By Dustin Perry
I imagine that people whose families have always enjoyed good health would look at days like Father’s Day very differently to those who have encountered some difficulty. The same could be said for Christmas, Easter, birthdays, all things that I have never been one to get too excited about in the past.
But when you are unfortunate enough to have obtained an understanding of just how fragile life is, you gain rare perspective. Having a child with brain cancer is, of course, terrible, but there are the odd very occasional silver linings. This new perspective that is gained makes events like Father’s Day different than they had ever been before. Even the really dark days, the emergency flights to Melbourne, the conversations with doctors that no one wants to have, the bad pain, the constant flow of toxic treatments; even they have an upside.
That may seem like an insane comment, but the upside is that they provide the perspective that I mention, and without these bad times the good times aren't nearly as good. Little things like sitting and reading with the kids of an evening, walking down to the shops as a family of a Saturday morning and just sitting and talking about simple things are all normal activities that most people would take for granted and think nothing of, but once you have the awareness of the finite and temporary nature of life, you don't see things the same way.
So this is what I believe makes Father’s Day different for me. It’s the value that is in something that I, along with many others, may have previously neglected to consider or simply didn't have the life experience to appreciate the same way. Like I said, the last few years’ experience with brain cancer has made me grateful of the little things, so I guess it’s not so much Father’s Day in particular for me,
but every day.
What Father’s Day does provide, is a day for the kids to show their appreciation, and their excitement to do this is worth more than any present that they can give.
Witnessing Chloe live through the last four years with brain cancer has been hard to deal with at times, with the disease itself and the treatments being equally brutal, and it has certainly been a time that has changed me, and the rest of my family.
Early this year I found some disturbing facts about brain cancer survival rates and their lack of improvement in the last thirty years, and decided that I needed to do what I could to change this. I wrote a couple of letters, which soon got quite a bit of media attention and resulted in Cure Brain Cancer Foundation and I attending meetings with members of government that are apparently hard to get meetings with. We discussed brain cancer, we argued about brain cancer, and we soon came to an agreement that something had to be done about it, which resulted in the recent roundtable between various government organisations, brain cancer experts from Australia as well as abroad, Cure Brain Cancer Foundation and myself.
So many people have thanked me for the work I have done to get our Federal Government to listen to us about brain cancer, but I really don’t understand it. I’m a father trying to improve a situation that my daughter is in, and stop it from happening to others in the future, and I give a lot of credit to our government. Malcolm Turnbull and Greg Hunt are both fathers themselves so they can certainly relate to worrying about a young child, and are now committed to improving brain cancer survival.
This work with Cure Brain Cancer Foundation and government is something that I couldn’t imagine not doing. It seems to me like a natural move for any parent with a child in such a situation, it’s what being a parent is about, doing whatever you need to for your kids.
That’s what Father’s Day means to me, being grateful for your family and doing anything possible to preserve good health.
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