This is how long I’ve been a Cancer Mom. Just 13 and a half weeks since our entire world changed. Less time than a college semester. Not quite 7 pay periods. However you want to look at it – so much has changed since that day the doctors told us “your daughter has a tennis-ball-sized tumor in her brain”
Obviously our daily lives have changed drastically. But one thing I did not expect was such a change in how I see the world. I still sometimes feel like this is all just a bad dream. As I am typing this and I see Olivia’s profile picture in the background and the @OliviaBattlesBrainCancer name – it’s still a bit surreal. But it is real. Too real. So I’ve decided to share the changes I’ve noticed in me.
Cancer is no longer an indistinct idea. For me, cancer was something I heard about but didn’t spend too much time dwelling on. Cancer was something scary, something maybe a friend or a grandparent had. But still…. just a “thing.” To our family, now cancer is our daily life. Cancer is involved in every moment. It’s gone from a “thing” to “everything.” In an instant.
My world view has also changed in relation to Olivia. One of the most common things I hear from parents with ‘normal kids’ all the time is “I wish time would slow down” or “he/she is growing so fast!” I no longer have those feelings. I wish my greatest worry was that Olivia was growing up too fast. I catch myself willing time to go by quicker – so I can see all of the milestones that I am terrified she won’t reach. I wish that we could fast forward time to when she is ‘done’ with all of this – despite knowing that there is no such thing as ‘done.’ I secretly hope time flies by and I can see her as the grown woman who beat brain cancer. I want to see the future, because I’m scared to death of what that future may actually hold.
Despite this, we have learned so much, about medicines and treatments I wish we never needed to know. But we’ve also learned about ourselves and our strength and where our priorities actually lie. I’ve seen my husband become a better father. And I’ve seen strength in the eyes of my daughter that I am so proud is there.
Olivia’s cancer has also forced me to be more social and outgoing, as there are amazing foundations and groups that are helping us. There is also a whole community of parents with information and similar experiences and insight that I need to be a part of. So I push my social anxiety aside, because it is what is best for Olivia. And I think she is making me a better person because of it.
I’ve also learned to enjoy every single moment, to bask in every tiny milestone because we have lived some unbelievably terrible moments, and I choose to use that as a learning experience. So I try to see the good in the world and look for the best in everyone.
Our lives have been inexplicably altered, in ways I don’t know I will ever be able to actually put into words. But these are just a few.
And for every parent reading this who has a child with cancer or another life altering disease – please feel free to leave a comment below of how your thought processes have changed since the diagnosis.
And for everyone reading this who has been lucky enough to have not experienced hearing those horrible words – please hug your children and your loved ones tight tonight. Every moment you have with them is a moment worth savoring.
Danielle is mom to her sweet little lady, Olivia. Shortly after her first birthday, Olivia was diagnosed with brain cancer. To follow Olivia’s story and send your good thoughts and support to her family, check out her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/OliviaBattlesBrainCancer/