How My Father's Cancer Taught Me To See Life's Silver Linings

When I look at my father today, I see someone who has been through a great deal.

How My Father's Cancer Taught Me To See Life's Silver Linings Courtesy of the author / Samantha Walisundara

By Samantha Walisundara

I sat in the doctor’s office, trying to wrap my mind around what the doctors were saying and showing. Everything around me — the sounds, the voices, the scans, all became one huge blur.

My father, someone who had always been my greatest strength and my best friend, had just been diagnosed with cancer.

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All I could think was, “How is that possible?” Why him? Why now? What’s going to happen?

And, the most painful question that lingered in my mind, “Was I going to lose my father?”

It’s been almost eight years since his initial diagnosis. Those eight years have brought endless doctors’ appointments, countless hours in the waiting room, monthly blood tests, and multiple rounds of radiation.

In those eight years, I have lost more of who I am and who I want to be while trying to care for my father, who I have always loved more than anything in this world... even more than myself.

Despite having to grow up faster than most and missing out on all the outings and hangouts my friends partook in, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.


My father’s diagnosis taught me a lot about myself, him, and the relationship we shared.

It motivated me to do better and to be better. It made me realize how short and precious life truly is and how selfless and truly amazing our parents are, despite how much we take them for granted.

Yet, even with the initial clear from his doctor, my father’s cancer has come back. I don’t know what’s scarier: knowing that my father is in for another round of pain and suffering, or knowing that this time, I might really lose him.

I have seen what cancer did to my grandfather and the effect his death had and still does have on my father.

I want so badly to give my father all the life pleasures he’s sacrificed himself to give us and to make sure his final years are filled with love, laughter, and luxury. But, I am still finishing up my Bachelor’s and working towards a profession in the field of Pediatric Oncology.


There are many years ahead of me before I will in a place where I can fulfill all the promises I have secretly made to him.

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But, part of me fears that he won’t make it that long.

When I look at my father today, I see someone who has been through a great deal. I see someone whose strength inspires me everyday to take whatever may come my way with a smile.

I see someone who always places his family and friends above himself; someone who always forgets to take care of himself. And, I see someone who inspires me to be half the person he is today.

My father encompasses everything I want to be and what I hope my future children will be like as well.


But, I also see someone who is worn-down and tired from the long hours he spends working, trying to provide his family and his two children with a future he once dreamed of having.

I see someone who grimaces in pain from his swollen joints, migraines, and side effects from years of treatment, especially when no one is looking. I notice the gray hairs that are now creeping up behind his black locks and the wrinkles on his forehead and hands from the aging process.

I am 22, almost 23 years old, and all these changes haven’t happened overnight, but rather throughout the years, right under my nose. As we grow up, life seems to move so quickly that unless we take a step back to notice the things around us, we don’t realize how much is really changing right before us.

There’s another battle that stands before my family and I, and I can only hope that we’ll come out victorious.


Cancer is never a fun thing, but it does remind us of what is important and that we should slow down a bit, so we can appreciate the present.

Everything has a silver lining, and whatever the odds, I’ll keep choosing to see and believe in the best because that is what my father taught me.

No matter what happens, my sun sets to rise again.

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Samantha Walisundara is a writer and contributor to Unwritten. Her work focuses on heartbreak, lifestyle, and family topics.