Timing is everything

Seventeen months ago, my wife and I adopted our daughter, a beautiful little girl - now 5 - from the South Indian city of Chennai.

Adopting is not an easy process, especially if you choose to go the international route. It means reams of paperwork, mandatory parenting classes, home studies, difficult international travel to a developing country and thousands upon thousands of dollars in expenses. It also means a battery of medical tests to make sure you're physically fit and free of disease.

When I found out a few weeks ago that I've probably had lymphoma for about two years, the first question that came to my mind (and out of my brother's mouth) was, "Why wasn't this caught during all those medical tests for the adoption?" And the answer is fairly simple: We adopted our daughter in September 2007. We received and accepted the referral for her in October 2006. By that point, all the medical tests were behind me. So, even if lymphoma would show up (somewhat unlikely for a simple blood test), it probably wasn't there yet.

But here's the more sobering part of all this, something that has caused me to lose a fair bit of sleep: If my cancer had shown up back in the spring of 2006 when I was going through those tests, we would not have been able to adopt. That would have been the end of the process.

And I can say this with complete and utter confidence: I would rather fight this evil thing in my body now than to have caught it early but been denied the opportunity to be my daughter's father.