This is one of the only pictures I have of my Dad's handsome face in almost 10 years. He only agreed to the photo because it was my wedding day. It is a photo I will cherish for the rest of my life, even though it still, so accurately, displays the sadness in his eyes.
He lost his nose to cancer the summer of 2004. I remember the day my parents got the news it was cancer. It was my birthday. And I, like many other obnoxious young girls, wanted everyone in the world to be as excited as I was that it was "my day." But that wasn't happening.
Mom and Dad walked in the door with cold looks on their faces and went to their room. I heard them whispering and assumed they were arguing behind closed doors. So I threw a fit. "Ugh! It would be really nice if you guys cared AT ALL that it was my BIRTHDAY! Why are you guys being so weird!?" I barked at them from the kitchen. Of course, I kept on and on, how I would often do. Until Mom finally came out with tears in her eyes and said, "It's not all about you, Amy!" It was that look that stopped me dead in my tracks and I felt an immediate lump appear in my stomach and throat at the same exact time.
She went on to tell me Dad had cancer and his nose needed removed to be sure it was all gone. He just sat on the bed, not saying a single word. He physically couldn't speak. I didn't know what to think, what to say, what to feel. How could this be happening? How could I have been so selfish? The only positive of all of this was that he was going to be ok... alive and well, cancer free. Who needs a nose anyway, right? As long as my Dad was still here with us, it still wasn't the end of the world. Well, to me at least. What I wasn't considering is that this would take a completely different toll on my dear Dad.
Surgery went well, our prayers were answered! But his nose was gone, indefinitely. Dad spent the next several months struggling with his face being forever changed. Where his nose once sat was now just an empty hole. He was given a prosthetic nose that attached to his face with adhesive glue. But it looked ridiculously fake and almost caused more attention than it was worth. He couldn't even look us in the eye at home. Us, his own family! He would nonchalantly hold the cereal box up over his face while we talked in the kitchen, as if he were purposely waiting that long to pour the bowl. Or turn his back when someone walked in the room as if he meant to grab that "˜something' behind him. How could we make him feel better and help him to believe that we didn't care what it looked like? We were just happy he was alive! The answer is, we couldn't. There is nothing that any of us could have said or done to make him feel more comfortable in his own skin.
People would stare, adults and children the like. Kids would point and gasp, their little hands covering their curious mouths in disbelief. He couldn't go anywhere and feel normal. Not the gas station, not the auto part store (where he was once a regular), not the grocery store, not church, not anywhere. So he fell into a deep, dark depression, gave up hope, made some bad decisions, turned some wrong ways, lost his marriage, ruined the life as he knew it: and, the rest is history. But, you know what? With all thanks to God, he came out of it and is still kicking! Living, breathing, and driving us all crazy. That's the Dad I remember!
While he has finally come to terms with his nose being gone forever, it still isn't any easier on him as it was nearly 10 years ago. He still avoids crowds, whether it's a birthday dinner out at a restaurant or a family get-together in my backyard. To him, his "no-nose" is a huge elephant that no one can take their eyes off of. It affects his confidence, his self-esteem, his self-worth. He is ashamed of how he looks and would rather sit in his room alone than face a world of constant stares and judgment. But I'm not ok with this. I want my Dad to enjoy his life here on Earth. I want him to feel comfortable in his own skin and not have anxiety about sitting on his front porch when a group of kids just happen to stroll down the sidewalk. If there's something I can do to help make this happen, I have to do it. That's why I'm asking for your help.
I recently gave birth to a beautiful baby boy named Jake. My Dad's dream is to take Jake fishing one day. He literally dreams of this sometimes at night. And then calls to tell me all about it every time. It is honestly the cutest conversation a daughter can have with her father about her son. As excited as Dad is to help Jake bait a hook someday, he has made several comments that Jake might be afraid of him. He is so worried that his face will scare my little boy. Is this not heart breaking? Of all the things a man should not have to worry about in his lifetime, scaring his grandson shouldn't be one of them.
As odd as this request sounds, please help my Dad get a nose. You have no idea what this will do for him and our family. The costs for a custom nose prosthetic are not covered by his insurance. The work required for his face to be restored is extensive, to say the least. Between the prosthetic devices and dental work, the details are overwhelming. It is an extremely expensive project and we do not have the funds to cover it on our own. We need your help! Any donation will help us get there and every little bit counts. When considering whether or not to donate to this fund, please take a moment to put yourself in my Dad's shoes for one single day. Just one day. Imagine facing the world as you know it without a nose on your face. Really. Literally, imagine yourself without a nose and what that would look like. Think about it. If you are able to help, please contribute to this fund. The smallest donation will help restore my Dad's life. And you can't put a price on that.
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