story that brings back a memory of you and your dad. Handwrite your memory on that page. Tell him how important he is to you and what you have learned from him.
Helping Dads at Here to serve
Here to Serve helps lift the burden for dads with children battling cancer offering wraparound services. Here to Serve offers one place to go for physical, financial, emotional help and resources, so there’s less to worry about. In addition to providing financial assistance, Here to Serve can help alleviate daily tasks like errands, childcare, meals, yard work, and more. Families can also receive extra support from a Family Care Coordinator and receive additional resource referrals. If you or someone you know is battling cancer while raising children or has a child battling cancer tell them there is organized and life-saving help. They only need to reach out to Here to Serve and GET HELP!
We know that time is precious. Here to Serve strives to give more of it back to dads so they can have more time with the things that matter most–family.
Happy Father’s Day to all of the amazing dads out there going through this journey. We’re here for you.
By Emily Rogalin
All information on this blog is for informational and educational purposes only. Always consult a medical provider in your particular area of need before making significant changes in your medical decisions or lifestyle.