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Parenting and cancer

April 15, 2018

From the very beginning, one of the biggest challenges of dealing with cancer has been the fact that you don’t get to stop being a parent just because you have cancer.

Yesterday, I sat in the yard with two of my sisters and watched the girls run around. It was the first afternoon this week that they were all home at the same time. It’s good to see their faces, but I’m mostly an observer right now. Whenever they come toward me, I guard my right side and brace for impact. They know my reflexes are slow and my reach is restricted, and their behavior often reflects this knowledge.

I watch them play and start to wonder how long I’m going to have this limited, guarded role in their life. I know thinking too far out is a really bad thing to do, but for that moment, I can’t help it. With the most recent news, it’s becoming apparent that me and cancer have a long way to go, a lot of fighting to do. It’s not going to be over when I heal from this surgery. I’ve already lost time with them, and wonder how much more I’m going to lose. I start to cry thinking about this.

This is one of the many reasons that cancer sucks and is terrible. Not only is your body struggling, but you are missing out on life. Those you love are missing out. It robs everyone, and that sucks.

When I was little and had cancer, my older two siblings spent a lot of days and nights at other people’s houses. I remember hearing about my older brother being really sad because my dad had to work and my mom was away with me, and I felt so bad and would cry thinking about it. I know that it wasn’t my fault that they went through that, just like it isn’t my fault now, but it still sucks that people you love are suffering.

Another thing that’s been really hard about parenting with cancer is that it is even more difficult than usual to be present. There’s always something else that needs my attention. I have an appointment and then after the appointment we race to pick the kids up, but while we’re doing that I’m on the phone scheduling other appointments, talking to family/friends. Then we get home and I start looking up the next medicine or lab/pathology results, all the while the kids want to eat, play, whine, fight, or just be held.




I find myself being more impatient with their needs and noise, being more easily annoyed, less consistent with discipline. Then I feel really terrible about it. Thankfully I have people who speak truth into my life at times like this and remind me that most people with little kids feel this way at some point – cancer or not. I also have to constantly remind myself that all that I am doing is for them. So whatever absence this cancer treatment is causing will be made up for by my long term presence and health.

Another major cancer-with-kids stress has been dealing with childcare. Thankfully, every time I’ve reached out, I’ve received generous help, but the different pieces that had to fit together for a long day of treatment would blow your mind. Prior to my surgery, I finally sat down and made a spreadsheet that laid out our schedules for the entire month. There are way too many moving parts, and having them all in my head was making me lose sleep every night. Now, at any given time, there are multiple people who can see where the kids are, when Jonathan is working, etc… and that has given me a lot of peace.

Switching gears entirely – today I went to church. It was so good to be there. Getting dressed to leave the house is complicated though. I’m not trying to pretend I have two breasts, but I also don’t want to feel like a spectacle. Yesterday it took me three shirts. Today, only two. I thought that having a picture on the front would disguise the whole one breast thing, but it made it more obvious. I know that how I feel leaving the how is going to change day by day, so I’m not sweating it too much right now.

Tomorrow morning I see Dr. Z. I feel like I’m prepared for whatever he tells me. Looking forward to having more info regardless.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. Karen permalink
    April 16, 2018 05:35

    You have such a beautiful way with words! I love reading what you write, even though right now, it makes me sad for you and your family. Your transparency just is a remarkable thing….
    Many prayers for peace and healing…
    You have an extraordinary family, in every way!

  2. Melissa Quist permalink
    April 16, 2018 11:12

    What Karen said!

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