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Childhood Cancer

Questions

Disclaimer: This is not an upbeat post. These are really the thoughts that go through my mind every day. Every day since we learned that Reese has cancer.

As much as I try, I have never been a very optimistic person. I would like to be, but that’s just not what I do. I tend to think about the worst case scenario– prepare for the worst, and hope for the best. It must be some kind of defense mechanism. Like, I can’t just sit here and say, “I know everything is going to be okay. Reese is going to get better, and he’s not going to relapse. He’s going to live a long healthy life, and he’s going to get to play sports.” I wish I could say that I knew that he was going to be able to do all of those things.

I’m sitting here thinking, “what if his tumor doesn’t respond to the chemo?” Though this is unlikely, it’s still a possibility. Some kids either don’t respond to treatment, or they don’t respond favorably (bad side effects). It’s still too early to tell whether or not the chemo is working. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait a few months to find out. But so far, Reese does seem to be tolerating it relatively well with no major side effects to speak of, thank goodness.

“What if he gets through the chemo, and then the cancer comes back? What if he develops a secondary cancer?” The prognosis is never as good when the cancer returns. And some of the chemo drugs used to treat his tumor can cause secondary cancers down the road. My days of innocence are gone. No matter what anyone says, from this point forward, I will always live in fear of cancer– fear that the cancer will come back for my boy. Cancer always seems like something that happens to other people. But it is happening to us. It’s happening to my son. Cancer is a part of our life now, and until there’s a cure, it always will be.

“What if he makes it past all of this, but the drugs that he’s getting now damage his heart, so much so that he can’t play sports?” This might sound trivial in the scheme of things, and maybe it is. A living child that can’t play sports is better than a dead child. That is absolutely true, but don’t you understand how hard it is to be told that you aren’t allowed to do something, and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it? I can’t help but imagine an eight-year-old Reese coming home from school one day and asking us why he isn’t allowed to play football or soccer with his friends. I’m going to have to sit him down and explain to him that his heart isn’t strong enough. And that right there breaks my heart into a million pieces.

And the thought that enters my mind way more often than I’d like,”what if he is part of the 50% of kids diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma that don’t make it five years past their diagnosis?” They keep telling me Reese is his own statistic. Rational Lindsey believes this. Emotional/hormonal/terrified/mom-of-a-child-with-cancer Lindsey fears the worst. What if he doesn’t make it? What if he dies? What’s going to happen if I lose another child? How difficult will it be for Cole? How do I even explain that to a three-year-old? How will Matt and I handle it? Why is this happening to my child? Why does God keep testing me? Have we not been through enough this year? Why me? Why us? Why Reese? Why?

I know I’m not supposed to ask why, but I can’t help it. People keep telling me how strong I am. The truth is, I don’t feel strong at all. I feel broken today.