A friend of mine asked the cancer moms for notes to send to someone she knows whose child was recently diagnosed with the same cancer as Matthew. I put my note together, and then decided that this is something I'd like to have on my blog. Maybe a stranger will stumble across it in a time of need, or maybe it will just be good to remember later in life that this was how I felt now. Either way, I really liked the way it turned out, so without further ado:
family, I know that I'm a stranger, and it may be strange to receive
such personal words from me, but I'm writing them anyway, in hopes that
they will help you.
son, Matthew, was diagnosed with Pre-B ALL at the age of 3 1/2. He's 5
now, and we're still plugging away at treatment. At first, things were
really hard, and I won't lie, they still sometimes are. But just like in
weight training, when you do hard things, they get less hard. Trust me
on this: you can do hard things.
will tell you you're strong, and that might feel frustrating because
you'll feel tired and worn down. Just bear in mind, you're doing what
any loving parents would do, given your set of circumstances. People
will admire you for doing it, and that's okay. They could never
understand, unless they had been here themselves, so try and remember
that those comments usually come from a place of respect for you, even
if you feel like they are misguided.
have a good friend who went through treatment for Ovarian Cancer at the
same time as Matthew's heaviest treatments. One day, she told me that
she just wanted to be done so that her life could go back to normal. The
thing is, it never will. Everything changes, even after treatment. You
will view the world through different eyes. My friend didn't like
hearing that at the time, but later said that it helped her to look
forward with faith that she would be able to make something special out
of her life as a survivor. A cancer survivor is defined as anyone living
past their diagnosis, so your daughter already is one. Cling to that.
She is a survivor and a fighter. I'll never forget the first time
someone called my son a survivor. It's a powerful word.
want to end with this. One of my favorite quotes talks about a storm. I
view cancer as a storm, and I wholeheartedly believe it has something
to teach us. Through the trials we endure during this time, we will
emerge as stronger, more courageous people. And at some point, after the
storm ends, we will find a place of peace and calm.
once the storm is over you won't remember how you made it through, how
you managed to survive. You won't even be sure, in fact, whether the
storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the
storm you won't be the same person who walked in. That's what this
storm's all about.”
― Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore
though you don't know me, please know that my heart goes out to you.
This year will be hard, but every day, your family will grow stronger.
~Wendy Burr. Mother of Matthew Burr - cancer survivor, and warrior.