The Story of Emma's Journey of Neurofibromatosis Brain Tumors and Blindness.
Cancer Will Break Your Heart...literally.
When Emma was diagnosed I was a healthy person. I had no need for a doctor's office and I was rarely sick. Now 3.5 years later I am dealing with a heart condition. You see, cancer literally broke my heart. All these years of anxiety and stress have put a toll on my heart and I have developed a condition where my heart quite simply stops beating.
Thump thump...thump thump---------------THUMP
It is scary and it hurts sometimes and I am fearful that if I cannot limit anxiety it will become an even larger problem. It is weird to think my heart stops beating several times a day, that alone gives me anxiety, which makes my heart worse, so I get more anxiety...see the problem?
Recently in a twin support group I am on a mother discovered one of her young twins has a rare and aggressive cancer. Watching her go through the process of diagnosis, treatment options, port surgery, trying to line up doc appointments so you only have to do one long trip, and childcare for her other kids has put me in a state of reflection. All the times I was given life expectancy, drug reactions, long term side effect risks came rushing back to me.
About two weeks ago I was called dramatic. Someone literally no longer wanted to be my friend because my life is too dramatic. That is not rare. Typically friends just disappear in cancer. They cannot handle seeing sick babies or they were too self centered before cancer so when I stopped reaching out they just faded into the background. In these years of fighting friends have come and friends have gone. Now I watch one of my friends start to lose people she loves. For some reason watching it happen to someone else it hurts just as much as when it happened to me. I tell her the same thing I told myself; that not everyone is strong, that people leave because they can (and we cannot), that some people are just jerks but inside my inner b-word is telling them not to let the door hit them on the way out.
Why? Because it is people like us that will get your back. We are the ones who understand the value of a hot meal when you are too sick to cook. We are the ones who know that a random and unexpected gas card in the mail can bring a traveling medical family to tears. We are the ones who offer to take your healthy children while you go to the doctor's office or recover from surgery. We hope you never experience those trials but when or if you do you will be sad you lost a friend like us. Your loss. To my new Momcologist friend, hear me when I say it is THEIR loss. Hold your head high.
So here is my PSA for all of you healthy or stable people out there. If you cannot handle our "drama" then just leave. If you are brave enough to tell us in a nice card that it is too hard to watch but you wish the best that helps. What not to do is tell that person to their face that they are too dramatic. At first it hurts and then we get pissed because we did not choose this life.
If you can stick it out then just a simple text on a random day to let us know you care or a well timed card like planning for it to come on the day after chemo. Bring them a meal, send a gas card, offer to watch her healthy kids. At the end of the day she is the one you want in your circle. Have her back now and she will have your back later. After all, are we not one large collective beating heart of humanity? Love on her or let her go.
As for my heart, right now it is broken but I have faith it with time it will heal. It just means it is MY time. Time to focus on Mommy. Now that the girls are both stable I have put them in an amazing school, I went back to work, and I have lined up self care like going to the gym. My heart will knit itself back together and let go of the horror and pain and anxiety of the last several years but it will happen slowly. In the meantime listen to this amazing song, it sums up what cancer families feel and helps give you a glimpse into our thoughts...sometimes we need to just crawl into the fetal position and cry.
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