Monday, October 31, 2016

Empty And Full

Chemotherapy is a beast. Watching your toddler go through chemo is a different kind of hell. It is draining, to say the least. She has a calendar of her own to keep track of her multiple medications, appointments, and blood counts. We go through a lot of hand sanitizer and soap. We miss our families and friends and watch too much tv. We've cut our daughter's hair shorter and shorter in an attempt to mask the thinning but it's coming to a point where we will just need to shave it off.

Each time I have to hold down my screaming child while she gets poked tears off a little part of my soul. Each time I have to give my terrified child a shot myself tears off a big part.

It is lonely. It is hard. It is painful. It takes a toll on the whole family. My other daughter complains the screams are "breaking her ears".

The nausea, picky appetite, gloves for diaper changes, multiple Sharps containers, bags and boxes of medical supplies, confinement away from potential sickness, missed activities and parties, checking for fevers, the hospital stays.

She has a good prognosis and this should all be a distant bad memory one day. That's what keeps me going. But that's not the case for everyone dealing with cancer, and it wrenches my heart to think of those families.

The hospital staff and home health care nurses are wonderful. They care for the patient and the family. They never tire of my many questions and concerns. They are available for anything around the clock.

Family and friends pour out their love, prayers, and concern on facebook and through texts and phone calls. People rearrange their schedules to babysit last minute. Those who aren't sick and don't have anyone sick in their household stop by for visits. There is support from all around.

But with the love and support comes the dreaded question- "What can I do for you?"

Don't ask, I don't know what to say. Do I need you to do anything, probably not, so it's hard to answer the question.

Here are some better things to say or do.

"Would tonight or tomorrow be better for me to bring you a meal? I'm going to do it, so just pick."
"I'm going to bring you a freezer meal. Will you be home for me to drop it off tonight?"
"We're all healthy at my house and it's clean, can I take your other kids for a play date tomorrow?"
"What night would be the best for me to come babysit your kids so you can have date night?"
Give gift cards for restaurants, gas, and groceries.
Make a care package.
Send cards with a personal message.
Keep sending love and support even if they don't always reply back to your message.
Remember it's a long road, keep showing up.

You don't have to show up in person, just show up in genuine love and support. Thank you to all those who have made your love felt though you are miles away, and thank you to those who show up on our doorstep with open hearts.

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