Life’s Lessons:Cancer, theBridge, and Walmart

Are you at a place in your life where you are thinking about a change in career? Are looking for a complete change in the direction your life is going? Maybe even in a change in your relationship? Do you feel like you are trying to go forward but something doesn’t feel right about the direction you are going? Maybe you feel you are surrounded by the wrong people or too many people or you want to make more friends? I know sometimes that can be called a “Mid-Life Crisis” but what if you are 20, 30 or 60? What is it then? Some people even say they just have this sense that something is about to go wrong, “Doomed”. Is that possible?

I like to think of myself as the “Glass is half full” kind of person but I am also a very realistic kind of person. When I am looking into a situation that has come to me, I look ahead. Although I am given a set of information, I don’t let that information get to me whether it is good or bad. I think information is golden and the lack of information can be harmful. But I do understand that sense of “doom” or pessimism people have. I understand the sense of people getting “off track” and the feeling they just can’t get back on track. I understand having a bad day that has dragged out for a month, 2 months, longer…

It’s possible this didn’t creep up on you over time. Sometimes things happen in our life that brings this knocking on our door. I was introduced to the world of cancer back in 2002 (to be exact April 15, 2002 – you never forget the day) when my youngest daughter was diagnosed with leukemia AML). For one, the diagnosis of cancer changes your life forever. When one of your children is diagnosed, your world comes to a screaming halt! As a parent, the day your first baby is laid in your arms, your life is all about making their world a wonderful and safe place. Cancer doesn’t fulfill that purpose. In fact, it does quite the opposite and in the harshest of ways! It kills! Who it doesn’t kill, it puts through horrible treatments with poisons and pain and often leaves its patients with many side effects and the uncertainty even having an ongoing life or a quality life. In the back of your mind, there is always the thought of the cancer returning. Due to this, life takes a new direction, completely against your will.

While fighting for our daughter’s life, we have seen many children and adults taken away from their loved ones during their fight with cancer. These families are left to start another life without their loved one to hold, laugh with, love and just be able to continue each day with. I can’t even begin to imagine life without my daughter so I can’t say how this feels. These families’ lives are literally torn away from them and they are forced to build a new way of starting their days, going through their days and finding some sort of peace to go to sleep at night. I know from dealing with these families that this takes different lengths of time for each individual in a family and more than often, this hasn’t been attainable for some. I ask myself, “How can it be?” “What would I do?” I don’t even want to imagine that and I don’t. I just know that the words, “Katia has leukemia, a type of cancer in her blood and spinal fluid” was the most horrible words I had ever heard in my life until, “Katia has relapsed, her cancer has returned” and I just never want to hear anything worse than that!! I have seen others suffer that tremendous pain of death that no family should have to endure, no parent should have to face and no loved one should have to succumb to. To me, it is unbearable. I shudder at the thought.

In today’s economic times, so many people that had really taken the time and effort to plan out their retirements for years have lost everything, not only their retirement but their jobs and healthcare. The bottom has been ripped out from under them. College graduates who went to college with a specific goal in mind (what they were told would be beneficial for them) graduated and were unable to find a job either in the field they studied for or in many cases, any job at all. Many households that had been run on dual incomes were suddenly down to one or even one part time income. And so many American households were suddenly without health insurance because employers had to either cut the insurance or more employees.

I know a lot of this can be argued because it is often between the employer’s word and the employee. It is an argument between the political parties as well. But ultimately, who does it affect? It is affecting each of us. And even as the economy is “building back up”, so they say, we are still feeling all of the effects of it falling out beneath us.

For one, there is a complete lack of trust for nearly every decision being made. Not just by our government even though that is a big part. With elections coming up for many officials in November, everything being said by them seems like a lie, a cover-up or a half-truth. In Washington, there seems to be more arguments and debating back and forth over everything than in High School or on an MTV Reality show. It is getting to the point, there needs to be polygraph machines for most state and federal positions. But then there would have to be more people hired to run the polygraphs and people hired to oversee those people to make sure they were running them fairly and correctly and overseen by each represented political party… You see where I am going.

Okay, so back to life changes and I am not talking about Cialis and the tubs in the middle of the woods (I am so tired of seeing those commercials! Can the people not just finish what they are working on instead of running off to the woods and the bathtubs? Ugh!)

I have discussed before the fact we all have our daily lives in another blog I have written during my daughter’s journey and her treatments for cancer. In it, I wrote about traffic and how people hate to be stuck in traffic or in line at a grocery store or particularly Walmart! Their lines are long and the store is so noisy. I have to admit that.

If you read my blog early, “Tax Day 2002”, I talked about transferring from one hospital to another the day my 2 ½ year old daughter was diagnosed with cancer and going over the bridge. It crosses over the Bay from Tampa to St. Pete. My life definitely changed at that moment. Before that, I felt like I knew everything about my baby. I knew everything to do for her, everything about her, every mark on her body, what to do if she felt bad and how each day was going to be… so I thought.

Well, on the other side of that bridge, that was stripped from me as we walked onto the Oncology Floor of All Children’s Hospital. Doctors and Nurses would be making the decisions for her and still do on a lot of things even to this day. They and I do work together and did throughout all of Katia’s care but the fact is, I am Katia’s Mommy and I am supposed to make everything better, always! I couldn’t make cancer better. I couldn’t dress it up or kiss it away. That sucked!

So, back to the bridge and the lesson on it.

When Katia later relapsed in August of 2003, we crossed that bridge to admit her into the hospital. What we didn’t know is it would be 9 months before she would come back across that bridge and return home. NINE MONTHS!! We lived in the hospital! We go back and forth to clinic and we used to go back and forth multiple times per week and per month and still go back and forth quite a lot. I never take those trips for granted, ever.

Why? For one, we have great medical care. We have Katia!! She is alive and is 10 years old!! She is a miracle! She didn’t have a match for a marrow donor for months and months and finally one was found and saved her life! We have great doctors. We have insurance. We have the ability to go to clinic. We have so many moments that many parents and loved ones don’t have anymore with their loved ones.

So, I don’t get upset if I get stuck in traffic on the bridge. I am grateful for it. Sounds crazy? I take the time to look around and enjoy the water, the skyline of Tampa and I wonder what the people around me in traffic are thinking about.

When I get stuck in Walmart, I may not be AS thankful but I am grateful to be able to buy groceries, to be able to have the health to stand there, that whoever’s child is crying is healthy enough to be in the store (Katia’s immune system is too low to go to Walmart) and just the fact that I am out with a free moment alone (oh admit it, we all like our free time!)

Of course, I GermX the moment I walk out of Walmart, who am I kidding? But I am a GermX freak so I GermX when I walk out of any place.

Due to everything I have been around and seen what I have seen. I tend to have a pretty high tolerance for people having a bad day. If someone is rude or in a rush, I tend to think about the fact they may have just lost their job, been cut down to less hours, lost a loved one, received some very bad news via a phone call, etc.

I have been that person so I tend to see that person in others.

In today’s world, I think we each need to try to help fix what is around us in some way and not point fingers. If a child is crying, bawling and throwing canned goods at their Mom (yes, I do think discipline is definitely necessary when bringing up kids) I think the Mom probably knows the scene this is causing and sometimes I can see it in their face that they would prefer to leave but they just have to pick up something before leaving. I also know of the medical conditions that can cause problems like this and just really can’t be helped all the time. It could be a number of things. I just try to carry on and get my stuff done and not add to the situation.

I am not a passive person as you can see by my other blogs but do try to be understanding and tolerant and appreciate what each day brings. I feel for kids these days because compared to 20 and 30 years ago, parents are so much more busy and stressed and children these days are so multi-tasked and involved, I can see why they are so high strung. I will save that for another blog. If you haven’t read, “Privacy Matters”, it is a good read for anyone that has kids online. Keep them and you safe. Our children are precious! It doesn’t matter how much they think they are nondestructive.

Thanks for dropping by.

Have an idea for a blog subject, let me know and I may use it.

2 thoughts on “Life’s Lessons:Cancer, theBridge, and Walmart

  1. Tracy Solomon

    I went by your site the day you left this comment but I am just getting back by here. What was the results from you PET Scan? I have thought about it. We have been in the cancer world for over 8 years now and I know those waits are just tormenting. Leading up to the date is so anxious as well. I didn't find a personal blog of yours. I hope your results were good. Thank you for your comments. I hope to hear from you. Tracy

  2. Jennifer at Shop Cancerversary

    Amen to that blog sista! We are bombarded by complaints, road rage, unhappiness, negativity every day. I try to let it go, but sometimes it's hard to filter out. I think people do more than "sweat the small stuff." I see many people "rage" over the small stuff. Is it human nature? I wonder sometimes. Does it take "large stuff" to see that traffic and lines are no big deal? What are your thoughts? Just yesterday I listened to the person in front of me at the grocery store complaining about the wait, all I could do was smile at her. My "wait" for the day was getting the results of a PET scan to see if my cancer had come back. Hmmm. Thanks for your blog! Jennifer

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