Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Elephant

Well, Vampboys ANC shot up to normal practically overnight early in the week -- enough for him to start treatment on Tuesday. Sadly, not expecting this to happen, he received his "G" shot on Monday (which, turns out, he didn't really need). This delayed him until Friday, because you can't start chemotherapy until 48 hours after your last shot. Scrubs said Vampboy was "f$%^ing with her". Perhaps -- needless to say, Vampboy's playmates should be on notice now that the first weekend in June, 2018, Vampboy is grounded.

This delay also means that "hospital duty" falls to me for the first half of his stay, as I do weekend duty so Vampmommy can have some time to unwind. Emotionally gearing up for another round in the hospital is no fun -- particularly since the schedule has been such that this will be my first stint in Chez Healing since November. Grudginly, I am beginning to prepare for the transition.

I have been thinking a bit about transition this week, as I continue to navigate operating in two worlds. My first world is the "normal" one, where I go to work every day, and enjoy usual "dad things" like play time and bath time. Where I read and follow parenting blogs, websites and magazines that tackle the joyfully routine topics of toilet training, and ensuring that your child's food ends up going from plate-to-mouth, instead of plate-to-table-to-dog's-mouth.

Then there's "C-Camp", where you inject medicine through a tube in your son's stomach, and try to translate his current condition into something that someone not in C-Camp can understand. This week has brought many to at least take a brief tour of C-Camp, after two prominent people were splashed across the news for their cancer story. First there was Elizabeth Edwards, whose breast cancer has returned and spread to her rib. Then White House Speaker Tony Snow announced the return of his colon cancer, setting off a great deal of media attention on the disease.

In the sea of blogs, articles and opinions on the issue, one that stood out to me was by Leroy Seivers, a reporter for National Public Radio who has been blogging about his own experience battling cancer. His response to Elizabeth Edwards announcement talked a great deal about "the elephant". You know, the one that is sitting in the living room, eating your cookies and tivo-ing over episodes of Grey's Anatomy with re-runs of Emergency Vets?

Yes, that elephant in all of our living rooms: death.

Edward's cancer is incurable, but treatable. While treatment can extend her life, the reality is that cancer will eventually take it. She knows this, but is unwilling to allow her cancer to define her. So, with this knowledge and her desire to be more than her disease, she and her husband bravely press on with his campaign. People have applauded her courage. Some have expressed surprise that they choose to continue in the political fray. Through it all they have been poised, and models of bravery in the face of disease. They have taken the elephant in their living room, and told it to eat some peanuts and take a hike.

All of us who are impacted by cancer need to deal at some point with the inevitable meaning as it relates to existance. While Vampboy is doing well, it is never far from my thoughts that his disease may take him -- maybe not today, but perhaps 5, 10 or 15 years from now. Or, maybe next week. Sure, there is a chance and a hope that it may not -- but do a google search on AT/RT and I'm sure it will only take a few links to connect you with the scenario most often faced by parents of kids with this form of cancer.

So, with that much unknown, how do you navigate "Normalland"? How do you move forward on your other goals and dreams in life, even in the face of an obstacle as big as this? And, how do you balance normal life with the desire to throw breakable things in anger at life in C-Camp?

I am amazed at the people I meet and read about, who faced their cancer and forced it into a corner. Those who refer to themselves as "Survivors", counting up the days from diagnosis, with every added second perceived as a victory. I'm just not there yet.

How much to you celebrate victory in battle, when the loss of the war is still at the table?

5 comments:

Fez said...

My thoughts are with you as you return to the harsh world of C Camp...I guess I might ask your last question in a different way: Are life and death mutually exclusive?

MetroDad said...

Honestly, I'm amazed at how you and Vampmommy seem to be coping. You may not have the "survivor" mentality yet. But I think you're getting closer. Your ability to deal with all the scares and turmoil that Vampboy is facing yet still relish in being the fun father who enjoys every playful second with his child is truly inspiring.

As always...wishing you guys all the best.

Lainey-Paney said...

I'm sorry about your upcoming journey through hospital-land.
I can only imagine how hard all of this is for you guys...and where your minds must take you sometimes...

Anonymous said...

I've been following your blog for quite along time and am continually amazed by the strength of you and your wife and your ability to articulate your thoughts with such eloquence. I can atest to the elephant - as I have lived in c-camp with my family. I wish I had words of wisdom or something that could take this away - but just know that someone who knows you solely as the Vampfamily - keeps you in their prayers regularly...Semper Fi

sara said...

you know it's interesting - in my classroom we've been studying the Oregon Trail and anytime someone on the trail died or had a dangerous incident they called it "meeting the elephant"...related? Not sure.

So I emailed you like a month ago at an email address that may be wildly out of date...?