Father's Day: Honoring Our Dads Who Fought Cancer

By Melissa Allen

UPMC CancerCenter asked staff to submit stories about what they learned from their father's battle with cancer. Here are some of the stories and photos they received. To read more, visit the UPMC CancerCenter Facebook page.

"On June 23, 2013 it will be two years since he went to Heaven. I lost my daddy to lung cancer four days after Father's Day that year. Had I known it would be our last chance, I would have done so many things different. No matter how prepared you think you are, losing a parent is never easy. Cancer can take the strongest of people and make them weak. It is a vicious cycle. I'm proud to say that my daughters are fighting with me to find a cure so that nobody else ever has to endure this pain and hurt. It is from him that we got our courage, strength, and perseverance.

He once asked me if I was ashamed of him for giving up. My response was, 'Daddy, I could not be prouder to be anyone’s daughter.' He was such a blessing and light in our lives and nobody will ever shine as bright as he!

I love and miss you, Daddy! Happy Father's Day in Heaven!"

- Gina Latchaw, Patient Information Coordinator, Magee-Womens Specialty Services at UPMC Northwest

"My father once told me, 'Life is funny and tough. If you remember that, you'll be ok.' My father died of esophageal cancer in 2004 shortly after his 90th birthday. 

He was a gentle man and a gentleman. Even though he was in a hospital bed and was on a feeding tube, he was concerned whether or not I was alright. Seconds before my father passed away, the most brilliant and unforgettable smile my sisters and I have ever seen spread across his face. Because of my father, I no longer have a fear of death. I can't wait to see him again. I love you, Daddy and I miss you sorely."

- Mary Sinwell, Aging and Disabilities Coordinator

"My dad died of colon cancer at the age of 56. We were extremely close, but never really expressed our feelings with words. When he became sick, I wrote him a letter to say all the things I wanted to say, however, I never gave him the letter. I sometimes regret that, but I know we had a special connection that still continues today and words can’t replace feelings. I encourage everyone over the age of 50 to get an annual colonoscopy. Happy Father's Day to all."

- Lynne Openbrier, Administrative Coordinator, UPMC Radiology