I’m laying next to Cecylia as she sleeps. She had a bad dream around six, this morning, so I crawled in next to her and she went back to sleep. This has been a weird time of year for me. We are getting closer and closer to Cecylia’s cancerversary. July 12 is just a few days away. Today is poignant, because we always celebrate the Fourth of July in our city in a big way, so my memories of this day stand out a little more. Our city has kiddie parades, big parades, a fair, and big fireworks. I think about last year’s celebration and where we were. Cecylia had a fever the day before and I let all the other parents know, because I figured it was another virus. But, she woke up on the 4th feeling fine. She had no fever, and had a great day with her friends. They were running, playing, jumping on our trampoline, and sliding into our little pool. I remember when she was diagnosed thinking about everything she did this day, with that tumor inside of her. It’s a catch 22 with kids. They are so resilient that they can fight this disease so much better than adults. But, because of this same resilience, Cecylia was playing like normal with undiagnosed stage 4 cancer. I try not to think about the signs I missed and how we could have caught this earlier, because it really doesn’t do anyone any good.
I am so happy right now, that both my girls are happy and healthy. I don’t take a single thing for granted.
But, here’s the thing, I never took it for granted. I didn’t learn a lesson this year about appreciating life. I already knew this. It took us four years and a surgery on my uterus for me to get pregnant with Cecylia. The awesome news about expecting Ainsley exactly a year later was not lost on me. I was so grateful to be able to have a family. I was so thankful to God. I didn’t need cancer to teach me how to appreciate life. I remember being so happy last Fourth of July. We had a party, the girls played with their friends, they loved the fireworks. I don’t know why I remember last year so well. Maybe it’s just because it was right before diagnosis. I just remember loving my life – my little family – and being so thankful!
But, then cancer came. It almost ripped my baby away from me. And, this year, I am thankful and grateful, especially to God, for so many different (and same) reasons as last year. First, I’m just happy Cecylia is here and she made it through everything. I’m also grateful for how well the girls are doing emotionally. They are both so happy and playful. They are growing up physically, developmentally, and emotionally. I’m so proud of them!
But, here’s my secret…because I’ve always wanted this blog to let you all know a little of what it’s like to battle cancer with your child. I’m so scared! Everyday, so scared! You see sometimes I get comfortable with cancer being in our life. I see Cecylia growing and healing and I think, “Phew, she beat this, she really did!” And, that’s when I get scared. If cancer could come when I was in a place last year of really appreciating life, what could it do when my guard is down. I know this isn’t how it really works. But, this is how my brain is working right now. As soon as I start to think things are good I worry that something bad is going to happen again. Like, if I worry about a relapse, then it won’t happen. And, if I let my guard down, something bad could happen again.
Now, I know this is not how the universe really works! I know that I have to enjoy the little moments! And, I do enjoy them, I really do. But, the worry is never going to go away. Once cancer hits your child, it never goes away. It’s not over for us. We have FIVE years of scans before Cecylia is cured. That’s five years of worrying every three months that something has come back. There is a lifetime of side effects to worry about and look for. We won’t know what puberty or fertility will be like for Cecylia because the radiation to her abdomen was right by her ovaries. Not to mention, the long term effects of chemo.
But, today I am more than grateful. Words can’t express how happy I am to be laying next to my baby girl as she sleeps. I’m going to enjoy the day, the moments, and have a great day. I will TRY not to worry, but that’s the best I can do.