I am thankful and grateful for how far pediatric cancer treatment has come, but I can tell you about hills not climbed.
Patient and parent PTSD is real. I’m not ashamed to admit it and will gladly talk to anyone out there who is interested in initiating an intensive, comprehensive, therapeutic survivorship program. And I’m not talking about verbally trudging through feelings for an hour on zoom, attending a nutrition class, taking physical therapy or throwing survivors free baseball tickets. I mean that’s great and all but the fall-out from three years of chemotherapy, illness, trauma, fear, confusion, getting loads of attention then suddenly none, not being treated normally then expected to blend into “normality” runs MUCH deeper.
…they are also “fat” and “a loser”
I am talking about teaching and guiding survivors on how to re-integrate into just being a kid again:
How to accept failure.
How to not use illness to manipulate circumstances.
How to distinguish between anxiety over being sick and actually being sick.
Understanding that they are no longer the center of attention every single minute.
Realizing that kids are actually mean sometimes and now that they are “all better from cancer” they are also “fat” and “a loser” or any of the other adolescent-go-to criticisms that insecure kids (survivors) actually believe.
For now, I’ll just keep making it up as I go along
I have other ideas, just can’t think of them all right now. But I plan this maybe-too-idealistic-unattainable therapeutic process in my mind often. For now, I’ll just keep making it up as I go along. Every day I see how Justin struggles. I struggle. We struggle. But there is also learning, reward, success, healing, growth, change, beauty, faith, joy and HOPE. God is good.
I really don’t pray for change in circumstances too much anymore. What has to be, will be. I pray for change in ME. Give me strength in mind, body and heart to press on.
And grant us a measure of grace for one more day.