When people ask me what I’ve learned from dealing with my son’s bout with cancer, I tell them I learned that I don’t ever want to do that again. If pressed, I’ll add that it is possible to survive things you thought you couldn’t. Now that I think about it, I have learned more than these two things. I’ve also learned:
- No one gets through it alone. I was sustained by friends, family and my Heavenly Father. I was also sustained and strengthened by the prayers offered in our behalf—including the kind prayers of strangers.
- If you want to know what you can do for someone who has cancer, or whose child/family member has cancer: pray for them.
- If you want to know how to deal with the challenge of cancer: pray for help. You’ll get it. You won’t always recognize it right away and you won’t always get the answers and/or miracles you want, but you will get help.
- If you can let go of how you want things to be and accept how they are—it’s not easier, but at least it’s not harder. Fight the battles you can and leave the ones you can’t to God. He can handle it.
- Find things to be grateful for: days that went well, tests you didn’t need, the people you’ll meet who have it worse than you and who can still smile and commiserate with you—be grateful for the small mercies. At the end, you’ll find they weren’t small and they were important.
- Don’t try to understand “why” while you’re in it. It just is and it’s a waste of energy you need for other things, like surviving.
- Smile and be kind to everyone you meet, especially the ones who aren’t smiling or kind.
I’ve also learned that mom’s don’t bounce back as fast as children. At my age, I don’t bounce at all. But I can get up and be grateful for what I have received. Oh and by the way, my son had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, early stage. As I write this, he’s on his way to Switzerland to sleep on a glacier (and study it with his university group).