Tuesday, February 25, 2014

We do what we must

In a zen moment, I said that we will do what we must.  Then, I waited to learn of the pathology, to see which way the road would veer.

They found a nest of melanoma cells in one of the sentinel lymph nodes.  So, a sharp left turn.

This will mean yet another, more extensive surgery, and a full year of treatment.  This will mean beginning the cancer clock over again.  This will mean dealing with the uncertainty and worry about whether the treatment is working.  This will mean less confident scan days.  Again.  

Somehow, I am not completely out of my mind.  It is curious to me, the relative peace that I have. If I am honest about it, I wonder if it is faith or fatigue. We have had relatively short periods of time between medical upheaval. It has been little more than a weekend furlough. So, it might just be fatigue. But, I have also been working on faith, which I struggle with.  Let's just call it even for now.  

At one point, overflowing with snark, I wondered if I was supposed to perfect my response to the statement "Your child has cancer." We have done this four times now.  Four.  I would like the score between them to remain tied, at 2-2, forever. They say of a tie, that it is like kissing your sister.  If so, Brent should pucker up.

While I have had something of a temper tantrum over this, my son seems to soldier on pretty well.  He is a teenager now.  He does not go into this with ignorance or inexperience, as he did when he was eleven.  Brent knows what chemo is.  He knows what surgery means. He can evaluate the merits of a port vs. a PIC line.  Where there is room for his preferences, he is making them known, and I am am working to accommodate them.

His greatest desire is to be in school with his friends, of course.  I am working out the logistics so that his treatment has the lowest impact on his attendance. But every cancer is different, as every patient is different, so it is nearly impossible to plan.  However, I have been working on various options. Having options is a good thing.

I have always encouraged independence in my children.  Alex works things out with his coaches and teachers.  From an early age, we have encouraged them to work things out with each other.  I seldom arbitrate. The older ones negotiate three ways, as they divide their household responsibilities, in a manner worthy of a future at the UN.

Our job as parents is to make ourselves irrelevant.  We are not unimportant, but our kids function quite well without us.

Brent turned 14 last fall.  He will begin to drive in a year.  He will be off to college before I know it.
As you send your child off to college, they need to know how to do laundry and balance a checkbook.  I also need to educate my children on how to manage, and be medically independent.  By necessity, Lauren and Brent have become adept at enduring their various scans solo.  They do not need my encouragement to get labs drawn, IV's run, or blood products administered.  Brent can navigate the maze of the hospital to half a dozen different departments completely on his own.

I am hoping that this is Brent's last bout of cancer before he graduates. (Hell, I am hoping that this is his last bout ever, if I could be so greedy)  I suppose that he should be more responsible for driving this time, with Dan and me in the passenger seat to help guide him, on his cancer learner's permit.  He needs to learn to answer (and to ask) more questions, with us just supervising.  He is a bright kid, and I know that he can do this, I simply wish that it weren't something he were required to do.

Our goal as his parents is to make ourselves irrelevant, in baby steps, in all things.

We do what we must.



  1. You are such a good writer Ann, yet this breaks my heart. Wish we both had longer times of "cancer-free" between us. Lisa (LFSers)

  2. I agree you write so fluently. ..think of publishing a book? Like in all your spare time...I am encouraged by your strength and even positive attitude in middle of everything!! Hang onto your faith and continue to grow in it. We will never find peace in unanswered questions! We may NEVER understand God's timing and ways. It's our choice to believe he exists, believe his word (the bible) is truth and realize that he is always at work and has a plan for each of us. In our weakness and hard times He is refining us and preparing us to help others cope and find encouragement through our experience and testimony. We may NEVER know why God allows suffering and illness in our lives. Somehow in it we must find something good to bring a sense of joy and peace within letting go and letting God take total control of our circumstances.
    I'm truly SORRY Ann that you and your loved ones have had to endure this cancer trail :((
    I've been praying and keeping you all close in thought yet from a distance. I wish I could have done more for you over time, however I've never stopped being a friend or caring...
    I've always been here!
    You are loved and admired