My sweet angel

My sweet angel

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Mama Bear Woes with Cancer on the Side

By now, I'm over 3 years into this journey.  But let me tell you, it NEVER ends.  It will NEVER end. Issues continue and we battle one after another, but I don't shout out to the world that I still have cancer (unless I'm joking with old friends).  In reality, it eats you up inside (literally and metaphorically).  I personally can't imagine losing Karley to cancer or any other illness, watching her in pain...just wanting to be normal. So to those parents fighting for their children or mourning their loss, I am praying for you, honestly.  You humble me.  Mom and Dad included.

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 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.


  1. Your daughter is absolutely beautiful, as are you. Something people in general don't do well with understanding is death, loss, and GRIEF. Which you have both been doing for 3 years. Praying for you both, and for the grace and understanding of teachers and those involved daily with your daughter. I pray you both will be surrounded by uplifting and peaceful people. And I pray that the hearts and eyes of those involved with your daughter will, even when frustrated, show the love and understanding she needs and DESERVES.

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    2. Thank you so much for your encouragement, kind words, and prayers! God bless you!

  2. that was very inspiring post. this kind of blog should be taken as the inspiration and the cancer patients should fight the cancer with bold heart

  3. Hey Sam. It's heartbreaking to read this post. I hope the grown ups that are giving Karley such a hard time get punched in the throat. Cancer is tough enough on adults, but for a child to watch their parent go through it is even tougher I'm sure. I'm raising 2 children that lost their mother to cancer and I see how it has affected their lives on a regular basis. She passed exactly one year from her diagnosis. Within 6 months she had went through 2 different rounds of chemo that didn't work, and even did a trial to see if Tarceva would touch it, which it didn't. She had cervical cancer. I told Scot they needed to talk to their kids because they were going to think she was getting better because her hair was growing back and she wasn't going for treatment anymore, but they didn't. She finally talked to their son, who was 8 at the time, only a couple of days before she passed. She never got the opportunity to talk to their daughter, who was 4. It has really affected her because of it and he never talks about her. I don't think they were given an opportunity to truly process the situation. It's been 8 years, but I see almost daily how it has impacted their life. I'm glad that you have shared your fight with Karley. I pray she can find comfort and peace through your journey together, and it gives her the opportunity to say all the things she needs and wants to say. You are one of the bravest people I know, and this situation shows your strength as well. I think about you & her daily, and always send up prayers. Love you, Tanya

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  5. that was very inspiring blog on lung cancer, thank you for sharing

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