For many of us, our fathers were the first heroes in our lives. And for some who didn’t have that experience, the pain lingers and can be life-changing. Even as an adult with my own family, my father is still an important figure in my life.

As much as I love my dad, my recent bout of cancer and a staph infection highlighted and reinforced how much my father loves me. He and my mother came to my rescue after my initial cancer surgery looked as though recovery would take longer than I thought, which wasn’t easy for my dad. He doesn’t enjoy change and prefers to be at his home. For the first few weeks, both of my parents did chores around my house and helped Hubby care for the kids. But they didn’t stop there.

When I developed a terrible staph infection, my dad stayed right by my side. The day I was so ill at home, he cleaned up after me — and I was very, very sick. Did I mention my dad has a thing with germs? A big thing. Anyway, he stayed right there, washing his hands every few minutes and giving me clean clothes in between. After my vomiting finally stopped, Dad took turns with Hubby and Mom feeding me ice chips and watching over me.

While I was in the hospital for the next eight days, Dad took turns with my sister and mom staying in the hospital with me — I did mention my dad’s germ thing, right? All night long, he had to give me water and cold washcloths to bring my fever down. Plus, he had to help me up and down to the bathroom every hour or more — not pleasant for either of us. Yet there he was. And he kept me laughing through much of it.

Not to be overshadowed in the self-sacrificing department is my hubby. During my illness, he cared for our children, taking over for me when they were home from school and being at the hospital with me the rest of the time. He was a pillar of strength for me and our two girls, keeping us all emotionally together and even continuing to do therapy at home with our autistic daughter. Wow.

My illness has taught me many important lessons, but this Father’s Day, I will think of my dad and husband and the sacrifices they made for me during that intense illness, and how they put aside their own feelings and worries to be there for me at a time when I needed them both. Thanks, guys!