We have two fridges in our house. A small one in the kitchen and a big one in our utility room to cope with the overflow for our big family! I went out to the utility room to put something in the fridge this evening. The picture above caught my eye and memories flooded my mind and my heart.
It was 3 days after Ethan was born that cancer first came in to our lives. In the weeks running up to this we noticed that Timothy was off colour but we never expected to be sitting in a room, 3 days after Ethan was born (and immediately after being discharged from the maternity hospital), being told that our normally energetic happy 9 year old had cancer. I went home that evening with a new born and left my husband and my son in hospital and somehow made it through those sleepless nights.
Timothy got home the next week, his diagnosis shifted and we began the wait for his first bone marrow transplant. Those months are a bit of a blur. I simply put my head down and survived while I cared for a small baby who relied on me for all of his needs, and dreaded what was ahead for Timothy and for us as a family. I didn’t want to talk about cancer. I just wanted Timothy to have his transplant and leave cancer behind. We went to Bristol four months later and came home two months after that. Recovery was slow but things were getting better. I still didn’t want to talk about cancer – hoping that it would soon be a thing of the past.
About 14 months post-transplant Timothy relapsed. The cancer that we hoped had gone forever was back. We faced another transplant and I still didn’t want to talk about cancer. Maybe this time we could really put this whole experience behind us. You all know that that is not our reality. Since that second transplant Timothy has relapsed again… and again… As I write this a trial drug, that nearly could not be given because he was too unwell, is keeping the cancer cells out of his blood and has restored his life and energy. We are thankful that Timothy is well today.
There have been times that I have wondered if it would have helped if I had talked about cancer more in those early days but I also remember reading early on that we all deal with traumatic situations differently. I read that there is no right way to act in the middle of your child being diagnosed with cancer – each person responds differently. Now, four years and 2 months into our journey with it I find myself talking more and more about cancer…
I’ve been taken aback by the words that have jumped into my mind and been written down as blogs or Facebook posts. I’ve felt compelled to share about hope in sermons and online worship. I’m hugely thankful for the trusted friends who listened when I was ready to talk. Cancer is now very much a part of our story. While we wouldn’t have chosen it we are so thankful for the people we have met along the way and some of the experiences we’ve had. In so many ways cancer has formed us, stretched us, shaped us and made us the people we are today. It’s part of our story worth telling.
As I write this today, on World Cancer Day I know that cancer is part of the story of so many family members and friends. I’m sad with friends who are grieving whether it be the loss of someone recently or many years ago. I miss our young friends who we have lost to cancer. My heart is heavy for those who are facing difficult days in the middle of this pandemic. I pray for peace for those who live with the worry of cancer progressing or relapsing. I pray for strength for those who support people on the journey. I rejoice with those whose treatment has been successful and will never have to face this terrible disease again.
The doctors tell us that Timothy’s cancer is here to stay. We still keep praying for his complete and forever healing. We know that medical research in blood cancer is progressing rapidly. We believe that God can exceed our expectations! Thank you for praying with us.