Firsts You Never Wanted

Nothing prepares you for seeing your child's face on the front page of the newspaper.

Nothing prepares you for seeing your child’s face on the front page of the newspaper.

Have you ever been part of a prayer chain and you get a call, or an email, and you think, “Oh my, that poor, poor family. That’s awful!”

Have you ever heard a little blurb on the news, and felt a stab of pity for what someone else’s trials?

Have you ever felt as if you were part of a dream, and that upon waking, you’ll need someone to comfort you and assure you it was all a dream, and that you’ve woken up to a much better reality?

Have you ever watched Oprah, and listened, spellbound, to something a family has gone through that sounds not only horrendous, but emotionally and physically impossible, and just too unreal for anyone?

Have you ever passed one of those jars on a store counter that says, “Please help Jessica! She has cancer, and her insurance ran out. She needs a bone marrow transplant soon, and has no funds. Please donate pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters! Help Jessica!”

Have you ever heard someone describing a medical situation and think to yourself, “Wow, I could never handle that…I’m so glad it’s not me.”

Have you ever listened, with complete attention, to someone describing a detailed horrific medical condition; your mind spinning out of control, thoughts whirling in all different directions. And suddenly you check back into the diagnosis, and you realize, “Oh…wait…the doctor’s talking to me!”

No one writes a manual or guidebook that tells you how to handle suddenly becoming:
• the subject of a prayer chain
• the central feature on the nightly news
• your worst dream—without the ability to wake up
• a statistic worthy of being a guest on Oprah
• having a jar with YOUR name on it on the counter
• hearing the medical diagnoses; checking back into the conversation, and realizing; “That’s me!”

When those first moments pass and the realization slams into your chest, “I am the statistic. I need the prayer chain. I have an intense struggle ahead and I have no idea what that looks like. This unreal stuff IS my reality.”

Nothing can prepare people for the reality of having a child with cancer. Nothing. Even though nothing can prepare you, there’s someone who will sustain you (tweet this).