Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The challenges of parenting a cancer child

Funny G and Bridgy moments....

"Man, you are one lucky bug"...G's new favorite quote from our new favorite movie, Mulan.  She says this to me a couple times a day in her Eddie Murphy accent.  

Bridget's new favorite saying, "No way, man!"

G starts off her stories or ideas by saying, "Ok, so"  which sounds like queso.  
We laugh about it and she cracks up!  
"Ok, so...Oh, I said it again mamma, Queso!!"

G said something that struck me in an awe tonight.  Throughout this past year, Gabriella and Bridget have been shown so much love, support and kindness.  I know it's had a big effect on both of their personalities in an amazing way and I've seen how it's helping them flourish through this undesirable situation.  Tonight I showed G a picture of our dear "Squishy" getting rainbow tinsel in her hair and I asked G what she thought of it.  She said, "It tells me about everything tells me about love."  I knew I had to write these exact words down quickly before I forgot because it was profound.  She said it in a way that has truly reflected her spirit throughout this ordeal the past almost year, even enduring all of the hardships she's gone through.  Thinking about the way she said this and the sincerity in her voice brings a smile to my face and a tear of happiness to my eye.  A friend commented on one of the pictures I posted of the girls recently saying how G appears wise beyond her years..."she emits a vibe of strength, inspiration and beauty".  I was grateful to hear this because at that moment too, I noticed it. I knew it was there but sometimes because we are so immersed in what we are doing, we can't see beyond what's right in front of us.

I remember about a year ago as we watched the end of "The Little Mermaid", G started wiping her eyes.  I asked her if she was crying and what was wrong.  She said, weddings make me so happy that I cry.  She had just turned 4.  What 4 year old cries tears of happiness at a wedding?  Ok, it was a cartoon wedding but still.  This little person truly feels and appreciates the joys of life's little moments.  I am so proud of the little lady she is becoming and know that both she and Bridget will grow up to become incredible women.  

The challenges of parenting a cancer child...

I've spent a lot of time this past year thinking about how I was going to parent my two girls after G was diagnosed.  Actually, I thought about it a lot even before they were born but of course, things always change once these little ones make their appearance.  Parenting was always challenging because these little people don't come with a manual.  (I wish they did!)  But after our diagnosis, everything changed.  All the rules that we set out to follow were going to be different.  It's a very tough balancing act and I think it is different for every cancer parent.   Does it depend on the child's diagnosis or the severity of their illness?  I definitely think this is a big factor.

Throughout the year, I've come across many different cancer mom blogs.  I've read about those that have given their child the world because they know their child will leave this earth too early.  I've read about those who have regrets about not giving their child everything they desired.  And many more where....well, they just don't mention it.  I have so many questions and I want to know what works and what doesn't.  Why don't any of them say, "Omg, my child has cancer but damn, they are driving me crazy right now!"  It still happens.  It's life.  I don't believe a cancer parent is void of these irritable moments but no one ever talks about them.  Maybe they do have these moments but choose not to share them.  Maybe it doesn't ever cross the minds of the parent's whose odd's are stacked against their child.  But my conclusion is this; every mother and father with every child in the world will do it the way they see fit and will figure out what is in the best interest of their child.  They still love that child with every piece of their being, unconditionally and that is what really matters.

So, here's my crazy life moment that happened today and I wanted to share it because it was funny, typical, and maybe a bit normal.  We've been slowly transitioning back into the "real world", one where there is less needles and toxic drugs (minus one more treatment)... and more normal "owies", bumps, and bruises.  I heart "normal".  The girls have been slowly making their way back to school with once a week visits.   Gabriella hasn't completely finished her treatments but we thought we would start now getting the girls acclimated as long as G's counts were good.  We also wanted to do it for Bridget.  The girls have gone too long without being among regular classmates because extending this treatment protocol any longer wasn't a risk we wanted to take.  Recently, G even stated she "missed school".  Hearing this from a child who had a difficult time adjusting to school (at least from an over-protective parent's view) was like music to my ears.  (I do admit that it has been amazing watching the girls' relationship develop over the course of the last 10+ months.)  We wanted to adjust them slowly this time and make it fun.  Today we made our weekly visit to Circle of Friends so G could play outside with her friends and Bridget could make some new ones.  After our short but sweet visit, we went to the gym.  The girls have an area to play in so mommy can workout.  I told them if they were good, we could go to Kmart and get a toy...a small, not expensive toy as long as they listened and did as they were told.  They were amazing so off to Kmart we go.  When we get there, they were so excited and ran back to the toy section (obviously they know this area too well).  Here we go..."Mommy, can I get this?  Can I get that?  What about this?  What about that?  I really want that."...while I constantly reminded them and showed them the size of the toy plus gave them options to choose from.  Heck, Bridget didn't even pay any attention and was off collecting as many toys as she could hold.  After about 20+ minutes of negotiating lead to not listening, which lead to child anarchy with Bridget refusing to put any toys away while saying to me, "No way man", and G running away from me, I left with two screaming and crying children and no toys.  In any other situation, I would have been really proud to have left without toys but I get this unsettling feeling with G when I make these decisions and have to ask myself, "Am I going to regret this later?".  I hate this questioning and I just have to stop because it's about 'here and now' and the fact that G is going to grow up to be an amazing person.  That is that.

Today (the 23rd) brings back the memory from exactly a year ago when I spotted this ugly thing starting to grow inside my daughter's body.  I saw something unusual and immediately called the doctor to schedule an appointment the next day.  At the time, it didn't seem so unusual that I needed to panic for any reason but just made me tilt my head to the side and say, "hmm".  I still have the text I sent to a dear friend telling her I was freiking out after I did a google search which kept leading me to "cancer, cancer, cancer".  No freiking way.  It couldn't be, not in a 4 year old, not in my perfectly beautiful and healthy 4 year old.  The next day, after a glance from the doctor, it was all "normal" and I was just being paranoid.  It seemed normal until about 2 weeks passed and it seemed to be getting bigger.  Hmmm...keep an eye on it.  3 weeks went by and we had our next appointment for her "well child check".  We made sure it was looked at again and things started to evolve.

Damned it.  Damned it.  I want to go back to that day and demand our doctor be more thorough.  I want to go back and make sure I stood by my initial gut reaction that it wasn't normal.  I want to go back and ask her why she didn't even check any of the surrounding areas for masses or anything unusual.  I just wanted to hear that it was "normal" and that I was just being paranoid.  I'm still kicking myself but I know I have to put it behind me and move on.  It's hard to explain the feelings behind it all but I think processing the events that took place a year ago as they happened will help me get through them.

Forever grateful for supporting us through this journey,

Team G

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