How Cancer Changed Me as a Parent

Started by anonymous, March 09, 2015
14 replies for this topic
anonymous

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Posted on
March 09, 2015
My amazing little girls just turned four, and I was thrilled to share this milestone with them. There was a time not long ago when I doubted I would see this day.

When I was diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer in the spring of 2013, my son was 4 and my twin girls were newly 2. My daughters were still sleeping in cribs, still and diapers, still my little babies.

That summer my worldview shifted dramatically, and my view of my children growing up followed suit. Now, I no longer mourn the passing days of their childhood. Like many parents, I used to have a twinge of sadness when the little ones passed milestones, knowing that they were one day closer to growing up and leaving home. Now, instead of sadness I feel a twinge of relief and a boatload of joy, for each one is another moment that I am still here to experience. It is as if the faster they grow, the more of their lives I will get to see. As if they could only grow fast enough, they might outpace my cancer.
 
I was still here to see my girls learn to ride tricycles – and ride they did! First days of school, first time on the bus, first time at a movie theatre, graduating to a big kid bed, getting rid of cribs, learning to use the potty, learning to jump, learning to read, learning to write. All these are achievements not only for my kids, but for our whole family. Because we got to see each of these as a whole family.
 
I look at my son and I see the baby face disappearing before my eyes, and glimpses of the young man he will become peek out at me.
 
I see the feisty sprit of my little girl, and her focus and determination resonate in my soul; it’s the same fire that burns in me. Looking in her eyes is looking in a mirror, and I dream of the woman she will one day be.
 
I snuggle with my daughter, and feel her little fingers gripping mine. Her breathing shifts, her grip loosens, and she drifts off to sleep. These tiny remnants of babyhood surface and fade away.
 
These fleeting moments….
 
I remember one day when the girls were infants and Jason and I were ridiculously sleep deprived (like all twin parents) and going a little crazy (like all twin parents). I said to Jason, "Can you imagine if we had an unplanned pregnancy? That is the WORST thing that could happen to this family." He stopped and stared at me. "I can think of much worse things than an unplanned pregnancy that could happen to our family." Oh yeah, perspective. He is so good at that. Who would have guessed that a much worse thing was waiting in the wings?
 
I think about my young friends whose dreams of having babies have been cut short by cancer. I think of the young children whose futures have been erased by disease. I think of all the moms and dads with cancer who have left this world, leaving small children to grow up without them.
 
I think of all this, and I celebrate my children growing up. Because I am so proud of the people they are becoming. Because they bring me so much joy. Because I am here to experience it.

Tori Tomalia is many things: a mom, a wife, a theatre artist, a mediocre cook, a Buffy fan, a stinky cheese aficionado. She is also, unfortunately, a repeat visitor to Cancerland. Stay tuned for her continued adventures.
     Facebook: facebook.com/lungcancerblogger
     Twitter: twitter.com/lil_lytnin
     Blog: "A Lil Lytnin' Strikes Lung Cancer" lil-lytnin.blogspot.com
 
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Anonymous

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
March 09, 2015
My amazing little girls just turned four, and I was thrilled to share this milestone with them. There was a time not long ago when I doubted I would see this day.

When I was diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer in the spring of 2013, my son was 4 and my twin girls were newly 2. My daughters were still sleeping in cribs, still and diapers, still my little babies.

That summer my worldview shifted dramatically, and my view of my children growing up followed suit. Now, I no longer mourn the passing days of their childhood. Like many parents, I used to have a twinge of sadness when the little ones passed milestones, knowing that they were one day closer to growing up and leaving home. Now, instead of sadness I feel a twinge of relief and a boatload of joy, for each one is another moment that I am still here to experience. It is as if the faster they grow, the more of their lives I will get to see. As if they could only grow fast enough, they might outpace my cancer.
 
I was still here to see my girls learn to ride tricycles – and ride they did! First days of school, first time on the bus, first time at a movie theatre, graduating to a big kid bed, getting rid of cribs, learning to use the potty, learning to jump, learning to read, learning to write. All these are achievements not only for my kids, but for our whole family. Because we got to see each of these as a whole family.
 
I look at my son and I see the baby face disappearing before my eyes, and glimpses of the young man he will become peek out at me.
 
I see the feisty sprit of my little girl, and her focus and determination resonate in my soul; it’s the same fire that burns in me. Looking in her eyes is looking in a mirror, and I dream of the woman she will one day be.
 
I snuggle with my daughter, and feel her little fingers gripping mine. Her breathing shifts, her grip loosens, and she drifts off to sleep. These tiny remnants of babyhood surface and fade away.
 
These fleeting moments….
 
I remember one day when the girls were infants and Jason and I were ridiculously sleep deprived (like all twin parents) and going a little crazy (like all twin parents). I said to Jason, "Can you imagine if we had an unplanned pregnancy? That is the WORST thing that could happen to this family." He stopped and stared at me. "I can think of much worse things than an unplanned pregnancy that could happen to our family." Oh yeah, perspective. He is so good at that. Who would have guessed that a much worse thing was waiting in the wings?
 
I think about my young friends whose dreams of having babies have been cut short by cancer. I think of the young children whose futures have been erased by disease. I think of all the moms and dads with cancer who have left this world, leaving small children to grow up without them.
 
I think of all this, and I celebrate my children growing up. Because I am so proud of the people they are becoming. Because they bring me so much joy. Because I am here to experience it.

Tori Tomalia is many things: a mom, a wife, a theatre artist, a mediocre cook, a Buffy fan, a stinky cheese aficionado. She is also, unfortunately, a repeat visitor to Cancerland. Stay tuned for her continued adventures.
     Facebook: facebook.com/lungcancerblogger
     Twitter: twitter.com/lil_lytnin
     Blog: "A Lil Lytnin' Strikes Lung Cancer" lil-lytnin.blogspot.com
 
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Anonymous

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0 Replies
Posted on
March 09, 2015
Happy Birthday to your twins! I am envisioning you...watching them blow out their candles on their 21st Birthday!
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Anonymous

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
March 09, 2015
Oh Mara, that would be amazing. Sometimes I dare to hope it might happen.
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Anonymous

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
March 10, 2015
Beautiful, Tori. Cleansing tears fill my eyes. My dad was just 41 when lung cancer took him. The youngest, my brother was just 6. I imagine his cancer through your eyes
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Anonymous

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
March 10, 2015
I hold great hope for you. I am watching, for instance, the Anderson/Langer lab at MIT developing delivery of drugs via nano particles directly to the cancer cells. I see this as an effective treatment out there if you need it, for instance. Thank you for this article. I wish for you many birthday parties for your beautiful little brood.
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Anonymous

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
March 10, 2015
Dear Tori: I have exactly the same feeling as you. Mine is a little older than yours though. Each milestone is a good one to see. My oldest will go to middle school next school year. I am hoping I can see her getting married~ And not before college, please. :) My youngest is now 4. I worry about him more because I want to be there for him like I was for my older ones. I also have a set of 9 year old twins. They are so good together. But, life will be good no matter what is thrown at us. We had an "suprise" 4th baby~~ This cancer thing, will just be one of those things too. We shall be together as a family and move onward. Happy birthday (belated) to your twin girls. Thank you for all that you have done for lung cancer patients. Enjoy each milestone. Be happy each day. Be the wonderful parent we are all meant to be.
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Anonymous

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
March 12, 2015
Thank you so much for expressing my feelings, it helps me immensely, to deal. Thank You! (GBM survivor so far)
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Anonymous

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
March 12, 2015
Your blogs r so inspirig....have been fighting for almost 4years. Sometimes i think being a parent keeps me going when i feel i cannot take another round of bad news. The same cancer took my mother when i was 11 months old and always felt so sad that i never knew her but now i know she got 11 months of knowinging me. Thank u for sharing your experence.
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Anonymous

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
March 13, 2015
I am so very proud of you and the strength that just oozes through this cell phone. Remember. Jehovah Rapha...The Lord Our Healer. I am surviving Stage II bilateral Ductal and Lobular breast cancer. Although I have had a titanium rod and eight screws in my cervical spine, a simultaneous knee replacement on both knees, An InterStim, cataracts removed from both eyes, and a few minor surgeries, I like you, feel blessed...we must keep encouraging each other. I wish I could travel from Illinois and babysit for you. Keep strong. Mc
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Anonymous

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
March 16, 2015
Denzie - I didn't realize your dad was so young! Oh, this disease is cruel.
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