I recently had the opportunity to speak at a luncheon for one of our most favorite organizations ATTH.org. My speaking points focused on the “Top 10 Things My Husband and I Learned During Cancer.” I plan to circle back around to the those top 10 things at some point, but my favorite part of the speech revolved around talking about my three kids. They are and always will be, my biggest achievement. They are also my biggest cancer worry. Most importantly though, they are their independent selves. While my dream is that cancer someday touches no families, I am, in the meantime, very proud of how our family has navigated a very challenging time.
Garrett, a 14-year-old nationally competitive triathlete. He obviously didn’t get his athletic genetics from us, but mostly his personal drive and independence. Cancer made our little kids grow up faster than we would have liked, but Garrett also became the kid that does one of his two independent workouts before I’m out of bed in the morning.
Addison, now 11 is either going to end up attending an Ivy league college or do a short stay in juvi. She has the wit, intelligence and sarcasm often years ahead of her classmates.
Ethan, now 7, grandma’s favorite as she raised him for the majority of his first year. A miracle just in himself. He just graduated first grade, something that at one time, I never dreamed of being around to see. You can’t help but smile when he laughs. He gets aways with murder, but he is also the youngest. The one that we weren’t sure would make it.
Eric and I are not against bribery just not with promises against cancer. Luna was purchased as an off chemo “present” to the kids and Nova as a bribe for allergy shots in the doctor’s parking lot. We were adamant about one thing; we never promised anything we couldn’t be sure we could follow through with. We and a whole group of experienced medical professionals were working hard to beat cancer, never that we would.
We had friends that became family and when the kids were little, they associated the conversation that mom had a new tumor with extended sleep overs. We once dropped off the kids at our friend’s house for a two-night emergent hospital stay and they ended up staying for 2 ½ weeks. They still talk about that time as though it was a vacation. Finally, and most importantly we worked hard to explode our little bubble into a village. On my worst days, I was busy planning my funeral at night. I was worried 3 kids were going to be too much for my mom and Eric. We have a tiny immediate family, so I began to spread the word. I told my besties everything about each of my kiddo’s personalities. I gave jobs to all of my friends. Girlfriends who would help Addison with getting ready for prom and her wedding. Friends that would tell Ethan funny stories of me when he was too young to remember. Friends who would follow up to help support Garrett at his triathlons so he would have a crowd to cheer him on. Sometimes, I made these calls at midnight. Sometimes, when the pre-surgery panic was setting in. Someone always answered. If the worst were to happen … your tribe will be there. If everything turns out “ok,” which it most likely will … they will be there too.