As a mother of four children, I thought I had this parenting gig figured out. Feed, wash, clothe and nurture your children as they grow into happy, healthy adults. Until the cancer bomb explodes. In one normal day, my seven- year-old went from a carefree soul who loved to play video games to a leukemia warrior with chemo scheduled the next day. Per his oncologist – “We need to fight this leukemia aggressively, this means treatment should start immediately.”
The first few weeks after diagnosis was a purple haze during frequent trips to the cancer clinic for chemo. As we transitioned back to our new normal, which included visits with neighbors, summer picnics, and school functions, I was startled by number of times I was told, “You are so strong through all of this!” The first few times I heard the comment, I just let it roll. Several more insisted, so I began to internalize the phrase. I quickly came to the conclusion.
I’m Not As Strong As You Think….
Strong is the ability to embrace a leukemia diagnosis at the age of seven. Have a port surgically implanted under the muscle in your chest cavity for chemicals aka. chemo to be pumped through, along with taking daily doses of steroids that cause horrific swelling, a ravenous appetite, and tidal waves of emotions known as “roid rage”. And… still wake up with a smile from ear to ear.
Strong is knowing your hair is going to fall out. You will be bald, people may look at you funny, or ask rude questions but you embrace it and shave it off because you are in control, not this dreaded disease called cancer. “Ahhh…it’s just hair mom!”
Strong is trying over and over to keep down sips of water even though you have one of the worst cases of mucositis your oncologist has seen in her career. “Mucositis is the painful inflammation and ulceration of the mucous membranes lining the digestive tract, usually as an adverse effect of chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment for cancer” Mucositis is essentially the chemicals in chemo burning your tissue from the inside out which causes big oozing painful sores on your lips, inside your cheeks, throat, esophagus, stomach, and bottom. These sores or ulcers are prone to infection which can bring on a host of other problems for a child with cancer.
Strong is the love we have for each other. Strong is the bond between a parent and child. Strong is the faith my child has in my willingness to be honest with him, to protect him to the best of my ability along this journey, to ensure he receives the best medical care available.
I’m Not As Strong as You Think…
I’m just doing what any parent would do when their child is diagnosed with cancer or a life threatening disease. I have no choice but tuck my emotions away. If he sees fear in my eyes, he will then feel fear. I must encourage him to set goals, be optimistic, and always be thankful for each day we have together.
Strong is my son who is fighting this battle with courage, valor, and bravery.
Curious how Gunner was diagnosed and how our how our nightmare with cancer began?
Read More of Gunner’s Leukemia Battle:
Our 7 Year Old Has Been Diagnosed With Leukemia