***This is written by a mom new to the world of cancer.. her daughter just recently diagnosed and about to begin treatment. A few weeks ago.. she was “just a mom” and her little girl was healthy. ***
What They Don’t Tell You
There will be a buzzing in your ears when you hear the news.
The doctors’ words will fall over the room like broken glass.
You’ll hear things like ‘tumor’ and ‘cancer’ and frantically try to avoid the shards, but you’ll be hemmed in by those pale green walls.
“Why can’t there be any color in this office?” you’ll want to scream. “Why can’t there be some kind of life?”
Eventually, the appointment will be over and you’ll walk out into the world, having to blink at the sunlight that won’t stop shining, no matter what thoughts are roaring inside your head. You’ll look over at whoever was in that room with you, and you’ll want to ask, “What just happened?”
No one will tell you what to do once you leave that doctor’s office, and you’ll rage over this, assuming they don’t care how you cope with the news.
No one will warn you of the kinds of thoughts you’ll have, that you’ll go to sleep and wake up with the same acid stomach, that you’ll spend all day either falling prey to thoughts of doom or using most of your energy to keep them away.
The treatment possibilities were laid out before you like a sick game of cards and the words that made them up were useless to you then.
But now, you shuffle them around inside your head and latch on to the one that’s the least terrifying, even though none of them will be ‘easier’ or ‘better’. And you’ll secretly hate yourself for wanting the easy one, because it isn’t even you who’ll have to endure it. It’s your sweet, tiny child.
In moments of clarity, you’ll latch onto the fact that your child’s diagnosis could have been so much worse.
You’ll know there are families going through worse than you, and you’ll try to reach out to feel their pain, like you’re one of those giant radio telescopes and can receive their signal.
You’ll want to broadcast out to them in a big, booming voice ‘I know what you’re going through, and I’m sorry’ but you don’t know how to speak that loud, and you don’t even know how to try.
No one, no matter who they are (or what they say) will make you feel any better.
Their words won’t register in your dark, cloudy brain. They might even sound, in your worst moments, like they’re empty condolences. But you know they’re not meant that way.
You know no one can understand the pain you’re holding right beneath the surface of your skin, the fears and screams you’re too afraid to let loose.
You’ll endure these conversations, maybe even start some of them because there are people who ‘have to know’, and as they happen you’ll feel less and less understood, and more and more alone.
In the days that follow, you’ll feel these people’s pity, awkwardness or unease and it’ll create a glow of anger inside you that’ll grow stronger with time.
Eventually, you won’t want to see or talk to anyone at all.
But you’ll know, way down deep, that you’re going to have to withstand all of this.
Every stinking, last bit.
You’ll understand you’re not going to be able to fall apart and stay that way, because your child and your family need you.
You’ll know that you’re going to have to push your shoulders back, inhale and exhale, and adjust as this life becomes normal.
You’ll wake up every morning, and resign yourself to get through every step of the grieving.
You’ll continue to take care of your family and pour yourself into helping your child survive, because this is what you do.
And one day, you’ll realize that you were made to bear this, that you really are the strongest person you’ll ever know.
You’ll open yourself up to the world you receded from, and you’ll show your wounds of grief with pride.
And all of this you’ll do for her.