Friday, October 23, 2015

about others.

My [friend's] kid just got diagnosed with a brain tumor....

I sadly, so terribly unfortunately, get that message about 1x a month. Can their friend message me? Anything I can say to them? What should they do? More often than that, I get messages that their friend's children were diagnosed with another form of cancer and they want to know what to bring to the hospital.

These messages are never a bother. They are so welcomed. I consider the fact that they came to me such a compliment of sorts. It isn't a compliment that I necessarily want to receive, as I wish I knew nothing of the subject, but it is one that I take, anyway. The people who message trust me enough with their hearts and emotions to invite me in to their private lives.

I say a lot of the same things to friend's of the one dx. I list PJs and blankets. I say to bring them food or give them a visa GC. I remind them to DO things instead of ASK what they need - a maid, a child pick up, a hug. But it is when they add me to a message with their friend - or when I finally say "hi" to a new mother whose world has been thrown upside-down, that I can see who I was. I can see how far I have come in many ways - and also how time does not change things.

I notice so quickly how these mothers adapt. Three years ago, I was that mother who felt as if they were in some sort of cage where no one could see them; no one could understand. Everyone just looked in with this face of "oh. oh dear." Tears in their eyes from absolutely sympathy and love, but they were still on the outside. I had a few people around that understood and really that is all that I needed - someone to say "yes. I know." And now I am that person. The blessing of it all is watching how they grow and change. Scared mothers who then throw medical dialogue around, as if it is their native language. They list of procedures and talk about medicines like a nurse studying for a test, but they are moms like me.

I have had one minute conversations with people who had a question about chemo or a test. I have talked to people for hours just about nurses or hospitals or "what would you do?" All of this goes both ways, as we need each other.

...But I also have spoken with mothers into the darkness of late nights about their child, only to, months later, pray into a puddle of tears as their child takes their final breath. I am so grateful that they let me into their lives for that tiny sliver of time - and even more grateful when they let me continue to stay in it with them.

I talk to friends of those mothers, who just want to understand. Sometimes they come asking medical questions that I try to answer as best as I can. Sometimes they feel desperate to help them - and the only thing I can do is say to love them. That is often the hardest thing to explain.

All of this reminds me how much our journey is about others. We are not in a cage, alone, we are part of a community where we all need someone, all on different levels. I may go into scans or chemo differently than I did winter 2012, but that does not let me forget how it felt. Those feelings never go away. I don't mesh with everyone perfectly, as we are not all on the same road. Sometimes when people post things on pages, I don't understand those feelings at all. Some people are angrier, some are more hostile, some are off treatment to likely never look back. But they all have "people", too.

I was taught, early on, through other mothers' kindness and love, that it is important to take our own struggle and turn it into strength for someone else. 

Thank you for letting me be that person for some of your loved ones - even if just for a moment of time. Because no matter how much time goes by, I will never forget this face days before diagnosis. I will never forget the fear I felt not knowing what was going on with my child. I will never forget crying until I fell asleep in the ICU. I hope I never forget. Those feelings are what propel me to try harder when I feel as if I am on empty, appreciate the tantrums as well as the smiles, and enjoy every day - even the terrible ones that I superficially want to end.

(3 years ago, yesterday)



  1. Great post. My son has a heart condition and I wish I could have read this three years ago, after his diagnosis & first heart surgery. Sharing this on facebook because everyone should read this, whether they have a friend with a kid that has a tumor, a heart condition, or any loved one with a serious illness. Thanks for sharing.

  2. "I was taught, early on, through other mothers' kindness and love, that it is important to take our own struggle and turn it into strength for someone else. "

    As was I, yet in my own journey, reversed as it was me telling my kids about my own cancer. 5 years later it is why I lead our Hope (cancer) ministry at church.

    Knowing we are not alone is an important weapon in this battle.

    Thank you for sharing. I remember that face above as well and the journey that followed. Feels like I have known your family forever and I am greatful.

    Prayers as always for your family.