If God wants to bring me to my knees, He knows what to do.
A critically ill child.
He can do anything to me. Throw anything at me. I keep getting knocked down. I keep getting back up.
But don’t touch my kid.
I couldn’t handle that. However, who am I to choose? Those other parents didn’t have a choice. They’ve had to watch – helplessly from the sidelines – while their child battles life and death. Perhaps they would choose all of my stresses, and yours, just to have their healthy child back?
For some of my closest friends and family, maybe that is how they feel while I get in the ring alone with life, death, taxes and cancer. You can walk beside me, but you can’t walk through the fire for me. You sat beside me, but didn’t feel the ice cream headache in your chest as the chemo drugs pumped in. I leave you at the Radiation Lounge door and get in that laser beam ring on my own. But unless you’ve walked in the shoes of a cancer patient, you have no idea what our biggest nightmare is. The boogieman lives within us.
Choice is an illusion.
My friend CA sent me a link to a blog. The first few lines resonate with me enough to capture my attention … “When your life is cancer, (as much as we try to pretend it’s not) you constantly have to make a choice. Allow it to break you or allow it to be a catalyst for strength.”
Period. It makes or breaks you. There isn’t a happy medium. I don’t dare crumble because I have no idea how far or how deep I will crack. I have no faith that I will be able to regain my composure. I have no doubt that I will stumble and fall. It’s much easier to hold it at arm’s length. Keep calm & carry on.
As the blog author Jenny calls it … you go into protection mode. You live there as long as you can.
And then you lose someone.
As I read her blog, I discovered that she is also Canadian, living in western British Columbia. How did I know this? She was mourning Gord Downie, front man of The Tragically Hip, who died last week of glioblastoma, a form of brain cancer. He was as Canadian as milk bags and maple syrup. Then, as I read a little farther, I realized that her blog was her dumping ground while watching her daughter battle brain cancer. Logan, now twenty, has fought with brain cancer four times in the last twelve years.
She’s had over 300 doses of chemotherapy. Full radiation to her brain and spine. And multiple surgeries.
How would it feel to watch my son go through that fire? I can’t even go there.
I literally fall to my knees in tears.
But who am I? My identity falters. No one different. I know people who have watched their children fight cancer. I know people who have had to endure the worst case scenario. I have friends and family who have watched their children slip through their fingers and are gone. It doesn’t matter how or why. It’s a most profound and personal loss.
And I realize I am not so tough.
I’ve had a tear-jerker of a week. Life. Death. Cancer. Fractures. Worry. I couldn’t get radiated yesterday because the machine was down. That pushes my treatment plan out to November 7th. A day I already dread. Both of my parents died on that day. Just 18 years apart.
My TNBC sisters continue on their own trajectories. Major surgeries, metastasis, gene mutations, more shocking news to numb your senses. Call backs from mammograms release demons of panic. It’s all a blur watching these catastrophic changes around me. And wondering when I will have to suck back more tears and say …
But it could always be worse, right? We just keep telling ourselves that so we can continue to put one foot in front of the other.
At least I am not on my knees screaming “Please God, take me, not him!” But I have sunk to my knees, my head bowed and said, “Just take me now. I can’t handle any more.”
Don’t just watch these Sick Kids VS videos I’ve listed below. Feel them. Jump into their shoes for 30 seconds and imagine … what if? What if that was you and yours? What if you had cancer? What if the person you love most in this world weaved in and out of diagnosis? What if you were Gord Downie, and knew you had to say goodbye? Some of us record these videos live for years. The spectre of cancer always looking over our shoulder. Do you really know fear?
Be thankful for what life HASN’T thrown at you.
Suddenly, I feel very small and insignificant. If you have everything, yet give nothing back, I am not so sure you have lived. You really do have to go the brink and come back to know the difference.
I’m only halfway there.