If you had asked me a decade ago, there are a few “clubs” of which I never thought that I would be a part. You know the “clubs” that I’m talking about. The ones that you never sign up for, but life automatically enrolls you without asking how you feel about it.
I never thought that I would be married to a minister. I would have never in a million and one years dreamed that I would be a triplet mom.
And I definitely would have never guessed that I would be a mother to a toddler with cancer.
But it happened.
If you are a regular reader here, then you probably haven’t noticed anything has been amiss. I owe this to three things: faith in God, my organizational skills, and a wonderful group of blogging friends who have helped me when things got crazy. I debated whether or not to even share this on the blog, simply because it’s not usually the kind of thing that I post about.I also know that there are some people who may not understand how I could blog or write while taking care of a child with cancer. In all honesty, it’s the only thing that keeps my mind from breaking down completely. Anyone who’s ever gone through something similar may be able to relate. But, in the end, I decided that my little man is too special and brave to not share his story. And I hope, that by opening up a little piece of my world to you that’s not so crafty, maybe it will give someone a bit of encouragement.
I get a lot of questions from people we know about how we even discovered his condition. Back in February, my little man (yes, one of the triplets), went a day without having a bowel movement. It might sound strange, but I was immediately on guard. Call it Mother’s Instinct, God, whatever you will, but I was concerned right away. My little guy is a once-a-day-man. He has been for two years. Missing a day was something that he had never done before. I watched him for 24 hours, and he did finally have a bowel movement, but his stomach stayed distended. It was an over-exaggeration of a big baby belly. My husband took him to the doctor the next day, who ordered a series of imaging studies. It was through these studies that we discovered my little man had a malignant tumor called a Wilm’s Tumor that had almost entirely taken over one of his kidneys. He was scheduled for surgery to remove his entire kidney and surrounding vessels before the end of the week.
Due to a high fever and other circumstances outside of our control, his surgery was postponed another week. During that week, he started to go downhill pretty quickly. He wouldn’t eat. He had no energy to play with his brothers. He would wake up in the middle of the night screaming and couldn’t sleep. That week, waiting for surgery, was the longest week of my life. Here is a photo of him pre-surgery. He is also the little guy modeling the bear costume in this post and the curly haired one playing in the sandbox here.
His surgery took 6+ hours. The tumor and kidney tissue that the surgeon removed weighed almost 2 pounds.
The large weight of the tumor and the pathology that we received from getting the tumor tested placed my little man in the category to need chemotherapy. Since the beginning of March, we’ve taken him to the hospital once a week to get his chemo treatment. The drugs make him feel lethargic and terrible for at least two days. He has three treatments, spread over nine weeks, left to go.
I have someone every week comment on how well I’m holding up or how upbeat I am considering the circumstances. I’m glad that I come across that way, because the truth is that I cry. A lot. And I hate talking about it. Trying to not think about it (hence the continued working and regular-as-can-be daily activities) is the only way that I know to not cry all the time. I despise the word cancer. I don’t even think my husband and I have ever used it in conversation with one another. It’s just too big a word to talk about in the context of one of our little boys.
It may seem strange that I’m putting all this out there now, but, in spite of the tears, I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that this is my reality. Throughout the past few months, I’ve learned that there are too many other people out there who are part of a similar reality. Only those who have gone through something similar truly understands how this changes your life and your family dynamic.
So for those of you out there who may have found this article because you’re Googling “Wilm’s Tumor” or “childhood cancer” while bawling your eyes out, know that there’s someone out there that totally gets you. I understand. And if I could be there to cry with you, I would.
Because I’ve come to believe that one of our responsibilities as God’s creation is to cry with one another in times of trials and need. Galatians 6:2 states that we are to “Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ.” I’m forever thankful to all the friends, some who I have never even met in person, who have come forward to be there for my family during this time. From cards, to financial help, to meals, to snacks, to gifts for my kids, none of their generosity will ever be forgotten by my family.
Right now, I’m remaining hopeful that this is simply a hiccup in the life of my little guy. Hopefully, he’s young enough that the huge scar on his stomach will be the only reminder for him of this time in his life. I believe that God has a plan for his life. I’m just impatient to see what that plan means for him. In the meantime, I know that I have changed on the inside. I see people, life, and the world differently. God has opened my eyes to others around me in so many ways. I can’t believe the sufferings and hurts that I never previously noticed. For this reason, you’ll notice changes here on the blog over the next few weeks. You may have already noticed the design change and the tagline change. I’ll be revealing others soon, but I have a new perspective that I want to share. And, hopefully, when I do, those who have read this post will completely understand why.
If you are a praying person, please uplift my little man in your prayers. He’s a special little guy that always has a smile for me. He strokes my head if he ever sees me crying. And he believes that my lap was made just for him. Although he’s a triplet, he is still one of a kind.