Cancer. One of the scariest words in the world. You hear it all the time on the news. Great strides in the discoveries of how it “works” and how they are now coming up with ways to cure it. Everyone has had a friend that has had some form of cancer. You try to live a good lifestyle to avoid the big C word. You dont smoke, you dont do drugs, you try to eat healthy-ish and avoid the chain fast food joints when you can. You tear yourself away from your couch and computer to do more active things like gardening and walking around the neighborhood or swimming at a friends house. You hope and pray it doesn’t happen to you. And then it does, but not to yourself, to one of your children. Then everything changes.
In the beginning, there is just shock. Utter, bone crushing, world spinning out of control shock. It might as well be true medical shock because there is crying, shaking, nausea, chills, all of it. Then the mind numbing fear that is all encompassing sets in when the doctors said those words: “Your son has cancer”. You think to yourself..how?!? There is no history of cancer in my family..this can’t be happening and you pray that any second you will wake up from this awful nightmare and find that he’s sleeping quietly in the bedroom next to yours and you just ate something that was unsettling for dinner that night.
No. It’s not a nightmare. You are very awake and this is very, very scarily real. You are really sitting on that ugly flowered couch in the lounge area of the hospital in front of two doctors with the father of your child sitting on your one side and your fiance on the other side holding your hand as they tell you what kind of cancer it is and how to treat it. You dont hear a lot of what they are saying because you are crying and you keep hearing the booming statement ring through your head over and over and its like a pounding pulse that drowns everything everything else out. The outside world is just a distance white noise while your mind wraps around the last statement you heard clearly before the shock set in.
Then you cry more, and it seems like it will never stop. You sob so hard, so much that you become so exhausted that you yawn in the midsts of sobbing and you suddenly feel like that 7 year old child when you fell off the monkey bars and broke your wrist and you cried that exact same way from the pain. You start running all the things through your head about how this is your fault. You flash back to being pregnant and wondering if the foods you ate or drank were the contributing factor to this. Was it the infertility drugs you took in order to get pregnant with him. Did you feed him too many foods with artificial coloring while he was growing up. Was it any of the medicines that you gave him from over the counter companies. What did i do to cause this to happen to my son??!!
Nothing, the doctors say. This is a “fluke”. Its a gene that “didnt turn off” as this happens only in kids and young adults. This truly had nothing to do with anything you did. It’s not your fault. But you really don’t believe them. You’re the mother. You grew him inside you. You gave him life. You nurtured him for nine months through what you ate, drank, breathed in, took internally. Somehow, no matter what they say, there is that little tiny speck of a voice in the back of your thoughts that says it had to be something you did. In the end, it does not matter because, he has cancer and now it has to be treated. So, you cry some more.
Then a new panic sets in that grips your heart with such pain and terror that you start shaking and you can barely get breathe and while you have to ask the doctor at the same time you are deathly afraid to because your brain can’t possibly handle more bad news. You summon the will and breath from some cavernous area within yourself and between choked sobs you as: Will this happen to your other son?
No, the doctors say. What he has is rare and it is treatable, they say. But, in your head you are now flashing back to any small or minute complaints your other child may have made that make you fear a similar fate and you vow to take seriously any complaint that they bring to you. And then, some how, you cry some more, partially from relief by what the doctors said about your other son but mostly from the original fear resetting back in and you wonder how it is possible to cry so much and wonder if there is ever an “empty” point to the supply of tears your body has.
Cancer. Its a word that changes absolutely everything in your life. Things you didnt even know to think about are now things you have to keep in the forefront of your thoughts. You erase all plans that you had for the semi-distant future like weekend trips, vacations, your honeymoon. Hell, you even postpone your marriage so that its a more convenient date to happen in-between treatment times so your son can be there to walk you down the aisle. The things you use to care so deeply about..social groups, hobbies, goals, etc…are much less a priority to you now and don’t matter nearly as much since this has come about. It changes the way you think about life. It changes what you think about in life. Things that worried about before are no longer a concern and you question why you made such a big deal over it to begin with. Your world becomes infinitely smaller and encompasses the things that are most important to you now. The things that truly matter to you become blatantly obvious: your husband, your children, your family and the happiness you can have with them. Your friends, the ones that have not faded into the shadows after they heard about the cancer diagnosis…. you are truly grateful for those that have stuck around and have been supportive in one fashion or another like taking your other son to scouts or soccer practice or a sleep over so he has some fun as well. Or just pinging you to check up on you. You appreciate all the little things and its little things like that mean the world.
Finding ways to cope with this are difficult because, guess what, cancer is difficult and when you have never dealt with it before, you don’t know how to cope with it. Also, your time is limited because its about work, treatments schedules, your home, long drives to and from said treatments, ensuring a happy lifestyle for your other child, etc. Coping mechanisms are hard to come by (besides crying and as stated, tears are abundant) and sometimes..you cope by losing it…on a nurse while in the hospital. (Thankfully, the nurse was very understanding when apologized to the next time she came around and all was forgiven and hugs exchanged). Also, talking sharply to or using the “tough love” approach to/at someone who is dealing with cancer is not the best way to talk to most of them. It tends to set off the temper, so as a suggestion, use the kid gloves approach to be safe until you know how they are handling the whole situation. For the record, therapists are being sought, but like anything else, its a process. Suggestions for a writing a blog were made, thus the creation of this one.
I will say now that by no means will this blog ever be anything but a way to express all-the-things that are going on during this whole process…but perhaps it will continue on after he is cured (AND DAMN IT HE WILL BE!!). I can’t promise daily entries but I can promise I will not mince words. I can’t promise not to swear. I will promise to rant, rave, bitch and moan about all of it and talk about all the feelings. I will write about happy times too and things that made me laugh. I will promise to express how horrible it makes me feel to see my son sick over the poisons that are being put into him in order to make him better. I will complain and be depressed at times, about all the said changes. If you can’t handle this, don’t read it. Its taken me over 90 minutes to write all this (yes there were tears at some points) and it took days to actually sit down and write this beginning entry. Its not easy. Entries will follow. With that I leave you with this statement:
Fuck you cancer. You will not win.