Norman: When a father discovers his daughter has cancer

Norman: When a father discovers his daughter has cancer

Written by my father “My Daddy”, Norman Dachman (author of Chicago Then)

Ten years ago my daughter Teppi Jacobsen (When You Put It That Way) called and said I have something important to tell you.  She was going to drive over to tell me. I had  moved to Madison, WI and thought it unusual for her to drive from the Chicago area into Wisconsin.

My wife and I were anxious (an understatement) for her arrival. Her brother who is a surgeon happened to be there that day. When she and her husband Max arrived we were naturally worried and wondered what the mystery was about.  Then the words no parent wants to hear “I have a tumor in my right breast”.

There was my baby, with a tear in her eye. She looked at me and asked with a pleading voice. “Daddy make it go away. Get it out of me”. And, as her Father there was nothing I could do but support her. Her brother was able to examine it but as a brother, tried to assure her it would be benign.

Unfortunately, that was not the case. As history has told us she beat the cancer through a lumpectomy operation chemo and radiation treatment. And she was a 10 year survivor when she was diagnosed with a new cancer in her left breast this past June.  Fortunately the cancer was in its early stage. It was removed following a second operation and followed up with chemo as a further precaution.

I remember the night she was born with the Dr. coming into the Fathers waiting room and telling me I had a beautiful daughter.  And, a special girl now became a glowing light for my wife and me.  We watched her grow with all the trials and tribulations one would expect from a child to a teenager, college student and as all parents dream, she married and has two beautiful daughters.  We used to call her “Schleppy Teppi” for reasons that would embarrass her as I reflect with love.

She recently took the BRCA test to determine her future health and any the chance of more cancer scares. The result was positive and she had to make the decision of her life whether or not to have a double a mastectomy or chance another cancer.

My daughter had to make the right decision. In talking to me on the phone about her decision I went numb.  It’s a good thing she couldn’t see me as the tears flowed as a stream with my eyes clouded with love and prayers for her.

She has been writing her blog for the Chicagonow web site and announced to her readers and others about her BRCA mutation gene and prayed for support. Support comments came and came. Then this bravest of daughters had a fabulous idea.  There are hundreds of women who have or have had breast cancer and carry the BRCA gene.  She was able to reach out and find nearly thirty women who would tell their struggle with cancer and/or the BRCA gene and its effects. And, she would print them all on her column as guest writers during October breast cancer awareness month.

Her story isn’t just about her own cancer but about reaching out in support of women all over the country. It has given them an opportunity to tell their own battle with cancer and the BRCA gene.

My wife, her Mother, passed away but was able to witness her daughter’s first battle with breast cancer and beat it.  She and I had each other to lean on and talk about our “baby’s” illness. And, to cry on each other’s shoulders. I have learned how brave and wonderful a person she has become to reach out and help others who have to beat this cancer.  I have also learned what real strength can be as she has made the brave decision she has to have the double mastectomy.

This article has gone through many rewrites in my head and I’ve struggled how to tell my daughter of my love and support for her. Yes, she has and had breast cancer but as her Father I confess my heart was broken. However, I have also learned how strong my daughter is.

In the deepest throes of my heart I know she has countless numbers of friends to wish her well and they have been made aware of the BRCA gene for their own well being.

I want to thank the Chicago Tribune Chicagonow website for helping her bring her message to your readers. Teppi Jacobsen, someone you should know and now do.

Let the memory of her bravery light up the corners of my mind and yours too.

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