A Dad’s Perspective – Guest Post

The cold hard truth about the fight against childhood cancer is that when a child gets cancer, the whole family gets cancer.  Looking back, I can’t begin to explain how amazing it is that we made it through.  We are wounded and heart broken, forever changed, but we have lived to tell our experiences.  I am always told how strong I am, but honestly, I couldn’t have made it through without Steve.  To so many of the dad’s fighting for their children, I know it feels like they have been forgotten.  They don’t get enough support for the pain they also experience.  Steve is a warrior and he experienced the cancer fight in a different way than I did.  Here is Steve’s perspective….Hayes’ cancer journey through Steve’s eyes! I am so proud of him and forever honored he is mine.

A Dad’s job is to solve the issue, take away the pain. For the first time in my life I was unable to do that for one of my kids. In fact, for the first time in my life I was unable to just fix it. I feel like I have always been able to succeed at whatever I have put my mind to. Whether it was with sports, with my career, or parenting, I have had the ability to overcome any obstacle. But not cancer. I felt helpless when I sat with Hayes. It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I would sit and watch him go through the pain of the side effects, with fevers of over 103 degrees and my hands were completely tied. I couldn’t just take it away. Hayes and I shared some incredible moments together, some of which I have never shared with any of my children. I think Hayes understood that I craved the need to help him, but he also sensed that I was doing everything in my power to help him. 

Life was exhausting. I stayed home with the kids while Savanna stayed overnight at the hospital. Those were loneliest nights of my life sleeping in my bed by myself without my wife and one of my children. I usually couldn’t sleep until around 1:00 am. I had nobody to talk to or decompress with, so falling asleep was always so hard for me. I would wake up at 6:00 am so that I could shower and get dressed before the babies woke up. They typically woke up around 6:45. I would get them up, change their clothes and feed them while the older 3 kids got ready for school. I made sure the kids were ready, dressed and fed before 8:15 am. My Mom would come over to watch the babies at 8:30 while I left for the office. My drives consisted of a lot of tears during my 10 minute commute. They were tears of complete exhaustion, both physical exhaustion and mental exhaustion. I would then have appointments til around 3:45 and head straight to the hospital to be with Hayes. I craved those moments of hanging out with Hayes until around 10:00 at night. When I was in the room with Hayes nothing else mattered. It was my own little world with just me and him. This is where we bonded. We talked, we played, we laughed. We laughed a lot. I would feed him fries and roast beef sandwiches while we watched his favorite television shows on repeat. Despite barely being able to keep my eyes opened from my full schedule, these were the best days of my life and I miss them. I miss those days. I crave those days.

 I still find myself finding things to do at home after work so that I can fill that void. It’s amazing how slow 4 hours goes by after I get home from the office. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t wish I was up at the hospital with Hayes. I know that sounds weird, but I miss that daily grind. In some ways, that daily grind kept my mind occupied. It allowed me to concentrate and admittedly, even though I was in basic survival mode, it kept me fighting. It allowed me to feel as though I was “solving” the problem, despite not being able to take his cancer away. It was the only way I could feel “accomplished” as a Dad, because the guilt of not being able to solve the problem was extremely heavy.

 I have now had to re-route my fight to keeping Hayes legacy alive and honoring him. I have also had to learn to occupy my mind and energy through the various kid’s activities, coaching football, writing my book, and running my usual 2 miles every morning.

12 thoughts on “A Dad’s Perspective – Guest Post

  1. Cory

    Steve and Savanna…. you two are truly amazing. I never had any children of my own, which was heartbreaking to me, but situations I’ve had in my life, I know it was best I didn’t have any.
    I cannot even fathom what you’ve been through, but you’ve both touched my heart. I read these posts you’ve written and am totally blown away by the strength, love, compassion you’ve had with your journey. Through all the pain and heartache you’ve experienced, you’ve created an incredible life to honor this precious angel you had and was taken much too soon. You’re the best parents I’ve ever seen, and I thank you for sharing your life and the lives of your children with us. God bless you!

  2. rachelnorcal

    What continues to touch my heart the most is how generously you- Steve- and Savanna share your journey so openly and honestly with all of us. It is an amazing gift to so many people.
    I know I’m not alone when I say that, even though I’m one of the many Tate Family friends who has never met you guys in person, I think of Hayes, Savanna, you, and all the kids multiple times each day.
    I know you will never stop missing Hayes – I just hope & pray that the moments of peace & comfort keep surrounding your broken-open hearts, and that all of those beautiful HayesHints continue to remind you of his love and his presence.
    Hugs from Rachel & Family in California xoxoxo

  3. Leya

    I’m sitting here crying while and after reading Steve’s blog. I cannot imagine going through what you both have gone through. I can only show empathy. I’m glad I found your family on Instagram. Thank you for allowing us to follow your journey. When I’m feeling down or exhausted from my own life with family and children, I get reminded by your accounts to always smile and enjoy the time we have here together. All 6 of your babies are beautiful!

  4. Daisy Franco

    Thank you for sharing this. Our son was diagnosed with ALL Leukemia 8 months ago just before his 2nd Birthday. Our lives were turned up side down. I think one of the hardest things was to see how this was affecting my husband. I sometimes wonder what he thinks or how he feels because he keeps things to himself. Reading this has made me realize what my husband possibly may be feeling or going through. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Thanks, Steve, for sharing your touching, personal experience. Having been through the fight ourselves, we know that while fighting childhood cancer is such a physical struggle, it often takes quite a death toll on the family. How grateful I am to husbands and fathers, like you and my husband, Shaun, that become both “mom” and “dad” at home, as well as mental, physical, and emotional support for your wife and child during the long hospital stays. While you can’t “fix” everything, you end up “saving” the family and keeping everyone together. I just can’t say enough about wonderful husbands and dads like you! Thanks for sharing, Savanna!

  6. Hussana Bostan

    Having first followed your story on instagram and now reading your blog, all I can say is how brave the both of you are. I know the hurt will never go away, but just know that Hayes will always be here with you. It is so lovely to see the strength and love the both of you have for each other, your children and especially beautiful Hayes. I hope the peace and comfort surrounding you somehow helps your broken heart. Lots of love x

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