Its been a week since the diagnosis that my cancer is spreading. It’s been very quiet around here. Everyone stepping around on eggs shells because no one wants to bring up the elephant in the room. So we have all dealt in different ways. I’ve become an introvert and in my head 24-7. I take the chemo and just roll with the nausea, mouth sores, head aches, body aches, and fatigue. Not taking much help from people offering because in someway I think I am punishing myself for having Cancer and changing my families lives. Dave is Mr. Fix it, he says nothing about the diagnosis but hasn’t stopped cleaning, and working in the garage. And my sweet, to smart for her own good, daughter, has taken to a mothering roll. Always asking what I need, getting me tea, and apparently she decided that school work wasn’t as important as taking care of mom.
So last night it all came to a head. KABOOM! Mackenzie has been home schooling for about 2 months now. This is all new to us and our decision to home school was not taken lightly. Mackenzie’s dancing has become so important that this was a perfect fit. She could have the best of both worlds. What we didn’t account for was the emotional piece of home schooling, dance, and a mom with advancing Cancer. Home schooling has been great for her learning disability as it has allowed her to take her time and really understand the material. But it has also allowed her time to not submit school work and spend time with a mom that has advanced cancer. She is keeping a great grade average but the assignments that she has not completed have pushed her into the summer to finish 6th grade. She has been doing minimal and we have not been checking because her grades are so good. Totally our fault for not checking everyday and trusting that an 11year old was telling us the truth that all her work was done.
Now here is where I loss my shit. Every thought I had over the past week about my diagnosis and how would they survive without me came to a head and came rushing out of my mouth like a fireball. I blamed Dave for being an uninvolved father, I blamed Mackenzie for lying, I blamed myself and called myself a bad mother. I slammed doors and eventually left the house in my Pjs and slippers. I drove screaming and crying through the streets of Atkinson. Up and down rt.125 feeling like an utter failure. A failure to my family and a failure to myself. In that moment I prayed for the strength to fix our broken family.
I found my way back home to a husband who looked like he had just seen and ghost and a daughter who’s eyes looked like she had been crying for the past week. I sat and looked at my beautiful family and a started to cry for us.. All of us… And started to apologize for the words I said before leaving them, and I apologized for the words that haven’t been said in over a week. The words of I have Advancing Cancer and this medication is our last hope, and I don’t know how we are going to make it though but I promise to fight as hard as I can to beat this. In that moment we all cried and the doors of communication opened up. My amazingly smart and talented daughter talked about how she prays every night that I will wake up everyday. And how she feels like we only tell her tiny bits of information about my health. She talked about feeling overwhelmed with the new classes and change in home schooling. She asked for more attention when it comes to school work and that she needs us to check it every night to keep her accountable for her assignments. She asked for all my health information be discussed in a family meeting once a week, and asked that I be the one to tell her and not rely on Dave to fill her in on little bits of information. All these things coming out of her mouth I sat in awe that she was 11 and had this much wisdom. Then I felt this overwhelming sickness of guilt. She has grown up so fast because of me. Mackenzie doesn’t know anything other than having a mother battling Cancer. I was diagnosed when she was one. Then I thought how unfair is this? We spend so much time trying to shelter our kids from the world, that we forget sheltering them from the truth is just as hurtful. We have always vowed to be honest with Mackenzie about my Cancer but as she has grown we have sheltered her more and more. I think it has been for our benefit more than hers, because if you have to say the words and come to terms with the fact that you might not see your only child graduate high school, or college, or get married, or become the spectacular ballerina you know she will be. You don’t want to think about it. You not only want to Shelter her you want to shelter yourself from the overwhelming feeling of the end.
As we tucked her into bed and promised to fulfill all her requests it was just Dave and I. We sat on the same couch staring at each other for what seemed to be hours the only thing breaking the silence was him kissing my hand as he started to cry and say, “ This isn’t how its supposed to be. We are suppose to grow old together, I am supposed to be holding your wrinkling hand, and kissing your arthritic fingers, and we are supposed to share our depends.” And to that we cried and laughed and I happened to mention I will not share depends with him, and to that he called me a bitch. To which be both had a good laugh. You see Cancer is one of those things that makes you look further into the future and question its existence. Lets face it any one of us could be hit by a bus tomorrow, but it is not something you think about on a daily basis. Cancer is that “bus” only its in your face 24-7. How we choose to handle that “bus” I thought I had figured out. Up until this point I have walked around with a smile on my face as if nothing is wrong. I never step out of the house without makeup, and I cry in silence most of the time. Trying to protect everyone from the face of Cancer. What I didn’t realize until tonight, sheltering everyone from the truth and the big ole “bus” isn’t helping anyone including myself. No my Cancer is not going away anytime soon and we have to comes to terms with the big bus. BUT I will not live in fear of the future, because I am missing the present. “Today is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.” So my beautiful friends and family, Cancer has changed our lives forever but I will in no way stop fighting. I am asking all of you to look at your families and truly talk to one another. Put down the all the devices shut off the TV and have a conversation with each other about your future and your children’s future. Tell them how much you love them and honor them.
There is no time like the present.