A woman is using her cell phone to record her dad talking as he starts to disappear.

Control, Alt, Delete the Dynamics of the Family

As for my writing this article, I’m sitting on the balcony overlooking the beach on spring break. The laughter of my seven-month-old daughter reminds me that this is a spring break different from all the rest. It’s a spring break she has never seen before. I can’t help but to think of all the other “firsts” she is experiencing without her grandfather (my dad) being alive and present to celebrate with her.

Holidays are just one component of what she’s missed without him, not to mention saying her first words, crawling, taking her first steps. Just the mere fact that my dad was never able to know he had a granddaughter on the way before he died of prostate cancer was enough to jolt the dynamics of my family forever.

Family dynamics after a cancer diagnosis

This is just a simple testament to how the family dynamics can change when a loved one is diagnosed or passes away from cancer.

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

The roles of family members often change as well. I often wonder what life would be like today if my dad were still alive. Would I have a different career? Would I have made some of the life decisions I’ve made? Some may say it's not good to wonder, because your mind can be clouded by reality.

What I've learned through grief

The reality is that through my grief I have learned a few things. One, take pictures of everything. Those pictures can soon become a precious memory. My dad was a man that believed in taking pictures when my sister and I were growing up. I even believe my dad captured videos from the first-ever-made video recorder. I can remember on family vacations seeing the end of my dad's camera tilted in my direction for what seemed like every few minutes.

Second, plan things to do with family and friends. My immediate family is quite small. I have one older sister, and she has two sons. Then there’s my mom, myself, and my daughter. After my dad passed, we made it a point to do a local family event once a quarter and one vacation once a year. This was surely not limited to a certain number, but it was a minimum requirement we posed for ourselves as a family. We went to places like Disney on Ice, the circus, museums, and aquariums, just to name a few.

Adapting to change

As the world changes, we find ourselves adapting in a world that is strange to us. Knowing that I have a family I can share the ups and downs with helps to navigate our new normal without my dad being here to experience it with us.

And lastly, I learned to invest time with conversations. As a daddy’s girl, I thought my dad would live forever. Although conversations about death are difficult to have, I think they are a must. When the time comes, it may make the transition slightly smoother, in the sense that your loved one’s requests are honored. It also may help keep family business in order.

All in all, the family dynamics can change when a loved one is diagnosed with cancer. However, with the love and support from one another, you can be more equipped to handle the challenges ahead. Allow yourself to be vulnerable with your loved ones.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The ProstateCancer.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

Please read our rules before commenting.