Daddy, Are You Sad?
Author: Lily A. Bear
Major Themes: Cancer, Faith, Illness, Leukemia
Synopsis: When a young married man is faced with a life-threatening illness, how will he and his family respond to the path God is leading them down?
following review written by Esther Filbrun
If there’s one thing I have grown to appreciate to some extent, it’s reading about other people dealing with really tough things, like extreme health problems or family death. It’s not that I like it as such, because it’s tough and ugly and just plain awful at times, but the lessons learned and the faith strengthened are just incredible, nearly mind-blowing concepts to me. I love it. So when I saw Daddy, Are You Sad? on a stack in my mom’s room not long before we headed home after a trip, I asked if I’d possibly be able to borrow it. It looked good. And wow…it was good! Different than I had expected, but almost better that way. And very, very encouraging.
There are some books that choke you up, break your heart, and inspire you to dig deeper and live richer. Daddy, Are You Sad? hit all those points and more for me. I could never imagine going through what this family endured, but their witness despite all they lived through shone brighter and brighter as their circumstances grew darker and darker. Sickness in the family is always difficult to manage, even if it’s just one child with a passing cold. But when Dad—the heart of the home—gets sick, everyone suffers. This book, though, presents a picture of hope surmounting discouragement, faith defeating fear, and peace amidst heartbreak.
How would you respond if you found out that the reoccurring flu-like symptoms you have been having are actually caused by an advanced form of leukaemia? For Donny, he had just one answer: Pray, and find the best medical treatment he could. For several months, he underwent tremendous chemo treatments, months where his wife Nicole and their son basically lived in his hospital room, supporting him through his tough moments and being supported themselves by him when they couldn’t continue. Then, his cancer went into remission, and joyfully they returned home. But only a few short months later, the symptoms returned again, and Donny was again growing weaker. Could Nicole bear up and be a support to her husband, when she herself was fighting nearly unmanageable fear that he would die? Will Donny’s life be cut short, before he can fulfil his life’s goal?
One thing I cannot even begin to imagine is facing the imminent, highly probable death of a loved one. That is just about beyond what my scope of imaginative powers can comprehend. However, that’s what Nicole faced pretty much every single day as she watched Donny fight his cancer. He’d have a few weeks of respite, perhaps, before relapsing—once, he had about a year!—but it kept coming back. I sympathized fully with the situation, shed tears of grief with her, smiled where I could, and soaked up every bit of positivity that was in the story. Because, unbelievably, that was there too. Even in the darkest, lowest spots, God gave either Donny or Nicole enough grace to hope in Him. And in the end, that’s all that mattered.
Daddy, Are You Sad? is not your typical cancer story. It doesn’t end the way most people would expect it to. But even in that—or perhaps because of that fact—there’s incredible power in the story. My faith was strengthened through this, and I was deeply encouraged. I believe you will find it encouraging, too.
following review written by Emma Filbrun
I don’t particularly like to read books about people who are sick, or about death. Daddy, Are You Sad? caught my eye, however, and I found it quite encouraging and inspiring. This is a real story about real people with real struggles.
Donny and Nicole had a good life. Newly married, they were enjoying life with each other and with their four-month-old son—but lately Donny had been feeling so tired. Was it merely a bad case of flu—or was something more serious wrong? The results they received from blood work were devastating: Acute myelogenous leukemia. Was this a death sentence?
This book follows the young family through the next few years as Donny takes chemotherapy and the cancer goes into remission. Each time, some stress in his life would trigger the leukemia to come back, however, and he would have to go for treatment again. When would this end? Would he ever completely recover—or would he have a heavenly healing?
Throughout their journey, Donny struggled with the desire to live and stay with his wife and children versus the knowledge that what he wanted more than anything was to be in the center of God’s will. Nicole wavered between depression and grief, and times of faith and victory when she was able to give everything to God and trust in Him. I could identify so much with her struggles, and was challenged in my own walk with God.