It's so heartbreaking. When you're done with treatment, each week you move a bit more away from the grim reality that is childhood cancer. It's still there, but it's not at the top of the deck anymore. For those families involved in childhood cancer, that card will always be in the deck. There are all the side effects of treatment to deal with, daily, a constant reminder. You are in the fight now and it's not something you can or want to walk away from. It changes your life. But when you're not there to see the faces every day of the other children going through treatment, the faces of the parents too, the cries in the hallway, the "room" you never want to go into because that's where parents get "the talk," the very harsh side of kids with cancer is muted for you. Not gone, but not at the forefront of your every thought. You try to lead a life of less doctors appointments and more every day issues. You push those hospital stays, stressful days and gut wrenching treatments down inside. I used to feel safe and relieved when we walked into the hospital for treatment because we were doing something to fight the cancer inside of her little body. It was our safe place. But now I feel sick. It makes me feel physically nauseous, shaky, nervous. I want to turn and run right out of there. I don't want Hannah to be the kid who had cancer and we can kind of pretend when we're at home. But when we're back at that hospital, that's who she is. Survivor or not, that's who she is.
You begin to find people who are like you, their child has cancer. You bond with them, some at the hospital and some only online. It's a bond that is forged hard and fast. It's a bond that lasts, no matter what. Then a child dies that you have come to "know." Some you know better than others. All are people you have come to love. That card comes back to the top of the deck again. The fear, the anger, and anxiety. And this fear and sadness is from afar, from someone whose child has survived. Can you imagine what those parents are feeling? None of us can really. All we can do is be there for them. Listen to them, talk to them about their child that has died and just be there. No one wants their child to be forgotten.
So tonight, this post is about sadness. Sadness that these children that I had come to know are dying. Sadness that cancer is still winning.