Monday, October 20, 2008

The tentacles of childhood cancer...

On the day Josh was diagnosed, my world went black, thankfully, I didn’t know then what I know now. If I had, I don’t know if I could have made it. Childhood cancer has far reaching tentacles that seem to grab a hold of our lives even years later, even when the victim lives, even when the family is strong and whole (not perfect, but whole) before the cancer struck, even when Christ is present at the family’s center and their foundation.

I have been dumbstruck as my two oldest girls in particular have survived the trauma of watching their little brother suffer through agonizing treatments seemingly without scars; only to launch out into the world and then make mind-blowing choices. Choices obviously connected to the past pain of childhood cancer, even if they can’t see it.

As a parent, it seems my once whole, healthy, loving family is being ripped away, changed forever in a way that’s completely out of my power. I know I can ONLY control my own thoughts, words and actions, but I ache as I see their confusion and the far reaching implications of their choices. It’s as if childhood cancer permeated every facet of our lives, even affecting my husband and his work abilities. Yet, I will not put all the blame and responsibility on cancer, for that would give it too much power.

So, we, the remaining five of us at home are beginning family counseling. We are seeking the help of an expert who has dealt with families who have gone through childhood cancer. We are seeking the help of a woman with years of experience and more importantly, a woman of faith. We can’t keep hiding from the effects on our psyches, our souls, our very beings that fighting childhood cancer has brought. We are going to face this head on.

I cannot push another one of my baby birds out of the nest only to watch her break her own wing.

I called a trusted social worker at the hospital where my son was treated asking for an excellent reference in this area. After the information was given, I went on to inquire, “Gina, may I ask you a question?”

“Yes”, she replied.

“Have you EVER seen a family, even a strong family emerge from childhood cancer unscathed?”

After a brief hesitation, she replied “No”. As she went on, she said,” A childhood cancer diagnosis is a momentous, life changing event. Everyone is affected. No one escapes.”

Then she began to tell me story after story of cancer survivors and siblings who made decisions very similar to what my kids were making. I don’t know if this helped me, other than to know my girls are “normal”. I can only pray for them, knowing God is in their midst, working out His truth and best in their lives. They make their choices whether healthy or not. He intercedes with His love and grace, crying along side of their brokenness. I know kids leave home and despite the best upbringing they will make mistakes. But for families like ours they have been tainted by a harrowing event called cancer.

I release them, my children, into God’s hand with much prayer and trust. I keep the communication wide open. Of course, they will always have our support and love. I allow them to fall, to fail, to get hurt, but I’m angry at cancer. I’m angry for the shock and pain, anguish and insecurity it has caused us. I am enraged at how it’s still trying to devastate my family.

I trust in my Savior, not for a safe and secure journey, but for His love and grace, mercy and hope to fill us completely. There’s nothing more I can do.

I pray, for my family’s benefit, God’s sword of truth will cut through those far reaching tentacles of childhood cancer…

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