Safety Nets

My dad has cancer.  And it really pisses me off.

See, I’ve had a pretty fortunate family life.  My parents have been married for over 40 years.  All four of my siblings are successful adults, who married successful adults.  To date, we have 12 healthy children between the five of us.  No one has ever gone to jail or had a catastrophic accident or done anything wildly illegal– and the best part is that we all genuinely like each other.  We count family time as a pleasure rather than an obligation.  In other words, we’ve been in a pretty good place, all things considered, most of my life.
And now there’s this fucking cancer.

My dad rocks.  He is funny in unexpected ways.  He is generous with his time and his expertise.  All my life, I have felt safe to go out and explore, make mistakes, leave my mark– because all my life I have known two things to be absolutely true: 1. my parents believe in me.  And 2. my parents always have my back.  And, let’s be honest: I tested that safety net, more than once.   But the net always held.  My parents always caught me.  They are at the center of this crazy web of strong-willed people who (to put it mildly) don’t hesitate to express their opinions, often at the tops of their lungs, and they created this dynamic of love and loyalty between us.  As my mom said at my brother Mikey’s wedding this June, “The 24 members of our family welcome Erin with open arms.”  The message: you’re one of us now.  You’ll get your share of teasing, of arguing, of what-is-that-stupid-thing-you’re-wearing– but you’ll never be alone.  We will always have your back.

And now there’s this fucking cancer.

If anyone ever doubted my dad’s toughness, they’ve been proven wrong.  My dad has weathered the suddenness of the onset, the physical side effects, all the new vitamins and nutrition my mom has been throwing at him, and the rest of the sea changes in his life with grace and dignity.   You know what I didn’t know about cancer treatment?  That most of it is drudgery.  You wait and you wait, and tests are ordered and someone adjusts some medication, and you wait some more and results come in that require more testing, for which you then wait.  I have learned that cancer treatment requires a great deal of patience– and faith that things are moving forward even when nothing seems to be happening.  Just one more thing about cancer that pisses me off– I hate waiting.

My siblings and I take my dad to radiation therapy five times each week.  Dad, who has charmed all of the nurses and technicians, gets a daily dose of radiation which will make him super tired and a little sick, and make everything taste weird.  Yet he comes out every time with a smile, and makes the same hilarious joke about banging my car door into the wall which somehow cracks me up every time.

I’m learning all kinds of things, now that there is this fucking cancer.  I’m learning how resilient my parents are.  I’m learning how thoughtful my sister-in-law is and how protective my brothers are and how my sisters hate not being in control as much as I do.  I’m also learning that the 24 members of the Giampaolo family create one hell of a safety net, and I am so proud of the one we have created for my dad.  I know these two things to be absolutely true: we believe in you, Dad.  And we will always catch you.

No matter what.

    20 comments to Safety Nets

    • Tammy

      My mom is going through breast cancer chemo right now and I just want to scream at the top of my lungs, “I hate you fucking cancer!” I will be praying for you and your family.

    • Kathleen Stevens

      It's a beautiful tribute to your entire family. May your father recover & enjoy many years with all of you.

    • Lisa Francoeur

      Julie- I just sent you an e-mail, please read! I'm so sorry to hear about your dad.

    • Maribeth Kardas Hallahan

      ♥ this tribute, and well said. I am so sorry, but it sound like the "net" is a strong one!!

    • Denise Metanias

      well said! I've known your family for over 11 years and I've always said it's the best, most loving, and close family I've ever known. ♥

    • Joann Giampaolo

      Julie, I have no problem with the swearing…This cancer fucking pisses me off more than anyone, except maybe Dad!

    • Julie Giampaolo

      Thank you everyone for your thoughts and prayers for my dad. Mom, please make sure Dad reads this so he can see how many people love him!!! XOXO

    • Brandy Delaney-Walsh

      WOW…I'm speechless! I think Maribeth said it the best, what a tribute AND an awesome net!!! You guys are truly blessed to have each other!

    • Ali Helland

      I just love this. And, I love the Giampaolo's. Mr. G is in my prayers.

    • Alice Feldmann

      Julie, the first time John and I met the Giampaolo family we could see the bond you all have for each other. Your mom said it best at the wedding when she stated the Giampaolo family welcomed Erin with open arms. Those arms are now forming a circle around your Dad and it will give him the strength to fight this cancer because of all the love he feels around him. Please know that your Dad, Mom , and all the rest of the family are in our thoughts and prayers.

    • Jules

      I know how you feel, Tammy. My thoughts are with your mother, too.

    • Vanessa (Nessy)

      *tears* I’m so freaking mad at cancer for your sake. I’m just so sorry that you your dad has cancer. 🙁 My MIL conquered breast cancer 5 years ago. It’s a tough journey, but you come out on the other side stronger than you ever imagined you could be. My sister wrote a beautiful song about her journey, and I should see if she has a recording of it to send to you. It was to honour my MIL & FIL for their strengh, grace, tenasity and victory through the horrible journey. :hug:

    • Michelle Egdorf Krause

      This is why I love the Giampaolo family! Jules you are all so strong & it's because you really do have awesome parents. Love to Ron &am

    • Michelle Egdorf Krause

      This is why I love the Giampaolo family! Jules you are all so strong & it's because you really do have awesome parents. Love to Ron & Jo!

    • Summer Tarr

      ♥♥♥Thinking of you and your family Julie♥

    • Summer Tarr

      ♥♥♥Thinking of you and your family Julie♥♥♥

    • Jules

      Thanks, Vanessa.

    • Julie Giampaolo

      Thank you so much Brandy, Ali and Alice. We are lucky to have such wonderful friends.

    • Your dad has some awesome safety nets there for him. Your family is in my prayers. ((hugs))

    • Jules

      Thanks, AJ. XOXOXO

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