Amanda Handcock shares the story of her dad’s brave fight with kidney cancer. Today, Amanda is an active advocate for other kidney cancer patients. Thank you Amanda for sharing your story. Your dad is still inspiring others through your amazing voice.
I can only hope he knew he was my hero. The man who I would compare all other men in my life.
My father, Gary Wilfred Handcock, was a force to be reckoned with. An innate business sense from an early age and an old school work ethic that would tire an Olympic athlete. Through blood, sweat and tears he built a million-dollar company from the ground up and also fathered a family of three, the reason for whom he worked so hard. He thrived on beating the odds and being successful. His motivation and confidence grew over the years from overcoming the obstacles. After all, a challenge was always welcomed when it came to my Dad. However, his greatest battle came in the spring of 2013 when he was diagnosed with metastatic renal cell carcinoma. This was going to prove to be our family’s toughest challenge as well or so we thought. After 2 ½ years of surgeries, oral therapy, radiation, broken bones, IL2, complications, scans, appointments, travel, Sutent, brain tumors, SBRT, doctors who showed the greatest compassion to those who didn’t give a damn, my Dad passed away on September 13th, 2015, 11 days before his 59th birthday. Even though the cancer battered and bruised us all in different ways, our greatest struggle still lied ahead, that of now living life without him.
Honestly, I don’t believe the team of physicians in our “neck of the woods” expected my father to survive for as long as he did. To describe him as strong would be a complete understatement. He physically endured so much in such a short period of time with little to no complaints. He completed IL 2 like a BOSS! Unfortunately, the mental struggle and his old school ways kept him quiet and to himself. We chose to respect him and how he decided to deal with the disease but sadly it was also happening to us. Little did we know that when his fight ended, our family’s strife would continue. The cancer was now replaced with unbearable grief. Grief that I thought I was prepared for, I wasn’t.
It’s been 3 years and I still think of him every single minute of the day. We all do. Through the daily heartache we are finding healthy ways to carry on his legacy of hard work and love of family. We have raised money for kidney cancer patients, I have volunteered with Kidney Cancer Canada and helped organize a patient information meeting in my home province of NL, the 1st of its kind. We have donated playground equipment to our local park in his memory on what would have been his 60th birthday and we are keeping the family business alive and well, just like his spirit.
We are also planning a memorial garden to have a peaceful place to just sit and remember. We can choose to be sad for the life lost or celebrate a life well lived.
A poem The Mighty Oak explains the great strength our father illustrated throughout his life, especially throughout his battle with kidney cancer, as well as the deep-rooted love he had for his family and his family for him.
Always in my heart and never forgotten,