Waiting is hard.
Unknowns are confusing and scary. Interpreting and navigating the results and choices concerning our children comes with a level of protective concern that goes beyond what we would do for ourselves. For all those reasons and more, being a cancer mom rips me apart on the regular.
Two weeks ago, Abraham had his MRI and there were new developments on both his brain and spine scans. Today, we met with the oncologist and were given the best case scenario by his highly-skilled, caring team of doctors: wait and watch.
How does that feel? It feels good. It feels hopeful. It feels heavy. It feels scary. It feels unfair but tolerable. It feels unclear but navigable.
When talking to Abraham about his scans last week, I was at a loss for encouraging conversation -and helpful words are my specialty! If there’s another side to a story or a place to look for hope I will find it. If there is good to be seen in a hopeless situation I will see it. If there is a redeeming quality in a seemingly horrible person I will undoubtably mention it. But when it came to interpreting the unknowns on his recent scans, I couldn’t find the words.
Anyone who’s read a detailed radiology report knows how complex it can be. Add in a history of a very rare cancer, five brain surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation, transfusions, and the slew of resulting side effects and the clinical murky waters turn down right muddy.
When Abraham saw that I was at a loss, he grew reflective and sat still. I stayed close to him on the couch and hoped our quiet togetherness would be enough.
But it wasn’t enough.
Abram took the bits and pieces I had shared about the developments on his scans and he gave me a new way of looking at it. He told me we should look at the report with its big technical words that span the unknowns with scary terms like “concerning“ and “questionable“ and call the scary bits “blemishes”.
So that’s what we will do. Is it new scar tissue? Is it artifact from surgery? Is it a result of a proton beam? Is it more? Well, instead of hoping for the power and certainty of knowledge that simply is not there when it comes to cancer -we will look at the new spots as blemishes: small marks that detract from perfection, but also bring out the character and beauty of our bodies and our souls and our relationships and our lives.
I had braced myself for the worst, so right now I am processing and won’t come out the other side with the relief and the hope and the joy that this good news deserves until I’ve had a good cry and a decent sleep.
I know what it feels like to be told my child has cancer. I know what it feels like to be told the cancer has returned. This was not either of those things. If our choices are the current unknowns or the certainty of a tumor, the obvious choice is to revel in and TRULY celebrate the blemished unknowns.
I may not have all the answers, but I have my sons and my husband, and my family and my friends and my home and my work and my faith… the list of blessings goes on and on.
I also have a very quiet voice inside me that continues to say, “Abraham will do great things.” I embrace that reassuring voice of hope and invite you all to do the same.
Peace, love, joy, and thanks…