Founded by a daughter who’s been there, Daughters Like Us is an online resource center and community of support for women caring for their loved ones with cancer. Daughters Like Us strives to make cancer manageable through truth, love, connection and support.

Sarah's story: Living without Dad

Sarah's story: Living without Dad

I was 26 when my father was diagnosed with Stage IV colorectal cancer. He was 56.

We were both too young. Our lives were about to change.

We didn’t know how. We didn’t know why. We did know life would never be the same.

I joined my parents for that first appointment. Why had dad been so sick? 

I had a feeling I should be there. Looking back, it’s all hazy.

I don’t remember the moment I heard “it’s cancer.” I don’t remember the look on my parents’ faces. I don’t remember the feeling of deep despair. 

I imagine it was there.

The doctor talked about chemo, radiation and surgery. We immediately booked appointments. The faster we started, the faster we'd get rid of this. 

Dad was a champ. He underwent chemo and radiation back-to-back. He never complained.

Fast forward six months. Time for surgery. The doctors would remove as much of the tumor as they could. They couldn't guarantee they'd remove everything, however.

Dad rolled into the operating room smiling. As if It didn’t matter a large portion of his colon would be removed. As if it didn't matter he’d be shitting in a bag the rest of his life.

Another notch on the life-forever-changed belt.

My mom, brother and I sat in the waiting room for what seemed like forever.

Nothing but sitting. And waiting.

We didn’t eat. We didn’t watch TV. We didn’t talk. We just sat. Waiting. 

And hoping.

Hoping surgery cured dad. Hoping for his doctor to come out of surgery, remove his mask and say: “We’re done. He’s going to be fine. You’ll have your dad for a good long time.”

I knew that wouldn’t be the case. I knew, because, while we waited, I Googled. 

The chances of living more than five years with Stage IV colorectal cancer - 11 percent. It's the only thing from that search I'd remember from that morning.

Eleven percent. That’s almost zero. 

I cried.

It felt like I'd been smacked in the face.

How could I possibly lose this man, my hero, who I loved so much in less than five years? It wasn’t fair.

I wasn’t ready to lose my daddy. I wasn’t close to being married. Who would walk me down the aisle? What if my daddy never met his grandchildren? It wasn't fair.

Who would be my shoulder to lean on, my voice of reason, my never-ending source of hilarity? Why was this happening to my daddy? My daddy was too young. It wasn’t fair.

My daddy wouldn’t even reach retirement. He'd have to stop working because of cancer. All I could do was sit in the waiting room.

Waiting. Phone in hand. Staring at 11 percent.


Sarah Talent is a producer at Weekend TODAY. She cared for her father through a 7-year battle with colon cancer. He passed away in July 2015. Sarah and her family are learning to live without dad. Her father's lessons continue to be a part of her every day life. Sarah lives in Brooklyn with her husband and baby boy. Subscribe to receive regular updates of Sarah's story and more from Daughters Like Us.

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