May 15, 2012

Perspective, a father’s: Diagnosis

The last blog post reminded us that a cancer diagnosis leaves no one unaffected, so we asked Judy’s father, Richard Wevers if he would be willing to write for us through his eyes as a father of an adult survivor of a childhood cancer.

Richard grew up in Baldwin, WI [and] attended Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI where he met and married his beloved bride, Sylvia Baas. He received his PhD in classical language from the University of Wisconsin. Upon completing his doctoral work, Richard and Sylvia returned to Grand Rapids where he taught Greek and Latin at Calvin College for more than 30 years. Richard is father to four daughters: Jan, Judy, June, and Jackie. He is now retired and enjoys helping their children, son[s]-in-law, and grandchildren with various home improvement projects.

Our Daughter has Cancer

Richard Wevers

” Four decades ago our ten year old daughter, Judy, said she felt a “lump” in her neck. That was the day our fears began. The fears continued to grow as we had further testing and investigating and finally a biopsy of the tumor. But I did not just wait for what the doctors could tell us. Instead, I did my own bit of research to see what lumps in a child’s neck might indicate. Hodgkin’s disease was, I found, a very real possibility.

But the pathology report from the biopsy, that was what we needed. We awaited that pathology with mixed feelings, as anyone who has been in a similar circumstance can understand, desperately eager to know but equally afraid of what we would discover. My memories of how we learned what the pathologist had found out are so very vivid. The pediatrician’s office called quite late in the day and asked us to come in. We of course knew that a special call to come in was not good news. A benign report would simply have been reported to us over the phone. We went in immediately. And even though we were so sure that the report would be bad, Sylvia and I together sat in the car in the parking lot of the doctor’s office and prayed that the report would not be cancer. Then we went into the doctor’s office. I can still hear the actual words of the doctor as he came into the conference room, “I have talked to the pathologist. This is a malignancy, a cancer.”

I’ve talked to the pathologist. This is a malignancy, a cancer.”

Those were his actual words–like a death sentence for our ten year old daughter. All hope was gone. We hit bottom.”

I do not presume to know what it is like to be told that your daughter has a malignancy, a cancer; however, I do know that those words in 1970 translated into an almost certain [and] most devastating loss.

myHeart is thankful for the progress that has been made in the treatment of childhood cancers though we are compelled to pursue at least as much progress with regard to the effective management, and perhaps even the prevention, of the late effects of curative therapies.

We invite you to join us in our effort. To learn more, go to





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