A Bad Cancer Day

I debated whether or not I should post this… Maybe just on Facebook. Maybe not at all. In the end, I decided not to.

I wrote it on day 3. And although I wax eloquent about sharing the real story in all it’s raw ugliness, I know that most don’t want to hear it. Cute and cuddly tales from the cancer ward are much more palatable – an uplifting message with a smiling picture to boot.

But this is life too. The low points. The bad shit.

We’re 3 weeks in now, and feel decades older and wiser and more exhausted. I had another rough night, one that I’m not at all ready to write about. So instead I’ll share this. And it feels like a relief to put it out there.

If you know and love my daughter, you may want to scroll past these ones. I’ll post something cute another day. There’s still plenty of cute.

* * *

It’s my first free moment in five hours. I might have taken 2 minutes to eat an ice cream cup for dinner. An ice cream cup I stole from the fridge full of patient snacks. That’s right, I steal from sick kids these days. Those IV poles slow them right down; I’m pretty sure I could take them.

Did I mention my inappropriate humour is on overdrive these days? I’m pretty sure there’s a psychological explanation to explain away anything I do and say right now. Carte blanche.

This afternoon, as I comforted my moaning and uncomfortable child, I assured her visiting uncle that a person can get used to anything. That even as her unhappiness caused him distress, I was taking it calmly in stride. Not because I’m a monster, but because I was getting used to being cancer-parent. Day 3 since diagnosis, and already a pro.

I’m just a fast study, I thought smugly. I got this.

Except for the part where I didn’t. And I don’t. At all. I don’t have any control here. I can’t fix this and even my best efforts are like fighting a forest fire with squirt gun. Useless. Helpless.

I’m relying on the professionals. And they really seem to know what they’re doing. And they really seem to care. But even with all their training and all their equipment and all their impressively long words, sometimes the fire wins.

Tonight discomfort turned to pain. My daughter screamed and cried and begged me to make it better.

I could only pretend to be calm. For her sake.

She may have an infection. Probably. Maybe. Or probably not. The story changes with everyone we talk to. While there are plenty of “infection fighting cells” in her blood (neutrophils) they aren’t doing their job that well. They only look the part. We’ve changed to a stronger antibiotic which we hope will kill that infection dead. If it is even the infection causing her escalating fever. It might just be the cancer. Maybe. Probably. There aren’t really many answers.

And the nasty leukaemia cells (blasts) are filling the marrow of her bones. Which makes them hurt. Her bones hurt. Not the achy, “maybe it’s gonna rain” kind of pain I’d imagined when I read this in a list of symptoms, but something much much worse.

And she had a small surgery to implant a tube into her, near her heart, which is a Very Good Thing in the long run – easy, painless blood samples, IV fluids and meds. But that means post anaesthesia nausea, soreness and a strange piece of hardware sticking out of her chest. Despite my “cyborgs are cool” pep talk, this is a horrifying thing to her.

As I lay down on the very edge of her bed trying to massage peace and calm into her body while she cried pitifully, I could only think: This is just the beginning.

I have to explain that, no, we aren’t going home anytime soon; and that she can’t take the tube out; and that even though she’s fallen in love with her nurse there’s a shift change right around the corner.

But her pain is the worst.

I have never prayed with such desperation. I don’t know that I was using words, but the meaning was resoundingly clear. They say there’s no atheists in foxholes. I don’t know about that. But I’m positive that even the most skeptical soul will be begging someone, or something for mercy, when their baby is in agony. It is a profoundly horrific experience. I would gladly, gleefully, gratefully suffer in her place if I could.

B is finally asleep, drugged into peace. Thank you morphine.

The moral of the story is… there is no moral that makes a story like this worth the telling. It’s just to be survived. Please God.

So here’s me, at a low point. Cancer is evil. I hate it more than words can express.

About So Here's Us.... life on the raggedy edge.

I'm a bookworm, nature lover, kick-boxer, candy fiend, sci fi geek, home body, progressive Christian and part-time student. I love my crazy life and the messy, fun, stubborn, silly, brilliant people who populate it. View all posts by So Here's Us.... life on the raggedy edge.

16 responses to “A Bad Cancer Day

  • mewhoami

    I am so terribly sorry to hear this. My heart breaks for you all. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  • Rachel Zalinko

    Not much to say other than I know the pain in you as you watch the pain overtake her. And isn’t it great that they treat morphine like Kool-Aid there? I truly believe you are in the very hardest part right now. I hope it is an encouragement to you that the good days will increasingly outnumber the bad days. They will. I wish I could be there with you to share the burden. xo

  • Susan

    This is a beautiful post about a terrible situation. Really, your writing of it is terrific. Inspiring to be so bold with honesty.

  • emily

    sitting here crying… I can’t imagine. I’m so sorry you are going through this and have to watch your baby girl in so much pain. And how hard it must be to explain to her that she is going to be sick for a long while. I’m so sorry. my heart just breaks for Becca and your whole family.

  • stephanie

    Brilliantly written, as always.

    You’re right to share the horror of the situation because others will go through the same, and it will bring comfort and hope to them when they read on and see the happier times which are hopefully around the corner. Keep being brave – both in this situation, and your writing.

    • Martha

      I agree! It is so hard to read but it is harder to live through. It takes guts to write this as we all want the beautiful life but in being honest, we are keeping life more honest! It draws out the prayers, the pleadings to the Lord on your behalf rather than the more surface requests for help.

      I try to keep in mind all the other ALL success stories because, I have never met Becca but would love to! She HAS to be a success for my benefit! How selfish is that? It makes the prayers more earnest.

  • micheledbeal

    Beautifully written terrifyingly honest. I will keep you both in my prayers as we are ever so fortunate to have our soon to be 12 year old nephew in remission. the highs and lows are a minute by minute struggle thank you for sharing – God Bless

  • Angela Misri

    We all hate it with a passion and we’re all praying with the power of a community that loves Becca. Faith is hardest in these moments my girl. Fight hard. Keep talking. Keep praying. Love you.

  • Katie

    My heart goes out to you. Thanks for sharing all parts of the journey.

  • Ruth Jarvie

    My heart is heavy for you Christie. I’m so mad at God for allowing this to happen to your precious Becca. I keep praying that He will reveal his plans and purposes and that ultimately He will heal your little girl!!!

    Love and prayers,


    Sent from my iPhone


  • Robin Trim

    Just getting a shot or blood drawn here is an ordeal that we keep putting off until we have to do it and we are exhausted physically and emotionally afterwards. And that is just one day or 2 in a year- so we are praying for you all- not just Becca. Love from one Mom to another

  • lydiahendricks

    I’m so sorry Christie. Sending love and hugs to you and your family.

  • Mary Huntington

    This is your reality with Becca and it takes my breath away reading it but it must be shared for all of us to somehow carry this burden with you. I’ve been praying that Becca would be able to sleep through it all. It’s a small gesture to let God know I care about her being in pain and I would like it to stop! My heart is heavy for you all.

  • Carey

    I am so grateful for your honesty, especially on your bad days. Vulnerable, struggling humans are the most precious to me:) When your capacity to absorb Becca’s pain is overwhelmed, and your momma heart carries you further than you thought possible, I hope your compassionate community can serve to diffuse and absorb some of your pain in whatever way our presence may be experienced. On a lighter note (which sounds highly inappropriate…) while at a dinner party, you suggested a certain prof at UFV to take Statistics with, and I’m glad I took your advice. I’m actually enjoying the class and doing well:) It may change my entire trajectory…

  • dragonsdare

    Prayers sent for your little girl.

  • Cherilyn

    My heart is breaking for you…. I’m so far away can’t even give you hug…. or help you….virtual hugs don’t seem meaningful… so as sit here across the world… I pray and pray and pray…..Praying for miracle… praying for comfort… praying for peace and good night sleep…. praying for strength for all of you…. Love you Christie…..Love your family!

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