Happy Birthday, Dad: An Open Letter To My Dad Who Lost His Battle to Colon Cancer at 25

When my larger-than-life dad was 25, colon cancer got the best of him. In the past 25 years, I’ve transitioned from the girl who misses her dad, to the girl who wants to know her dad, to the woman who understands how truly lucky she is.

We’re all thrown a few lemons in life. Not a human on this earth is going to make it to their last day without the option to make a few pitchers of spiked lemonade, but, unlike most, I was introduced - at an early age - to the reality our days are not promised.

We’re deserving of nothing, yet I’ve received everything: I have a strong family, a pack of alpha friends, a masters degree, and a business card listing me as the CEO of my own small business.

This week, as I celebrate my dad’s birthday, I’m grateful for a man who should have had more time on this earth, who fought like hell to stay, who adventured hard, and gave me some pretty tremendous chipmunk cheeks.


Ron Isley was diagnosed with colon cancer on October 27, 1991 when he was only 23 years old. He passed away March 11, 1993.

Ron Isley was diagnosed with colon cancer on October 27, 1991 when he was only 23 years old. He passed away March 11, 1993.



To my dad on what would be his 50th birthday

Happy birthday, Dad!

Today, you turn fifty. FIFTY. Five zero. You’re old, man.

In a lot of ways, I can’t imagine not wishing you were here, but I also know I’m okay even though you’re not. In your wake, you left a tribe of hall-of-fame humans who have supported me through every school play, graduation, adventure and heartbreak.

I tried to call you once. Maybe it was the rocks kicking up on the mud flaps, maybe it was the pause between songs, but for a moment I wasn’t the girl missing her dad. I picked up the phone and pulled over on that dirt road as crocodile tears fell into my steering wheel. You weren’t going to answer because I tried to dial a phone number you’ve never had. You weren’t going to hear about the simple, normal day that took a hard left when I learned I’d be in Oklahoma State’s Homecoming Royalty. But, maybe you already knew.

You’re real to me. As real as you ever were.

Whether intentional or not, the relationships you cultivated created ripples that have been steadily growing and increasing in intensity. Sometimes I’m not sure where my memories stop and where others’ memories begin. I hear your laugh rustling every time Sammy Kershaw comes through the FM speakers and wonder if mine sounds the same.

As I watch my friends bring new humans to the world, the realness of your love has amplified. Through them I see how much you didn’t want to leave. As my best friend cried her way through a terrible movie because she couldn’t imagine a world where she wasn’t here for her kids, I told her, “they’d know. We’d all make sure they know.” And, they would.

Because I know.

I know as I stand on a ledge at the Grand Canyon, as I make another pass on I-40, as I watch the sun set on another adventure. I know.

I’m good. I’m really good.

Love you.


P.S. Mobile phones are computers connected to the internet now. I know, weird.


Final paper from Comp 1 at IUPUI, Fall 1992.

Final paper from Comp 1 at IUPUI, Fall 1992.

The Ron Isley Birthday Challenge 

If you loved my dad as much as I still do today. I have a few favors.

  1. Do something adventurous. Go on a hike. Starch those jeans and take ‘em for a spin around the dance floor. 
  2. Donate to Fight Colorectal Cancer.
  3. Get over yourself and get screened if you need to. Sure, it’s your butt. Everyone has one. (I got tested at 19. You’re fine.)
Ron Isley Colon Cancer

I cannot be urban sans rural.

I cannot be urban sans rural roots.

Just as I cannot be me sans rural genes.


I am only afforded opportunities to travel this world because my past gave me the blessing of an educational foundation in communications and international agricultural.

Which opened the door to a first job as a marketer for Oklahoma’s pork producers.

Which led to launching a social media presence showcasing Oklahoma’s tourism industry.

Which led to digital storytelling for global agricultural and animal health brands.

Which led to launching my own business working with passionate business owners.

Which led to spending more time with my family.

Which leads to standing in the “retirement pasture” gazing at Oklahoma’s tremendous sunset thanking God for the past that affords the opportunities for my future.

Kid Photo Contest: Win $1,000

Oh, baby. I love me some baby pictures. If this were confessional, I’d admit to having too many framed photos of my friends/cousins’ tiny humans. I just love ‘em so much.

I may not have one of my own (yet), but I’m keenly aware of how much they cost. They’re like the anti-money tree. They take the money tree and shake it down with their diapers, toys, clothes that only fit for a few months and leave you with some adorable giggles, hilarious tantrums and a bushel of love.

Prepare yourself for what comes next. Seriously, take a seat.

A hair restoration company is poking fun and finding humor in that babies have more hair on their perfect little heads than some grown adults. That's right they're celebrating kids who have too much hair and their parents who need more. 

I just cannot with this. Hilarious. I mean, find the silver lining, right?

And, to celebrate those little babies who don’t even know how to appreciate their lovely locks, they’re hosting a contest and giving away $1,000 - each month - to the parent of the kid whose picture gets the most likes.

Can you image how many diapers $1,000 could buy? A lot, I imagine. It's simple. Upload. Vote. Share.

Since we're talking about cute photos of tiny humans, here are a few of my favorites. Just over here trying to win the award for the best Aunt B in the western hemisphere. 


FYI: No one paid me for this post. I mean, they should at least buy me coffee, right?