Food Allergy Dads Are Their Own Type of Superhero

A guest post by Teen Advisory Group (TAG) member  Cassie Jeng (shown here with her dad). 

Father’s Day is one of the most important days of the year, when we celebrate our strong, supportive fathers and all that they do for us daily, from working hard to put food on the table, to laughing, to inside jokes and games. And our dads are an integral counterpart to food allergy moms. Not just a sidekick, food allergy dads are their own type of superhero: always willing to throw themselves between an allergen and their kid. There hasn’t been a single time I went out to eat when my dad didn’t request the chef before I even sat down, and then sat between me and my brothers so that I was as far away from the food I can’t eat as possible. Food allergy dads around the world share the same mission: to see their child’s smile every morning, glowing and carefree. They know the perfect balance of having fun and learning how to manage allergies with friends, peers, traveling, college and beyond.

With such a severe allergy, I got extremely worried when I started preparing to leave home. But as soon as I started touring colleges, my dad was right there by my side to make sure I succeeded. He got up early to take me on day trips, took leave from work for road trips, and flew me across the country to make sure that I had the opportunity to talk to all my favorite colleges about my dietary restrictions. And when I committed to my college, he helped me write emails to the campus dietitian about my meal plan, and he took me back to the school to walk around the different restaurants and food courts on campus and nearby to make me more comfortable with moving 800 miles away.

Wherever we go, our food allergy dads are there to make sure everyone around us knows the gravity of the situation. But they also know that taking care of an allergy can’t consume our lives; we have to let loose and enjoy how strong it makes us in return. There is nothing that my dad wouldn’t do for me, from proudly wearing teal at FARE Walks to calling every restaurant in the vicinity during vacations until he finds one that doesn’t hesitate at the mention of life-threatening allergies.

Having your child diagnosed with a food allergy definitely can’t be easy, but it just shows how strong and confident food allergy dads are. They never wavier and go to great lengths to teach about managing the responsibility of a food allergy and being proactive. My dad was the one who encouraged me to participate in the annual FARE conference and was the one by my side when I arrived. He went to all different lectures to learn about the research out there and made sure I went to lectures about preparing for college and handling social situations. While I was nervous about going and about processing all the information, he never showed doubt or weakness.

While every dad has different strategies, they all deserve the biggest thanks for everything they do. Both behind the scenes and face to face, they are powered by bravery and love to make sure we have the best life possible. We recognize their hard work year-round, showing them how far we can go because of their support and lessons. But there is no better day for this than Father’s Day: a day all about them, when nothing matters but pampering them just as much as they have pampered us.

To my biggest advocate, my cheerleader, my emergency phone call, and most importantly, my best friend: I couldn’t have survived up until now without you. Thank you, Dad!