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The following blog entry was written by Tomika Gamble in April 2011, as a reflection to what life was like after cancer fighting treatments concluded for her son Isaiah. The entry is targeted at parents with children with life-threatening illnesses to give insight into another person’s journey, and to confirm that they are not alone. We are all in this together.
April 21, 2011 - Yesterday I was an emotional wreck. I was an emotional wreck because cancer and all of the negativity that comes with it has been permanently engraved into my mind. We are not quite sure when cancer began to invade my oldest son’s body, but we found out about the invasion a little over a year ago. It was our welcome to the New Year gift. Since the moment we found out I have worried constantly, I have stressed constantly and I have cried. I now realize that cancer will forever be a part of my mind, soul and vocabulary.
September 14, 2010 was the beginning of the last round of chemotherapy for my son Isaiah. Isaiah was diagnosed with Pleuropulmonary Blastoma, Type 3 in January 2010. The entire process of finding out one random day, after many healthy days, that your child has a life-threatening illness and going through round after round of chemotherapy, along with rounds of radiation therapy, is draining to say the least.
I was newly pregnant when my son was diagnosed, and no one understood, but it seemed as if throughout the entire process I was holding my breath. I would count down the rounds of chemo, anxiously waiting for the twelfth and final round. Little did I know that the completion of chemotherapy would be a difficult time for me.
When round twelve of chemotherapy was complete I suddenly felt all the pain and stress that I had been hiding from my son for the entire year hit my body all at once. I ached from head to toe. I had hidden the pain because I could not let it affect my son who was battling, nor the son who was growing inside of me. So after chemo I was able to breathe, momentarily.
Then suddenly it hit me, “What if it comes back?” “What if he has to keep going to the hospital and getting more ouchies?” I found myself being afraid to breathe again. Every day that passes I look at my son and thank God for how far he has come. I pray multiple times daily for his health. I pray that he will grow into a wonderful healthy young man. I pray that he will never have to endure the pain of cancer again.
The entire time my son was being treated, I could rest assured that we were fighting the cancer. Once treatment stopped it frightened me because it felt as if we were no longer fighting. Each day I find myself thinking about the “what ifs”. My son has come so far since last January and the thought of him having to go through anymore pain frightens me. I just want him to be able to just be a kid.
Yesterday we were scheduled to visit with our son’s oncologist to discuss the results of his follow-up cat scan. Yesterday I was worried. You see, my son has to get post chemotherapy check-up scans every three months. The first month and a half were care free and simply wonderful, because we were able to live. We celebrated his 4th birthday. We went to Disney World. We spent Christmas at home as a family. We simply had a great time. Then as we got closer to month three, I began to stress a little. Last week my son got scans, and yesterday we had an appointment with the doctor in order to receive the results. Quite frankly I was scared out of my mind. I am now realizing that this is the life of a mother of a child who is battling cancer. Everyday is battle, either a physical one or a mental one. Yesterday was a mental one for me. I found myself succumbing to the “what ifs”.
Fortunately today at this exact moment, I am no longer an emotional wreck. Today I am okay because his scans came back with great results. So today we will carry on and live. We will live, laugh and love until we get closer to the next scan, when I know I will once again stress. I will stress because that is what I do as a mother.
The terrible thing about cancer is that it changes your life completely. I think differently now. I worry more, but I also love more. Cancer has broken me, but it has also made me stronger and better. I no longer sweat the small things, and I do my best to live each day as if it’s our last. Today I will read my bible and I will be positive, and the best advice that I can give is for you to do the same! Make today a good one!