As I sit here looking outside at the bare trees from the end of Fall, it reminds me of when my son passed. He passed in November. It was rather cold that day, and he died at 2am. On most days, I stay up until 2am still not knowing why. Maybe it’s in my subconscious telling me I will feel like I will be closer to him? The evening he passed, I decided to donate his tumors. It was inexplicable and happened so fast. Your child dies in your arms, and about 4 hours later, you are on the phone with a witness present that you are donating tumors. This way, they would have both his original tumor and reoccurrence. I hope it helps some children out there someday, so their parents don’t have to ask why me?
In the beginning, I asked, “why me,” or “why him” all the time. If I wasn’t thinking it, I was saying it, and if I wasn’t saying it, I was wishing I could scream it.
Let’s stop here, and I want you to take a deep breath. “Why me” is the worst question you can ask yourself. Cancer is not prejudiced to race, creed, nationality, or anything else if you think about it. As Juliet said, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, By any other word would smell as sweet.” And while Shakespeare’s Juliet may have been talking about love, this truth is for cancer too. You can be the kindest, most generous person and have a child with cancer. It doesn’t matter.
A friend came to me when her mother had cancer before I became part of this community. She cried on my shoulder, asking respectively, “why me, why her.” I didn’t say anything, just held her and let the tears go because that’s what she needed. But I didn’t understand why she could think it was her fault. Initially, as caregivers, we get the news our child has cancer, or they are terminal, and I think within the hour, you ask yourself that ugly question, “Why me” or “Why him/her”?
In fact, researchers know about 1-2% of why childhood cancers occur in the first place. That is nothing! So, I beg you, plead you, as tempting as it is, never ask “why me” or “why my child.” Unfortunately, no matter how undeserving, our child has cancer, and you, as the caregiver, did nothing to make it happen. Guilt is not an option while you are battling. You need to be there for your child. You are doing this because you have to and have no other choice. Remain strong, and by strong, I mean hold the tears back and be ready for questions from your child that will shock you. I will help prepare you for those in another entry.
What can you control? Making memories inside and outside of the hospital. Getting in touch with agencies like Campaign One At a Time that offers services for children with cancer. My podcast, “Living With Scanxiety: Cancer Podcast” (available on iTunes and Spotify), check out the interviews with various agencies. Dressing up your hospital room with window markers and making it a bit more comforting for your child. At home, play games, get outside, look on online for inexpensive toys and games and get them (sanitize them first, of course) and have fun as a family and take loads of photos and videos. Be sure to save them to the cloud because you want them to last a lifetime. If you don’t do this, then after you can ask ‘why me,’ “why didn’t I make memories and memorialize through photos and videos.” It’s an ugly time, but it might be your last time.