12.10.2017

Unsympathetic Sighs

I’ve always said having to deal with cancer while raising young children trumps all in the world of adult cancer. A friend of mine passed away this morning from this disease, and the little miracle girl she and her husband spent 19 years hoping for will now grow up without her mommy because of colon cancer. Everyone within spitting distance suffers from the loss, but it is utterly unfair that these children have to suffer or have their innocent childhoods altered.

View from my chemo chair.
You’d think after 6 years and having (now) school-aged kids that I would have worked most of the kinks in this “parenting with cancer” business out, but I haven’t. Friday was another example of why there will always be bumps in the road reminding me that managing this disease often requires additional hoops to jump through - and heartache to battle.

I still flash back to my first year of chemo, when I shared an alcove in the infusion room with a group of middle aged men fighting prostate cancer. Every time I walked into the room, I wanted to yell at them as they sat in casual conversation with their companions. There I was trying my best not the throw up due to chemo-induced anxiety, as they sat there waiting for someone to bring them a fast food lunch that would surely send my teetering stomach over the edge.

I wanted to point at them in accusation, knowing they were sitting at home in their recliners the night before watching Wheel of Fortune while I was at Target buying enough diapers, wipes, and baby food to last me the next week while I recovered. They looked like they hadn't a care in the world, while my heart and mind were always burdened with the care and concern I would not be able to give my boys in that coming week.

This week the scheduler(s) in my infusion room scheduled me for an early infusion, despite my continued reminders that I can't come in until I've dropped the boys off at school. When I called to reschedule, they didn't have any later appointments available, and the scheduler I spoke with made no effort to accommodate my "special situation." All I got out of her was an unsympathetic sigh and zero empathy.

And by special situation, I mean that unlike 95% of the people in the infusion room, I'm trying to juggle this all while parenting young children. Parenting when you're just a normal person is stressful, parenting in the midst of cancer and chemo is like the icing on the cake of cancer stress.

I hung up and lost it. I’m rarely emotional in general. And rarely emotional about all this cancer business. But when someone doesn’t have just a little bit more understanding for me because I’m managing my care around raising these boys, it flips the emotional switch that reminds me how much harder it is for me and anyone other parent in my shoes.

Despite being a frequent flyer, I’m not asking for first class treatment in the infusion room (or from the boy's teachers as they waltzed in to class late because they had to go to chemo at 8 a.m. instead of school). Just a little more grace and a few less unsympathetic sighs. My juggling act has a few more balls thrown in the mix, so please be helpful as I try to manage my disease. I don't need to be reminded that this sucks.
He got to eat infusion room cookies at 8 a.m. and be late for school. Sounds like a pretty good morning for him.

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