Childhood Cancer is different for every family who has a child diagnosed- different in the journey and often the results. I am blessed and honored to share this guest post. This post was written to share some of the other struggles faced in this- not only by the child but their mom, dad and siblings. Childhood Cancer impacts the whole family. Standing up and fighting is what we all do, but it is hard and takes a toll. These raw and real words show the background… a bit of what is lost in this journey. This writer is a very strong person, she is an amazing mom. She is honest and raw and real… she is strong and works hard. Though she might not think she is strong- strong people rest, cry and give up… then they stand up and keep chugging. She and her family have worked hard to fight not only the leukemia, but the hard stuff that came too. Please read and share and comment- she deserves to be shared for her boldness and honesty. This is an important part of the journey for all to understand…
As Strong as the Weakest Link
I feel like I have everyone fooled. They all look at me and say “You are so strong”, “I don’t know how you do it – I couldn’t be as strong as you are;” “You are such a great Mom and so strong”. I appreciate the compliments, I really do. All I can think is, I am at my breaking point, I could cry on a moment’s notice and “boy, I must be a pretty good actor because none of them see how I really feel.”
In January of 2011, my two year old son, was diagnosed with leukemia (a blood cancer). He underwent three years of chemo and various other drugs, including steroid treatments, and has successfully completed his treatment. When my son was first diagnosed, I had an old blackberry, emails got me through long sleepless nights. I started one of those blogs where you can keep people updated on his treatment and how he was doing. At some point I joined Facebook, upgraded my old blackberry and became connected to the world of social media. I shared pictures of hospital visits, shared fundraising events for cancer charities and posted pictures of all the good days.
I suppose I created a false reality for the rest of the world. I didn’t write or post about the ‘roid rage tantrums from the steroid treatments – I didn’t tell anyone that my smart, kind caring little boy would say “Mommy, I went crazy in my head”. I didn’t post about the days when I sat in my car and cried before I could go into work. I didn’t post about the days that my heart broke over the time I had lost with my older son- because my sick child simply needed me more. I didn’t post about the long, lonely and sleepless nights filled with worry that seemed like they would never end. I didn’t post about my desperate longing to stay home with my son, to take care of him and how much I hated the fact that I had to go to work to support our family. I didn’t talk or write about the resentment my husband felt because he was the one who “had” to stay home. I didn’t post about the wedge that was driven between my husband and I by this “reverse” parenting dynamic. I didn’t post about the friends who drifted away, who moved on with their lives- while I felt like mine was standing still. While all the other parents were attending sports and birthday parties- I was studying blood counts, converting teaspoons to milligrams, charting out the complicated medications, making pharmacy calls and trips to Albany Med that had to be precisely detailed and executed. Instead, I created a false happiness. I suppose I wanted to believe this and others were happy to accept it.
The truth is no one want to see a sick and suffering child. It is too hard, too heartbreaking and too emotionally draining. I recently said to another cancer mom – “We are so lucky, we’ve had it so easy;” she very quickly reminded me that my warped sense of lucky was a little distorted. That is not to say that there haven’t been good times; new friendships made and that I have developed a great appreciation for what’s truly important. I’ve become more compassionate, more understanding of the struggles that families go through. I’ve become very involved in children’s cancer charities and I’ve advocated for more funding for childhood cancers – much of this wouldn’t have happened without the challenges that we faced.
But, for some reason, we hide the bad. We don’t talk about the real hard truths and we fool everyone into thinking we are “so strong” when in reality, we are just trying to get by. We are trying to hold it all together. We are trying not to break the weakest link.