When Your Child Has Cancer (and What the Important Lessons are in Life) – Jenna

When the doctor said to me “Your child has cancer” is the exact moment when everything changed. That one moment. It’s like everything flashes before you but you’re numb. You can’t think. You are empty. Somehow in your foggy daze of trying to make sense of everything, you ask God to trade places. It is your baby. This isn’t ever meant to happen. 

You feel helpless, sad and scared. And at that moment, you don’t think you will ever be able to laugh again. That you won’t even function properly ever again.  You’re just going through the motions.

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Everything changes and no matter what anyone says, it will never ease the pain in your heart or that dazed feeling in your mind but at some stage in your grief you realise: I can smile again, I will smile again! Because every moment is precious and there are positives in everything, you just have to search a little harder. You question everything, you think to the past, you try to find a reason,  a cause. But being advised by numerous experts that it was nothing she has done, nothing you have done for this to happen, offers little comfort. You promise never to cry in front of your child again, even if that means 3am tears in the bathroom after you have been up late researching everything or that rare moment alone in the car.

As time goes on you feel grateful. You have love. You have your child’s smile. The things that you see at the children’s hospital should never ever happen and makes you aware that no matter what your situation is there are people worse off than you. There are families saying goodbye to their children. There are people who have less time in life or don’t even get to say goodbye. You acknowledge other children’s diagnosis and try to understand what the other parents must be going through.

Little Tsunami - When your child has cancer.
Beautiful and brave Elvie.

You vow to hug your children so tight every spare second of the day and somehow you push on, get the ball rolling. Get the treatment. Learn all the medical terms. But most importantly you make memories. You learn to laugh again and you learn a lot about yourself. You find you have no time for other people’s bullshit. You don’t want to hear about how their neighbours cat had cancer. You don’t want to hear about some fad miracle cure. But then you realise, that people only want to help and once upon a time you would probably have done the same. It’s like on one hand you have zero toleration for any crap, but on the other, you’re totally engulfed with empathy.

Some days are good, some days are hard, and they will be for the rest of your life. Every pain, every temperature, even “why has my baby slept in?” is enough for that fear to creep back in. No matter how hard you try to force it out.

You feel overwhelmed. A lot. Not only by the diagnosis and treatment, but by other peoples generosity and compassion. You discover a whole new world of friends. One that you could never imagine, brought together by the common factor of being an ‘Onco mum’ and it is a relief to find other people who know exactly how you feel. Who you now are. And for that you are thankful.

But most of all, you are thankful for your child. Thankful that you were chosen to be their mum. That this is your journey now, amazed at their courage and strength. And without even realising it, teaching you the biggest and most important lesson in life. Love.

Little Tsunami - When your child has cancer.
“You vow to hug your children so tight.” Jenna and her daughters.

Jenna 34, lives in Heybridge Tasmania.  She is mum to  Elvie, 4, & Peyton 5.

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8 thoughts on “When Your Child Has Cancer (and What the Important Lessons are in Life) – Jenna

  1. I hope Evie is doing well with her treatment. I had this experience 30 years ago so I now have an adult survivor daughter. Your post brought the whole treatment time back. All the best for the whole family and friendship group.

    1. Thank you for your beautiful comments for Jenna & her daughter, and I’m so happy to hear that your daughter is healthy and well. xxx Nami

  2. Thanks for this, as an Onco Dad I know exactly what you mean, we’ve just been back to Randwick for scans and every time it takes you straight back to diagnosis. Waiting in that room to see the Onc, damn that’s hard. Take care.

    1. Sitting in those rooms waiting is not a nice place to be – physically or emotionally. Wishing you all the best too Damian for you and your family on this tough journey and thank you for your kind wishes to Jenna too. xxx Nami

  3. I just stumbled upon this and I needed it. I’m an onco mom, only ten days now. Still gathering info and figuring out how to navigate this terrifying journey with and for my daughter.
    I’m still trying to hide the tears and find the smile that isn’t forced but I know it’s possible.

    1. In that case I’m so glad you’ve found this Michelle. Let the tears happen – don’t hide them – you’ll get to a place where the smile needn’t be forced, I’m sure of that. I’m also now an ‘Onco Mum’, 6o-something days now for me and my family. Sending you strength and love. Nami xxx

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