Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Running away from Cancer

When Lindsay was in the hospital I couldn't wait for her to get out. The plan was to finish chemo, wait for counts to recover, go home and never ever ever have anything to do with cancer again.

But then you get home. And you realize cancer really isn't going to let you off the hook that easily. I mean, think about it. Cancer has been around for a really really long time. Cancer has been thinking and planning and conniving and infiltrating far longer than I've been parenting. So getting away from cancer takes a little more than leaving the hospital.

Then you realize that running away from cancer is not the answer. Cancer, by definition, infiltrates. It invades. It sneaks in and implants itself. So running isn't all that effective. You have to turn, face it head on and fight. And at the end of the fight cancer doesn't roll over and die. It goes into "remission". It slinks away and hides and maybe it's gone and maybe it isn't. And even if your child's cancer is really, truly, completely gone, you blink and turn your head and there is another kid with cancer. And another. And another. Before long you start to think the whole world is bald and neutropenic.

So here we are. I have to do something. And I've been running out of steam with this Lent, 39 days thing. All of our appliances are breaking one by one and I'm learning to be a plumber whilst learning to be a single-stay-at-home mom and also doing oral surgery on my dog even though I'm not supposed to be working but his tooth abscessed so something had to be done, blah, blah, blah, poor me! Then I saw the Caring Bridge post from a fellow chemo/cancer fighting superstar's mom. She compared her level of exhaustion to "new parent" exhaustion. And it all came rushing back. Oh, yeah. This is nothing compared to that. How could I forget how exhausting it is? This little project is important!

So I'm going to give you some very simple, but not at all free suggestions for what you can do today. And I'm serious - if you don't email me or comment or facebook me and brag on yourselves, I'm going to hunt you down. Because I KNOW you're out there doing great things. And I REALLY REALLY need to hear about them.

The easiest thing to do: if you know someone with childhood cancer (even if you don't know them but you read their Caring Bridge), just send them a gift card. $10 to Target, $15 for gas, even a $5 bank card! Cancer is expensive. And it requires extra fuel - extra gas to get to the hospital, extra coffee to keep going, extra snacks / treats to keep your little one at a safe weight, extra goodies from Target to reward your child for enduring bandage changes / line flushes / antibiotics that make you itch, etc etc etc. So gift cards from complete strangers are always welcome. $10 to Starbucks means more than you know. If you don't know anyone who is currently in treatment, you can send some gift cards to the hem-onc social worker at Brenner and request they be given to families that need a pick-me-up. When we were inpatient we were given some gift cards for pizza, Wal Mart, groceries. It may not have been much, but it was much needed at the time. The Ronald McDonald house also takes gift cards to restaurants so that parents / families can occasionally get some real food and maybe even some much needed adult conversation or planning time (it's hard to discuss your child's health in front of them at times). So today is just that simple. Gift cards. You can order them online in the comfort of your pajamas!

AND NOW FOR A BRAG!!!! Michelle gave up Caribou coffee this week. I know I suggested it, but I'm a little concerned :-) I can't wait to hear how it is going and what she decides to do at the end of the week. I hope the rest of you are inspired and willing to brag on yourselves to inspire the rest of us!

PS - If you're a cancer mom and have an idea or suggestion, please share. Also, if you'd like to post a photo of your own smiling cancer-fighting hero, please send it to me!

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