Hello Parents, Guardians, and Caregivers of Children Fighting Cancer,
First things first, let us tell you: You can do this!
Having a child diagnosed with cancer can be, let’s just say it, horrifying. It’s a caregiver’s worst nightmare. No one wants our children to go through this, and it can be even scarier thinking about how to support our kids properly through it. We have watched many, many families go through this and we can say with absolute certainty that you can do this. You can hold your child’s hand during treatments. You can provide comfort and love. You can find a way to handle medicine schedules and hospitalizations.
Any new change or seemingly overwhelming life crisis can make us doubt ourselves and our worst insecurities come out. It doesn’t help that so many in the community respond with “I couldn’t do what you do” when they hear about what we are going through. It’s meant to be a compliment, but the truth is that they can. You can. We are here to support you and cheer you on while you do.
Secondly, you are not alone.
No matter what your personal situation, there are communities online and in person with people who want to support you. There are organizations that can answer questions and fill needs. Most of all there are other caregivers who get it. They have gone through—or are going through—every emotion: making the hard decisions, crying at night over fear of what’s to come, trying to maintain a semblance of structure. They’re caregivers with great marriages, bad marriages, single parents, grandparents, foster parents, and every variation of what a family looks like. There are hundreds—probably even thousands—of blogs, community forums, support-group meetings, and just people who care. You just have to ask or seek them out.
We have our ParentConnect support group page on Facebook for all of our caregivers, and host events where we hope they connect with each other in person too.
Lastly, just breathe.
The advice from most of the moms we talked to had two pieces of advice: “just breathe and take one day at a time”.
It can be infuriating not knowing exactly how the treatment plan will pan out or even what the next step is. Many times it’s hard not to take that anger out on the doctors and other people around us, but the fact is, cancer can be unpredictable and so can reactions to the treatments.
Here is a word from Jen, one of our parents: “I was a big-time planner before my son was born. I had the one-year plan, five-year plan, and ten-year plan—and a backup plan for each. Cancer wasn’t in any of those plans. The cancer-fighting life not only completely changed my son’s health and childhood, it changed everything. Appointments might be scheduled weeks out, or I’d get a call to come in immediately. Sometimes we’d have to wait months between treatments, and sometimes we’d return the next day. Some phases were super straightforward, others felt rather unpredictable. I learned to live week to week. I’d get through one week, then figure out the next. I wouldn’t schedule a play date—or anything, really—more than a couple days out because my son’s immunity level could drop unexpectedly. Yet learning to live in this week-to-week version of life ended up being oddly freeing. It taught me to be more focused on the present than on my plans and expectations. In the end it taught me how to be more free. Something I kept even after my son was cancer free.”
Living day by day helps you manage expectations and simplify your life. You still may be busy and stressed out, but it’s to adapt to your child’s needs.
By just taking one day at a time, which can take self-discipline and what feels like an inhuman amount of patience, you can appreciate each day’s good stuff without getting too caught up in the emotions of what’s to come.
Just remember caregivers, you can do this. If you have questions or just need a pep talk- we are here and so are your Keaton friends on ParentConnect. Reach out and let us encourage you. You Can Do This!