Cancer mom’s have a special sort of bond. They bind together like cement when it hardens. Sometimes we “Cancer moms” feel so alone and need each other like toast needs butter. We understand one another, like no one else can.
To be the mother of a child with cancer is to be 100% selfless; to give your entire self to your child. These moms quit their jobs . They quit their hobbies. They quit their friends and sometimes family members. The only thing that matters to a cancer mom is caring for her sick child, in hopes of getting them better.
If they can’t get their child better they do everything in their power to make sure their child feels life is worth living. They play games in between tube feedings and dressing changes. They use encouraging words to keep their child’s spirit aloft…even when they themselves are dying inside. They try to make light of an IV poke or blood draw. They turn their faces to let out a few tears, to spare their child any more discomfort than they are already facing.
The cancer mom club is no stranger to administering more drugs to their child than they have ever ingested themselves, and sometimes this is a fight. These moms sometimes spend an hour or more compromising with, bribing, and often begging their child to take meds. The child does not understand the importance of taking so many pills, having so many shots, or having their ports accessed constantly. As a mom, you don’t want them to have to understand.
Radiation and/or chemo treatments become the “norm”. You spend many nights in hospitals when your care at home isn’t enough. You step into the hospital bathroom countless times to cry your eyes out, in pain seeing your child in so much pain.
You watch your child change; physically and emotionally. Your child’s hair falls out. They lose or gain a massive amount of weight, usually very quickly from the medications and toll cancer takes on their little bodies.
Cancer moms do more research than a private investigator. They look into any kind of treatment that may have helped a child with a similar diagnosis in the past. They stay up late, searching for a magic pill or salve or ANYTHING, SOMETHING that might help their child. They reach for and grasp onto any hope by reading stories about other children who have beat the odds.
Many cancer moms are told their child’s cancer is “terminal”; that they will die. In fact approximately 250 children per day around the world die from cancer . One day that will be the terminal cancer mom’s child and it will more than likely happen within 5 years or less.
This knowledge brings anticipatory grief to these moms. Anticipatory grief is grief that comes on when you accept the reality that your child is not going to outlive you. Those who accept this reality try to somewhat “prepare themselves” for the death of their child, which by the way is IMPOSSIBLE. This brings on an array of emotions. Keep in mind though, your child is still alive and needs you to care for them, to be strong for them at your weakest. You feel the need to “make memories” and make sure your child knows how much you love them. You may also push this grief aside and let hope lead the way. However hope is compromised over and over again, by disheartening MRI results, low blood counts, or a new symptom your child presents.
The cancer mom prays. Even if she doesn’t believe in God, she prays. She prays there is a God that will save her child. If she does have faith in God, she pleads with everyone she knows to pray for her child. She is completely desperate for her child to be okay, to live a long life, to beat the odds, for a miracle. Their belief can be destroyed by cancer, even if just for short periods. Or their disbelief can be comfirmed in their minds as cancer takes over their child.
You hear the words “hospice” and “DNR” in the same sentence as your child’s name. You cannot believe your ears and want to smash your fist into a wall, or into the person saying these word’s face.
When you are the mom of a child with terminal Cancer, and your child nears the end of his/her life, you are there. You watch every move. You study every breath. You never want to let go. You wish you could go too. You kiss their face. You kiss every inch of visible skin. You tell them umpteen million times, in a hundred different ways, how much you love them. You know your heart is about to be ripped the rest of the way out of your chest.
If you are the mom of an Angel who had Cancer, you already know what comes next. If you have read this far and not lost a child to cancer, I will spare you the rest because it is too painful for me to go there at this time and you don’t want to imagine this pain anyways.
Bereaved parents of childhood cancer are strong, not because they want to be, but because they have been through things that are so horrific that nothing, I mean NOTHING could break them worse than they already have been broken. But don’t tell us we’re strong, because you don’t know what kind of “strong” this is and the truth is we feel weak, sad, and not strong at all- rightfully.