Invariably you will come to a point where you feel you must divulge in a conversation the fact that your child has cancer. Most of the time it is an awkward sort of admission associated with some sort of odd behavior my child is displaying. Or a justification of the choices we have made for our families schedule. It is always uncomfortable and almost always followed up by shock or disbelief from the other party.
I can not tell you how many times John John is excited and out of control. It is hard to explain to people that he has a hard time controlling his emotional impulses because of brain damage caused by his tumor removal. Yes he has brain cancer.
I can not tell you how many times John John is stared at because he wears a brace on his leg and he tells another child, ” it’s because of my brain cancer” (add in other parents look of horror) I just smile and laugh it off.
I can not tell you how many times people ask us how we are doing and we confess that we are struggling or wish for prayers for our sons brain cancer. Jaw dropping.
I can not tell you how many times I must update neighbors, friends, family, people at church, and strangers who recognize us of how John John is doing. I always feel like I’m the broadcaster for John John who has no voice.
We were homeschoolers, I can not tell you how many times I have had to explain why my daughter is in private school. Ill do you the favor of explaining it here, mostly because I feel guilty about the choice. Hope needs a life outside of cancer. She needs less interruption when she is learning. She began to have migraines. A structured school environment relieves the day-to-day stress of having a brother with cancer. It’s a lot to ask of a 6-year-old to accommodate her brothers behavior from brain damage and cancer.
inevitably comes the responses. (I will tread upon this subject delicately) People don’t know how to respond to the fact that our son has brain cancer. It is easy to come up with a token bible verse or cliché response. Really, all we need to hear is “we will pray for you” or “I’m sorry”. There really is no other good response. Other responses either sound hopeless or like The Lord is shorting us. I know all responses are well-intentioned, but they can seem like a slap in the face in the wrong moment.
So, I tend to introduce my children to people and leave it at that. If people inquire as to how we are doing, I am honest about John’s brain cancer. If he offends another child, I beg mercy with the parent explaining that we have challenges. (I don’t pull the cancer card very often). I keep people who know up to date through Facebook and the blog. I make phone calls when changes in his status occur. And, in general try very hard to live a normal life.
Love deeply while you have the chance, Faith