11.03.2012

Two Years Ago, Today

Two years ago on this day, my son was diagnosed with cancer. Can you believe it? I can hardly believe it. I had planned to hold a "thank you" party today, to thank everyone who had any part whatsoever in helping and supporting Mason. I began planning it a month ago, and then...well, I realized this wasn't the day I wanted to celebrate it on. The day I found out my son had cancer is nothing to celebrate. So I'm saving that for next year, when we celebrate the fact that he'll have been cancer-free for a year.

But back to the point: 
Since that day back in Nov. of 2010, it was a very long time before I ever felt like I could look to our future with any surety. My son's chances were grim, and even after he received a miracle that pretty much doubled his chances, I still felt cautious. We were thrown into a world that no one wants to be in, but one that everyone seems unable to leave. 

Even after Mason finished treatments at the beginning of this year, and his body began to gain weight and finally grow (including hair!), I felt attached to the one thing I despise the most, unable to let it go: Cancer. The word was like a vine that took root in my body, unwilling to let me forget the hardships I had witnessed my son face. He was finished with treatments, yet I was still explaining to people that he had had cancer, and what had happened to him. Germs were still horrible creatures lurking on every surface, ready to cause yet another trip to the hospital with a fevered child. I was still protective of him, and wary to let him just play and be a child. Minor jostles were still heart-stopping moments for me. 

As the months passed, each of these fears were slowly taken from my mind. His hair grew in and his body was no longer skin and bones, and he didn't look like a cancer child anymore. People stopped staring, sad looks were weren't passed around a room, questions became rare. The minor illnesses came back--the small things we hadn't dealt with since diagnosis like a simple cold, a runny nose, or the flu. And they were just that: colds and flus, and nothing more. His body had adjusted, and germs no longer seemed to be quite at the level of ultimate super evils that they once were. We went swimming in the mucky lake (complete with an impromptu mud bath), and his body didn't even respond to whatever I'm sure lurks in the lake. We went swimming again and again. He played rough with his uncle and his cousins, and they could finally stop holding back (no more chest port--yay!). He got punched (in  play) in the chest by his roughest cousin, and instead of coming to me crying, he finally just punched him back. 

And the last thing--the very last thing--to change is that our minds have finally begun to feel like cancer is a thing of the past. As I said before, it was a long time since I felt like I could look to our future with any surety. But now I know I can. Cancer is no longer the first thing I tell people about my son. In fact, he's in a weekly music class and his teacher has no idea that just 10 months ago, he was battling cancer. You have no idea what a struggle it was in my head, to decide whether that was something she needed to know, or not. It was a big deal when I finally realized that cancer no longer defines our lives, and that it was okay for people to not know about it. That maybe they didn't even need or want to know about it. 

And Mason...well, Mason asks me to tell him stories about the time that he had cancer. He asks to see his cancer blog, where he looks at pictures and asks questions, because he's already beginning to forget. Not all of it; sadly, he'll never be able to forget it all. But the biggest sign that cancer is a thing of the past, is that his mind is no longer filled with it. And if he's able to let go, I am definitely able to as well.

Two years ago, my son was diagnosed with cancer. It changed our lives. 

Today, I didn't even remember the significance of the date until someone else mentioned it.

That's what I call progress.

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