Anyone who speaks with me for more than 10 minutes can tell how close I am to my mother, Elsa. Perhaps it’s because she and I have such similar personalities. In fact, I rarely complete a full conversation without dropping an “Elsa-ism” or two. But truth be told, I’ve learned just as much about who I am, what I stand for and living every day like it’s my last from my father, Guillermo. Although we’ve certainly had our rough patches, my dad has consistently been a good father and given me the blueprint for the type of man I hope to marry one day.

All girls need a loving father. He’s the first example of what male love should look like. Over the years, he has taught me by example that actions speak louder than words; God blesses the child that has his or her own; and real love means showing up even when it’s not comfortable or easy. Another amazing aspect of being Daddy’s girl is the surprising things we bonded over, such as our die-hard passion for cars and baseball. But what I think love the most is looking at him and seeing pieces of myself—like my tiny fingernails and the prominent gap between my front teeth.

Like most who were blessed to grow up with a father who often seemed bigger than life, it never occurred to me that anything would happen to my dad that he couldn’t fix … until it did. Almost nine years ago, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Suddenly, a man I couldn’t remember ever having more than a common cold and a bad right knee—which I’ve also inherited—was facing a life-threatening illness. I will never forget the feeling of shock as I listened to him explain his condition and the necessary treatment.