I broke a rule today.
Through this process, we agreed not to cry in front of the kids. But today, I grieve. It really hit home. I’m not brave. I’m not strong. My Samar has cancer. The diagnosis is official and life is forever changed.
Of course, our life as we knew it was altered when this all began, but to sit here now, after all the numerous procedures, biopsies and tests, makes it more real than ever before.
If I ever daydreamed, hoped, wished, prayed for a misdiagnosis, that dream, hope, wish, and prayer was dashed, squashed, stomped on and shatttered in a million pieces this afternoon.
The optimistic and prayerful part of me still held out for that miracle. Still. But here we are.
We got the heads up that the oncologists were on their way to speak with us. I prepared myself by saying some prayers…praying for peace, calm, strength, understanding. I had hoped for the best. But when I saw them rolling the chairs into the room to sit down and speak with us, I knew this wasn’t going to be a “Hallelujah! It’s a miracle! Samar isn’t ill with cancer,” kind of a talk. One of our oncologists sat next to our social worker and in between them was my perfect view of my sleeping Samar napping peacefully. Our oncologist delivered the news that they had come to a diagnosis. Come to a diagnosis?? This means she has cancer. No turning back now. No taking back what she just said. I’m certain she said more, but all I could see was Samar’s face between them. I cried. The memories of her up to this point flashed back in my head and replayed as the oncologist talked to us.
My little Samar. She’s sick. With cancer.
Renzo was in my lap and grew fussy. I was trying to manage him, my emotions, and find a way to focus on what the doctors were telling us.
The calmness and strength finally came over me as if the prayers I said moments ago were a drug that took some time to work and finally kicked in.
I regained composure. I listened. I asked my questions.
We discussed treatment. We discussed side effects. We discussed what the next few months would look like.
Chemo and cure, two words I would never put in the same sentence together. To be honest, chemo scares the $%*t out of me. And to hear the oncologists define chemo as a cure was weighing heavily on me. How can chemicals be healthy? But that is the treatment plan that will be put in place. And apparently chemo drugs have been used for years now and have proven successful, especially for pediatric cancers. The drugs are the same but they have adapted the dosages so that it’s better for the patients. There’s comfort in that.
Side effects. As part of the protocol, the nausea and vomiting should be manageable with the drugs being adminstered during infusions. Her hair. Her beautiful hair. All week the nurses have been giving her compliments. And in my head I thought, “Yes, but it’s going to all fall out soon.” I know it sounds superficial and vain. But believe me, it’s not. It’s just that it’s how I remember my little girl and that will change. In some ways her hair falling out is like me saying goodbye to the little girl I knew. I’m sure it will be harder for me than for her.
Tonight, I stood over her bed sobbing uncontrollably watching her sleep. I thought about how she won’t be able to return home for months; how life will be like without her in the house; how she will miss the whole summer season as she lives in the hospital. I cried some more. I wept. I bawled. For some reason it’s even harder while they are sleeping. My mind was wandering and thinking about all the scenarios and the would be’s and the could be’s. She was set to be the flower girl at her Ninong Theo’s wedding in a few weeks. Her flower girl debut. We have our cousin’s wedding in a couple of months. Then I realized I needed to stop. Was I grieving for her? Or for me? Probably both, but there was no room for me to feel sorry for myself. Of course I needed to let out those feelings and release those emotions, but at the end of the day, it’s Samar who is important. As parents we never want our children to experience any hardships, but as I keep hearing, she will probably not even remember any of this.
So while I cried standing over her crib after hearing the confirmed diagnosis, and she stared at me with those eyes, those big round eyes that cut right through me, she stared right into me like she was the one comforting me.