“You’re child has cancer.”
49 days later…
“Marjorie no longer needs chemo.”
Within a seven week period, the rug was ripped out from under my feet and shoved back under just as quickly.
My head hasn’t stopped spinning and my heart hasn’t slowed. My emotions go from wandering thoughts about nothing to anger to snuggles with my babies to tears of sadness and grief to laughter with friends.
Some days I feel back to my old self. I am starting to go out with friends, responding to work emails and doing simple daily chores, enjoying the beautiful and bland ordinary things of life. Then BAM, I fall to the floor in a puddle of tears with a memory or just a wave of grief.
What just happened?
How in the world do I just march on with ordinary tasks and conversations? As much as I embrace the normalcy, I also get so angry at it. Conversations seem trivial. I often don’t hear people because all I hear on repeat is “my child has cancer or had cancer”. It all happened so fast I don’t even know the right verbiage.
And if I’m not thinking about my own experience, I’m thinking of the millions of other children suffering. So while a waiter is telling me lunch specials, all I want to respond with is, “Did you know babies and children get cancer?”
My Facebook is now flooded with images of pediatric cancer warriors. So many of the stories end in heartbreak, which then catapults my mind to feeling grateful for our diagnosis and prognosis. And then my mind launches into anger, when did my life become about being thankful for a certain type of cancer?
I live in a cloud of emotions, trying my best to sort them out and knowing that the only remedy is time. It has been the worst year on record for me. And I can’t help but smile as I write that sentence because it is so false. Yes, it has been a pretty shitty year. No way to candy coat delivering your baby girl three months early, two and a half months in the NICU and then cancer.
But it has not been the worst year. As much as my fingers type with anger, my heart and head always land at love. In a time where the darkness seemed infinite, the light that was shone upon us was greater. We were wrapped in so much love and light, the darkness never stood a chance.
While I would give my life to take away the pain my daughter has endured, I do not think I would change a thing. I have said before that I don’t think God ‘gives’ cancer. He did not bestow cancer onto Marjorie. No, she simply had cancer cells in her body that multiplied into the tumors that she smashed.
Now cancer is a part of her story and our journey together. Hopefully, forever to be marked in the past tense. But Marjorie and her fight has brought together thousands. I mean it is truly extraordinary. And to be on the receiving end of it is well, overwhelming.
As our cancer dust cloud settles, it is inevitable that my emotions surface. I’ve been through the post-traumatic thing once already this year and also with my eating disorder. I have zero shame or need to shove these feelings aside, rather I embrace them and begin the healing work. Writing, therapy, crying and also getting back to living.
There is a time to curl up in fetal position and there is a time to get up and get back to living your life. Sometimes the two collide and that is okay. So if you see me crying in the produce section at Harris Teeter just give me a hug and keep shopping. I will be okay. We will all be okay.
God did not give my baby girl cancer, but he gave me, all of us, the strength and ability to overcome. To keep the faith, to smash the cancer and to get back to life as we know it. Life will never be as we knew it. It is as we know it, ever changing, embracing the new normal and welcoming new words into our vocabulary. Cancer. Chemo. SURVIVOR.