Friday, October 7, 2011

What Helped Us Get Through A Cancer Diagnosis

The first week after learning that your child has cancer can be extremely difficult, but family, help from friends, neighbors, and even strangers, prayers and acts of kindness, and work carried us moms through the hardest of times.

Sharing your burden with others will help lighten the load, even though it may be to hard to do. Wendy and her husband, "sat down together and wrote a message that we would post on both of our [facebook] walls. What was amazing was the way people reacted. Friends were posting on their walls requests to pray for us. One friend started a chain request, which people re-posted. Strangers all over the world were praying to their various deities on our behalf. It was the most amazing thing I've ever seen."  

Many of us turned to family and and close friends for support.  Crystal said, "even strangers" were supporting her.  Michelle received much relief when her parents drove all the way from Canada, "they dropped everything ... and stayed the whole month." It has helped many of us to talk to another mom who also has gone through cancer with their child.  Crystal said,  "Chelsea came and talked to me.  It helped so much knowing I wasn't the only one going through this."

Sharing our burdens with God has helped us get through the next day. Elizabeth said, "I never prayed so hard in my life." Kristin said, "I would go to bed and cry and cry, and not know how I would get up the next day and do it all over again. Then I would pray that I could. And I would wake up the next day and do it."

Having others pray for us has given us support.  Wendy's church fasted for them, "in all the meetings, people mentioned us in prayer. It was during that time that [our son] had the hardest time of all, and I feel like those sincere prayers and the sacrifice of people fasting is what carried him - and us - through that last, horrible day in the hospital." One group of kids from a local middle school started a facebook group for prayers for their fellow classmate. Elizabeth said, "it was so comforting and faith building to know so many kids were getting on their knees and praying their little hearts out for my boy. I felt and knew the Lord loved each of those kids just as much as He loves my [son] and He wouldn't let them down.  It brought me an amazing amount of confidence going into this."

Many random acts of kindness were shown all through our children's cancer treatments.  For Jill, "it was especially sweet to come home and find the flowers outside our home beautiful and blooming. My 80 year old neighbor offered to water them everyday. If it wasn't for her, I would have come home from all of our hospital stays to dead flowers.  It was a small and simple gesture of love and went a long way in our hearts." Kristin said that "one night we had been in the ER all night long, and came home exhausted. I heard the trash truck at 8am and knew we had forgotten it, but could not get out of bed to take them out. I realized later that day someone had done it for us. I still don't know who did it and they will never know how much that meant to me that day."

Receiving monetary donations has helped many families cope with the costs of bills, food, and travel to and from the hospital.  Just after a diagnosis of cancer, Sonja's family had a weekend where they were treated to an "emergency vacation."  She said, "it was a crazy thing and i would never have thought of it myself, but my sister who had been through cancer talked me into it and people came out of the woodwork with frequent flyer miles and money. We spent very little of our own money, which made it especially helpful. The beauty of the trip was that once we landed in San Diego, I magically had an appetite and I slept at night, something I hadn't done. I hadn't really even been eating. As the plane approached Salt Lake again, I felt all the anxiety come back, but it was a little weaker than before and I felt better equipped to deal with it."

Having something to do, or having something other than cancer to think about can help you cope.  Rachel was grateful for work and "knowing I had an outlet for myself really helped."  Jill said, "some people thought I was crazy that I kept up my piano teaching with a sick child, but those six hours a week when I was teaching were the only hours of the week that I didn't think about cancer. I was so refreshed after I had finished teaching, it made it easier for me to cope with cancer."

Kristin says it perfectly in summing up the whole ordeal, "It would have been so hard without others lifting us up during that time. It reminds me of those mosh pits where people are just carrying one person through the top with their hands. I still don't know how we did it, but that had a lot to do with it."

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