It may sound crazy, but sometimes I forget that my son Cameron has cancer.
Sure, I remember that he uses a wheelchair, a gait trainer or scoots on his rear end to move around because he can’t stand or walk on his own.
I remember he uses grunts, gestures, one-handed signs, the occasional intelligible word and a mechanical device to communicate with us because he can’t talk.
I remember he has a gastrostomy tube to get his medications and all his nourishment and hydration, because if he eats food, he’ll get pneumonia. And he refuses to drink liquids anyway, because of the brain damage.
I remember to bring a bag of fans, cooling towels and sun hats when we go out in the summer and a bag of hand warmers, down blankets and puffy coats when we go out in the winter because Cameron’s body cannot control his body temperature.
I remember to give him medications twice a day for seizures, pneumonitis and diabetes insipidus, hook him up to a shaker vest for twenty minutes and a nebulizer for ten minutes twice a day to clear his lungs, strap a CPAP machine with supplemental oxygen and humidifier to his nose every night so he doesn’t stop breathing in his sleep.
I remember these things because they happen every day.
What I sometimes forget is how his radiation oncologist told us there is a 50% chance his brain tumor will grow back.
I forget that cancer is the second most common cause of death in children, after accidents.
I forget that every two minutes, a child is diagnosed with cancer and 12% of those kids will not survive.
I forget that 60% of childhood cancer survivors will suffer secondary effects later in life.
I forget that childhood cancers do not respond to the same treatments as adult cancers and that only 4% of the federal cancer research budget goes to childhood cancer research.
I forget how lucky we are. That we get to hold Cameron and smell his hair, sing baby shark a hundred times and pick up his toys, take him to preschool and read him books when so many other parents don’t get to do that with their children.
I don’t forget these things because they don’t matter, or because they don’t affect Cameron and our family, but because it hurts to remember. I can’t live every day of my life angry and sad.
Every September I remember. And you should, too. It’s pediatric cancer awareness month.
Please, share this post. If you’ve got a spare dollar, donate to any number of the awesome pediatric cancer foundations that are out there (my favorites are St. Baldrick’s and Alex’s Lemonade Stand, but all of them do amazing work!).
Most of all, remember love your children, hold them close and be thankful.
You never know when you’ll become the parent of a cancer patient, too.
Want more info? Want to help out? Click on one of these or shoot me a message, comment or question!