To some, Father's Day is just another cynical opportunity to sell socks and jocks. But its symbolism isn't lost on many dads who understand the powerful bond between man and child.
Men like Tony McGinn, who will never forget the evening his phone rang 14 years ago. A paediatrician conveyed the news no parent ever wants to hear: ‘‘Your son has cancer. You need to go to Monash Medical Centre and see an oncologist the first thing tomorrow morning.’’
The founder and executive chairman of MCM Entertainment Group felt his world collapsing. His three-year old son Benjamin had been suffering pains in the legs and hips, which a GP had put down to growing pains. However, a series of blood tests confirmed the worst: Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL).
"I thank God that I get to sit down on Father's Day with both my sons."Tony McGinn
‘‘I felt lost, vulnerable, and completely terrified of something I had no knowledge of,’’ McGinn says.
‘‘You're told to bring a bag into the hospital and you spend five days there while the doctors carry out a battery of tests. Eventually your oncologist spells out exactly what the cancer is and the treatment, and you can't quite believe it. You realise there and then that your life is going to change and will never be the same again.’’
Benjamin eventually pulled through after a long and harrowing course of chemotherapy. Now a healthy 17-year-old, he also has a younger brother, Nicholas, 15.
This Father's Day, the three will be continue a tradition of heading out on a 50km bike ride before dropping by a café for breakfast.
‘‘I thank God that I get to sit down on Father's Day with both my sons,’’ says McGinn.
‘‘Father's Day is incredibly important to me. I very sadly lost my own dad this time last year. It helps put life in perspective and prompts you to cherish every day with your family.
‘‘The interesting thing about fathers is that we like to think we can fix everything and anything, whether it's a leaky tap or a financial problem. It's a big part of our ego.
‘‘But when you're the father of a child who has been diagnosed with cancer, one of the gravest frustrations is that apart from providing all the love and support in the world that you can, there's nothing else you can do. It stabs right at the core of being a father, where your absolute fundamental reason to exist is to protect and grow your children.’’