Sunday, March 9, 2014

My off week and you are only as happy as your unhappiest child

This past week was my week off from chemo. I really love having a week away from chemo and my twice weekly trips to the cancer center. As nice as all of the employees are, I prefer not having to go to the cancer center! I won't miss it when I am done.  I have now completed two cycles, with six treatments. I have 12 left to go. I admit that the 12 still seems like a daunting number at this point. I know, I have made progress. But, it still seems like a long way to go. I am ready to start feeling more like myself. I miss the energy I typically have and wonder if I will ever get back to feeling like me.
    There is a saying that "you are only as happy as your unhappiest child". The past couple of weeks have really hammered home the meaning of this saying. Having a sick parent turns a kid's world completely upside down. Being sick is not my fault, I know. But, I cannot escape the fact that my illness has caused stress and fear in the lives of my children.
    Much of my time and energy has been spent trying to mitigate the effects of the stress on my kids. This is the hardest part of my cancer diagnosis by far. It is not the lingering effects of surgery, or the fatigue or nausea from the chemo. The worst feeling in the word is seeing the pain, stress and fear that my illness has caused for my children. I am trying to find ways to help them through all of this and make the world seem normal, but I admit that I feel helpless at times. Their pain is my pain and I feel it deeply and acutely. As a parent, I have known that I could not protect my kids from all of the painful events they would experience in life. Nor would I want to protect them from every source of pain. A big part of being a successful adult is learning to bounce back from difficult experiences, and my goal as a parent has been to help my kids learn to be resilient adults. That being said, I never expected to be the cause of one of the most traumatic experiences of their childhoods. It is a challenge to help them get through this really difficult experience, particularly while I am living it. I am a resilient person, though. I hope that leading by example through this will somehow help my kids see that this may take us down, but it won't knock us out.
     I am forever grateful to a couple of teachers who will remain nameless. They are teachers or former teachers who my kids have bonded with over the years. These professionals have taken time out of their already over scheduled lives to connect with my kids. They let them know that while times are tough, they are not alone. I can never express how much these acts of selfless humanity mean to me. I know it is not their job to emotionally prop my kids up during my illness, but I am so thankful they have reached out to my kids. The greatest impact we can make on the future of our the human race is to help children become better human beings. These teachers can rest assured knowing that my kids will become better people because of their caring and compassionate interactions. I am so thankful for their assistance in helping my family get through my illness.
    In lighter news, for fun this past week, I got in some running. This wiped me out for several days afterwards, but it was SO worth it.

Friends came to visit me from Boulder. This afternoon of conversation just left me feeling happy. There is no other way to sum it up.
On Friday, I had to go back to the cancer center for a blood draw and a doctor's appointment. It always seems harder to go back after a break. My husband has been going with me to my chemo appointments, but he cannot make it to the blood draw and doctor's appointments. I think the fact that I have been away for a little while and then I go back by myself after a break contributes to the sadness I feel. This past Friday, there were a lot of very sick people at the cancer center, and I heard about two who were relapses and who did not have a very good prognosis. We never know what the future holds for us. I am keeping these ladies in my thoughts and hoping for a miracle.
   Today will be a day of a run, housework and errands in preparation for chemo treatment #7.

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