September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and although it is fast coming to an end, for families like ours, the awareness never stops because we understand there is no end. I often post a good deal about our experiences, my feelings and Abbigail’s journey in hopes of spreading that awareness about how childhood cancer does not get the funding our kids deserve and that every penny that is received, is hard-fought; Moms have lemonade stands, host events, and cut off all of their hair either in hopes of finding a cure for whatever cancer their child has or for other children if it is too late for their child.
As I lay here with my baby girl in my arms, fast asleep, I try and remember life before…before the pain, tears and fears. As hard as I try, I just can’t. Maybe because it was so long ago now or maybe it is just because it actually no longer exists. When you turn the page Wednesday to October and see pink ribbons where the gold ones used to be as you are out in the malls, banks or halls at work, there are currently 18 children beside Abbigail receiving lethal chemotherapies and life saving cell transplants. There will likely be an other 6 families in Ottawa alone told that their baby has cancer. As you turn that page I ask that you remember that these precious children are fighting everyday for their lives; against astonishing odds and they need support all year long. Please share Abbigail’s story and maybe just one more life can be saved.
I did not write the words below but it could have easily come from me. Most people only become aware when it is their own son or daughter. By then it is too late and you will wish you had done something sooner. I know I do!
I hope you never have to hear the words “Your child has cancer”.
I hope you never have to hear “The prognosis is not good”.
I hope you never have to watch your child prepare to undergo chemo, have a “port” surgically implanted in their chest and be connected to an IV pole.
I hope you never have to hold your child while they vomit green bile. I hope you never have to feed them ice chips for lunch.
I hope you never have to watch the “cure” you pray for slowly take away your child’s identity, as they lose their hair, become skeletal, develop severe acne, their skin peels and they become barely able to walk or move.
I hope you never have to stay in the hospital for weeks at a time, where there is no privacy, sleeping on a slab, your face to the wall, where you cry in muffled silence.
I hope you never have to see a parent, alone, huddled in a dark hospital corridor crying quietly, after just being told “there’s nothing more we can do”.
I hope you never have to use every bit of energy you have left, with all of this going on around you to remain positive, and the feelings of guilt, sorrow, hope, and fear overwhelm you.
I hope you never have to see your child’s head bolted to a table while they receive radiation.
I hope you never know what it is like to take you child home, (grateful but so afraid) in a wheelchair because the chemo has damaged their muscles, 35 pounds lighter, pale, bald, and scarred.
I hope you never have to face the few friends that have stuck by you and hear them say, “Thank God it’s all over” because you know it will never be over. Your life becomes a whirl of doctors, blood tests, and MRI’s, and you try to get your life back to normal while living in mind-numbing fear that any one of these tests could result in hearing the dreaded words “The cancer has returned”. And your friends become even fewer.
I hope you never have to watch a family wandering aimlessly, minutes after their child’s body has been removed.
I hope you never have to experience any of these things. Because only then will you understand.
Tomorrow Abbigail will have an ultrasound of her abdomen to start the investigation on why she is chronically riddled with urinary infections of all kinds. Hopefully we can get this under control within the next week to allow chemo to start for transplant.