Ella is a survivor. I am still learning that this is the new reality. Last week we went to a survivorship meeting and reviewed all the drugs, possible complications and late onset side effects that can happen. So far she has not shown any learning delays, and if I may brag for a minute she is in an advanced math class and working 2 grade levels ahead. She is also reading at the junior high level- stick that in your pipe and suck on it cancer! The only issues she has had are yellowing of the teeth and stomach pain that cannot be explained. We are working on her diet to help with stomach issues and she can whiten her teeth when she gets older. For now she is just excited to be getting braces.
So, as the mom of a child who is a cancer survivor I keep thinking, what advice can I give parents who are starting this journey?
1. I know it is a cliché, but this too will pass. I know it doesn’t feel like it when you’re in it, but time will pass and life will go on. The hard part is not thinking about the “what if’s” and just enjoying each day for what it is.
2. I’ve said this before, but find God. Seek him to walk this path with you.
3. Enjoy each day. Worry about tomorrow- tomorrow. Nobody wants to hear this, I know, but if you waste this perfectly good day worrying about what might happen tomorrow, then you have wasted a day with the ones you love. Don’t do this. This day is a gift of their presence. Soak it in.
4. Enjoy each day. It is important enough for me to say twice.
5. Make time for you. You may be a mom, dad, or caretaker, but you are also- you. Take time to take care of you when you can, and DO NOT feel guilt about it. One of my favorite examples of this is the air mask. When you are on a plane, they instruct you to put your air mask on first, and then assist the people next to you. Why? Because you cannot help them if your incapacitated.
6. Get help when you need it. Don’t be stubborn ass; ask your friends and family for assistance when you need it. They are your friends and family- that’s why they are there- to help. Now, some won’t and you will lose friends, but new ones will come. If you need to talk to a professional- go do it. Who cares what anyone else thinks. Do it for your loved ones so you can be there for them!
7. Take the time to morn your losses. I don’t mean death; I mean the life you thought you or your child would have. Dreams you created for them, plans you made for your family, and friends that can’t support you. Loss is more than death. Loss is losing what you thought you had. It’s okay to take time to be sad about all your losses.
8. Go on a date. Go with your spouse, significant other, parents or friends. Just get out of the house and do non-cancer related stuff! This falls under taking care of yourself, but also the ones that are there to support you.
9. Appreciate life. We do not know how long we are here for. Don’t just idly let the days slip by and get stick in your routine. Smell the fricken flowers, eat fantastic foods, drink the good stuff, and laugh at fart jokes! Be grateful for the day and the people in it.
Blessings ~ Katie