My Family Has Cancer

When I was diagnosed with cancer, my focus in life changed drastically.  It was no longer a “take life day by day, just get through” kind of mentality, but a setting of my sights on the bigger picture. Always the bigger picture now. Especially as far as parenting.  My kids, now 3 and 5, were barely 1 and almost 3 at the time of my diagnosis.  This is all they know.  And the parts of parenting that had seemed to me before merely mundane suddenly seemed weighty and important.  The ever-stressful bedtimes of before were now a time to cuddle, read, laugh, tell jokes, talk.  Make memories.  Suddenly I had this overwhelming need to show my kids who I really am.  Let them see Jesus in me.  And give them something to remember me by.

I just need them to remember me.  God? Do you hear me?

Sometimes the loneliness of cancer is overwhelming.  It seems like no one understands and it’s easy to feel alone in the crowd.  But what’s even worse is the sickening realization that I’m not the only one who has it.  I’m not the only one whose story has changed.  I’m not the only one affected.  My friends have it.  My family has is.  My church has it.  My husband has it.  And my kids, they have it too.

I try to create this fake bubble where this only affects me and if I just slap on a smile everything will be fine.  Everyone will be fine. But it’s just an illusion.  I can’t shelter everyone from this.  This thing eating away at me is affecting others too. 

Even if they don’t quite realize it yet. 

There is a special kind of guilt that comes with watching your kids deal with your cancer.  I’m not sure guilt is the perfect word, but it’s the best I’ve got at this moment.  I would think they are too young to deal with this, but I didn’t get to decide that, did I?  They have no choice.  So while I can soften the blows as they come, each is absorbed into their little minds, forever changing them.

When I’m laid up in bed, our 3 year old daughter will constantly come in and check on me, bringing me kisses on the forehead, “this won’t make you better” she will say knowingly, far too wise for her age.  She will give me her treasured stuffed animals to keep me company and before she’s ushered out she’ll ask, “Are you going to the special doctor now?”

And our 5 year old son, well he just understands so much.  Too much.  He puts too many of the pieces together for his own good.  I walked into the bathroom the other day to find him crying, tears streaming down his face, sobbing into his little hands.  I try to assure him it was just an accident and that I will clean it up.  I promise him that he’s not in trouble.  “No! It’s not that!” he wails, “I think I have cancer!”

My heart stops for a moment and the tears cannot be held back.  As I try to find the breath that has escaped me, all I can do is scoop his little body up and rock him back and forth, assuring him that he doesn’t have cancer.  I kiss his head as he cries.  He asks me if he ever will.  And I tell him no.  Secretly I hate myself for lying to him, but I know how he worries so I have to tell him that.  I mean he’s 5, I have to tell him that, right??

Just a couple days later, a few of his little friends come over to play.  “My mom has cancer.” He says matter-of-factly to the little girl in front of him.  My first instinct is to diffuse the situation and pull him aside and tell him gently that he doesn’t need to be talking about that.  But I don’t.  Because this is his story too.  This is his life and my cancer, whether I like it or not, will have some influence on him.  On my daughter.  On my husband.  On everyone who we love and loves us.

It’s a sad truth that my kids don’t remember a time when mommy wasn’t sick.  It’s normal for them, but they know it’s not normal.  Evan asks so many questions, as you would expect from a 5 year old.  Some of them are funny, “who is going to live longer, you or Bucky?” Umm, I better live longer than the dang dog!  But when he speaks of heaven, he speaks with such certainty, and wonder, and hope that I always am reminded why I want to end up there.  “Will you wait for me at the gate until I get there?”  Yes, of course, but don’t rush. That’s always my answer.

It may sound odd that my kids have even pondered my death, but this is a part of our story.  They need to know that death doesn’t have to be scary and my passing won’t be the end of their wonderful adventures in this life.  I would have never chosen the cancer life, but it obviously chose me, so we just try to make the best of it. 

And in a way, parenting with the thought in the back of my head that I’m wanting to make memories has made me a better parent.  I wish I would have done this before, but of course I didn’t know.  My family has cancer but we will get through this together, stronger and better – and hopefully with some special memories between us.

My loves ❤

16 thoughts on “My Family Has Cancer

  1. Cancer is so tricky and the way that it affects those around u. I resent the sickness so much since my mom’s battle. You are amazing. Everyone you’ve ever met knows that. Keep making those memories. You and bucky are in it for the long haul. Keep your faith strong and teach your kiddos ♡

    1. I actually thought of you while I was writing this because I look at your story as how my kids may deal, and I think anger at the disease is so normal. The way you always honor your mom is beautiful and I love how you talk about her. Thanks for the encouragement girlie! ❤

  2. Oh my Kim….My heart is shattered reading this. I can’t even imagine what you must be going through, physically and mentally. But, I do know your faith in the Lord is so admirable and honest. Your Children have such a great example in you. I believe the Lord is so pleased with you and he loves you so much. I will continue in prayer for you and your family.

  3. Love is a word we tend to just use and never really think about it. You have shown us all that your love for your family is not a word but a life style. We can all learn to do a better job of showing our families love.

  4. I love reading your blogs. My Mother passed away from cancer after fighting for 13 years(she has been gone now for almost 14 years). So most of my life was my Mom in and out of hospitals and all the treatments. But I have her by my side everyday. and you need to know that your kids love you the way things are and that you will never leave their side. You are a wonderful Mother and a beautiful person.

  5. Hello! You don’t know me but I have read some of your blogs & I have to tell you that you are a great inspiration. I only hope that if I am ever faced with something like this that I could be even half as strong as you have been. I pray for you & hope a cure is around the corner for you & your precious family.

    1. Thanks so much Tracy I appreciate your kind words! And I think I may be misrepresenting myself if I come across as strong lol I’m definitely not but I really appreciate your prayers and encouragement!

  6. Kim, as always, thank you for sharing your heart and the reality of everyday life in your household. This truly is a special gift for all of you – and all of us who follow your blog. God, in his intimate, infinate, ultimately over the top blessing way has chosen the best girl to deliver this message. Thank you for reminding all of us to make memories NOW.
    I have 6 grandchildren. I make it a point to schedule time with each of them, special 1:1 time so I can hear their hearts and in some way demonstrate the love of Jesus to them. The children of today’s world must learn how to live in it, not be protected from it. That is God’s job if we teach them well and if they chose to follow that path. A sense of security, belonging and affirmation go such a long, long way to assuring they will want all of Jesus too.

  7. Kim, I love seeing emails with your post! Your life is so encouraging! God has used you in my life in incredible ways (and I don’t have the privilege of ever meeting you) God does amazing things like that! Even though, we have never met, we are sisters ! I pray for you! You are a beautiful women of God! Beautiful ..

  8. Hi Kim, I came across your blog as I did a search of Ketruda. How much we seem to have in common: christian, 2 young children, stage 4 cancer, treated at Penn. The difference is that I have breast cancer. I started Keytruda 9 weeks ago, and I had a CT scan this morning to see how it’s going… Thank you for your blog; so many of your words and feelings resonate all too well with me. I have a blog on wordpress, too: I wish you all the best!!

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