Today marks my 50th birthday. As I gratefully reflect on the years passed since my 1968 arrival, I can’t help but wish my dad was here to celebrate with me.
To me Dad was larger than life, even though he only stood 5'4”. I knew someday I wanted to be a dad just like him. He was a hard-working and loving man.
Dad’s dream was to be a radio DJ. When that didn't happen, he started his own DJ business as “Disco Brad” and played in many a venue around New York City back in the late 70's and early 80's. When he wasn’t DJ’ing, Dad was working as a contractor. He could do it all when it came to construction and he taught these skills to many of the neighborhood youths. Many went on to find gainful trade employment as a result of what they learned from him. Dad was always one to share his gifts with anyone who asked. He was one of the most generous and giving people I knew.
It’s been more than 17 years since we lost my father, Hamilton Godfrey Brathwaite, to pancreatic cancer. He was my biggest fan and I miss him dearly.
Dad was fit and strong. He wasn’t aware of his condition until one day he looked in the mirror and noted that his eyes were turning yellow. He went to the doctor to see about getting the yellow out of his eyes. Unfortunately, the yellowing was the result of an advanced stage of jaundice, which led the doctors to find that his liver had been attacked by cancer that had originated and spread from his pancreas.
Dad was given only 6 months to live. He fought bravely for almost 10 months before going home to be with the Lord just a month after his 59th birthday.
According to the American Cancer Society, pancreatic cancer is hard to find early. The pancreas is located deep inside the body, so early tumors can’t be seen or felt by health care providers during routine physical exams. People usually have no symptoms until the cancer has already spread to other organs.
So today, as I consider my many blessings, the man Dad was and the man I strive to be, my birthday wish is for you to show any desired birthday love or well-wishes by gifting me with $19.68, which will go to the Destroy Pancreatic Cancer Research and Care Foundation.
Known for their stellar work in the field, your gift will help enable them to explore new avenues of research that can lead to real advances in their understanding of pancreas cancer.
On my special day, I thank you for your love and support. I know Dad is smiling.