Friday, August 5, 2016

Being a cancer mom

Those who know me in real life or from Facebook know that my three year old daughter is fighting leukemia and recently had a stem cell transplant. I do not plan to document the full story on my blog but I want to occasionally write about my feelings here. Writing about feelings can be therapeutic for me sometimes.

A few months ago, my way of recharging my batteries would be either reading a book quietly or baking. Now, with all the restrictions that come with a stem cell transplant, quiet time is scarce. My toddler cannot go to any indoor public place - school, grocery stores, malls are all off limits. So she is home just about all the time. I do still bake, but now it includes her. She stirs the batter while I watch to make sure she doesn't lick any part of the raw batter.

Some days, it seems like I have lost the ability to feel anything - sympathy, empathy or joy for another person or another situation that does not involve pediatric cancer. Not to say that pediatric cancer is the absolute worst thing that can affect a person or family, though it is probably high up on the list of such terrible things. This is just how I deal with the situation and attempt to keep my sanity.

A lot of funding and research goes into finding cures for adult cancers, but only about 4% of the funds are allocated for pediatric cancer research in the States. Yes, pediatric cancer is a lot less common than adult cancer. But the way it affects families, both immediate and extended, is way more intense. A parent who has been through this ordeal is never the same person again. The same is also true for grandparents and other family members. A patient who goes through cancer treatment misses out on some very important segments of their formative years. They spend hours and days in hospitals and clinics instead of learning at school or playing outside. Their life span is shortened by the therapies used for treatment, even if the cancer is gone at the end of treatment. There are side effects to be dealt with for the rest of their lives.