It's a part of my life. I have lived with this for over 10 years now. Living with fear has given me a chance to get to know many things about myself - some I like, some I need to change. But I live with 'Fear' as a close acquaintance.
10 years ago my son was diagnosed with Stage IV Rhabdomysocarcoma, a rare pediatric cancer. Now, he's a 13 year old young man who I admire, love and often shake my head at in response to his typical teenage behavior. He's the source of great pride for me and great fear.
Today, I realized that sharing that fear is a community thing!
I got an email from another mother whose son just finished his chemo and is moving on. Moving on is not easy for Chemo kids. The physical repercussions of the disease can be hard on these kids. My son can't play contact sports - which for a boy is every one of them! No football, lacrosse, basketball, baseball, soccer - you name it! Any sport that puts stress and torque on his hip/leg is out for him. This even includes swimming and golf. I am, thus, responsible for ruining his life as a teenager!
Last month, we noticed a bulge on his back. I, of course, curled up with my old acquaintance "fear" and had a great screaming session one-on-one with the good Lord! Felt really good, too! I knew that 10 years out of diagnosis, it probably wasn't the return of the disease, but it didn't diminish the fear. The feeling that I couldn't handle it again, that I wasn't prepared for this anymore.
Turns out the bulge was a malformation of his back muscles due to his limb length discrepancy! Not a recurrence of his disease. You just can't get ahead of the side effects some times!
But when I received the email from my friend whose son is a recent graduate of cancer treatments, my mind started wandering down the path of memories she's just beginning to make for herself. She's wondering how to live with the fear, the heartache, the trials. I realized that I'm not alone in this bizarre friendship with fear. That there is an incredibly healing touch in the bond we make with others who share this fragile life of a child. (Although, if you ever met my son, the word fragile wouldn't come right to mind!) Friends are such an important element in support for families with special needs, as is family.
When we were going through chemo, we had to PCS in the middle. I told my husband that we were moving on base. I wanted to be around family. My parents were in TX, hubby's family was in MN - so where was I going to get family in CO???? Jeepers, we all know what comes into play in times like these.....
All of you are part of that huge family we call the MILITARY. You sustained me through so many hard times and kept Fear at bay. You have provided the stability and sanity that comes from sharing in one another's lives - and I am truly grateful. Never underestimate the good a pair of empathetic ears can do for another person!
I'm sure I'm not the only one who has benefited from the military family experience due to the illness of a child. If you have had an experience with the Military Family aiding you in times of need - please share!