A letter from a parent whose child went through cancer treatment....

Sally-CanTeen

Hey there Parenting Through Cancer community.

I am posting this on behalf of one of the parents in the community. This parent has a 5 year old child who has been through cancer treatment. This is a letter is to anyone with a child who is going through cancer treatment or has been through cancer treatment...

Dear Friend,

Alone. Isolated. Overwhelmed.

These are some of the feelings I experienced when my 5 year old son was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia in May last year, I cried more that day than I had my whole life and felt our lives had turned upside down. Although we still have a long road ahead, he is currently under maintenance medication and things are starting to feel a little bit better than I first thought would ever be possible. I understand how you may be feeling right now but there is light! Below are some things that helped me and I hope with all my heart that it helps you too.

1. Initially I was so overwhelmed, confused and fearful I found myself constantly comparing to other children’s journey. It helped me to focus on our own journey and remember that every day will be different and to take each day at a time.

2. It is okay to say yes and accept help. Those who love us want to help but don’t know how. If someone offers to baby sit other children at home or to help with the laundry, prepare meals, or cleaning up before you come home after a long hospital stay, feel comfortable to accept it and say yes. This is something I always struggled with as I am always the one giving and never asked for help but in this situation we needed all the support and help we could get and the feeling was magical for us and the person offering when we finally accepted.

3. Stay connected to those close to you. It will strengthen you and build deeper and more meaningful relationships. I truly believe having a community and personal connections with others who truly understand what you are going through can be very healing.

4. We don’t get an award for being strong, it is okay not to feel okay and to admit when you are feeling overwhelmed. It was important for me to be honest about how I feel and found that it made me stronger and allowed room for the joy as we tried to navigate our way through the uncomfortable emotions.

5. Get organised. When my son was diagnosed I had little control over anything so staying on top of things and being organised helped me stay in control of some things. I kept a journal to document our journey (this is very meaningful when you read back at how far you have come), a diary to manage appointments and set medication alarms and notifications to help me stay on top of everything.

6. Most importantly do something nice for you to feel good. Self-care is the most rewarding and beautiful gift we can do for ourselves and our loved ones. Initially I felt guilty for taking care of me but once I found the strength I felt refreshed, renewed and more focused it was as simple as getting dressed up, doing my hair and having a coffee in the sunshine or playing my favourite song it did wonders for the soul

7. Lastly, I want to remind you that you are a beautiful, kind, loving and courageous human being.

You have got this!

With so much love and admiration,

Your fellow Cancer Caregiver x