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This is a guest post by Reagan Inglee, 20, whose father, Clinton Griffin Inglee, died of kidney cancer in 2019.

Growing up, I had a bond with my dad like no other. I was the definition of a “daddy’s girl”, and I was proud to hold that title. I was my dad’s only daughter, so I was always termed his #1 daughter. It was something I proudly told my friends about, and it made me feel special.

Cancer was something I didn’t have much exposure to. I lost my mom mom to ovarian cancer, but I was far too young to understand grief. However, in 2017, a received a FaceTime call that would alter my life forever. My dad told me that he had cancer.

My dad, Clinton Inglee (but went by “Griff”) was only 48 years old when he was diagnosed. He presented with a nagging cough and some pain. It didn’t seem like a big deal until he got worse and his doctor decided to perform tests. After imaging and biopsies they found that he had kidney cancer. Unfortunately by this time, it had spread to parts of his lung, spine, and bowel. He fought heroically and triumphantly for 21 months before succumbing in 2019.

I don’t think any child is acclimated to losing a parent. It’s something that’s only talked about as a rare event. I personally didn’t believe that I would ever lose my dad, even when he was put into hospice and when I was actively saying goodbye.

However, I’m here to tell his story and continue his legacy. Most of the time with these stories, you hear about the negatives and doom and gloom. My dad was a triathlete, and a good one at that. He competed in seven triathlons, including Escape the Cape and the New Jersey State Triathlon. He was training for his first Iron Man when he was diagnosed, and even wanted to continue with his plans to complete his race after he was diagnosed. Most of his family could confidently say he was stubborn, but that was only the truth. Even during his last weeks, he wanted to remain independent.

His confidence and strength inspired me to be the best version of myself. He didn’t want my life to end because his was ending. My dad was one of those kinds of fathers that you would see in the sappy family movies and books. If I could choose one person to be my hero – or Iron Man (that was his favorite Marvel character) – it would be him.

In honor of my dad, I have picked up running to continue doing what he loved in my own way. I have already completed two 5Ks: the Hampton Beach 5K and the Maine Coast 5K. My next biggest goal would be to run a half marathon and someday compete in the Boston Marathon in honor of him. I am currently taking on the Kidney Cancer Association’s 82K Challenge and plan on running and walking 82 miles by World Kidney Cancer Day.

My dad lost his courageous battle with cancer and I can’t be taken away from the grief it caused. Five years later, I still cry about not having him around, although it has gotten so much easier. My emotions prove that he existed and was a part of my life, and in a way that brings me comfort and validity for those feelings.

Something my dad constantly encouraged was “PMA” – positive mental attitude. I still remember this saying until this day and tell others it when they experience hardships or negative times. I hope you, too, can remember those words the next time you experience a bump in the road.

I hope my story also helps those who have lost a parent, no matter what age, to find the positives and continue to fight though grief and the emptiness of losing someone. Look for the good in the memories and continue to hold onto them. Remember them happy, not sick. This has helped me with my grief journey tremendously.

In memory of a life so beautifully lived, Clinton Griffin Inglee, my #1 dad.

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