It was only just over two months ago that my worries as a parent were those of many, if not most, mothers. Smart. Polite. Hard working. Independent. Happy. Only a small handful of the traits I was looking to impart to my daughters as they grow. I worried about colds and trips to the doctors. I stressed over making the healthier choices for them in terms of their eating habits (not too many sweets, organic in whatever I can and healthy snack options). I worried about temper tantrums and getting good grades in school and would often find myself looking towards the future with a mix of excitement, worry, and intense pride. I’m not going to lie, I’ve been kind of a neurotic mother. Not so much outwardly so that my girls would be able to catch on to my crazy, but internally I was in a constant state of worry and panic. Fretting about the fact that every decision I make for them will shape the person they one day become. No pressure. What can I say? I’m a Virgo and a planner with probably a touch of OCD.
Not that I don’t still have many of those same concerns…. I’m sure I always will. But it’s amazing how everything changes when your child gets diagnosed with cancer. Seriously, EVERYTHING. Looking ahead to the future now, the panic is no longer about what grades Elena will get in school. No, it’s about if she will be able to start school and graduate without a relapse. Yes, at only 7 weeks post diagnosis I am losing sleep over the thought of cancer coming back, before we’ve even finished the treatment course to remove all the cancer in her body. People tell me I’m getting ahead of myself with that one, and maybe I am. In all honesty, I think that’s what I’m focusing on because since starting treatment, I’ve never thought about the possibility of her losing this battle. I have no doubt that Elena is going to kick the shit out of cancer. I wasn’t so sure at first… It’s hard to hear the word “cancer” and not jump to the worst possible scenario. But since meeting her doctors and getting a plan for treatment, after seeing how well she is and what a champ she has been since day 1…she’s got this. And it’s that certainty that scares the living daylight out of me. What if she kicks it and it comes back? A year later, or two years later…5 years… After that we’re almost entirely in the clear as we could possibly be. Though Elena will have a team of doctors that follow her for life, checking for signs of cancer. Monitoring the plethora of side effects that chemo can cause. Her life will never be the same. What are my expectations for Elena’s life now? Simply living a happy and healthy life. To get through this with little to no side effects. To laugh, a lot. My hopes for Annalise consist of the desperate need to keep things as normal as possible. As a very sensitive and nurturing soul, I fear that seeing her baby sister sick will break a part of her that I won’t be able to fix. So we take it day by day. Because that’s all we can do.