Enduring Cancer While Parenting a Child

December 3, 2018

The challenge of caring for yourself and your child while dealing with cancer is daunting.

I've been experiencing weakness in my right leg. Specifically, my leg has been giving out when I go down steps, and I've had to catch myself to keep from falling down. I called my general practitioner, and he said, worst case scenario, it could be a mini-stroke, and I should go to the emergency room to get checked out.

Glad that I had been proactive, I drove myself to the emergency room.

There, I was informed by the emergency doctor that since I'd had cancer in my medical history, they were concerned that, worst, worst case scenario, perhaps the cancer had metastasized to my brain.

I was so glad I was getting examined.

I began to pray. "Dear God, if it's anything, let it be a mini-stroke. Don't let the cancer be in my brain."

After I had endured a brain MRI and MRA, they determined that it was neither a stroke nor cancer. There was nothing life-threatening going on, so they let me go home.

I felt a great weight lifted from me. I felt like the Unsinkable Laura Yeager. For some reason, it wasn't my time, and I could continue with my life as I knew it, taking care of my husband and son.

Having cancer with a young child around is, in a word, excruciating. During my first bout of cancer in 2011, Tommy was 6 years old. At that time, my illness was quite extensive, with chemotherapy, radiation and a double mastectomy. Tom, who is on the spectrum, became completely destabilized and began throwing tantrums at school. The stress of my illness was just too much for him. I would get calls from his teacher. "Please come pick up your child. We can't do anything with him."

Bummer. Big bummer.

But the illness and treatment passed, and I was fine for a time — specifically, five years. Then, in 2016, I developed an angiosacaroma on my right breast. At this point, Tommy was 11. Dealing with my second cancer was easier for him, but things were still rough. That year, he experienced more behavioral issues, and I'm sure they were due to the stress of living with a cancer patient.

Today, I'm still subject to cancer scares such as the one the other night. Usually, I keep them to myself, so Tommy doesn't have to ride the cancer roller coaster with me.

Cancer has taught my child multiple lessons, including that there is no guarantee when it comes to one's health; sickness can come upon anyone at any second. Even though my health hasn't been terrific, I still love him and will do my best to care for him.

Ultimately, I believe Tommy is stronger and more mature in many ways than others his age (he's now 14) because he's endured my suffering. He's fought the good fight with me.

So, I've still got to see what's wrong with my right leg, but I'm fairly sure the issue has nothing to do with cancer.

Multiple sclerosis, maybe?

Perhaps. If it is MS, Tommy and I and my husband Steve will cross that proverbial bridge when we come to it. I've got a doctor's appointment on Tuesday to further investigate the problem.

Life in the fast lane.

Until then, I have developed a habit of clutching hand rails. I will not fall. I will not fall down.

I'm holding on in many ways.


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