However, watching your child worry about you, while you're worrying about what she's gonna do without you is emotional exhausting and will rip your heart to shreds. It's as if there is a knot in my stomach every three months, it's gut wrenching. Even the breaks between scans, to listen to your child say, "mommy, are you going to die tonight?" and not be able to answer "no" is devastating. The nights are the worst, when she has time to think about the situation her mom has been in for the last 3 years, each day coming closer to an expiration date.
Karley was 7 when I was diagnosed and she just turned 11 in January. She still needs her mom for so much. When I was diagnosed, she totally changed. Her grades began slipping, her focus wasn't there anymore. She became more forgetful and continues to be so. I've taken her to several therapists and even had a teacher recommend her be tested for ADHD.
I wanted so much not to do that. I've tried so much to help her remember and get organized. But time and time again different people in the community have told her that she's not paying attention, not focused. she's disinterested in school, she's lazy and all of that continues to lower her self esteem.
On top of cancer, seeing my child go through this is almost more than I can take. I did some research on the emotions of a child whose parent has cancer (Stage 4 non the less), and it hit home hard.
A UCLA study documented that children whose parents are diagnosed with cancer are more likely to experience increases in general levels of distress and anxiety as well as mood changes and lowering of their self esteem. Their distress may manifest into poor school performance, complaints of pain and discomfort, as well as changes in social and interpersonal relations. The group most vulnerable to this is adolescent girls whose mother is sick. School aged children tend to feel hopelessness. Looks like we hit the jackpot.
Quite frankly, it is stressing me out to the point of near daily meltdowns when Karley comes home upset because she forgot something or did something wrong and got yelled at. The American Cancer Society sites lack of concentration as one of the side effects of dealing with a parent with a diagnosis such as mine. I know her self esteem is low and it breaks my heart. She does a good job hiding it during the day, but not when she comes home.
If you're reading this, and you see Karley on a daily basis, try to put yourself in her shoes for a day. Parents separated, always worrying about mama...to the point she snaps a picture of me when at her dads when we are facetiming...every time. It breaks my heart. Or put yourself in my shoes. What if you knew you would have to leave your child before you are ready? It's pure torture.
Any little bit of encouragement, compliment, acknowledgement of something good she did would go a long way. I'm sure everyone sees me as overprotective. The truth is, I just want to see her grow up. But, we all know that's a long shot. So, I try to make her happy while I can, because I know one day I won't be able to do that anymore. So, people can say I baby her or whatever, but to them I say, "is your child living with this?". Her third grade teacher was probably the most understanding woman I ever met when it came to an instructor. She knew what Karley is going through because she lost her mom at a young age. She knew family comes before all else. Because when one person in the family gets cancer, the whole family gets cancer.
I'm okay with what will happen to me in the end. But, I so much want to be here with Karley. And my poor parents, I know they have been on the brink of breakdowns for 3 years.
But for now, since my child isn't "focused, doesn't pay attention, and is lazy", I'll get her tested for ADHD because I'm sure it has NOTHING to do with her life being turned upside down.
Sorry for the sad post but this is how we live. We make the most of it and are so blessed to have Brent and Livi in our lives now. Despite her constantly feeling she is worthless, to me she is worth more than anything in the world. I hope she always knows that. She's the best thing I ever did in this life. I love her more than anything and I pray daily she finds peace with God in this situation.
Thank you for all of your continuous prayers. And please pray for my friend Carmen. She's got late stage cancer too with little girls. She's having a rough time emotionally and physically.