Every 6 weeks I'm reminded of the reason I dread these appointments. The constant worry we face becomes real as we hold our breath and wait for results. It's a feeling I will never be able to explain. And I know some wonder why I worry so much and why I'm so emotional during the week of his cancer testing, but every 6 weeks this is what we see...
Walking thru the doors of the oncologists office of the Children's hospital is like walking thru a portal. As you open the heavy door, the world around you changes. You immediately feel the subdued silence.
Looking around I see the 4 year old girl in her gown who is riding on her metal IV stand with wires hanging down her side. Her nurse is slowly pushing her down the hall from one treatment room to the next.
I see the 10 year old who is reluctantly pulling away from the nurse because he knows the blood draw will happen on the other side of the door.
I see the mother with the same fear in her eyes as she holds her sick child. We sit in silence and smile slightly at each other. A half smile that says, "I'm sorry you are here too. I'm sorry we have to share this moment" as we silently pray for each other because no mother should ever have to be here. We sit and wait for the nurse to call our name, and we make every effort to entertain our mind and think positive thoughts.
My heart breaks upon entering the doors when the nurse calls our name. I see the wall of beds lining the hall as mothers hold their child's hand as they receive treatment. For a brief moment, making eye contact with a mom, who is desperately clinging to any last strand of hope she can find, and I think to myself, "God please heal her child, please take away her pain, please bring her peace." And I can't help but silently beg, "Please don't let this happen to my baby, I'm not strong enough for this."
We walk to our room and my baby begins to whimper, knowing it's time for his blood draw. My heart breaks when I have to hold him down while he screams and cries in pain. I wish it was me, I want to take his pain and I can't. I can't do anything but hold his body close to mine. I hug him tight when it's over, never wanting to let go, and I hide my broken heart. I do everything I can to make him smile, to make him forget the hurt.
My mind races as we wait for the doctor to come in. I replay every scenario in my head. How I would react, what I would say, I picture the good news, and I picture the bad. It's the only way to feel prepared for what could come. Every 6 weeks I wonder if it will be our fate to be in one of those beds lining the hall. How long will we escape this fate?
For now we get to leave that portal of time, but that doesn't mean we forget. We will never forget the faces we pass along the way, we will never forget the hurt we see. We may never experience what these families have faced, but we feel every parent's anxious heart. I wish there was more I could do. I wish I could give a hug and tell them life just isn't fair. But for now we walk out knowing we should be grateful for the positive news, but we will remember every family whose fate was to stay behind closed doors, to hear the horrific words that your child has cancer. I will never forget, and every 6 weeks I will say a silent prayer for each and every family that is clinging to hope.