My childhood was fun; it was great. I have a brother and he is one year older than me. Growing up was fun; my dad was a cop, and my brother and I were very athletic. We were both very successful. My dad got sick when I was about 13, but I didn’t find out until I was about 14. One day, he took my brother and I to the park and told us that he had cancer and we had to bond as a family. I was the more rebellious one of the two; you get to do high school, and you experience new things. I started partying where alcohol was involved and my dad didn’t let me. He found out I went to a party and the next day, he got so upset that he cried. I’ve never seen him cry before, but that’s when it hit me that it was real. He had surgery after that and it seemed to be fine for the first four months. After those four months, it all went downhill; you can tell. The following summer, I was playing basketball and I sprained my ankle for the first time. My dad was deathly ill at home, but he came to pick me up and took me to the hospital. He wasn’t supposed to drive at that time. A month after that, we got him to hospice care and that’s when his mind started to go. As a healthy man, he was 175 pounds; when he died, he was 87 pounds. The hardest part for me was that he was at home and we had hospice care for 24 hours. My mom didn’t want us to see it so she would tell me and my brother to spend the night at different friends’ house. Two weeks before my dad died, he asked me to come to him and told me to go see the world. I took that to heart and that’s what I did.”

-Jeffrey (Los Alamitos, CA)