When I Found Out My Son Had Cancer: A Dad's Perspective

I will never forget that call. It’s the call you think only happens to other people or even only in the movies. But many people get that call everyday, so I shouldn’t have been too shocked or too surprised, I should have been ready, but I wasn’t.

When I found out my son had cancer

It was a Friday, almost always sunny in Southern California. This day wasn’t any different. Work was slow for the moment, which is hit and miss at my company. Some Fridays before the holidays can be crazy busy all day, but this day only had a couple slow moments. I had already been talking with my co-workers, trying to stay optimistic about my son’s recent surgery to biopsy a mass growing in his nose. Michelle remembers them talking about the possibility of the mass being malignant, but I guess I blocked that out. Because, all week my co-workers were trying to encourage me that it was going to be benign. I guess it worked, cause I remember thinking “It is probably benign and I am sure they will call us to confirm that”.

Michelle was the primary contact, but I gave the hospital my number as the 2nd option in case they could not get a hold of my her. Another reason, I was not ready for the call, I figured Michelle would get the call confirming it was benign, then she would call me to give our family that sigh of relief.

That phone call would have been so much better, but that one never came.

My cell phone began to vibrate and I just happened to not have any customers in front of me so I looked down at my phone and saw a number that was familiar, but did not fully recognize. Most of the time, if I don’t recognize the number, I will not pick up. But I thought, “Oh I think this is Rady’s Children’s Hospital for Luke, they must have not been able to get a hold of Michelle.”

So I answered. But again, I wasn’t ready!

One of the things I love about Luke’s doctor was that she did not sugar coat anything, she just told it like it was. I appreciate that, because then we know exactly what is going on and we can deal with it, instead of wondering what the doctor is talking about; Is she trying to say something positive? Was that negative? Do we have to worry? With that first phone call,  maybe it would have been nice to prepare me for what she was going to say.  I don’t know,  because that never happened.

As soon as I answered, the doctor introduced herself,
“This is Doctor Ahn and I am overseeing Luke’s case. His mass is malignant.”

Just like that I went from being relaxed, in a good mood just happy that my son’s mass was being taking care of, to a numb, devastated state of mind. It took everything in me to fight back the tears and the tears eventually won. Even as I am writing this, my eyes are tearing up remembering that moment that would change our family forever.

My son has cancer. I just kept playing that over and over in my head.

How could this happen? He is only 9 years old. And he didn’t do anything. But the truth remained. My son has cancer. Luke has cancer.

I remember she explained what needed to happen. But after she said the mass was malignant most of what she said was just words words words. I had to ask her to repeat the next steps twice just to make sure I was well aware of what we needed to do. I shouldn’t have needed her to repeat herself, but it was all so much. The next step was pretty clear, he was scheduled for another surgery to remove most of the mass and he would need to be admitted to the hospital right away. We were scheduled to go in on Monday, December 22, 2014. I can’t even remember if I finished work that day or not, I am pretty sure they let me go home and so I did. We spent the weekend together, letting everyone in our families know that Luke would be in the hospital on December 22, it sounded like he would have surgery on December 23 and we would be home in time for Christmas Eve.

my 9 year old son has cancer

Luke went through several tests that first day at the hospital. MRI, CAT scans, X-Rays and blood tests and several others I don’t remember. What made his situation unique and a little scary is that the mass was so close to his skull. We would find out over the next several days that he had Osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer and that he would have surgery and his first chemo on Christmas Eve.

Osteosarcoma makes up about 2% of all childhood cancer, so not a very common cancer, but not the most rare either. What really made Luke’s cancer unique, was the location. Almost all Osteosarcoma patients have the growth or mass found in their limbs, legs, arms, feet, hands, places like that.

For doctors to find Osteosarcoma so close to the skull was extremely rare. I believe that was by design. But to be clear, God did not give my son cancer. Let me write that again, “God did not give my son cancer!!! But he allowed it. God is good all the time! And I believe He made sure it was rare. But I will write more about that in future posts.

dad and childhood cancer survivor
When you have cancer, it’s bad news no matter who you are. Cancer sucks! I don’t know why certain people get cancer and others don’t. I don’t know why my son got a non-terminal cancer and other children get terminal cancers. But what I do know is God is in control of all of it. And if you trust in Him, He will give you the strength to get through it, no matter the outcome.

I praise God everyday that our son's cancer was not terminal. I remember thanking God that it wasn’t terminal. My prayer was “God you are so good. I am not sure why we are going through this, but I thank you it is not terminal. Thank you Lord, thank you. Thank you that we get an opportunity to fight this." I know some can’t say that, and I grieve for them.

how I found out son cancer
If you are going through a similar struggle, my hope is that no matter what kind of cancer you or your child might have, you will be encouraged to fight and encouraged to stay positive. And maybe someday you can share your story too.

I want to leave you with this, a simple prayer that I have prayed before and I will pray right now.

“Dear God, thank you giving me the strength to get through Luke’s cancer. Thank you for allowing me to be a source of joy for Luke as he went through it. Lord I would have gladly changed places with Luke, so he did not have to go through it. But thank you for giving him the strength to see your Love in it. I am praying for all the people who will hear our story, who will read this post, who will meet us in person, I hope they see You in all that we do. Don’t let us hide your Love from them as I often do, but let us be the light you intended."

If you are going through a similar struggle, whether you or a loved one are going through cancer, we are available to talk any time. You can find our contact info in the 'About Us' section at the top of our site. If you want to read more about our journey, you might also like:


  1. Reading this on the other side, and still I am crying. Would I have the same attitude? I thank God Luke had godly parents to carry him through this and that God carried your beautiful family through.

  2. praise the Lord...God is good!