Can good things really come from bad things?
Why does God allow bad things to happen?
Will Daddy still be able to hear me from Heaven?
These are just some of the questions Renee starts thinking about after she finds out that her daddy has cancer. She feels very sad and struggles to understand why this is happening. He hasn’t even been her daddy for that long – there’s still so much they haven’t done yet! All she can think to do is pray and ask God to make her daddy better. But when she realises he isn’t, she begins to wonder what God’s plan is, and whether God can hear her prayers at all. She documents all the things that are happening in her diary as she watches her daddy go through the stages of cancer. Through this painful experience, she learns about the meaning of faith and how she can stay connected to her beloved father after he is gone.
There are also discussion questions at the end for readers to share in small groups or as a guide for self-reflection and journalling. It can be used for grief support groups for those who have lost someone to cancer or terminal illness.
Reviewed By Alyssa Elmore for Readers’ Favorite
5.0 out of 5.0 stars
“… a poignant story of hope and loss. Written like a diary, this book is perfect for children experiencing and who have recently experienced the loss of a loved one. Inspiring its readers to keep their faith and see the positive through death… The story, though painfully sad, imparts hope and eternal love. I appreciated the ending; heaven does give our loved ones superpowers so that they can still hear us and let us know that we are loved, and they are still with us.”
Targeted Age Group:: 10+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
This story was inspired by my personal experience of loss and grief. My father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and passed away eight months later. The experience was painful and heartbreaking for me even as an adult and I couldn't imagine how I would have coped if I had been younger. I wish that I had read a book that dealt with this kind of experience with an honest perspective, highlighting all the different kinds of emotions and feelings that come from such a painful experience.
Faith is a big part of the story as this was what helped me through my grief. I had strayed away from God for a long time but I reconnected with Him when I saw how much faith, hope, peace and joy my dad had during his final moments on earth.
1 The News that Changed Everything
16 November 2016 5:40 p.m.
I don’t know who I can talk to about what I just heard. I’m still trying to process everything and not exactly sure what to do.
When I got home after school today, Daddy was already home. Usually he comes home quite late—around seven or eight o’clock, sometimes even later, so it was strange to see him home by four. When I walked in the front door, I saw him sitting on the couch in the living room with Mummy. They held hands and had tears in their eyes. I put my school bag down and rushed over to ask what was wrong. Mummy told me to sit down. That’s when Daddy told me that he is sick.
He took a day off work to see the doctor. It was already his second visit and he said that the doctors found cancer in his body. He said that he feels some pain and discomfort when he eats.
I feel bad that I hadn’t noticed anything wrong before. He never told us about the pain.
He had gone to see the doctor last week and they did some blood tests and scans. Today, he went in to get the results. He didn’t tell Mummy about it until he got home today, so she was surprised when he came home early too. He said he didn’t want to scare us and make us worry if it turned out to be nothing, but he couldn’t keep it from us now because it is quite serious.
He doesn’t look very sick, though. But he said the cancer will soon spread and make his body weaker and weaker. The cancer is in his pancreas—I don’t know exactly what the pancreas does, but I think it is part of the digestive system? I will look it up after dinner. I wonder what kind of treatments there are. There must be something that can help, right?
I’m still in a bit of shock. I could barely finish my dinner. My stomach felt so uncomfortable and I almost choked on a bit of cabbage. It was like my mind was everywhere and I couldn’t concentrate on eating or swallowing food. Mummy told me to go to bed early tonight. I’ve been sitting in my bed for an hour because I can’t sleep. My mind is everywhere.
I looked up “cancer pancreas” on Google. I doubt Mummy or Daddy would tell me much about it. I read a few webpages from some medical sites and found out that the pancreas is an organ that releases enzymes that aid digestion and makes hormones to help manage blood sugar. Cancer in the pancreas starts in the tissues and can grow into tumours. Pancreatic cancer is rarely detected in the early stages (when it is most curable). And, this next part made me realise just how real and serious it is—symptoms often don’t occur until it begins to spread to other organs. Daddy said he was already experiencing pain in his abdomen, which is one of the symptoms. It’s already begun to spread. It’s not curable. I want to scream.
It’s also one of the most aggressive cancers you can get. There are not many treatment options either, since there is no cure. He could have surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy, or a combination of them all. I remember when Auntie Helen had chemotherapy three years ago— she lost all of her hair and got really thin. She still passed away after nine months. I’m not really sure what type of cancer she had, though. Mummy and Daddy didn’t tell me. I was really shocked when she passed away. I didn’t even get to say “goodbye.” I wonder if it was the same as what Daddy has now. Is that how long he has—nine months?
I feel… I don’t know how I feel—is it sadness, anger, frustration, helplessness? Maybe it’s all of those. The fact that this is even happening right now is crazy. It’s a dream. This is not real. I’m only twelve. He’s only been my dad for twelve years. What if the cancer kills him? He won’t be able to see me graduate high school. What would I do without him? Who’s going to take me to concerts or go swimming with me? He won’t be there when I get into university or start my first job. He won’t meet any of my boyfriends or see me get married… Daddies are not supposed to get sick like this! It’s not fair!
I wish I knew how to make him better. All I can think to do is pray: “Dear Heavenly Father, please heal my dad. Make him better and don’t let him get any sicker. Protect him from all the bad cancer cells—no, kill all the cancer cells in his body—and give him all the best doctors and medicine to heal him. Just… give him more time. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
I wonder if God can hear my prayer. Will He be mad that I only pray when something bad happens or when I want something? Daddy always reminds me to pray and thank God for everything and ask for forgiveness. I often forget, though. Is that why this is happening? Is God punishing him because of me?
I try to pray again: “Dear Heavenly Father, please forgive me that I haven’t been praying much lately. I’m sorry for all the stupid things I have done, like sneaking junk food into my room, and staying up to play video games instead of doing my homework, not helping Mummy when she needs it, and skipping my lessons, and so many other terrible things I have done but can’t remember right now. I’ve been a really bad girl lately, but please don’t punish my dad because of me. He hasn’t done anything wrong. He has helped a lot of people. He doesn’t deserve this. Punish me instead. I’m the one who doesn’t obey You and forgets to pray. I’m really sorry. Please make it stop. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
I hope God will forgive me and listen to my prayer.
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Y.Y. Chan was born in Hong Kong but grew up in sunny Brisbane, Australia where she had Christmas during summer. She returned to Hong Kong to teach English after graduating from university. When her father passed away, she took a break from teaching to travel, read, and write. She now tutors English and works freelance for different educational institutes.
Her best writing comes out late at night when everyone else is asleep. 'Can You Hear Me, Daddy?' is her debut picture book. When she is not writing or teaching, she is either reading or looking for more books to add to her overflowing bookshelf.