Honoring the Many Roles of Dad this Father’s Day

Sydney Hawk - Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

In late 2012 and into 2013, then 3-year-old Sydney Hawk came down with symptoms of what was assumed to be a common cold she couldn’t shake. After months of doctor visits and antibiotics, a blood test reading landed Sydney and her family at the

Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh where more blood tests proved these symptoms were the development of Philadelphia-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

This is when the Hawk’s lives changed forever. The Philadelphia chromosome is a rare subtype of leukemia, only present in 3% of children diagnosed with blood cancers. Joe Hawk, father of Sydney, tells how he maneuvers through the various roles a childhood cancer dad has to fill and the biggest lesson he’s learned through it all:

Since my daughter Sydney’s diagnosis of an extremely rare type of Leukemia in early 2013, I have often said that dealing with it is like playing 5 card stud. You just have to play the hand you have been dealt. After 7+ years, I have come to find that having a child with cancer is more like being on a high speed roller coaster ride — and those of you that don’t know me, I hate roller coasters!

This situation has dictated that I be, among other things, a doctor, a nurse, an advocate, a friend, cheerleader, & supporter, a “juggler”, a therapist,  the hand to squeeze to get through the pain or to high five when something goes well, the shoulder to cry on when in the hospital and homesick or not feeling well or hurting. These are all necessary and help to make up what is to me the most important role – Dad.

Hearing that your child has cancer is unbelievably scary.  There is so much uncertainty and so many unknowns. Through all of it, I have definitely realized just how strong Sydney is and how cool of a kid she has become. Her personality and attitude are amazing, given the circumstances, and she helps me realize each day how lucky I am to be her Dad! “
– Joe 

If you’re a CureSearch father and would like to share your child’s cancer story or you know of a great Dad you want to tell us about, please visit our Facebook page on Father’s Day and join in the conversation or tell us about them here.

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