I can’t believe how long it’s been since I’ve posted. The girls are doing great! They love school! It’s amazing to be experiencing a “normal” life this year. The girls are enjoying a ballet class this fall, playing on a soccer team that Jeff and I are coaching, and going to school a few days a week. I’m back to work and am really enjoying getting to know my student this year.
I’d like to say that that’s it, that we’re done, that we’re normal (without the quotes). But, it’s September and that means it’s Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month and I owe more than that to all the kids fighting this disease. I think that’s why this post has been so long in the waiting. I just don’t know what to say.
I feel this weight hanging on my shoulders all the time. I hate this month, I hate knowing what I know, I hate not being able to ever forget, I hate not ever being free. I feel like I have uncovered a truth and I can never go back to not knowing. There are very few times in your life when something changes you so profoundly. The rose colored glasses are off, the blinders are gone, and I know the truth of pediatric cancer. I feel like I’m in the middle of a whirlpool and I don’t know which way to swim. Cecylia is cancer free and happy. But, this month it’s the job of all cancer moms to spread awareness about this disease. And, it’s exhausting to try to share information about pediatric cancer because I have to stare at these statistics and know that they are real. Some of the statistics are things that we’ve experienced, like the frequency of diagnosis and the percentage of kids diagnosed at advanced stages. Some are statistics that I hope to never have Cecylia experience, like information on the side effects of radiation and chemotherapy drugs.
But, I don’t want to stop. I want everyone to know about this, I want to do something (anything) to make a difference. If it’s raising money for research or just posting facts and information on Facebook – it really doesn’t feel like I’m doing enough. I see others doing so much, and yet I feel like I’m treading water. I’m overwhelmed by emotions. It’s so hard to keep my different realities of life separate. I have my pre-cancer memories that seem so long ago. My during cancer memories that are surreal because it doesn’t seem possible for all of that to happen to my little girl. And, my off treatment experiences that leave me feeling inadequate at all times.
This off treatment stuff is crazy for me right now. Here’s why:
1. Why do I keep talking about “me” and “I” – this happened to Cecylia! I didn’t have cancer, I don’t know what it feels like… Who am I to keep talking about how this affected me?!?
2. Here I am feeling bad for what happened to Cecylia in the past and what could or could not happen to Cecylia in the future while there are kids in the middle of the fight of their lives. Some are new diagnoses, others are relapses, and still others are dealing with terrible side effects from the treatments that saved their lives.
3. Similarly, but more heart-breaking, how can I dwell on the past when Cecylia is doing so good and other kids have lost their battle with this awful disease?!?
4. I never question why this happened to me. I’m a grown-up and bad things happen to grown-ups. I’ve always just figured that I was meant to be Cecylia’s mom, because God knew I could do a good job. I’m good at advocating, staying organized, and getting stuff done. I’m good at problem solving and I feel like I’ve done a good job of taking care of Cecylia and Ainsley this year. What I do wonder and question is: why Cecylia? Why does this sweet child have to go through this? Why do any of these kids have to go through this?
So, I feel like a selfish heel when I feel sorry for myself for having to carry around this weight that never leaves me when it’s the pediatric cancer patients that have to bear the hardest things.
I want to end on a positive note and bring the focus back to how happy Cecylia and Ainsley have been in the last month! They are loving life and are acting like normal kids – playing like best friends, disagreeing like only sisters can, acting sassy, and being the sweetest little girls all at the same time. I am so thankful to God that Cecylia is healthy and I want to remember to just enjoy the present.