I will never forget when the doctor told us, “Your daughter has cancer.” The only worse words were, “She has relapsed.” While my life has a very definitive line of “before cancer” and “after cancer”, cancer does not define my family and it certainly doesn’t define my daughter - Collins. As a parent, you can’t help but feel completely helpless when your child is sick or hurt. You are simply unable to make it better.
So what do you do when your child is sick or unexpectedly injured?
- Stay calm – Kids feed off of your energy. If I acted tense about Collins getting poked, she could sense it and it would make the entire experience difficult for her and the medical team.
- Give yourself permission to breathe – When we were first admitted, I forgot to take care of myself and neglected to eat and sleep for a few days and no one benefited from that. Give yourself permission to take some time for yourself, even if it’s just a short walk around the hospital.
- Advocate for your child - Don’t be afraid to ask questions and get clarification from the medical staff. You know your child best and if something doesn’t feel right, SAY SOMETHING. You are their #1 advocate!
- The best thing that you can do is love your child through it. You may not know what to say or even what to do, but you are the best at loving your child unconditionally. Let your child know that it’s ok to be angry, it’s ok to be sad, it’s ok to be scared. God can handle anything we lift up to Him.
- Accept help - If people want to help, let them. You don’t have to be superhuman and you don’t have to do it all.
If you want to help a family going through a trying time, don’t just offer to help, DO something. Don’t just say “please let me know if there is anything that I can do,” because most of us will not ask, not because we don’t want help, but because we literally have no idea what we need. Send a cleaning service or lawn service over to their house, offer to provide a meal, offer to do laundry, offer to take the other kids for an afternoon, send paper towels or toilet paper to their house, just DO IT and don’t wait to be asked. If you’re not sure of what to say, simply send a card or a text to say “I’m thinking of you” or “I’m praying for you.”
Collins has taught me more than she will ever know during our tumultuous journey and she is a real-life miracle and my hero. She embodies grace, compassion and joy and she is a brave, beautiful soul. She has taught me to love harder and deeper, to forgive sooner, and to appreciate every single moment. She has challenged me to be a better mother, a better friend, a better wife.
This photo sits on my desk – it was right before Collins’ received her first ever dose of chemo and Clint said that “Collins was about to kick cancer’s butt.” She looks so darn happy here. I remember being terrified. But just look at that smile on her face. I leave this photo on my desk at work to remind me that no day at work will ever be worse than this day. I leave this photo on my desk to remind me just how beautiful life really is, even when it doesn’t seem like it is beautiful at all. #teamcollins