As a supporter, a parent, a mother, a wife, a full time employee, and as an adult, I found myself roller-coastering with emotions, or lack there of. Everyone is different but this is how I felt when I heard the words CANCER:
At first, I was emotionless. A walking zombie. I was just in shock. If my parents were not there, I would not have eaten, or slept. I was focusing on Griffin only. He got his meds, food, hugs, stories, clothes, but I was falling apart. I was falling apart but didn’t even know it. For me, it was all I could do to function on a day to day level without breaking down. Its how I personally dealt with the situation at hand. but I didn’t realize that I was a zombie until months later when i realized that I’m missing out, or I hadn’t smiled that MONTH, and I didn’t enjoy the things that I used to. I was just numb. Its was when I was driving and my favourite song came on the radio. Normally I would have turned it up, sang along and danced wildly in car. But this time, I did nothing. My fav song gave me no emotion whatsoever. I new that something was different, that’s when I went to the doctor. I was “depressed” in the way most people think. I didn’t want to kill myself, I just wasn’t happy. I wasn’t enjoying life. I needed help.
Then I was mad. I was mad at cancer but cancer is a difficult thing to be mad at, you don’t have a picture, its not physically there for you to see. Its hidden, sneaky. You can’t swear at it, or punch it or even look it in the face and tell it what you really think. You tend to get mad at others that don’t really deserve it. My husband Marty nearly took out the subway sandwich guy for not putting enough pickles on my sandwich. Marty is not an angry man. He is a gentle soul so to see him fly off the handle on his poor sandwich dude was a little scary. But it really opened my eyes. We are not handling this well.
Then there is the questioning period. Why me? Why my baby? Why my family? You start to question your life, like: did I get the flu shot while I was pregnant??? Maybe that time I had a non-decaf tea caused him to grow cancer in the womb? Maybe its because I failed at breastfeeding? And then there is not the “its not fair” stage, I think it goes along with the “why me” stage too. I would wonder, I only have 1 child, where there are families of 19 and counting, why would cancer pick on my only baby??? There are families that give up their children, abuse their babies, not want them, throw them out. I love my child. Why me? I also questioned my religion, which I had never done before. My faith as always been something constant for me. Questioning this was scary for me. But I was desperately searching for answers. And what sucks most? I never found them!
Then came the “What ifs” period. What if Griffin dies? What if the Cancer comes back? What if it spreads? What if it splits up my family? What if we cant afford this? What if I have to go to another kid’s funeral? What if my heart break completely in half? What if, what if, what if??? In the words of my dear therapist. “Emily, you can WHAT IF yourself to death”. The problem with the what if questions are that there are no answers! You are worrying about stuff that hasn’t happened yet!
This was a crappy stage. And surprisingly enough, it came AFTER Griffin was done chemo. Its like everything that happened over the past couple of year, sank in, all at once. Or maybe I knew the treatments were over and let myself go? I’m not sure, but I turned into a blubbering blob! I did most of my therapy AFTER, which really surprised me! There was mention of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. At first I laughed it off. I really did not know what it was. But when I had to call my Therapist from the floor of the bathroom stall I was curled in a ball in, I started to think about it. It turns out, my work ordered the same alcohol/anti-germ wipe that they used in the hospital. When smelling it, I guess it took me back so those days where Griffin was neutropenic, and could not have any germs at all. I would spend hours wiping down his hospital room, the bed, the chairs, the tables, all the toys, the outside of food containers, walls, doors, the floors. Everything. I would scrub my hands until they bled, but didn’t feel anything. That smell of those wipes brought it alllllll back…and I was sad. I felt sad for myself, sad for my little family, I felt guilty that Griffin was done treatments and the other chemo kids were not. I felt extra guilty when one of our cancer buddies passed away, felt like shit when another one passed…the list goes on.
I went from feeling sorry for myself, to taking charge. Instead of letting Cancer win, I took over. I started to see the awesome side of Cancer. I know that sounds odd. But it brought my family closer. It made me not take anything for granted. I SEE the blessings I have in my life. We made amazing friends with other cancer families, met some amazing strong survivors and supporters who continue to fight for a cure!
I’m including a previous post called “Dear Cancer” which I think explains the blessings I’m talking about:
I have never ever hated anything more than I hate you. You came into my life in Dec of 2011 when you infected my baby with your sickness. You took his health, but you never took his love, laughter or life.
Dear Cancer, you also taught us how to love someone else so much it hurts, how to care for someone other than yourself, how to reach out to other families that are hurting too.
Dear Cancer, Because of you, our family grew stronger as you grew weaker. Because of you we have gained the friendship and kinship of other cancer families that I consider as close as family. Because of you, I don’t take anything for granted. Because of you, I wake up each morning thankful for the day I had yesterday with my child and looking forward to the day I will have today. Because of you I will never be the girl, daughter, wife, mother that I was before. There is no “going back to normal”, there is a new normal now. Its stronger, bigger and badder than Cancer.
Fuck you Cancer but also thank you for the blessings you brought. I love you and hate you for different reasons. But because of these reasons, I will spend the rest of my days spreading the word of cancer awareness, raising money and giving hugs until we find a cure. We will win this fight. So toodles cancer, until we meet again…